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frequently asked questions

Congratulations on considering Singapore Math® – we love it, and feel it is the best math program available.

How is the Singapore Math® program going for you at Keys School?
Excellently. Keys School in Palo Alto, CA has used Singapore Math since 2005. Our teachers appreciate the concept-based approach, the mental math, the word problem models and the enrichment materials. We can see an especially strong improvement in the algebra readiness of students moving into middle school. They have strong conceptual understanding of math, strong number skills/ mental flexibility and a can-do approach to word problems.

Do parents and students like it?
Students like it because they get it, and can see themselves mastering material that looks hard, but isn't! This is especially valid for students who formerly struggled with math. But accelerated students like it, too, because of the enrichment materials and hard problems.

Parents were hesitant at first because they didn't understand it, especially the word problem models, so it requires strong advocacy. It took a couple years before parents understood that this approach takes more time (especially inn 1st and 2nd grades) than the traditional method of memorization and drill. Once parents see the long-term strength of the program, however – the strong math foundation that is being built – they become strong advocates.

Do you have to supplement?
Yes, we do some stations, or independently created games, just for fun. We incorporate stations, investigations and puzzles. Singapore Math® is a complete, comprehensive program, but allows for teacher creativity, too.

Why did you choose Singapore Math®?
We were using a US textbook series. Kathleen did her teacher training in Germany, and Corrinne did her training in Singapore, and neither of us was pleased with the spiral approach used in most US textbooks. Keys School was looking for a more developmentally-correct curriculum, with long units that progress from concrete to pictorial to abstract and then to mental math. Singapore Math® gives true understanding, not algorithmic memorization.

Did you need training in Singapore Math®?
Yes, Corrinne did the training at Keys School. We all attended a 3-day workshop in August before our adoption year, and 2 follow-up workshops with Corrinne during the first year. We then found we needed continued support from Corrinne in following years! In our experience, elementary school teachers tend to teach math the way they learned it, which is algorithmic and rote. To teach Singapore Math®, teachers have to really understand the concepts behind what they're teaching. Corrinne was highly successful at helping teachers acquire this understanding.

Is it possible to supplement a US curriculum with parts of Singapore Math®?
Although this is possible, it's like ordering a cheeseburger at a fancy steak house! Singapore Math® is such a coherent, conceptually sound program that it's always best to adopt the whole thing. However, partial adoption is possible, and is sometimes a precursor to comprehensive adoption.

How does Singapore Math® work with gifted/ struggling students?
We have found it to be excellent with both these populations. Struggling students succeed because of the long units and the visual approach. By the end of a 5 or 6 week unit, they have mastered at least the basic concept and applications of the unit, and are acquiring a flexible number sense as well. Singapore Math® also has excellent enrichment materials (the “Intensive Practice” books, notably) that allow faster/gifted students to dig deeper into that unit and challenge their thinking.

What do your students transition to after 6th grade?
We use Math in Focus from Kg through 8th grade.


Using to work through the solution on the page
color cubes solution

"At first, drawing models for word problems was a little hard, but then I got used to it, and it became a breeze."
- Keys School 6th grader, Palo Alto

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