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July 25, 2011
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For many homeschoolers, Singapore math may seem very different from other math programs, and it might even be a little bit intimidating.  How did it come about?  How does it work?  Will it work for my child?  Let's go back to the beginning of Singapore's success story and take a look at how Math in Focus, the newest and most complete Singapore Math adaptation, can work for your family. 

The History of Singapore Math
From 1965 to 1979, Singapore relied predominately on imported textbooks. Starting in 1980, the Curriculum Development Institute of Singapore was set up to develop textbooks for its New Education System. The new goals of this centralized education system included acquisition and application of knowledge and skills, the use of math language, foundation building, development of a positive attitude, and the appreciation of the power of math.

The first Singapore Math program was published in 1982, while the second edition was revised and published in 1992. The program was revised to include more problem solving, with a focus on the use of model drawings to solve problems.

Singapore showed a rapid improvement on international math and science tests, drawing the attention of the world. In 1995, the nation's students placed first in the Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study. Singapore also finished first in mathematics in the next two TIMSS studies, in 1999 and 2003. 

Singapore revised its mathematics curriculum once again in 2006, deciding to place a greater emphasis on the ability to apply mathematical problem solving in all situations. The resulting curriculum, My Pals are Here, is now used by over 80% of students in Singapore. The new program emphasizes computation skills along with more conceptual and strategic thinking. It covers fewer topics but covers them more thoroughly in order to ensure that the students master prior subjects rather than repeat them year after year.


Math in Focus: The Singapore Approach
Math in Focus: The Singapore Approach adapts My Pals are Here for American students.  It combines the Singapore approach to math with a configuration that is easy to use and understand. It is the newest and most complete adaptation of Singapore math, resulting from a partnership between Marshall Cavendish, the publisher of Singapore mathematics programs, and American publisher Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

The hallmark of Math in Focus is the concrete-pictorial-abstract progression.  "Concrete to pictorial to abstract" refers to introducing concepts first with manipulatives, then through pictorial representations in the text, and finally abstractly, with numerals and symbols.  This progression is consistent throughout concept development and problem solving.  Problems start simple and increase in complexity.

Lessons are structured to take students systematically through an individual concept, moving from to learning the concept to guided practice to independent practice to application. Lesson features in the Teacher's Edition include 5-minute Lesson Warm Up, Best Practices, Common Errors, For Advanced Learners, and extensive notes for each section of the lesson. 


Why Choose Math in Focus?
The first thing to remember is that different students learn differently, and it is important to find a program that matches your child's learning style.  While a program like Saxon Math spreads concepts throughout the text and features cumulative review, Singapore math concentrates them in lengthier lessons and organizes lessons into chapters for students who desire a highly conceptual program that covers topics in depth. For a thorough comparison of Saxon and Singapore math programs, click here.

For parents, Math in Focus offers support that cannot be found in other programs.  The Teacher's Edition offers numerous teaching tools that help parents guide students through the lesson, and Virtual Manipulatives offer an option for hands-on learning without the need to keep track of various individual manipulatives.

Math in Focus comes in two different configurations for homeschoolers.  The homeschool kits are made available by semester, and they include a Teacher's Edition, Student Textbook, and Student Workbook.  The Assessments, which are for a full year, and virtual manipulatives are sold separately.  The Student Packs do not include a Teacher's Edition and are designed for a full year of study.  A student pack includes parts A and B of the Student Textbook, parts A and B of the Student Workbook, and Assessments, with the virtual manipulatives available separately. 

To view sample pages, take a placement test, or place an order, please click here.



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