What factors helped you decide to use Singapore Math as the math option?

Dear Carrie

What factors helped you decide to use Singapore Math as the math option?

I am curious what factors helped you decide to use Singapore Math as the math option for the curriculum packages. I do realize with Heart of Dakota we may decide to use a program of our own. However, I am simply curious what drew you to choose Singapore over other programs. What factors helped you decide Singapore would be the one? Thank you!


“Ms. Please Share What Factors Helped Decide to Use Singapore”

Dear “Ms. Please Share What Factors Helped You Decide to Use Singapore,”

You may be sorry you asked what made me decide to use Singapore Math! Here’s a long reply to a tough question. As you mentioned, you are more than welcome to decide to use your own math curriculum with any of our programs (and we do realize that there are many excellent math programs to use). However, we have tried many of the big-name, and not so big-name, math programs for at least a year each and found many of them didn’t fit our family well for a variety of reasons.

Singapore Math is time-conscious instead of time-consuming.

Many of the programs were just too time-consuming in the amount of teacher presentation required. As we added more children to our homeschool, I realized a 30 minute math presentation for one kiddo would quickly turn into 2 hours of math presentation when multiplied times my 4 boys. That would leave precious little time for the many other necessary school subjects. Singapore Math doesn’t waste any time. It is time-conscious, instead of time-consuming. This is one reason that made me decide to use Singapore Math.

Singapore Math requires almost no preparation.

Some of the programs required too much preparation or planning ahead of time prior to teaching. When I wasn’t prepared, my students were wasting time waiting on me. Other programs had way too much drill or too many problems daily for my non-math loving oldest son. So, I found I was tweaking which problems to do daily and eventually the programs hardly resembled the original program anymore. Singapore math is open-and-go. It requires almost no preparation. This is another reason that made me decide to use Singapore Math.

Singapore Math is in keeping with the Charlotte Mason philosophy of math.

In keeping with the Charlotte Mason philosophy for math, I wanted a program with short lessons and some hands-on component. I also wanted  little to no preparation, as well as a workbook form (to cut down on time spent copying problems). Likewise, I wanted a math program that emphasized higher-level thinking and reasoning along with computation. Finally, I wanted it to be economical if possible. So when we began with Singapore Math, we knew we’d found the fit for us. These are still more reasons that made me decide to use Singapore Math.

I created hands-on lessons in the early years and wrote easy-to-follow schedules.

Where the program lacked hands-on in the early years, I decides to add in lessons to include that. The one problem we have found with Singapore is that the clean page layout and the few problems on each page makes it easy to assign too much daily, thus complicating what should be a short and sweet program. We compensate for that by including schedules in our guides that follow the original Singapore pacing, completing two workbooks in one school year. We phase out the hands-on teacher lessons starting with 3A/3B and move toward the textbook/workbook schedule only at that point. With a strong hands-on background from the previous Singapore years, kiddos are ready for that change.

We endorse Singapore Math through 6A and 6B. It gets more teacher-intensive after that point, so we suggest alternatives prior to continuing on to the math that comes after 6A/6B. Since Singapore has such a solid base in problem-solving and reasoning, and an advanced scope and sequence, the switch to almost any other program should be a fairly painless one. So, to make a long story short, all kids are different, and we know one math program will not fit them all. But, we do want to share what we’ve found with others in the hope that Singapore Math may be a fit for some of you as well. At least now you know the reasons that made me decide to use Singapore Math!


Can you point me in the right direction for math?

Dear Carrie

Can you point me in the right direction for math for my middle children?

I have five children happily using Heart of Dakota! My question is about math. My oldest is doing great using another math. The two youngest started with Singapore Math, so there’s no problem there. The two I need help with are my middle children, who are 9 and 11. I didn’t know anything about Singapore Math until a couple years ago. By then, we’d already purchased the math we were planning on using. I decided to give the one we had a try. Well, they did alright overall. However, mental math concepts haven’t been great. Now, I am thinking I’d love to use Singapore Math with these two. However, they’d be frustrated to go way back in levels, and that is where they’d probably place. Can you give me a little direction as to what I should look into from here? Just looking for some advice from a trusted source!!


“Ms. Please Help Point Me in the Right Direction for Math”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Point Me in the Right Direction for Math,”

I must admit that I tried my share of math programs with my oldest son. I did a year each of BJU, Abeka, Math-U-See, Calvert, Strayer-Upton, MCP, Teaching Textbooks (2 years of this), Math Essentials, Life of Fred, and VideoText (three years of this). I was always looking for the “perfect” fit for my mathy son and never finding it. I wish desperately I had used Singapore Math with him. However, there were no U.S. editions at that time (and I just didn’t want the headache of adding in non-U.S. weights/measures/money etc.). I think it’s safe to say I tried going nearly every possible direction in math with my oldest son!

Rather than changing directions, staying the course with the math you have could honestly be the best choice.

In looking back, it would have been better if I’d just stayed the course with any of these programs. Some were stronger than others, however my constant switching eventually gave my son the feeling he wasn’t good at math! It also left some pretty big holes in his math learning. So, my first advice would be to minimize switching as much as possible! It could be a change in direction is not needed, and staying the course with the math you have would honestly be best.

I see math as a ‘sit down with my kids’ subject now!

Also, in looking back, I have since realized that I wasn’t as available to my son with his math as I should have been! I have remedied this with my next kiddos. I make sure I sit and go over the lesson and stay with them to help them as they work the problems. Math is my “sit down with my kids” subject now!

Be sure to be available during math to give good guidance, direction, and every bit of help necessary.

My own oldest son was mathy, so I just let him go on his own much of the time. Eventually, when he hit bumps in the road and needed more direction, I couldn’t help him very easily (because I hadn’t stayed with him on the math journey). It is tough to just jump into various math programs on the fly. So, my second piece of advice is to make sure you are available during your kiddos’ math sessions and that you are giving good guidance, direction, and every bit of help needed to help them succeed.

Make sure you do not expect mastery of every concept.

The next thing I realized is that math programs regularly go back over what was taught before and teach it again, more deeply at each subsequent pass. This means that I need to know that mastering the material is not the goal at every level. In many levels, simply exposing kiddos to the concept is the goal. So, if I expect mastery of every concept, my goal differs from the math text goal. This means that I’ll think they need more practice to truly master something, and the text is already moving on! So, if I digress and add more practice, then my kiddos get frustrated and so do I when they don’t master a concept. More practice then equals more frustration.

If I instead realize that we were just to touch on the concept as exposure, and we’re coming back to it later when the child has had a chance to grow and mature more in his/her thinking, then my math experience will be so much better! So, my third piece of advice is to make sure you do not expect mastery of every concept! This is an exhausting way to learn math.

It could be time for a change in direction, or it could be staying the course is the best direction to take.

With all of this in mind, it may be possible that you can stay the course with your current program. If, instead, you are having tears every day, even with keeping in mind all I’ve shared above, then it may be time for a change in direction. With your 9 year-old, you are definitely not too late for Singapore. I would give the placement test and see where to place that child and begin there. With your 11 year-old, I would also give the placement test just to see where that child will place. This will help in determining what should happen next for that child. For more details about giving the placement test, click here! But before switching directions, especially with your 11 year-old, just be sure you need to! Sometimes, staying the course ends up to be better.


Singapore math is different from typical math programs.

Teaching Tip:

Singapore math is different from typical math programs.

One thing I am reminded of as school is underway is the difference between Singapore math and typical math programs. Singapore math is one of those programs that takes a while to wrap your head around philosophy-wise. It is a program that is designed with a terrific ebb and flow of concepts and skills. Yet, often as parents, we get in the way of this ebb and flow by stepping in and adding more and more practice.

Your students are not expected to master every new math concept.

It helps to keep in mind that your students are not intended to master every new math concept you show them. Some concepts are only introduced. Others are practiced more extensively. Still other concepts are meant to be mastered. If, as the parent, we treat every concept like it must be mastered right away, we can truly frustrate our children.

Resist the urge to add more practice.

So, when you think your child may not have fully grasped a concept, resist the urge to add more practice. Don’t jump in and search for more worksheets on the internet or in another source to add to your math lesson. Instead, just partner with your child helping him/her through the lesson to be successful. Then, the next day, move on to the next lesson.

When tough concepts come around again, your child will be older and better equipped.

Be confident that those tough math concepts will come around again the next year in the next level. By then, your child will be a year older and better equipped to deal with those harder concepts. Age helps so much in dealing with abstract concepts!

Each day continue steadily moving forward in math.

Continue steadily moving forward each day through your math lessons. Keep in mind that concepts move from being represented concretely to pictorially to abstractly over time. As students view concepts with increasing levels of abstraction, they move toward math mastery. If you keep this philosophy in mind, you will experience less frustration and more enjoyment in the design of the program.


How necessary are the Home Instructor’s Guides for Singapore Math 5A-6B?

Dear Carrie

How necessary are the Home Instructor’s Guides for Singapore Primary Math levels 5A-6B?

I see Heart of Dakota (HOD) carries the Home Instructor’s Guides (HIG’s) for Singapore Math 5A-6B. Do you find most families need the optional teacher’s guides for levels 5A-6B? I was using a different math program. However, I am thinking about doing levels 5A-6B before moving my oldest daughter into Pre-Algebra. I noticed that HOD doesn’t carry the optional HIG’s for the younger levels. My daughter’s other math program teaches math similarly to Singapore. I think she is a bit young to put into Pre-Algebra, and I want to give her brain a little bit more time to develop. So, I am interested in Singapore Math Levels 5A-6B for her. One mother told me she is working all the problems out for her children in Singapore Math Levels 3 and 4 herself. I’d rather not do that! I’m wondering how necessary the HIG’s are? Thanks for your thoughts on this!


“Ms. Please Help Explain How Necessary the HIG’s Are for Singapore Math Levels 5A-6B”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Explain How Necessary the HIG’s Are for Singapore Math Levels 5A-6B,”

I’d be glad to answer your question about the 5A-6B Home Instructor’s Guides (HIG’s)! With our own sons, we used the HIG’s only to refer to when we were stuck. I did not teach from the guide but continued to teach from the textbook. I believe I used the 5A HIG once and the 5B HIG just a couple of times. We referred to the 6A and 6B HIG’s a bit more than that, but still not terribly often. I will say I was grateful to refer to them when we needed them. I did use the Home Instructor’s guides for 5A on up as my answer key too. It was nice to have more fully worked solutions.

Further Thoughts on the Home Instructor’s Guides for Levels 5A-6B

We carry the Home Instructor’s guides for 5A, 5B, 6A, and 6B . Levels 5A-6B seem to be the levels at which they become more helpful. The Teacher’s Manual is not needed at any level, as it is very classroom oriented. So, whether you get the HIG’s for Levels 5A-6B or not comes down to more of a personal preference. In my experience, the HIG’s were nice to have for Levels 5A-5B because of the fully worked solutions, but not totally necessary. Most homeschool families like to have the HIG’s by the time their kiddos reach Levels 6A-6B. Very few families need the HIG’s for levels prior to 5A, which is why we don’t carry them. You can find all of the HIG’s for Levels 5A-6B that we carry by clicking here (just arrow down to the math section).

Helpful Advice for the Homeschool Mama Working Out the Problems in Levels 3 and 4 to Correct them 

On a side note, to the mama who is working out the problems in order to correct them in the younger levels, we do carry the answer keys for 1A-3B in one inexpensive booklet. The answer key for 1A-3B can be found by clicking here.  Likewise, the answer key for 4A-6B is also in one booklet, and that can be found by clicking here (just arrow down to the math section).


Don’t skip the thought bubbles in the Singapore math textbook.

Teaching Tip:

With Singapore math, how do you know what to emphasize each day?

If you are using Singapore math, it can be a bit confusing sometimes to know what to emphasize. Typically there is one main concept for each day of plans. So, how do you decipher what that concept is? Here is one tip that we have found helpful.

Don’t skip the thought bubbles in the Singapore math textbook.

The “word bubbles” or “thinking bubbles” in each textbook lesson are very important. These bubbles are drawn next to children in the textbook to show what they are thinking. The children are sharing the thinking process your child is to go through as he/she solves the problems in the lesson. Many times this process is a bit different than the way you learned to do problems like these.

The Singapore method of thinking is found within the word bubbles.

It is worth the extra time it takes to decipher the process the thinking bubble is showing. This is because the Singapore method is “talked through” in the thinking bubble. So, read the thought bubbles aloud as you go over the textbook lesson with your child. Help your child discover the process being described in the bubble, and then apply it in the lesson’s problems.

If you haven’t been paying attention to the thought bubbles in the textbook, now is a good time to start!

So, if you haven’t been paying attention to the word or thought bubbles in the textbook up until now, you may want to start. I didn’t notice how important these were until we went up higher and higher in the Singapore Primary math levels. When my next little ones started Singapore though, I emphasized these from the beginning! Try it and see what a difference it makes over time.