Singapore Math

St. Thomas Episcopal Parish School is a pioneer of the Singapore Math methodology, being one of the first schools in Miami to implement a Singapore Math curriculum. Our program, Math in Focus, was developed in response to statistical reports that showed students in other countries were performing better than American children in math and science. Singapore Math was researched and adopted to address the recommendations for instructional methods agreed upon by national and international panels of mathematics education specialists. Math in Focus in closely aligned with the Common Core State Standards and work in unison to create a complete overall curriculum.

Singapore Math is highly logical and sequential with a strong emphasis on mental math through a deep understanding of number sense. Challenging word problems build thinking skills and help students apply math in a variety of situations. Singapore Math is taught at St. Thomas in Kindergarten through 5th Grade and is an approach that is a balanced emphasis on conceptual understanding and fluency with skills; use of concrete and pictorial representations; and multi-step and non-routine problem solving. Math in Focus, our current program, teaches the same content as traditional American mathematics programs, but through a methodology resulting in better understanding and greater flexibility in thinking. While math programs in this nation previously relied on drilling and memorization of many skills, Singapore Math focuses on children, not just learning, but also truly mastering specific concepts each school year. The goal is for children to perform well because they have a strong mathematical foundation and can conceptualize numbers, compute accurately, and problem solving effectively. 

Program Overview

Math in Focus is the U.S. version of the math curriculum taught in Singapore. It has become popular due to Singapore’s consistent top ranking on an international assessment of student math achievement called the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS). Supporters of Singapore Math credit the Singaporean methods of instruction and curriculum for its students’ success (as it relates to the Common Core State Standards). The following diagram shows the philosophy of the teachings of Singapore Math:

Singapore Math by Grade

Math in Focus, when aligned to the Common Core Standards, clearly defines and organizes the sequence of topics for Kindergarten through 5th grade. Based on developmentally appropriate lessons, our students progress through the various concepts while remaining focused on some overarching initiatives that are constant throughout the curriculum. Each subsequent grade studies a concept at a higher level.
Using the Math in Focus program, St. Thomas teachers use the Concrete> Pictorial> Abstract approach. Our students begin by learning through concrete and pictorial means before moving into abstract thought and development, which encourages an active thinking process, communication of mathematical ideas, and problem solving skills. Students grow as thinkers as well as mathematicians.

Our classroom lessons are designed for a mix of whole group and small group teacher instruction and independent practice. Students are encouraged to discuss ideas and explore additional problem-solving methods. Concepts are addressed from a number of directions that challenge students to think and understand. Our teachers approach this by first introducing students to key concepts with concrete examples and pictures. Then, the student is led progressively and logically to understand the abstract concept. This style stimulates clarity of thought, communication skill in the language of mathematics, and adaptability to problem solving.