*Full Singapore Math review, with everything you need to know to decide whether Singapore Math is right for your homeschool. Includes FAQ, advice on which edition to use, and more.*

### Why *Singapore* Math?

Singapore is less than half as big as Rhode Island, and it has fewer people than Wisconsin.

So why use math books from this** teeny** foreign country?

Because kids from Singapore have **incredible** math skills!

People started to talk about Singapore’s math success in 1995, when Singaporean children wowed the world with their first-place score on an international math test.

This inspired a husband-wife team to bring the Singapore Math textbooks to the United States so that American children could benefit from them as well. Now, the original Primary Mathematics series and its spin-offs are used in classrooms and homeschools around the U.S. and the world.

Singapore Math is one of my** top recommendations** for homeschool math curriculum–but that doesn’t mean it’s right for every child or parent.

Read on for a full review, FAQ, and buying guide to learn more about this world-class homeschool math curriculum and whether it’s a good fit for your family.

### The Big Picture

Singapore Math presents each math concept in three stages.

- Stage 1: Hands-on objects
- Stage 2: Pictures
- Stage 3: Written symbols

Singapore Math calls this the** **Concrete > Pictorial > Abstract approach. Take finding the area of a rectangle as an example.

First, children **create** rectangles out of tiles or paper squares.

Then, they **draw** rectangles.

Last, they learn the **formula** length x width = area and use it to solve problems without manipulatives.

Singapore Math also focuses on teaching math very incrementally. The textbooks develop every concept step-by-step so that your child is gradually lead towards deep understanding without feeling overwhelmed. This logical progression helps children develop a strong conceptual understanding of math. They learn not just **how** to do math, but also **why** what they’re doing works.

Singapore Math is a **mastery** curriculum, with each chapter devoted to developing one specific topic.

### Mental Math and Word Problems

Singapore Math provides children lots of practice with basic pencil-and-paper computations, but the program also focuses on developing kids’ mental math and word problem skills.

Mental math is more than just solving problems mentally. It also helps kids build **strong number sense** and deep understanding of the properties of numbers, so it’s an important part of the program.

Parents sometimes find the mental math instruction in Singapore Math intimidating. But if you’re willing to read through the explanations in the Home Instructor’s Guides, I bet you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see how well you’re able to understand it. Singapore Math uses the same three stages of teaching to help kids learn each mental math strategy, so kids (and parents!) can become very comfortable with mental math strategies and use them with ease.

Singapore Math also uses hands-on materials and pictures to help children tackle an often-difficult part of elementary math: word problems. The program presents a greater variety of word problems than most other elementary math programs and teaches kids to **apply their math skills** to a wide variety of situations. Once children reach the third- and fourth-grade level books, they learn to draw bar models to represent and solve word problems. These models help prepare them for algebra and think about the structure of problems at a very deep level.

### What’s the Parent’s Role in Teaching Singapore Math?

Singapore Math has three **essential books** for each semester:

**Home instructor’s guide.**This is your teacher’s manual, with pacing guide, oral mental math exercises, and daily lesson plans.**Textbook.**You use the textbook (along with using hands-on manipulatives) to teach each concept to your child and have her solve a few practice problems before working independently.**Workbook.**After the textbook lesson, your child then completes the corresponding section in the workbook.

It usually takes about 10-15 minutes to present the lesson, with about 15-20 minutes for your child to work independently in the workbook. But this varies depending on the child and the lesson, of course! Workbook lessons in the lower grades are shorter, and then they gradually get longer as children get older.

For your child to reap all the benefits of Singapore Math, you do need to actively teach each lesson and make sure you understand the math concepts yourself. Don’t worry if math wasn’t your best subject, though—you’ll likely learn a lot yourself as your work through the program, and the home instructor’s guides lay out each lesson for you.

And, if you’d like to **dive deep** into learning how to teach Singapore Math well, check out** Math That Makes Sense: How to Teach Elementary Arithmetic.** It’s my online, self-paced course for parents that teaches you everything you need to know to teach elementary math with confidence.

### How much does Singapore Math cost?

Each year’s textbooks, workbooks, and home instructor’s guides, cost approximately **$85, **depending on which edition you buy. (See below for a comparison of the different editions.) Only the workbook is consumable, so you can reuse the textbook and home instructor’s guide or resell them.

You’ll also need manipulatives, since hands-on materials are so important for teaching Singapore Math. You probably have most of what you need around the house (or in your Minimalist Math Manipulative Kit), but you may need to buy a few extra items. These are all listed in the Home Instructor’s Guides, so check there for the full list.

### So, should I buy Singapore Math or not?

**Singapore Math may be a great fit for you if:**

- Your child thinks logically and likes math presented in a clear, straight-forward way.
- Your child likes a mix of hands-on and paper-and-pencil learning.
- You’re willing to spend some time understanding the math yourself and teaching it to your child.
- You’re willing to buy manipulatives and use them to make the lessons concrete for your child.
- Your child doesn’t need a ton of day-to-day review of math concepts. (Review is included at the end of each chapter, but not on a daily basis.)

**Singapore Math may not be the right choice if:**

- You don’t have the time to teach a lesson to your child each day.
- You feel a little anxious about your own math skills and aren’t sure you’ll have time to preview the lessons.
- Your child likes a lot of variety and will resist focusing on just one topic at a time.
- Your child needs a lot of regular review for math concepts to stick well.
- The thought of keeping track of manipulatives makes you break out in hives.

## Frequently Asked Questions about Singapore Math

### Is there a preschool Singapore Math book?

Singapore Math doesn’t offer any preschool math resources. But my book, Preschool Math at Home, will give you a year’s worth of simple, playful activities that will help your child build excellent number sense before beginning the kindergarten book.

### What manipulatives do I need for Singapore Math?

Because hands-on materials are so essential to the Singapore method, definitely plan ahead to make sure you have the manipulatives you need. Once you’ve bought the Home Instructor’s Guide, check the front for the full list of what you’ll need. (And don’t miss my Minimalist Guide to Math Manipulatives to learn how to put together a math manipulative kit with stuff you already have around the house.)

### Which Singapore Math edition should I use for kindergarten?

Singapore Math offers several different options for kindergarten.

**Essential Math.**Black-and-white workbook with teaching notes at the bottom of each page. A great value for only $11 per semester.**Standards Edition.**Bright-colored, consumable textbook. Each semester’s book costs about $25. A teacher’s guide is available, but not necessary, as there are teaching notes at the bottom of the textbook pages. Activity books and readers are available, but also not necessary.**Common Core Edition.**Very similar to the Standards Edition, but slightly less expensive. Meets Common Core standards.

All of these are great, but I recommend the Essential Math edition. It’s easy-to-use, inexpensive, and prepares children well to begin Primary Mathematics 1A. Just make sure to use the teaching notes at the bottom each page to give your child hands-on math experiences in addition to the workbook.

### How does Singapore Math’s scope and sequence compare with American textbooks?

Singapore Math presents some topics earlier than American textbooks, so it’s difficult to say exactly what the **grade level equivalent** is for each book. For example, American textbooks usually have children master the multiplication facts in third grade. In Singapore Math, multiplication is introduced in 1st grade, and children master the multiplication facts by the end of 2nd grade.

If you’re switching your child to Singapore Math, make sure to have him take a placement test to see which book to start with. In my experience, it’s almost always better to go back and shore up the fundamentals rather than to push forward with a shaky foundation.

## Singapore Math Buying Guide

Singapore Math offers several different editions of its homeschool math curriculum, as well as supplemental books. In this section, I’ll help you wade through all the options so you can figure out the best choice for your homeschool.

### Step 1: Placement test

If your older child is switching into Singapore, make sure to have him or her take the placement test. Singapore’s scope and sequence is quite a bit different than other programs, so it’s perfectly normal if your child places lower than her grade level.

### Step 2: Choose an edition

Parents have three different Singapore Math versions to choose from for grades 1-6. (See the FAQ above for details on kindergarten.)

**U.S. Edition**Original adaptation of the Singaporean books, available for grades 1-6. Textbooks are in color through 2B, then two-tone after that. Includes cumulative review.**Standards Edition**Created in 2007 to meet the then-current California standards, grades 1-5. All textbooks are in color. Includes cumulative review. Many parents find its Home Instructor’s Guide the easiest to use.**Common Core Edition**Newest edition, created to meet Common Core standards, grades 1-5. All textbooks are in color. No cumulative review. There’s a teacher’s guide, but no home instructors’ guide, so you may need to modify the lessons somewhat. These editions are also longer and more expensive.

The publisher’s chart explaining the differences between the editions is here. I personally use the U.S. Edition, because it focuses on the most important concepts and covers them thoroughly. However, if you feel a little shaky about your math teaching skills, I recommend you go with the Standards Edition because it has the most user-friendly Home Instructor’s Guide.

Once you’ve chosen your edition, you’ll need the Home Instructor’s Guide (or Teacher’s Manual), Textbook, and Workbook for your child’s level. Where to buy Singapore Math? Rainbow Resource usually has the best prices, but you can also buy them from Christian Book Distributors or directly from the publisher.

### Step 3: Choose supplemental books

If you’re just beginning Singapore Math, I recommend putting all your energy into fully using the three main components of the program (home instructor’s guide, textbook, and workbook) before adding on any other components. But, if you feel your child needs extra work in a particular area, Singapore Math has extra books to meet your child’s needs. corresponding to each level of the program. Download my 5 Quick Tips for the full low-down on the supplementary book options.

*My curriculum disclaimer: You know your children far better than I do! Please take my advice with a grain of salt and use the samples to decide whether the curriculum would is good fit for you and your child. This review is my honest opinion–I am not affiliated with Singapore Math in any way and don’t make any money off of any purchase you make.*

Updated February 2017

Tracy says

I have a question but 1st.

I loved your article it was very informative. I am starting my 3 children schooling at home and I chose Singapore curriculum.

I can’t seem to navigate the MOE website or get any significant help on choosing the curriculum. My question is could there be a counselor or some type of ambassador that could help with structuring a curriculum and point you in the right direction on purchasing them? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Tracy

Kate says

Hi Tracy, what country are you in? If you’re in the U.S., SingaporeMath dot com is the place to start. There’s a very helpful scope and sequence and FAQ that will help you know what to buy. Or, you can buy the program from Rainbowresource dot com. They also have info on their site, or you can call them directly. I’ve heard that their sales reps are usually very helpful, so they could help point you towards the right books, too.

Ariel says

Thankyou for this review! If you have a moment, would you mind expounding a little on the common core edition of the Kindergarten level? I realize it is cheaper and meets CCSS, but what does that really mean? Does it have less teacher script? Are there fewer reviews/pages? Thanks so much for any help you can provide!

Kate says

Hi Ariel, I actually need to update this buying guide. The Standards edition has been phased out and isn’t being published anymore, although you can still find it used. The two options now are Essentials and Common Core.

Between those two, Essentials is now the much better bargain at only $23 for the year. That’s because it’s just one black-and-white workbook with a few sentences of teaching directions at the bottom of each page. It does not provide a lot of support for parents (and no review pages), but if you feel comfortable teaching math, it’s a great choice.

The Common Core version is much pricier: to buy the textbook, activities book, and teacher’s guide costs a whopping $182 for kindergarten. You might be able to get away with not using the teacher’s guide, since there are some directions at the bottom of the textbook pages, but you would miss out on the full lesson plans and schedules that the teacher’s guide provides. The content overall looks very similar to Essentials, so I wouldn’t make that much of a factor in deciding between the two.

Let me know if you have any other questions.

Lola says

Hello! Thank you for your input. Is the workbook necessary? I’ve heard that some people don’t use it. I’m looking specifically for grade 2.

Kate says

Lola, it depends a lot on your child. The textbooks do provide quite a few exercises, along with some review pages, so it might be enough for a child who gets math quickly. But many children need the extra practice that the workbooks provide to completely master the topics.

For a child who does get math quickly, the main drawback of not using the workbook is that you would either need to do all the work orally or teach your child how to copy the problems. For my son in second grade, that would have been way too much writing without enough independence, but it could work for kids with strong motor skills (or moms who don’t mind doing it all out loud). For my son, I went with the “Intensive Practice” book instead of the workbook so that he could have some challenging independent practice.

Heidi says

Hello! I have been using Singapore Standards Edition from K-5 with my daughter. Next year she will be in book 6. I am not finding a home instructor’s guide for the Standards edition of book 6. I was wondering what your opinion was on us just switching to the U.S. edition for this coming year? Is there much difference? Also……I think I found a home instructor’s guide for 6A on Amazon but it doesn’t say “U.S. edition” on it. It just says “Singapore Primary Mathematics” and it is in two-tone. I am not sure if that is the correct one.

Kate says

Hi Heidi! You should be fine switching to the US edition for 6th grade. The Standards edition is based off the U.S. edition, with some rearrangement of the sequence and a few topics added, so your daughter has likely covered everything that is needed before starting the Grade 6 U.S. book.

Deb says

I loved Singapore Math and used it about 6-7 years ago until my daughter was struggling mightly with concepts and facts. (I still have all the books/texts!) We switched to Math U See and it has worked ok for her. I’m delighted to be using your book Pre-school Math at Home with my 5 yo, and was glad to see your review of Singapore Math. It makes me tempted to go back to it with him. Are the Essential Math workbooks enough to prep him for the beginning of Singapore where they have to learn many of the facts fairly quickly? Thanks so much!

Kate says

So glad Preschool Math at Home is working well for you, Deb!

The Essential Math workbooks are definitely enough preparation for 1A and 1B. I’d suggest using the ten-frame from the Preschool Math book along with the addition and subtraction sections in Essentials to help your 5yo keep building skills at visualizing the numbers, and that will help a lot with preparing him for mastering the facts. (And, if the ten-frame approach works well for your child, you could also supplement with my Addition Facts That Stick book. 🙂

carrie says

Hey there! Was wondering where it shop for Singapore math in Asia! I am in malayisa .

(Note email is all lower case can’t get it to do lower case)

Kate says

Sorry, I don’t know anything about the international availability. Perhaps try asking over at the Well-Trained Mind forums? There are quite a few international folks who hang out there and might have some ideas.

Beth says

Hey Kate,

Thanks for this post. It inspired me to try one of the intensive books for Caleb! Hope all is well!

Kate says

Great to hear from you, Beth! Hope it proves to be a good challenge for him!

Michelle says

I’m getting ready to purchase the Singapore Essentials workbooks A and B for my 6-year old daughter who is finishing Kindergarten in 2-3 weeks. I was planning to use it this summer as both review and to enrich her learning and depth of understanding. She goes to a top private school, but lacks confidence in math, often shutting down her focus due to sensing impemding frustration! She has apparently caught up with her peers at this point and is doing well, despite lacking somewhst in her number sense, during the 1st half of the year. She is definitely better at the less abstract approach to math teaching.

Referring to an earlier post, what exactly is the “Ten frame from the Preschool Math Book.” I’m new to Singapore, other than a brief experiencr with an older daughter. On their website I see “Earlybird ” materiials which I preseume to be Preschool, but am not sure what exactly to buy.

Thank you,

Michelle

Kate says

Hi Michelle,

The Early Bird materials are a different edition of Singapore Kindergarten. I prefer the Essentials books to the Earlybird series, but I think you’ll find Essentials A to be too easy for a child who’s already completed kindergarten math. Essentials B has 150 pages, so even just using that book will still give you a good amount of review and practice for the summer.

The ten-frames are a simple grids of 10 squares that help kids visualize numbers and develop strong number sense. If you subscribe to my email list, a printable ten-frame is included in the Minimalist Manipulative Kit. To learn more about how to use them, click on the “Addition Facts” tab at the top. (And if ten-frames click for your daughter, check out my “Addition Facts That Stick” book–it could be a good way to give her a jump start on the first-grade addition facts.)

Happy math! -Kate

Rharris says

What would you suggest for a student who did essentials A and neither he nor I liked it….stuck on the same concept too long. Sometimes it was too easy a concept and sometimes too hard. We ended up mixing up the last 3 or 4 chapters a bit…doing a page from 2 different ones for some review and interest. I love math and student taught middle school math and am comfortable adding explanations and activities to a program. O we finished out the year with counting and number writing practice. We have done some work with base 10 blocks also. I would consider him to be in K next year.

Kate says

If Singapore stuck with one topic for too long, I’d suggest considering RightStart if your budget can handle it. It mixes things up a lot and provides a wide variety of activities: games, a few worksheets, and many different hands-on manipulatives. My novelty-seeking oldest absolutely adored it.

Donna Wheeldon says

Hello! Thank you for the information on Singapore books! I was curious if you have reviewed or have any feed back on the books called Math in Focus….its supposed to be in line with the Singapore concept but a little easier to teach for the parent that needs the help. Do you know of this series? My daughter is going to be in 3rd grade and we used Horizons for 2nd but I am ready to challenge her more and she has realized spiral learning is not for her. Thank you so much!

Kate says

Hi Donna, I haven’t reviewed Math in Focus in depth, but it looks like a solid, Singapore-like program. If you feel like it would work better for you or it’s more appealing to your daughter, I wouldn’t hesitate to go for it. My personal preference is the U.S. edition, but both are good programs.

Here’s a veeeerrrrry in-depth comparison if you’d like more of the nitty-gritty differences between the two: http://singaporemathsource.com/resources/primary-mathematics-v-math-in-focus/

cutina says

Hi my son in going to the 9 the grade this year. Can you tell me a little bit more about elementary books at starts with 7 the grade. Does it start off with algebra? Not sure I have right website

cutina says

Oh I forgot to mention he has been using Singapore math from the beginning. Thanks

Kate says

Hi Cutina, Sorry, I’m not as familiar with the middle school books as the lower elementary books. Perhaps try asking over on the Well-Traiened Mind forums? I believe some of the parents there have used them and liked them a lot.

cutina says

Thanks !

Cel says

HI,

I found some Singapore Math (from Amazon) with the publisher as Frank Schaffer Publications, does it also part of the Singapore Math or it has to be from the publisher of Singapore Math? There are so many publisher out there with the book title of Singapore Math, not even sure which is the real one.

Kate says

Hi Cel! The Frank Schaeffer books are not directly from the publisher of Singapore Math, but they are aligned with the overall philosophy (and more specifically, with one of the editions). It’s amazing how many variations on “Singapore Math” are out there now. The original books (and the ones that I mean in this review) have “Primary Mathematics” as their title. They’re only available from 3rd party sellers on Amazon, so I prefer to buy them from Rainbow Resource. You can also get them directly from the publisher at singaporemath.com, but Rainbow Resource has better prices.

Sam says

My daughter is going to 6th grade. Which book do you recommend me to buy so she can be buy this summer?

Thanks

Kate says

Hi Sam, Can you elaborate a little more on what you’re looking for? What program has your daughter been using?

Nazia says

Hi how will I know which grade Singapore mathematics I have to buy for my daughter is 7 years old in US curriculum for grade 2 and Singapore curriculum grade 2 equal ? For example British curriculum grade 2 is equal to American curriculum grade 1.

Kate says

Singapore has a slightly different scope and sequence than American books, so I highly recommend taking a look at their placement tests to see where your daughter should start. In general, the Singapore and US grades are roughly equivalent, but it’s a good idea to check.

Deb says

My family loves Singapore Math and my oldest is currently on level 5. Do you have any suggestions about where to go after Singapore Math 6?

Kate says

Hi Deb! After Singapore 6, your child will be ready for a pre-algebra program. I’m afraid I don’t have a ton of experience with the post-elementary programs so far, but there are many to choose from. As a starting place, I’d recommend looking at Art of Problem Solving (only for a child who really, really likes math), Jousting Armadillos, Dolciani’s Pre-Algebra, and Lial’s Prealgebra.

Another option is to use Math Mammoth’s Prealgebra, but then you have to choose a new series for the following year for Algebra. It’s probably best to start a new series of books and then stick with it, if possible.

And if you’d like to read a very exhaustive list of options and other people’s experiences, check this massive thread out from the Well-Trained Mind forums:

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/342798-pre-algebra-fence-straddlers-master-thread/

Tammie says

This is our first yr of homeschooling….she is 9 and in the 3rd grade. Is this approach to math going to be really new to her? She had been in the public school system until this year. We live in Indiana and are soooo disappointed with the lack of individual time the students get and she was very lost in the shuffle. Where would you suggest be our starting place? Should we just jump in with the 3rd grade workbooks/textbooks/home instructors guide and see how it goes? She already has a good grasp of multiplication and so on…..

Kate says

Hi Tammie,

Whether or not this style of math feels new to her will depend a lot on what exactly her school was using, so it’s hard to say. For a starting place, I highly recommend having her do a placement test.

You can find them here: http://www.singaporemath.com/Placement_Test_s/86.htm

Don’t be at all worried if she tests a little behind her grade level. Singapore tackles topics in a slightly different order than most American math curriculum, so kids often place a semester or so below their current grade level. And honestly, when you’re just starting out on the homeschooling journey, there’s nothing wrong with having math feel easy for a while!

Faith says

So glad I found your blog! My son is 6 (turns 7 in September). I forgot the exact date when we started Singapore Math, but soon he’ll finish the Earlybird Kindergarten Mathematics Textbook and Activity book B (Common Core Edition). We homeschool and I’ve been doing “formal” things with him since age 5. I still consider him as being in Kindergarten this year. The grade thing doesn’t matter to us, we’re just concerned that he’s getting what he needs.

I didn’t purchase the teachers manual. In Textbook&Workbook A, we used manipulatives prior and i followed the instructor on the bottom of each page. When we got to book B i decided started too skip pages that seemed to easy for him because I thought it was a waste of time. Is that the right thing to do? I also stopped following teacher instructions at the bottom of the page ans only use manipulatives sparingly. Which niw I’m regretting sonce reading your post.

Anyway, i just recently purchased: Primary Mathematics Textbook &Workbook 1A since he’ll be soon done with the previous. I didn’t buy thr teacher’s manual, should i buy it? Also, i flipped through the book and I’m a bit upset about the multiple choice and true or false questions. Very different from Earlybird and I had bad experiences with T or F in my childhood. For me, math is a 4 letter word 🙂

I like Singapore but i don’t know what to do now….

Any feedback would be great! Thanks in advance!

Faith says

Oh and wow sorry for all of the grammatical errors! Using my phone which has a mind of its own

Faith says

Oops also forgot to mention- my son isn’t gifted. Neither is he super “good ” at Math. He is average or a bit better than average. He doesn’t really like to “do” math. However he can subtract and add in his head( without pause) a lot of the time…

Kate says

Hi Faith,

Definitely don’t beat yourself up for not diving deeply into every page in Earlybird. Those pages do get a bit repetitive–I did the same!

If you’re not a fan of multiple choice and t/f questions, one option is to use a different edition of Singapore Math. I believe the test prep type questions were added to the Common Core edition with the expectation that kids would be having to take a bunch of standardized tests. The U.S. edition (which I use) doesn’t have any test prep type questions in it.

Whichever edition you use, I do recommend buying the teacher’s guide and using it as much as you have time to. You might not need it every day for 1A and 1B, but you’ll definitely start to rely on them more as the math gets more sophisticated. Also, they have the mental math exercises and answer key.

Alena says

My daughter is in the 2nd grade of US Public School. She does not get any math homework ;( I would really like to compliment the Common Core math education she is getting in school with the Singapore math. So far she had completed Frank Schaffer Workbooks on level 1A and B. She had been working independently, and I was trying to reach a goal of 6 pages / 4 days per week. Based on my research, I am planning to switch her to Singapore Math, US Edition, published by Marshall-Cavendish.

Do you think it is a good approach to provide a supplemental math education like this? Are these workbooks ok for kids to work independently, considering she is getting the core concepts in school? What is a reasonable pace for a child this age? My daughter has great analytical skills, but she does not enjoy math at all and resist our attempts to practice mental math with her (despite having an engineer mom and physics professor dad 🙂 She does enjoy working in the self-study workbooks, so I thought that could be a solution, if the books are ok for her to work on her own.

Do you have any recommendation for us?

Thank you

Kate says

Hi Alena, Self-study workbooks are a great option for a child who resists doing math with her parents. Since she’s getting her main teaching in school, using the workbooks for reinforcement and practice seems perfectly reasonable.

My only caveat would be that some of the material may be presented in the Singapore books earlier than she will get it in school,. So, if the content ever seems too far ahead of what she’s learning in school (or can figure out on her own), you may want to just skip that chapter and come back to it later.

As far as pace goes, I’d recommend going more by time than pages with the Singapore workbooks. Some can literally take my daughter 2 minutes, while others can take a half hour.

Hope that helps, Kate

ElizabeTh says

Awesome info! I went with Singapore’s Standards K books for our first year homeschooling, after my homeschooling veteran mom, math teaching sister, and I sat down on the floor one day and hashed out the options for my oldest. Love it! For my second little one, PreK age this fall but chasing after big sis fast, I was just thinking about blending continued PreK math play with Essentials for her next year and wondering about the differences from Standards. Thank you bunches!

Kate says

Hi Elizabeth,

Both Essentials and Standards are great choices. The biggest difference between the two is that Standards is more expensive and has more components: readers, teacher’s guide, textbook, and activity book. Essentials is much more streamlined, with just a black-and-white workbook with suggestions for hands-on activities at the bottom. Both are comprehensive and well-sequenced, so both will get you where you need to go. (And if you’d like something more explicitly for pre-k, take a look at my book, Preschool Math at Home. There’s more info if you click on Preschool up at the top of the page.)

Kate

E.K. says

I use Singapore for K, but am considering a change because I feel uncomfortable teaching math differently from the traditional way. I was leaning toward BJU math. Do you have any info on BJU math? Do you feel it is on grade level?

Kate says

Hi EK,

I haven’t used BJU personally, only reviewed some of the materials. The scope and sequence certainly looks like right on on grade level overall, and it looks like a solid program.

Happy Math!

Kate

Hannah says

I’ve read this post several times! Love it.

I’ve been using the US edition, but I’ve read here and several other places that the standards edition has an easier to use HIG. Would it be ok to switch from US to standards as soon as we start 3A? Or would they’re be gaps?

Kate says

Glad you enjoyed the review, Hannah! The scope and sequence for the two programs are very similar., so you’d be just fine switching to Standards edition at 3A.

Katie says

Planning to start 1A U.S. eddition with my oldest who just completed Essentials. Should I be concerned about the concepts that are not included in the U.S Eddition, but were added to Standards?

Kate says

Nope, don’t worry about it a bit. Both programs eventually cover the same material, only the Standards edition breaks some topics into smaller pieces to better align the books with the old California standards.

Louise says

Great information! I am planning to switch to Singapore in the fall for my 10 and 11 yr olds. Currently working through Essentials with my 4 yr old. The 2 older kids struggle with dyslexia and are finally able to read somewhat independently. I will be doing the placement tests with them tomorrow but I am guessing they will place in either 2a or 2b. But I am obsessing over US edition or Standards edition. The website samples don’t give me a good enough feel for the differences. Could you give me any feedback on what makes the Standards edition easier to use?

Kate says

Ah, the joys of research! 🙂 The Standards edition often offers slightly longer chapter introductions. It also is often more direct in telling parents what to do and in organizing the steps into bullet points. But there’s truly not a huge difference, and either one will give your kids a great math education.

Carrie says

I have a just-turned five year old entering K in the fall and am making our homeschool curriculum plans. I was at a homeschool convention exhibit hall last night and had a chance to flip through several math curriculums. I was really drawn to Singapore Math and would like to try it. I specifically looked at the Essentials books for K. My question after reading through your info and comments section is, would this be a good place to start for my son if he hasn’t done any “formal” math work till now? We are still working on number recognition past 10, we do some fun activities with pattern blocks and counting, adding and subtracting through real life scenarios, etc, but that has been the extent of it so far. Would I be better off using a preK curriculum next year (or maybe even this summer) so he has a good solid foundation before we dive into a K curriculum?

Kate says

Hi Carrie,

Essentials starts out very simply. (For example, counting to 5 isn’t even until unit 4.) You’ll be fine starting with Book A and working from there. Just make sure to do the “introductions” at the bottom of the pages so that your son gets the hands-on practice along with the workbook pages, and you should be good to go.

Happy Math!

Kate

Wendy C says

Hi Kate!

Thanks so much for all your reviews. I’ve been all over your site this past week trying to narrow down the best choices for our family, and have found your insight and knowledge super helpful.

We will be homeschooling for the first time in the fall, and will have a 3rd grader, 2nd grader, and kindergartener. I’m really torn between using Singapore and RightStart for our first year. My 3rd grader is not a strong math student, and I think would really benefit from the visual approach to number sense in RightStart. However my 2nd grader is a very strong math student, and will definitely benefit from more of a challenge (I plan to put them through the same level, whichever curriculum we choose). So I’ve wondered if Singapore would be a better fit for him.

Cost-wise, I’m a little hesitant to jump into RightStart at this level (she placed in C) as so many people I read move to a different curriculum after C and its so expensive to start up! I do have my kindergartener (and three younger kiddos) to get through, so I know we can always use it for them if we do decide to invest.

Clearly I’ve spent way too much time agonizing about this decision lol. I would love to know what your thoughts are based on your knowledge of the two curriculums 🙂

Thank you again!

Kate says

It’s a classic conundrum, Wendy! I’d go with Singapore, for all the reasons you mention. It’ll serve you better in the long-haul, and it’s definitely more cost-effective. If you use the home instructor’s guide and manipulatives, your visual learner will still learn the concepts well.

If you’d like to reap some of the benefits of RightStart along with Singapore Math, they have two lovely supplements that can be really helpful. One is the RightStart Arithmetic Kit, which gives you a streamlined version of the essential concepts of elementary arithmetic. The other is the Math Card Games Kit, which has games to go with most elementary math topics. Neither is essential, but they’re a cost-effective way to add the abacus and some fun to other programs.

Happy Math!

Wendy C says

Thank you so much! Those are great ideas. I appreciate it!

sirisha chava says

Hello Kate,

Thank You. After i read all those posts I am still confused. I live in the US and my son is entering 1st grade august 2017. What should I buy .

Thank You

Kate says

Sirisha, you will need these books for first grade. If you click on the links, you’ll see them on Amazon.

–First grade kit (Includes textbooks 1A and 1B and workbooks 1A and 1B)

–Home Instructor’s Guide 1A and Home Instructor’s Guide 1B

Buy U.S. edition and you’ll be all set. 🙂

sirisha chava says

Thank You so much Kate !

Yolanda Dieken says

Hi Kate,

Thank you for all the info!

I use Singapore with my older kids and I have one starting K at 2-months-shy of age 6. I wish I had found your Pre-K math book sooner! I’d love to use it with my K, and just start her in Singapore 1 in 1st grade. Do you think your PreK book would be too simple for her? She is a pretty quick learner, we’ve worked through the Early Bird books but just when she asks “to do math”. I really didn’t love teaching out of a workbook for her young age (vs. real life, concrete examples) , so I wasn’t consistent, by any means. Any suggestions? Or suggestions for similar books geared toward a bit older age?

Thank you! Great info in this article!

Kate says

Hi Yolanda, Preschool Math at Home would likely be too easy for an almost-six-year-old. I’m afraid I don’t have a great recommendation for a more hands-on kindergarten curriculum, since most are very workbook-oriented. I’ve heard good things about Kitchen Table Math and Family Math as sources of hands-on activities, so you might take a look at those as a starting place. Happy Math!

sirisha chava says

Hello Kate,

This is regarding my earlier question :above in line . You suggested buying the –First grade kit (Includes textbooks 1A and 1B and workbooks 1A and 1B)

–Home Instructor’s Guide 1A and Home Instructor’s Guide 1B since my boy was going to 1st grade. I took the placemenet test online on singaporemath.com and we was able to do all of them pretty easily. The test said 1A. Should I buy the next level. Thank You !

Kate says

If he was able to do the 1A placement test easily, have him try the 1B test. That will probably be the best level for him, but it’s worth checking before you invest in the books.

sirisha chava says

He would not be able to do the 1B test. I saw the test paper he doesn’t know currency

Kate says

Sounds like the 1B books are the right place to start then, Sirisha. 🙂

Priya says

Kate,

I just wanted to thank you for all the useful information and for answering every single question so clearly. My oldest just turned 5 and this article has given me a lot of insight.

Best wishes!

Priya

Sirisha says

Thank you Kate. do you know if I can get 1B by itself

Kate says

Yes, you can probably find it for the best price at Rainbow Resource. Or, you can buy it directly from the publisher at Singaporemath.com.

Kate Weaver says

Hi, Kate!

Thanks for the thorough review. Wondering what math recommendations you have for grades 7-12. It looks as though Singapore does not offer curriculum for the those upper grades. Do you have an opinion on what would be good to transition to?

Kate says

Hi Kate, I’m sorry that I don’t have a solid recommendation at this point. I’m hoping to do some more research and write some more reviews in the coming year, so stay tuned. 🙂

Kumar Mainali says

Hello Kate, thanks for this article. The market seems to be flooded by multiple publishers’ Singapore Math. In fact, Marshall Cavendish alone has three series of Singapore Math. Do you know the publisher and series that does minimal altering of Singapore math? Do you suggest obtaining these books directly from publishers in Singapore? I am guessing those books will be different from the Singapore math books in the US mostly in unit and some examples. Please do disclose any conflict of interest you might have. Many thanks.

Kate says

Hi Kumar, I don’t have any affiliation with Singapore Math. They don’t pay me anything, and I don’t profit at all if you buy their books. The only way I make money on this site is if someone clicks on one of my Amazon affiliate links, in which case I receive a small percentage of their total Amazon purchase without it costing them any extra.

Yes, there are now many different versions of “Singapore Math” floating around, and some are better than others. However, if you want the authentic version, you don’t need to order the books directly from Singapore. Marshall Cavendish’s “US edition” is the original series that Singaporean schools used in the 90’s, with the currency changed and a couple lessons added on US standard measurement.

Happy Math!

Kate

Kumar Mainali says

Hi Kate, thank you for your prompt response. I will make sure to use your link to buy the books.

Marshall Cavendish’s US edition series seems to have been published in 2003. Their Common Core series was published very recently. I am wondering if this over a decade lapse reflects in improvement in the books. How is CC series different from US edition? I previously bought US edition series for level 1 and 2. Now time to buy level 3.

Kate says

Hi Kumar,

Here’s the breakdown on the differences between editions:

-U.S. Edition Original adaptation of the Singaporean books, available for grades 1-6. Textbooks are in color through 2B, then two-tone after that. Includes cumulative review.

-Standards Edition Created in 2007 to meet the then-current California standards, grades 1-5. All textbooks are in color. Includes cumulative review. Many parents find its Home Instructor’s Guide the easiest to use.

-Common Core Edition Newest edition, created to meet Common Core standards, grades 1-5. All textbooks are in color. No cumulative review. There’s a teacher’s guide, but no home instructors’ guide, so you may need to modify the lessons somewhat. These editions are also longer and more expensive.

Essentially, each has been created to meet different market needs–first, Standards for the California market, and then Common Core so that schools and parents that wanted or needed to align with Common Core had a good option. All have the same general approach to math and sequencing. I personally prefer the US edition because they’re more streamlined. You can check out a comparison of the the full scope and sequence here: http://www.singaporemath.com/v/PMSS_comparison.pdf

Enjoy level 3!

Kate

Alaina says

Hi! Thank you so much for your input. We just completed our kindergarten year at home. We are using Saxon math (about half way through grade 1). I love the cyclical approach of Saxon with daily review built in and I find my oldest benefits from that review. I recently heard great things about Singapore Math and I know a lot of the local schools are switching over to Math in Focus which used the Singapore approach. I am interested in switching over especially since I don’t know how long we will end up homeschooling so I don’t want my son being confused with a new sequence and approach. My concern is not having much review built in. Do you know anything about Saxon in comparison? I was an elementary teacher so I feel comfortable teaching, but don’t know too much about comparing curriculum. Thoughts? Thanks!

Kate says

Hi Alaina,

Saxon and Singapore have a lot of significant differences.

1. Singapore is mastery-based, so every chapter focuses on one new concept and works through it thoroughly, while Singapore jumps around topics from lesson to lesson and teaches just one small increment of the topic.

2. Singapore is also a lot more focused on having kids understand the concepts of math, while Saxon focuses more on having kids memorize the procedures for how to do math. Kids who use Singapore practice the procedures, too, but there’s more emphasis on understanding what they’re doing.

3. Saxon has lots of review, as you mentioned. Singapore has review built into the end of each chapter, but it is not daily like in Saxon. Not all children need as much review as Saxon provides, but some parents create a few review problems for each day if their children need more review.

If your child will be going to Math in Focus eventually, I do think it will be an easier transition if he has learned to think about math “the Singapore way” from the beginning. Using the US homeschool edition should work fine, but you can also find used Math in Focus textbooks and teacher’s guide on Amazon quite cheaply. I’ve never used them myself, but they look quite clear and easy to use as long as you don’t mind adapting the whole-class activities for the one-on-one homeschool setting.

Happy Math!

Kate

Emily says

Hello Kate! Your insight is tremendously helpful and your article is so thorough, thank you!! I tried to click on your five tips about supplemental materials, as that’s what I’m confused about, but the link didn’t work. I’m thinking of getting the intense practice and challenging word problems, my oldest will be using 4A. I’d love to know which is good for a “test” type resource for end of semester and end of year. Thanks so much!

Kate says

Hi Emily, Sorry you were having trouble getting the 5 Quick Tips! It’s slightly different than a link, so it can be a little finicky. Please do try again, but if it doesn’t work, send me an email at the contact link above and I’ll send it to you directly.

For end of semester and end of year tests, I recommend either using the final review section at the end of each book or the free placement tests available here.

Happy Math!

Kate

Amy says

I can’t find your email? I was hoping to get the 5 tips for Singapore math.

Kate says

Hi Amy, The 5 tips are in the purple links above. If you click or tap them, it should take you to a box where you can receive the pdf.

And, sorry about the missing email! Thanks to your comment, I just discovered that my Contact page wasn’t working! It’s fixed now–you’ll find it at Contact in the menu bar above. (Or, if you’re on mobile, click on the second Menu from the top.) Definitely drop me an email there if you can’t access the 5 tips at the purple links. Thanks!

Nicole says

Hi! I have a question about transitioning into Singapore from another curriculum. I’m thinking of switching my fourth grader, and it’s looking like she is testing into the third grade level. How do those who are behind catch up? Mainly I am worried that it is not worth it to switch if they are going to be “behind” always, (what, they just never do the last year before graduating?), and learning pretty much the same things they would be if we stuck with the curriculum we were using previously. Thanks for your thoughts!

Kate says

Hi Nicole,

There’s a couple different ways families deal with this. One is to skip the 6th grade book, because it provides a lot of review and more in-depth word problems than the typical American program. There’s certainly no harm in spending that year consolidating skills, but many kids have no problem going directly from the 5th grade book to tha pre-algebra text (or to the Singapore Middle School series).

Another option is simply to start wherever your child is and make decisions as you go. As you said, there may be chapters your daughter has already mastered in the third grade book. It’s fine to do a quick review and then skip those chapters, so that you’re able to go faster than the typical pace.

Lastly, just bear in mind that the idea of “grade level” for math gets muddier and muddier as you progress to the higher grades. Some kids will start pre-algebra in sixth grade, algebra in seventh, and so on until they’ve finished calculus before the end of high school. Other kids will wait until eighth grade to start pre-algebra, then do algebra and geometry only in high school, depending on their state graduation requirements and future plans. Overall, my advice is to what seems best for your child now, and trust that the way forward will become clear as your child gets older. I’m a total planner myself, so I sometimes find it hard to take my own advice on this…but it does seem to always work out, even if it’s not quite how I expected. 🙂

Happy Math!

Kate

Chelsea says

I am currently using RightStart level B(2nd edition) for my daughter. I love the program but I need a workbook because I happen to have a child that really likes worksheets. I am considering Singapore Math. Do you think this is too much? Would I need the entire program or can I just buy the workbook?

Kate says

Hi Chelsea, I think trying to do Singapore workbooks along with RightStart might be too much. An easier (and cheaper) option would be to look at Kumon workbooks. They’re colorful, good-quality, and inexpensive, and you can buy practice books to go along with just about any topic from RS that could use a little more reinforcement. Some good ones that might go along with RS B are:

My First Book of Money

My Book of Telling Time

My Book of Addition

Angelia Schifferle says

Hello Kate, I am so happy I have found you. I need some help. Last year was my 1st year homeschooling. We survived! I have a 6th Grader, 3rd Grader, and a 4th grader. Here goes: We chose Singapore because the private school we pulled them from used Singapore. We chose Standard Edition because I am not a math fan/I needed extra support. My 6th grader was unable to complete the curriculum (5th Grade Math) we made it to the end of the 1st quarter around the end of November and realized we needed a tutor (New homeschooling mommy teaching a classical curriculum and math was a little overwhelming). Anyway, bottom line is we have just gotten to the end of 3rd quarter this summer. We use the tests for the curriculum as well. To me this seems to take a day away each week. I am in the same situation with the 4th grader (3rd Grade Math). My 3rd grader (1st and 2nd Grade Math) flew through the curriculum.

I guess my question is: Is it really possible to complete the curriculum (textbook, workbook, test) in its entirety in a 9 month school year? Or should we anticipate on doing math year round with Singapore?

I was thinking after reading your comments above that we may need to go year round and use 6th grade as a gap/catch up year if needed, completing what we can of the 6th grade review curriculum and moving on to PreAlgebra. What are your thoughts on skipping the last quarter or selecting chapters/units not to teach? I am thinking that it would be better to just let them finish when they finish and keep going.

Your Math Challenged Homeschooling Mom,

Angelia

Dailey says

Hi, I am going to start homeschooling my son who will be in kindergarten…can you list everything that I should purchase for kindergarten Singapore math? Thank you!!

Kate says

Hi Angelia,

Check out this article (Do I Have to Finish the Math Book?) for a run-down of some different ways to approach not finishing a curriculum. Using 6th grade as a possible catch-up year is definitely a good option, as well, since many children are successful going straight from 5th to Pre-algebra.

Honestly, I’ve never mapped out the full calendar of lessons for Standards edition, so I’m not sure whether or not it’s possible to finish the entire curriculum including tests in 9 months. Unless you’re expecting to change your approach significantly, you probably will continue on roughly the same pace as you’ve been going at. If you’d like to speed up the pace, you might consider using your kids’ review pages as tests rather than giving them separate tests. A lot of homeschool moms find that they need official tests less and less as they get used to assessing their kids’ progress on a day-to-day basis, so you might find that you don’t feel that you need them as much this year.

Happy Math!

Kate

Kate says

Hi Dailey,

All you need for kindergarten is Essentials A and Essentials B. Instructor directions are at the bottom of each page, so you’ll be all set!

Happy Math!

Kate

alwayslearning says

We are starting to home school this fall with my daughter, who is entering 3rd grade. I believe Singapore Math would be a good choice for us. She had been using TERC/Investigations at school, but only following it loosely. She is good conceptually at math and loves it, but has anxiety issues in general (not specific to math) so taking the placement test is challenging. I can look at the tests myself and know that she understands the math content for the 2A test, but would need help to understand the format of the problems, particularly the word problems. If I helped her understand how to tackle them, she could do the math. I looked at the scope-and-sequence on the Singapore site and 2B looks like a good fit, but it looks like I might need to do some supplementing/catch-up on a few topics from 2A (metric measurements, subtraction to 1000, etc). I’m perfectly comfortable doing that. I don’t want her to feel pressured and frustrated, but she loves math and I don’t want her to be bored. What are your thoughts? I would also be ok buying both sets of books, but not sure how to work that. I’m concerned that if I start with 2A, she’ll sort of be a whole year “behind”, and she really prides herself on being good at math. And then I’m not sure what the process/schedule is to catch her up. Sorry for all the questions. Thank you!

Kate says

Hi Alwayslearning!

If I were you, I’d buy both 2A and 2B, spend a little time covering the topics that she still needs from 2A, and then move quickly onto 2B. As far as the grade level goes, perhaps you can just tell her that they cover math in a different order in Singapore, and so what’s second grade level there is third grade level here? Even though Singapore’s scope and sequence is different than American books, she’ll still be well on track to enter an American math program, even if she’s always a year “behind” as far as the Singapore books go. (See comment #81 above for a little more in depth on this.)

Happy Math!

Kate.

Alwayslearning says

Thank you, Kate. That’s what I’ll do.

Lauren says

Hi Kate,

Thank you for all your info, including your thoughtful comments. I am struggling deciding between the us standard edition and common core edition. My two went to school last year and they used common core, so I thought I should just stick with it. But I question common core at times and feel the standard might be more straight forward. A friend of mine said they are probably very similar, just vary in presentation. I was wondering your thoughts. Math to me is getting it, then moving on. Common core seems to push looking at different ways to get to your answer, but frustration along the way. It might just be me though, in deschooling the way I was taught.

Thank you!

Lauren

Kate says

Hi Lauren,

Both editions are very similar and will give your kids a great math education, so definitely don’t sweat this decision too much. Many of the pages are identical, but the CC version does focus a little more on alternate ways to find answers and explaining answers in words. (Although it’s much less than many other CC programs out there.) If I were you, I’d go with the Standards edition. It sounds like you’d probably just feel more comfortable with it, and plus the CC version only offers an expensive teacher’s manual while the Standards edition offers a cheaper and more parent-friendly home instructor’s guide.

Happy Math!

Kate

Lauren Petrucci says

Thanks so very much!

Charlotte` says

Im just starting to hs my 4 & % year old girls. Could I get by using your preschool book and Addition facts book or should I purchase the Singapore curriculum, teacher guide and all?

Kate says

Hi Charlotte,

It depends on where your daughters are at. If they aren’t very familiar with the numbers to 10, definitely start with the preschool book. If they already understand the numbers to 10 thoroughly (in that they can count 10 disorganized objects, count OUT 10 objects, tell whether 8 is more or less than 6, etc.), they’re beyond the preschool book and ready for Singapore’s Kindergarten curriculum. If that’s the case, I’d recommend using Singapore Essential A and B. With that edition, you’d only need to buy the workbooks for each child. All of the teacher’s instructions are at the bottom of each workbook page.

Either way, I’d recommend holding off on the addition facts until about 1st grade.

Happy Math!

Kate

Sandy says

I have started supplementing the math that my son does in public school (3rd grade this year) with the Singapore math challenge workbook. This book was published by Frank Schaffer Publications, and says on the cover that it is correlated to the common core state standards. From reading your article and questions, I have realized that this book is not part of the official Singapore math curriculum, since it has a different publisher. Would you happen to know, how this workbook compares to the Singapore math intensive practice workbooks? Thanks very much for your help.

Kate says

Hi Sandy,

The Singapore Math Challenge books look like wonderful supplementary math challenges (I may grab a few for a math club that I run!) , but they’re quite different from the regular Singapore books. The Intensive Practice books provide more focused skill work, rather than interesting puzzles and supplementary topics. But if your son is enjoying the book, it looks like a great way to enjoy math together at home.

Happy Math!

Kate

Sandy says

Thanks very much for your prompt reply. Yes, the Math challenge books are certainly teaching us to look at math differently from what we were used to. Some of the problems are a little ambiguous and need to be more clearly stated to get the answer in the back of the book. Some of the problems actually seem like simpler versions of the Math Olympiad problems my older son does. Thanks very much!