Detailed Dimensions Math review. Learn the differences between Singapore Math’s newest curriculum and their tried-and true Primary Mathematics program so you can choose the best homeschool math program for your family.
Over the years, Singapore Math has created several different editions of the Primary Mathematics books used so successfully in Singaporean schools in the late ’90’s.
First, there was the U.S. edition, an Americanized version of the original Singaporean curriculum. This became the go-to version of Singapore Math for many homeschool families. If your friend says she uses “Singapore math,” it’s probably this book.
Next, there was the Standards edition. It was originally published to meet California’s state standards, but many (non-Californian) parents chose it for the full-color textbooks and well-written lesson plans.
Then, there was the Common Core edition, written mainly for schools that needed to comply with the national frameworks.
Now, they’ve added yet another option: Dimensions Math, a comprehensive math curriculum for children from preschool to 8th grade.
That’s 4 different “Singapore Math” textbook series, and it doesn’t even count spin-offs like Math in Focus or the Frank Schaeffer supplementary workbooks. It’s no wonder that many parents feel overwhelmed by all the choices!
What All the Books Have In Common
The good news is that all versions of Singapore Math provide excellent instruction, so you don’t have to stress about choosing the “right” version. (Well, except perhaps Dimensions PreK and Kindergarten–see below for more.) Each program has its own distinctive features, but all of them follow the same basic approach:
- lessons that follow the concrete –> pictorial -> abstract sequence to develop conceptual understanding
- written practice to build fluency with arithmetic
- mental math to build deep number sense
- many challenging word problems that require kids to go beyond superficial understanding and use bar diagrams as a tool for solving
(If you’re brand-new to Singapore-style math and are wondering what the heck “concrete–> pictorial –> abstract” means or what “bar diagrams” are, click on over to my review of Primary Mathematics. It’ll familiarize you with the overall Singapore Math approach before you come back and read this article: Singapore Math Review: World-Class Math Education, Right at Your Kitchen Table)
No matter which version you choose, you’ll still reap all these benefits for your child. But, knowing the features of each will help you pick the one that best fits your teaching style and fits your child’s learning style.
In this Dimensions Math Review, I’ll introduce you the the components of the program and describe what makes Dimensions distinctive, as well as the bottom line on how to tell whether Dimensions is right for you and your family.
Dimensions Math Review
Dimensions Math is a comprehensive math curriculum for children from PreK through 8th grade. The series is divided into elementary (PreK through 5th grade) and middle school (6th through 8th grade). Written by American educators with many years of experience teaching Singapore-style math, the books aim to provide Singapore Math in a format that’s more familiar and accessible to American parents and teachers. The middle school program has already been out for quite a while, while the elementary program was brand-new in the fall of 2018.
Each year of Dimensions is divided into 2 semesters. For each semester, you’ll need the Teacher’s Guide, Textbook, and Workbook. For example, here are the books for the first semester of Dimensions Math first grade. (You’ll also need to gather some manipulatives and print off the blackline masters.)
As of this writing, nearly all levels are available. Only 5B (the second semester of fifth grade) is still in production, and it is scheduled for release in June 2020.
Once the bulk of the program is finished, the authors plan to write Home Instructor’s Guides for homeschool parents. Until then, parents will need to use the classroom-oriented Teacher’s Guides.
What’s Different from Primary Mathematics?
Many aspects of Dimensions Math are very similar to Primary Mathematics. Both follow roughly the same scope and sequence, and both take the same overall approach to teaching math. But you’ll find several features that are quite different.
Consistent Lesson Format
Beginning in 1st grade, most Dimensions lessons follow a consistent 5-step format: Think, Learn, Do, Activities, Workbook.
- Think: During this phase of the lesson, you and your child work through a real-life problem with hands-on materials. This problem introduces the type of thinking that the child will do throughout the lesson.
- Learn: In this stage, you teach your child the new concept, either with manipulatives or by referring to pictures in the book.
- Do: Next, your child completes exercises from the textbook to practice the new concept. You’ll usually need to actively guide your children during this part of the lesson.
- Activities: The Teacher’s Guide provides several optional activities you can use to further reinforce the lesson.
- Workbook: Finally, the child practices the new concept independently in the workbook.
Here’s a sample of a subtraction lesson from 1st grade to give you a sense of the lesson format and layout:
(In PreK and Kindergarten, the lesson format is slightly different but still follows the same general pattern.)
This consistent lesson format helps both parents and children know what to expect during the daily math lesson. The Teacher’s Guide also provides very clear guidance about how to incorporate the textbook. In general, there’s more hand-holding for parents so that you know exactly what to do in each lesson.
However, one potential downside to this is that Dimensions’ lessons are longer and more detailed than the lessons in Primary Mathematics. If you prefer to keep your math lessons short and sweet, you may find the amount of parent teaching time a bit long, even if you skip all of the optional Activities.
To give you a sense of the difference between the two programs’ level of details, here’s the same lesson as above but in the U.S. version’s Home Instructor’s Guide. The activities are similar, but the overall lesson is much shorter and simpler, with little guidance about what to emphasize as you discuss the textbook.
Full -Color, Well-Organized Teacher’s Guide
As you can see in the photos above, Dimensions’ Teacher’s Guide has a much more pleasant and clear layout. Full-color pages, easy-to-read headings and bullets, plus inset photos of the textbook make the Dimensions Teacher’s Guides much easier to scan and comprehend than the Primary Mathematics’ Home Instructor’s Guides.
Colorful Textbooks in the Upper Grades
Once all levels are finished, Dimensions Math will include full-color textbooks all the way through fifth grade. (Primary Mathematics U.S. edition offers only 2-color textbooks after 2nd grade, although the Standards edition textbooks are color for all grades.) Here’s a sample of the first grade textbook.
Many Optional Activities
Dimensions includes at least one optional Activity in each lesson (and sometimes more). These Activities are usually number games or gross-motor math activities. They provide extra practice and reinforcement in a fun or active way. Many will work just fine for a parent working with one child, but some require a large group of children. You’ll have to modify these to make them work in a homeschool setting.
Here’s a sample activity from the 1st grade subtraction unit, a simple subtraction practice game that can be played with 2 players.
If you don’t like having to wade through a lot of choices, you may find all these options overwhelming. This is especially true in Kindergarten and PreK, where there are usually at least 5 different activity options in every lesson. At these younger levels, more activities also means more prep and more materials to gather. Some chapters aren’t bad…
….but other chapters are very elaborate. Yikes!
A Warning About Dimensions Kindergarten and PreK
Dimensions’ Kindergarten and PreK programs are quite overwhelming. 5 different activity options per lesson is a lot to sort through! With these two levels, I worry that parents will be so frazzled by all the activity options that they’ll only use the textbook and workbook. For little ones, hands-on activities are the most important part of learning math–not the written work! If you think you might be tempted to skip the hands-on activities, you should either choose a different kindergarten program, or vow that you’ll do at least one hands-on activity each day before doing any book work.
That said, if you love prepping cute, hands-on activities and don’t mind spending a lot of time on math, you may have a blast using Dimensions Kindergarten and PreK. For a family with just one young child and not many other obligations, Dimensions Math PreK and Kindergarten could be a a lot of fun.
Other Options for Kindergarten and Preschool Homeschool Math
However, if you think you’d be better off with a more streamlined kindergarten program, you have a lot of options. My Preschool Math at Home and Kindergarten Math with Confidence lead well into the Dimensions first grade program, or you can consider at the other kindergarten options Singapore Math offers. (Scroll down in my review of the Primary Math series to read more about these options.)
Are there supplementary books available for Dimensions Math?
Singapore Math offers a lot of options for supplementing their programs. At this point, only the Intensive Practice books are correlated with Dimensions. You can use these books for kids who need more challenge.
What does the Dimensions Math Middle School program include?
By the time your child finishes Dimensions 8, she’ll have covered pre-algebra, algebra, and an introduction to geometry. She’ll be ready to go into a full high school geometry course.
Can I use Dimensions Math Middle School books if I use U.S. or Standards edition for elementary school?
Yes. If you use Standards edition for elementary, Singapore recommends having your child finish Standards Grade 5 and then transition to Dimensions 6. If you use the U.S. edition for elementary, have your child finish U.S. edition Grade 6 and then move into Dimensions 7.
Can I switch to Dimensions Math from a non-Singapore program?
Yes, but your child should take a placement test first. All of the Singapore Math programs follow a faster scope and sequence than most American math programs. (For example, most American programs teach the multiplication and division facts in third grade and long division in fourth. All the Singapore programs teach the multiplication and division facts through the 5s in second grade and teach long division in third grade.)
If your child has been using an American math program, he’ll likely place at a slightly lower grade level in all versions of Singapore Math. Don’t be alarmed by this–it’s much better to make sure your child has a solid foundation than to rush him through. Plus, if he continues through Dimensions 8, he’ll already be ready for a high school geometry course.
Dimensions is roughly the same price as the rest of the Singapore programs: about $100 per year for the textbooks, workbooks, and teachers guides. You’ll also need to add a few manipulatives.
The Bottom Line on Dimensions Math
Dimensions Math May Be Perfect for You If…
You’re a little nervous about teaching Singapore-style math and would like very detailed directions.
If you’re new to Singapore Math and your child is in 2nd grade or younger, Dimensions Math is a great choice. It provides more guidance and explanations than the other versions, and the clear and consistent layout will make daily teaching easier.
You’ve used the U.S. or Standards editions in the past, but you think you’d like Dimensions better.
If you think you’d like Dimensions better, go for it! It’s totally fine to switch curricula, especially between programs that are so similar. If your child has used the U.S. or Standards edition, he or she shouldn’t have any problems transitioning to Dimensions. All three versions cover the same material within these grade levels, so your child will be well-prepared for the next grade level no matter which edition you use. Just make sure you’ve finished a full grade level in one edition before transitioning to a different version, as some of the topics have been rearranged within each grade.
Don’t Choose Dimensions Math If…
You want to keep your hands-on teaching time to a minimum.
If you have a large family or lots of little ones trying to steal the linking cubes, the parent-involved part of the Dimensions’ lessons may be too long for you. If you often find yourself pressed for time when teaching math, the U.S. or Standards version is probably a better bet for your family.
You don’t want to have to pick and choose from lots of lesson options.
The Dimensions’ Teacher’s Guide provides many more activities than most families will need. (Remember, it’s designed for a classroom teacher who needs to manage a large class and teach kids at a variety of levels.) If it stresses you out to have to pick and choose what to do, or if you don’t like having to cut activities, Dimensions is probably not a good choice for you. Go with Standards or U.S. edition instead so that the lessons don’t provide so many options to sort through.
You’re already using the U.S. or Standards edition, and you’re not excited about switching to Dimensions.
Just because Dimensions is the newest program in the Singapore line-up doesn’t mean it’s the best choice for every family. Unless you’re super-excited about using it, it’s fine to keep using the U.S. or Standards edition. Both are still excellent programs. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it!
And if Dimensions Math isn’t what you’re looking for, don’t worry! There are many excellent homeschool math programs out there. Check out my curriculum page for reviews of my other favorite programs to help you find one that’s a good fit for your family.
Thanks to the kind folks at Singapore Math who provided me with free review copies and graciously answered my many questions! This is my honest opinion of the program; other than free review copies, I was not paid or compensated in any way for the review.
Updated May 2020. Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. If you buy an item through an affiliate link, I may receive a commission, at no additional cost to you. Please note that comments are closed on this post. If you have a question, you can contact me here.
113 thoughts on “Dimensions Math Review: Should You Switch to Singapore Math’s Newest Program?”
Hi Kate! Oh how I wish that his review was out in June! I couldn’t find ANY reviews then. We homeschool and My son completed SM Kindergarten Essentials in May and I decided to give the Dimensions 1A and 1B a try! I bought the text book and workbook on their presale. How essential is buying the Teachers guides at this grade 1 level? It wasn’t yet available when I bought the others. Will we be missing anything a lot if I don’t buy the teachers guides for 1A and B? Sounds like just lots of other optional activities, which I agree the text and practice book definitely provide lots already. So I don’t feel like more options would enhance his experience except to make the lessons too long for us. By the way we’ve also been working our way through your addition facts that stick book this summer. Fun fun fun!! My son is learning lots and loving it! Thanks for all you do!
Glad you’ve been enjoying Addition Facts That Stick! Your son will be in great shape to start first grade math.
Whether or not you need the teachers’ guides depends on how comfortable you are teaching math the Singapore way. You definitely don’t need all the optional activities, but the books do provide good math background information, explanations of what the lessons are trying to accomplish. and how to use manipulatives to teach the textbook lessons. Personally, even as someone experienced in teaching Singapore Math, I’d want to have them so that I could just open them up and get started each day without having to think too hard! But you can get by without them, too. 🙂
I have some questions about two different kiddos. I used a variety of programs for my older kids so am familiar with most of them. I have an 8 y.o. who does not enjoy sitting still for very long. We’ve used Singapore and Horizons (finished level 2) but I only have him work 3-5 or so problems in any given set in Horizons. He picks up things very quickly and gets bored with a lot of repetition, so I did the assessment for Beast 2b and he loved it! He enjoys trying to figure things out so I think it’ll be great for him. If I switch him to BA for math, do I need to do anything else to supplement? Do kids typically finish one level a year with BA?
I also have an 11 y.o. with some learning disabilities. We have used a variety of programs for her because she would hit a brick wall in one and we’d switch to something parallel in another program in order to help her. She just finished Abeka book 1 and the repetition helped a lot. We also worked through your book Addition Facts that Stick, and that book was a life saver at a time when she was struggling (it was the only program that worked to help her learn and understand addition). I was wondering if you thought the Dimensions Math program might work for her? Or if you have others that you recommend? I wouldn’t normally try a Singapore-style program with her, but with the added activities wasn’t sure if it might work. I will probably always have to use a variety of programs simply because she needs so many different angles. There might even be activities I could do with both of them together. Since she just finished Abeka 1, she’d be a good bit behind him though, so I’m not sure. Thanks for your help and particularly for your creativity in the Addition Facts book!!
Beast sounds like it could be a great fit for your 8 y.o. Yes, families typically finish about one level per year with it. It’s a comprehensive program, so you only need to supplement if you see any gaps. For my son (who sounds a lot like your son!), I sometimes added a little rote practice to make sure he had fully mastered skills like multi-digit multiplication or long division. He was too impatient to move on to the next thing to bother with all those pesky details. 🙂
For your 11 y.o., I don’t think I’d recommend Dimensions. It just requires so much abstract thinking and reasoning. Kids who struggle with math often need to already know what to do before they begin to reason about how the math works, which is the opposite order of how Singapore presents concepts.
If Abeka worked well for your daughter, you may just want to continue with it. As another option, I’ve found Rod and Staff to be a really good fit for my tutoring students who struggle with math. The straight-forward style, constant review, and focus on basic arithmetic help to make math concrete in a way that many kids who struggle with math need. It’s very procedural, so I do combine it with my Facts That Stick books and some of the games and activities from Activities for the AL Abacus to give it a little more of a conceptual slant…but only after I’ve already taught the procedures.
So glad to hear that Addition Facts helped your daughter understand addition better! She sounds fortunate to have a mom who’s willing to work so hard to help her master math. 🙂
Thank you greatly for your review! I just started Singapore Standards 1A with my kindergartener (nearly 6). I saw this new program, but since I knew nothing about it, went with Standards. This one looks like a better fit for my teaching style (former school teacher with Language Arts background…I like my manuals concise 🙂 ) and his learning needs (he very much likes routine and knowing the layout to each lesson would really help him focus). But you would not recommend starting Dimensions 1B, when Standards 1A is complete correct?
Yes, that’s right. You could definitely switch to Dimensions at 2A, but I wouldn’t recommend it at 1B.
Thank you for this! Cannot tell you how relieving it is to read a thorough comparison! So, this is a related Q, and since I’m still somewhat confused, thought maybe you’d have insight…we used the Singapore Essential Kindergarten A+B and started 1A for her kinder year at home. Then she went to 1st grade in maryland and had a good year with common core. Now we are homeschooling again, and in my mind I was considering a swap to Singapore Common Core Edition (bc we will likely be in and out of public school–which was my rationale but not sure if that’s right thinking or not?). Then I went to buy it and discovered dimensions (insert Emoji of lady smacking herself in the forhead!). So, based on your review and other reading I’ve done today, it seems like switching to common core is not super essential (but do they use different terminology to describe the same things, where the terminology might be helpful in public school later on?), and the Dimensions update was more about content design (it is definitely prettier!). Is this accurate? Do you have any particular other thoughts or recommendations to guide our situation? –thank you so much! –Becky Hammond
Hi again Becky,
Honestly, there’s really not much difference between the content of the different versions, or even the terminology. In general, Singapore Math surpasses Common Core standards, so any of them will make for an easy transition into public school. Go with whatever you and your daughter will most enjoy using, and she’ll be well-prepared for whatever math she tackles next.
Thank you, Kate! I so appreciate your insight, your expertise, and your guidance in this world that seems so complex to navigate…too many options! Haha. You have a great way of simplifying. Thank you for sharing your talent with the world! –Becky
Thanks for the great review, Kate. I did Primary 1A and B with my son last year and I thought the intensive practice workbooks were really helpful for extra reinforcement. Do you think we could incorporate the intensive practice workbooks with the Dimensions sequence? I didn’t have any trouble with Primary last year, so it seems like we could go either way. Thanks!
Yes, the IP books are correlated with Dimensions, so you’d be fine using either Dimensions or Primary US.
Thank you for this review! I’m still not sure which way to go or even if Singapore-style math is the best fit for my daughter. We tried Math-U-See and Right Start. She is not understanding place value and the idea of regrouping. She is in second grade now and I would put her on a first grade level (the basics of addition and subtraction). Would you recommend taking the leap to Singapore or is it similar to Right Start? Any other suggestions? I have 3 other kids at home and she doesn’t love doing math so I don’t want exasperate her but I want her to learn it! Thank you for any help you can give!
If MUS and RightStart didn’t click well for her, Singapore probably isn’t going to be a good fit.
Some second graders may just need a little more time for their brains to mature for place-value and regrouping to click. But she also may need a more procedural curriculum that tells her exactly what to do before she’ll have that aha-moment in which the concept becomes clear. I’ve found Rod and Staff math to be a good fit for kids who need that kind of structure, so that would be a good one to look at.
My 12-year-old son, who struggles with math, just finished the U.S. edition of Primary Mathematics 5B. Would you recommend continuing with 6A/6B or trying out Dimensions? I also see that you recommend Foerster, Math Mammoth, and Jacobs for middle school. He is a visual learner and has ADHD so it’s difficult for him to focus for long periods of time. He also has a hard time retaining what he’s learned in math even though he has an excellent memory. He does very well in every other subject except for math. What math curriculum would you recommend for him?
It sounds like Math-U-See would be a good fit for him. It’s an extremely visual program, it’s broken into chunks, and there’s a good amount of review to help keep the math fresh. If you switched, you’d want to have him take the placement test, but I’d guess that he’d be ready for pre-algebra after 5B.
You can read my review of the elementary program here, but bear in mind that the program changes quite a bit once you hit the middle school years. It’s a solid, sequential program, and you’d be able to stick with it through the rest of his schooling if you found it to be a good fit.
I haven’t seen a review for Math in Focus, it seems like that could be an easier Singapore style to teach. Do you have any thoughts on that? My son is struggling through RS B and I’m considering moving to MM or MiF. He prefers colorful workbooks (started using Horizon but I really want to stick with more conceptual math, also completed a Kumon time workbook that he requested), I feel like we keep getting stuck in RS… we’re on the Corners game and he hates it and I don’t know whether to just skip it or what… it takes him a long time to memorize facts, much more than the few days RS gives and I don’t know whether to just continue pushing forward or stop (for weeks) every time.
Math in Focus is a good program. I’ve never written a full review of it because a) it’s written for a school setting, so can be difficult to modify for homeschools and b) it’s getting harder and harder to find the books for a reasonable price. (It used to be easier to find them used on Amazon, and the new price for the teacher’s editions from the publisher is eye-popping!)
Regarding where you’re at with RS, I’d suggest giving it another couple months where you teach it exactly how you think it will go best for your son, and never mind Dr. Cotter! Skip the games he hates, add more math fact practice wherever you think he needs it, add a Kumon book here and there, and modify as much as you like. (As an aside: In general, I find RS goes best if you keep moving ahead even if your child doesn’t have the facts mastered and just keep practicing them alongside the lessons.)
If you find that it goes better, then go ahead and stay the course with RS. But if you just really don’t want to stay with RS or find that more modifications don’t help, Dimensions is a good bet: very conceptual, but also very colorful and straightforward.
Wow, you’re right about the MiF Teacher’s Guide, yikes!
We will give RS a go a little longer and see how we do.
Thank you so much for your input! I really appreciate it 🙂
Hi, I am homeschooling a bright 5-year-old daughter. We are currently using The Good and the Beautiful Math K, about halfway through. So far, she has already known just about everything before we get to it, so not really learning much new. She seems to be very math-minded as well as very creative. For instance, when presented with a pile of 7 objects, she will say that there are 2, 2, 3…7. That’s how she counts them out. Anyway, I am feeling like the TGTB is not enough of a challenge for her. I purchased Primary Math 1B to look at, but also just discovered ThemeVille math— do you know anything about that one? Also the math that comes with My Father’s World 1st Grade— any thoughts on that one? I am waiting on my Primary Math HIG right now, but would love some input on all 3 alternatives.
Sorry, I’m not familiar with Themeville or the MFW math. The Good and the Beautiful is pretty gentle, so I can see how it might be a little too easy for her.
Even with a math-y kindergartner, I wouldn’t skip Singapore 1A (although you may be able to whip through it pretty fast). It lays a lot of the foundation for addition, subtraction, and part-whole thinking that kids need to thrive in 1B.
You are just fab for this review! My question is about the Teachers Guides. I’m using Primary and the HIG are just not my favorite. I’d switch to Dimensions just for a more logical TG. Do they really explain how to teach the math? Easier to use than Primary HIG?
It’s definitely easier to follow than the Primary HIG, but with the downside of having to do some picking and choosing between the many options. It’s amazing how much color and a better layout helps!
Hi Kate, I followed your advice above and ordered the PM 1A set (already had 1B) but I think it looks pretty easy for her. She already knows addition facts to 12 in her head and was refusing to do the manipulative work in Good and Beautiful like it was insulting to her, lol. So how should I proceed with the 1A? My other kids have all had learning disabilities so giftedness is a new challenge for me. I just ordered the basic set and HIG. Do you recommend any of the supplementary books? Thanks so much for your input!
My kindergatner has been doing math at home with me. She loves the Pre School Company’s Meet The Math Facts DVDs and is working her way through Singapore Math Essential Math for K (did A and 2/3 through B). A couple questions: 1) PM 1A looks like review of what was covered by Essential. Necessary versus going to 1B? 2) if you were starting out a new student, would you choose PM or Dimensions? We are doing this a supplement to school and because she is motivated. (She asked Santa for a math workbook, lol!) I am also doing this more sporadically, a weekend here or there versus a daily lesson.
Your website is a life-saver! Thank you!
I just want to clarify something regarding mental math. In your tips for using Singapore, you talk about mental math exercises hidden at the back of the home instructor’s guide. I just bought Dimensions 1A, and I don’t see it in the teacher’s guide. Can I trust that it is worked into the lessons in this edition, or do I need to supplement somehow? Thanks!!
You’re correct, there aren’t any extra mental math exercises in Dimensions. Everything is listed right in the lessons, so no need to add anything.
If I were you, I’d just zoom through 1A to make sure she has the concepts down. Make sure to give the part-whole concept (and circle diagrams) some specific attention, as they’re used throughout the series. Other than that, I’d let her just do several workbook pages a day until you hit something that slows her down.
If I were doing Singapore as a full curriculum, I definitely would not skip 1A. It does review much of what’s in Essential, but it reinforces that work and also introduces some subtle new twists. However, if you’re using it as a supplement, I think you could go either way.
As to which edition to use, I’d personally go with Dimensions if I were using it as a supplement to school. (Mostly just because of the colorful pages!) You might also take a look at Beast Academy–it’s a great supplement for a math-y kid. It begins at second grade, but your daughter may be able to handle it just fine already.
My daughter just finished Right Start Math Level A, and passed the Dimensions Math Placement Test for 1A. She’s an average math student who doesn’t struggle with new concepts (so far). Would you suggest going ahead and working through 1A anyway to familiarize ourselves with the terminology, etc, or do you think beginning in 1B would work out fine? Thank you in advance for your response, and giving us home school moms a trusted place to go with our questions!
If your daughter’s already done RS Level A and also passed the 1A placement test, I think you’ll be fine starting with 1B.
Best wishes with the transition, and happy math!
Hi Kate! Thanks so much for your thorough math reviews and great suggestions! I have a 6 year old son working at the Kindergarten level but is quite uneven in his skills. He LOVES word problems and grabs hold of new ideas quickly however becomes easily bored and distracted. We have been using MUS Primer but he is tired of having to build and say each problem. He is also really struggling with Place Value but is very ready to move along to other topics. We have also tried The Crafty Classroom’s Interactive Math: Kindergarten program but it is SO visually overwhelming and requires him to write all of his numbers often which is difficult for him. He is most likely on the Autism spectrum and extremely bright but struggles with visual processing and handwriting skills. We used your Preschool Math at Home and Farmland Math (from Timberdoodle) and did great with both of these. Moved through them both very quickly. We are very ready to move ahead but I’m just not sure which direction to go. I have your Addition book but see that we are not quite ready for it. I am trying the samples from Singapore Dimensions and prefer the visual layout due to color and number of problems per page but am not sure about the cost and complexity of the TM. He grasps the 10-frame much more easily than the block approach in MUS. He is definitely a concept mathematician and not procedural. I think Beast Academy will work in the future but am not sure where to go for the Kindergarten gaps and 1st grade concepts. Do you have any suggestions?
He sounds like a great match for the kindergarten program that is in process for next year. If you’d be interested in learning more about the pilot program, send me an email at the Contact link at the top of the page (under the About menu). It’s a very hands-on, interactive program, with a minimum of writing for little hands.
If that isn’t appealing, I’d suggest using one of the Singapore programs for the rest of the year. If Dimensions doesn’t feel like quite the right fit, try Singapore Kindergarten Essential B for the rest of the year. There’s just one or two worksheets per day, with simple activity suggestions at the bottom of each page. (Bonus: it’s very inexpensive.) Incorporate the ten-frame as much as you can with the activities, and I think you’ll have a good fit for the rest of the kindergarten year.
I think you might be the person who can answer a question that’s been driving me crazy. We are finishing PM Standards 5B this spring. We’ve used it from the start to great success. I see that you recommend switching to DM for 6. Would you please tell me why? I have hear our options are Standards 6, Dimensions 6, or go directly into Dimensions 7. My son is being and does well in math, but isn’t super mathy. I really don’t know how to evaluate my options. Any insigh you have will be appreciated.
The recommendation to go from Standards 5B into Dimensions 6 actually comes straight from the people who produce Singapore Math. Here’s the direct quote from an email I had with someone who works there: Children who have finished Standards 5B “may find some things in Dimensions 6 to be repetitive. Advanced students could go to 7, but in general, Dimensions 6 would be the next step after Standards Edition Grade 5.”
If you’re unsure, go ahead and drop them an email or give them a call. I’ve found their customer service to be very helpful.
I stumbled upon this post in my research on Dimensions Math. The co-op that we will probably be joining next year is using it. We have been using Saxon. From what I see it looks like it is a Common Core Curriculum, is that right? Is this technically “Common Core?” I just am not sure how I feel about Common Core. How would the transition be from Saxon to this? I am thinking of trying it with my son because sometimes I think Saxon is too boring for him, but it is solid. Thanks!
I forgot to mention in my above post that My daughter is in third grade and my son is in second.
If your son finds Saxon boring, he might enjoy Dimensions a lot more, since it will provide him more opportunities to understand the math deeply and find connections between topics.
Dimensions meets or exceeds Common Core standards (which is a necessity for any company hoping to sell books to schools these days), but it’s based on the overall Singapore approach…which existed for two decades before the Common Core standards were created. Honestly, I wouldn’t sweat it.
My daughter is 5. She started Kindergarten in the fall at our local public school, but we started homeschooling in January. I wanted a manipulative based math so we started off at home with Saxon K. It seems simple for her. We have been doing 2 lessons a day for the last 3 weeks and I realized in finishing my planning for February that we will finish the book before the end of March. I am looking for something to solidify the kindergarten standards and concepts before continuing to homeschool next year. I was looking at the Singapore essential K B book since it seemed to be the information needed more work on. Is the essential book the way to go? Or should we be starting with Dimensions? If I were to pick Dimensions I think I would dive into the B book as there are only a few more months left in this semester. Does that sound accurate?
I have my daughter who is 5 and a son who just turned 4. I would like to teach her something standard based to ensure she doesn’t miss out on anything in case she is re-enrolled in public school. Dimensions makes me nervous because of all the activities. I typically spend about 30-45 minutes on a math. lastly the workbook and textbook look very similar. Why are both needed? And there is not a parent guide yet for the versions correct, only a teachers edition?
Since you’re looking for something simple to use to complete the rest of the year, I’d go with Essentials. (And yes, level B.) It’s simple and easy to use, and it will provide very similar content to Dimensions. Just make sure to actually do the suggested activities at the bottom of each page so that your daughter gets hands-on learning as well as paper-and-pencil work.
so you do not think Dimensions is a good fit for a big family? I have four kids, and wanted something that is not so lengthy… it sounds like Dimensions might not be a good fit. I tried Standards but it just didn’t teach ME enough on how to teach it to my kids. I struggled with understanding the concepts and then it would make conceptual leaps during lessons. so two questions: can someone come in at grade 3 or higher from another more traditional program (we are using CLE)? and is Dimensions doable for larger families?
I think Dimensions is do-able with 4 children–especially after the activity-heavy kindergarten teacher’s guide. You could certainly enter it at the higher grades, but make sure to have your olders do the placement test since the scope and sequence are quite different than CLE.
If you’d like to learn more about the Singapore approach, you could also check out my course for parents at the Well-Trained Mind Academy. They’re offering it free right now, and it goes through the Singapore approach in-depth for whole-number arithmetic.
Hi Kate: My daughter is almost 4 and has significant intellectual disability. I want to figure out the best way to allow her to be literate in math, even though I know it will take her a long long time to master things. Would your book, Preschool Math at Home, still be a good place to start? What other resources would you recommend? Thanks in advance.
Hello! I want to purchase SM dimensions for PreK and Kindergarten but wondering if the teacher’s guide is necessary. Could I get by with just the textbooks and workbooks
Thanks so much!
Yes, Preschool Math at Home would be a great place to start. As you said, you’ll likely need to move through it pretty slowly, but it will begin to give her a grasp of the numbers to 10 in a relaxed and fun way.
Young children really need a lot of hands-on, concrete activities to make sense of numbers, so I wouldn’t recommend that unless you feel fairly skilled at transforming the workbook page into hands-on activities. If the budget is tight, I would either 1) just buy the teacher’s guide for preschool, and just buy the teacher’s guide and workbook for kindergarten or 2) use Preschool Math at Home for preschool and then Singapore Essential K for kindergarten, as this combo would be less expensive and give you good, detailed activity descriptions (along with a daily workbook page in K). Your child could easily move into Dimensions 1st grade with either path.
Hi Kate: I’ve been researching 1st grade math curriculum for my homeschooled daughter for some time. I really like the Singapore approach. But I’m stuck on the right version. We live in Tennessee which has standardized testing based on Common Core she will have to complete. I’m trying to determine the best fit between Primary Mathematics Standards Editions vs Common Core. And now I’ve just discovered this Dimensions Math version. We chose Mathematical Reasoning for Kindergarten but definitely want to move to something with a clear teacher’s guide/HIG for the future. Would you have a preference between the 3? Thanks.
Any of the three are great, but I’d go with Dimensions if I were starting in first grade. The teacher’s guide is a lot easier to use, and the colorful books are a lot more appealing.
Thank you for your review! It looks like Dimensions has helpful teaching instructions. We’ve been issuing Math Mammoth, and that has been my only issue. I’m not confident enough in my ability to explain the concepts. I appreciate her thorough examples, but I’m confused myself. If we’re currently using level 3 in MM, do you think that it would be simple enough for my son to switch over to this program? Or would you recommend a program like teaching textbooks?
I agree: Math Mammoth has many positives, but it doesn’t provide a lot of guidance for the parent. I don’t think you’d have much trouble switching over to Dimensions from MM, but definitely have your son take a placement test to make sure he starts in the right level.
Teaching Textbooks works fine for some families, but some find that their child learns to match the instructional patterns without really understanding the math. I don’t recommend that route unless other life circumstances make it the best option for a family.
Thank you for the review. I’ve been wanting to use Singapore Math for a while…then I saw Dimensions Math come out & wasn’t sure if I should go with it or the other editions.
If I’m new to Singapore math (never used) & need thorough explanations for myself to teach it effectively to my son (9 yr old), but I Don’t have a to of time for hands on, which program would you recommended?
Do the U.S. & Standard editions explain the Singapore method in detail to those like myself who have no prior knowledge of teaching the Singapore method?
I don’t want to have to sort through a lot of activities to choose the best one (like dimensions math), but if it explains things better for the parent, I can still work with it.
I appreciate any feedback.
This is for homeschooling my 9 yr old son (a kinesthetic learner new to Singapore math). Prior math programs we’ve used: Abeka, Acellus (online homeschool)
Thank you so much for taking the time to write out these reviews. They are so helpful!
We are working our way through Earlybird Common Core and we are really enjoying it. I am looking into starting Dimensions for 1st grade. I really like the method and the detailed teacher’s guide. However, I would like to have the extra practice pages should we need it. Do you think the Extra Practice for Primary Math would add confusion after doing Dimensions? What about the Challenging Word Problems book? If those would not be the best decision, what would you suggest for extra practice that would work nicely with Dimensions?
It sounds like Standards would be the best fit for you. Parents who are unfamiliar with the Singapore method usually find it very user-friendly, and you won’t have to sort through the many activity options in Dimensions.
Extra Practice isn’t precisely correlated with Dimensions, but the problems and sequence are quite similar. I think it’d be a great source of practice problems if you want to add a little to Dimensions.
Thank you Kate! I sooo appreciate your feedback.
Where can I find the Standards Edition?
Is the Standards Edition the one that is labeled Primary Mathematics because I found that on another website?
Also, if it is the one labeled Primary Mathematics, can I get by with the Home Instructors Guide (even though I’m completely new to Singapore math)?
Or should I get the Teachers Guide (it’s also ~$20 more…so if I can go with instructors guide with no prior background, that’d be great)?
Thank you Kate! I sooo appreciate your feedback.
Is the Standards Edition the one that is labeled Primary Mathematics because I found that on another website?
Also, if it is the one labeled Primary Mathematics, can I get by with the Home Instructors Guide (even though I’m completely new to Singapore math)?
Or should I get the Teachers Guide (it’s also ~$20 more…so if I can go with instructors guide with no prior background, that’d be great)?
What is Primary Digital in the Singapore Math program? Also, is the Blackline Materials page is where you find all the worksheets that correlate with the activities?
It’s labeled Primary Mathematics Standards edition (and sometimes labeled as Primary Mathematics California Standards edition, since it was originally written to align with California’s standards in the early 2000s.) You only need the Home Instructor’s Guide, not the Teacher’s Guide.
Hope it’s a great fit for you!
The Blackline Materials at the back of the home instructor’s guides have lots of helpful resources for the games and activities, like number cards or place-value materials. But the actual practice worksheets are in the Student Workbook.
Primary Digital is Singapore’s new online program. I haven’t looked at in depth, so I’m afraid I don’t know any more than that. 🙂
My son(4th grade) is struggling with Math and the concepts. I am new to Singapore math. Heard good things about it . I am really confused which edition to pick. I want to understand all the concepts clearly before he starts middle school. Please help me with this.
My son(3rd grade) is struggling with Math and the concepts. I am new to Singapore math. Heard good things about it . I am really confused which edition to pick. I want him to understand all the concepts clearly and I am willing to spend more time to make him understand. I am leaning towards common core and Dimension. Please help me with this.
If you’re leaning towards Common Core or Dimensions, I’d recommend going with Dimensions. It will give you lots of activity suggestions and help you understand how to teach well.
Thanks Kate! Appreciate your help.
I have a child in Kindergarden who is good at math and he took the placement tests for both primary math and dimensions math for grade 1. He was able to solve the problems in both the tests easily and now I am looking to order 2nd grade level books for him and this will be the first time that we will be working on singapore math from other materials like go math and pierceson. I am unable to decide which one would be best for my child in between dimensions math and primary math as he is already in advanced level. I am looking for something which will keep him challenged. Can you please suggest us which one would be appropriate for him?
Thank you, Appreciate your help in this regard.
Both Dimensions and Primary Math are very comparable. For a kindergartner, I’d go with Dimensions since it’s more colorful and visually engaging.
Since he’s so far ahead, you might also consider using Beast Academy (which is what I used with my gifted math guy). It will provide him lots of very challenging and interesting math so that he can go deep rather than fast. My full review is here.
Thank you so much for your insights. I will definitely look into beast academy as well. Also if it is not out of the topic can you suggest some good books about Science? where i can teach him at home? he is very interested and curious about science. He knows and understands basic things like magnetic non magnetic , Push pull, measurement etc…I am not really sure what books the school follows and it would be great to know if there are some books where I can go through the concepts followed by common core curriculum.
Appreciate your help.
Sorry, I’m afraid I don’t have a lot to offer on science. You might try the Well-Trained Mind Forums–the parents over there usually have lots of good ideas!
Happy Math (and Science)!
Thanks for the feedback….
My almost-seven year old is finishing Singapore US Edition second grade (with the intensive practice book and challenging word problems too). I have already bought Singapore US edition third grade for next year. As I’ve looked ahead at the third grade textbooks, I miss the full-color we previously had. We live overseas and I need to plan ahead for the following school year. Can I / should I switch from Singapore US edition (which is working well for us…just miss the full color) to Dimensions Math? I would like to use Dimensions for middle school math, so is it better to switch now? Is Dimensions 4 the right thing after US Edition 3?
Sounds like your 7yo is rocking math–I love it! The two programs have very similar scope and sequences, so you shouldn’t have any trouble switching to Dimensions. Dimensions 4 is indeed the right thing after US 3, and I think you’ll find the transition very smooth.
Thanks so much for this review and for answering so many questions!! I’m leaning toward switching to Dimensions (from Right Start Math C) for my son. RightStart has been good for him so far because there are more hands-on activities than worksheets, but I think the clear and bright illustrations in Dimensions might help him. (My drawing skills are sub-par). Could we do Dimensions with just the textbook and the teacher’s guide? He absolutely hates worksheet style review. Would extra activities from the teacher’s manual be an adequate substitute for the workbook?
It totally depends on the child, but most kids definitely need the worksheet practice to develop fluency. You could certainly give it a try, as the teacher’s manual activities are pretty comprehensive, but he’ll definitely need to do some written practice as he begins to tackle more complex calculations in the later elementary years. It can be on a whiteboard, on paper, or chalk on the driveway, but that written practice becomes increasingly important.
Honestly, if RightStart is working well for you, he sounds like a kid who might do better just sticking with RightStart. Another option would be to buy just the Dimensions textbooks and then use them as needed as a visual to supplement what he’s learning in RightStart.
Thanks so much! I hadn’t thought of only getting the textbooks to supplement, but now it seems obvious! By the way, we loved working through your Facts the Stick books. We’ll be doing Division over the summer. Thanks again!
I’d love to understand why you recommend transitioning after US Edition level 6 vs after level 5. We just finished 5A and plan to go on to 5B and then finish off 6 or if possible, switch to Dimensions. US Edition has worked for many years, but I find the layout a little tedious. My younger child just finished Dimensions 1A and 1B, and it was a breath of fresh air in many ways.
Do the scope and sequence differences between the US Edition & Dimensions make for a bad transition between levels 5 and 6?
Also, is there no color beyond level 5 of Dimensions?
It’s perfectly fine to transition to Dimensions after either US 5 or 6. You shouldn’t have a problem either way. The biggest difference is in the textbooks. US level 6 is more of the familiar format of the US edition, but Dimensions 6 is a step up to a more “official” math textbook. Either is fine, but it depends on your child’s maturity and comfort level.
As far as color goes, the Dimensions textbooks are in full-color, while the workbooks are 2-color (black and blue). You can see samples on the Singapore Math website to get a better feel for them.
You mentioned that all 3 versions cover the same material in each grade. I thought the US version has only the original Singapore content with US measurements, the Standards version added content to meet CA standards, and Dimensions adds even more content to meet Common Core standards. Is this accurate? Do you think this impacts the curriculum at all (reduces depth in favor of breadth)?
Yes, that’s accurate: there are some small differences between the programs’ scope and sequences along the lines you describe. But the differences overall are pretty minor in scale, and the overall pacing of the most significant concepts (like addition or multiplication) remains the same. (You can take a look at the scope and sequence comparison here.)
I haven’t used the Standards or Common Core version myself, so I can’t address the issue of how these differences affect the overall programs. But based on what moms have told me over the years, a lot of families have a better experience with the Standards program because of the more in-depth parent guide–and so I recommend families use whichever program seems to fit their teaching style or kids’ needs best, regardless of the differences in the scope and sequence.
Thanks Kate. I wasn’t sure since you mentioned you had picked the US version. I think I’ll try the new Dimensions one since it’s the cheapest (Maybe only temporarily to get people to try it?) and seems to be easier for people without a math background. I’m looking forward to reading the “Elementary Mathematics for Teachers” book you suggest as well. Hopefully it will help me to get acquainted with the main ideas.
What is the average lesson time for each program (Dimensions, Standard, etc)? You mentioned that Dimensions lessons take longer, but we’re coming from RightStart so I don’t have any Singapore experience to compare it to. Thanks!
Lesson length varies a ton based on the parent and child, so I can’t give you precise numbers. I’d expect that Dimensions lessons would take you about as long as RightStart, while Singapore US and Standards would take roughly 25% less hands-on teaching time each day–but more worksheet time.
Hope that helps!
Hi! Thank you so much for your review. What program (Standard or Dimensions) is more challenging? I have Math degree background and my son (5yo) is advanced in math. He is on level 1b according to test. What would you recommend? Thank you!
Both are quite similar in challenge level, so you could really go with either. If you’re on the fence, I’d go with Dimensions as it has more color to engage a younger learner.
I’m so grateful for your expertise— this review is incredibly helpful! I do have a question about our current situation. I’M STRESSING!
My daughter completed the u.s. edition over a year ago. I found the teachers manual very difficult to use, so we’ve been jumping around with different curricula since then.
She is entering 2nd grade and I have two dilemmas:
First, I’m undecided between Dimensions & TGTB. We will go to public school eventually and I feel TGTB follows a more traditional path, but seems a tad too easy. Singapore doesn’t match public school but presume it’s teaching to a higher level of thinking, which I like.
Secondly, if we use Dimensions, should I start her in 1b? I gave her the pretest and she got most correct— the questions she did miss proved she was on the right track, but not quite there.
Thank you for your help!!
We love your addition book!
I know, it can be hard to make a decision–especially when you have two good choices! My biggest concern over using TGTB with a child who will eventually go to public school is that it doesn’t have much written work. But if you think you’d be a more consistent, confident, and happy teacher with the scripted lessons in TGTB, then I’d say to go for it. 🙂
No matter which program you use, definitely go with whatever level the pretest recommends. It’s very stressful for kids to be placed at a level that’s higher than they’re ready for, and much better to build confidence with some review, even if it means starting a level lower.
Glad you enjoyed the addition book, and Happy Math!
I am debating between Singapore and CLE for my 7 year old. MUS did not work for us, the further we got. The more holes I seemed to see in her learning. At first, I thought there was not enough review of previously taught concepts. With it being summer, we havent touched math in a month and a half, and i was pleasantly surprised that she seems to have retained a lot, while not other things. I spoke with David at MFW (we use their curriculum) and when I described how my daughter is “figuring out” math she hasn’t been introduced to, he said she needs to do Singapore. With Singapore, I’m concerned that it may not have enough review. After not liking MUS, I was pretty dead set on a spiral program. Now I’m wondering if conceptual understanding is what she needs instead of memorized computations. With CLE, I worry there’s not enough problems teaching the new concept and that it doesn’t teach concepts & focuses on drill & memorization. Have you reviewed CLE at all? Any advice on these two curriculums is highly appreciated!
I’ve never done a full review of CLE, but I have read through several levels. I think you’re exactly right about its strengths and weaknesses: the continual review is excellent, but the procedural focus and jumpy topics can make math feel very disconnected and incoherent for kids.
Two thoughts about your situation. First, you can add review to Singapore (or any mastery-oriented curriculum) to increase retention. I think the easiest way is simply to spread the review pages out throughout the year, so that your child does a few problems from the review section every day rather than all in one big chunk. Or, you can buy the Singapore Extra Practice books and do a little from that each day to keep skills fresh.
Second, it sounds like RightStart might be the program you’re looking for. It’s a spiral program that gives kids a lot of opportunities to figure things out and have those aha-moments. I have a detailed review of it, so take a look and see what you think. However, it’s also very expensive, and I think you’d do fine with Singapore, too.
Hi Kate, we are looking to purchase a set of math textbooks and really like the idea of one publisher (series) from PK to 8th grade. While Dimensions would be fine for our younger children, unfortunately we have a son who is finishing up 4th grade and going into 5th. And Dimensions will not be available until sometime in 2020! Is there a fifth grade book that could fill the slot in the meantime for our son? Would the Primary Math for 5th grade fit pretty seamlessly? Any help would be appreciated.
Yes, the 5th grade U.S. edition book would work just fine to fill that slot for your family. The two editions have a very similar overall approach,plus scope and sequence. I don’t expect your son wouldn’t have any trouble moving to Dimensions for 6th.
My daughter attends a classical learning charter school. They have switched to Dimensons for 6th grade math this year. As a parent I only have the workbook resource and am fairly clueless as to how they want you to do lots of the problems. Do you have a good resource you could suggest that would help me learn/understand the concepts so I could help my daughter?
I’d go ahead and buy the student textbook for sure. It provides a lot of worked examples and explanations that will give you a lot more to go on.
I use Singapore Math US edition with my oldest who grasps math concepts quickly and easily. We are in 2A and it’s going great This year I am starting school with my 2nd who is starting Kindergarten. He has some delays and I thought Singapore might be too abstract for him so I decided to try Right Start. In the beginning I really liked it and my son picked up the subitizing really quickly. We’re on lesson 19 now and I just don’t love it. Some of the concepts I’m just not sure why we are covering (parallel and perpendicular went right over his head, so does squares are rectangles…). We’re also doing two pages a day in Essential Math which is going much better. Now I’m looking at Dimensions K and wondering if I should switch? Or will your Kindergarten curriculum be out soon?? I’m stuck and I don’t know what to do!
I just started homeschooling my son who is in 3rd grade. He did Math in Focus in 2nd grade at his previous school. We started primary mathematics, cc version, level 3 a few weeks ago. The first chapter went really well and as soon as the mental math started both of us have been frustrated. My son can’t seem to grasp the concepts being presented and I’m having trouble teaching them even with the teachers guide. I’m having him take the placement test for Singapore Math to see if we need to switch levels. If we do switch levels, would you recommend Dimensions or Primary?
Honestly, you can’t go wrong with any of those options…as long as you pick one and stick with it. (I’ll add that my kindergarten program won’t be out until next summer, so that won’t be a possibility for a while yet.) If I were you, I’d go with whichever one seems to be helping him learn the best, and then just focus on that one and go full steam ahead. (If he’s picking up subitizing well with RightStart, you could even just skip the geometry parts that aren’t computing for him and just do the number activities.)
A placement test is a very good idea. Once you have a better sense of where he’s at, you may find Dimensions or Primary Standards more user-friendly. The CC teacher’s guide can be hard to follow, especially if you haven’t taught the Singapore method before. You might also want to read my article on mental math or check out my free class on teaching elementary math for more support. There’s an entire session in my online course that focuses on mental math, so you might start there.
My daughter 2nd grader is 7 years old we are working with MUS alpha. We have been working on subtraction for about 4 weeks now and the facts are just not sticking. We are stuck on minus 2. She likes games and have I found some games online to supplement the lesson but for some reason they just don’t seem to stick. The program recommends waiting until she has master them to move on but it seem like is taking for ever and she is getting tired of the same thing over and over again.
She seems to understand the concepts when using the manipulative and I’ve introduce the number line to help her use something different, it seems to make sense but she is have trouble memorizing them.
I was thinking if I should find a different curriculum I’ve looked at RightStart and Singapore but I’m not sure if I should change or maybe keep pushing it. I don’t want to expend the extra money if is just going to be the same thing and not help her.
We started homeschooling 2nd semester of 1st grade. But I started the MUS curriculum at the beginning because she didn’t know any of her facts. I also used your Addition facts that stick (that was actually the first homeschool book I bought). So this will be our 2nd semester using the curriculum.
Thanks Kate for all the useful information you have on your website.
Your daughter might just need a little more time with topics for them to fully sink in. There’s a lot to like about mastery-oriented curriculum like MUS, but not all kids absorb math on the same time table. RightStart would provide your daughter more time to absorb new information before she’s expected to have it memorized, so that would be my recommendation if you decide to go with a new curriculum.
In the mean time, I’d suggest you just keep going with MUS, with just a little subtraction fact practice each day. (Their website has practice pages for each type of subtraction fact, or you can use the games from Subtraction Facts That Stick.) If she’s understanding the concept well, I think she should be okay with moving on to new topics.
We switched from Standards to Dimension math this year. I combined my (very strong) 3rd grader and my (struggling) 5th grader and started 4A to free up some instructional time by combining lessons and facilitate more practice through games (easier with two). We all find the program VERY challenging, and there are often tears from both girls. They hate the bar graphs and the abstract thinking seems to be quite difficult for them to grasp. (It’s so much easier to just learn an algorithm, and the constant switching of mental strategies is confusing for the one and too fast for the other) Yet I also feel the difficulty is “mind-stretching” and not completely fruitless. So here we are almost in December and I can tell there is NO WAY we’d finish level 4 in one year. I began to panic, but then I see that if you finish through their level 8, you’ve actually accomplished quite a bit of high-school math. Does this mean that I can DRASTICALLY slow our pace on lessons to get through this, or should I consider a different curriculum. I’d LOVE something more “hand’s off” but really want our kids to get a solid conceptual approach, even if it is a bit painful :-). We DO like the materials better in Dimensions, and I actually like the teacher’s guide. It is a lot to work with, but it helps me see where things are going.
You’re absolutely right: it’s a challenging curriculum, but it makes kids think and problem-solve in very productive ways. So glad you can see the fruit of these more-difficult lessons. Children who finish Dimenesions 8 have finished Algebra I and a decent chunk of Geometry. So, there’s no need to finish the whole program by 8th grade. Hope that gives you a feeling of freedom as you continue forward. 🙂
Hello! I have been using the dimensions with my daughter since 1st grade (actually 1b, second half of 1st grade). She is now in 3a (first half of 3rd). For 1st and 2nd grade, I didn’t even use the teacher’s guides, and so far have only used the 3rd grade teacher’s guide for quickly checking work. I spend about 10 mins or less “teaching” new concepts in the lesson book and then let her do her workbook on her own. I do not find it takes a lot of time to teach. The extra activities are not necessary, but might be useful for those who need extra time for reinforcing new concepts.
That’s great that it’s working so well for you, Ondreea! Happy Math!
Thank you for all the wisdom and resources you’ve shared! I could really use some advice/direction regarding curriculum for 8yo son, 3rd grade. Our HS journey started through a hybrid where he used GoMath for 1st-part of 2nd and he just really didn’t like it. Since coming home we tried BA for him last year and he loved the fun reading but didn’t do well with the workbook/puzzles. So I learned he wants something a little more straightforward but still colorful. After attempting to push through with BA (with some battles & tears) we went more gentle with MLFLE, but a year ahead. Since that isn’t “meaty” enough for my requirements I’ve felt need to supplement with various tools. I’m really tired of trying to piecemeal math for him and he’s beginning to get some gaps. He can do four processes with carrying/borrowing, long division with a remainder but still lacks in certain aspects like fractions, converting volume/lengths, etc. I’m looking for something colorful/fun to him, spiral approach for regular review, straightforward, yet thorough. I’ve looked into dimensions or RS. He places into dimensions 3b and RS D. Some of the material like intro to single digit multiplication is too easy but needs other topics covered. I’m worried dimensions may not be straightforward-enough for him not to fight it. I worry about jumping into RS this late. Would MM be another possibility for him?
I appreciate any input you’d have! Thank you!
Hi- another question 😬
I was reading another comment above regarding The Good and the Beautiful math. Although it is easy and gentle, my K daughter LOVES it and says math is her favorite subject. I know you haven’t done a full review but hoping you could comment if it seems like a solid program from what you have seen? I love that she loves it but I also want to make sure she’s getting a good foundation.
Colorful, spiral, and straightforward immediately make me think of Horizons. Take a look and see if it might fit the bill. Just keep in mind that it’s a pretty “ahead” program, so your son may place lower. Regarding the other programs you mentioned, I think you’re right that it may be a bit late to jump into RS. Both Dimensions and Math Mammoth tick the colorful box, but they’re not at all spiral, so you’d likely need to space out their review pages to give your child the review that you want him to have.
That’s wonderful that your daughter is enjoying The Good and the Beautiful Math so much! I’ve only looked through it briefly, but I definitely think it’s a solid program, with excellent focus on number sense in kindergarten.
Hi lovely, I live reading your reviews. I am about to start homeschooling for the first time. A 7 and 11 year old. I have decided on Singapore maths. I am deciding between dimensions or the standards version. Which version would you go with. Thanks
Both are great, so don’t stress too much about the decision. I’d go with Dimensions so that your 11 year-old can just go straight into the middle-school books without having to switch series.
I left a comment for you earlier, about the pacing of Dimensions with my 11 and 9 year olds; we are currently in Dimensions Book 4A, and just finished the unit on multiplication. We have been slowing down to work on multiplication facts, which they are improving on. We did the first lesson on Division and it seemed to trip them up. I’m wondering (again fearing about slowing down so much!) if it would be better to pause from the lessons and take a month to work through your “Division Facts that Stick” book to give them a basis of some division facts before trying to work on mental strategies. In theory, I think this is a GREAT idea; I just continue to worry that going through the curriculum so slowly (3rd grader and 4th grader only partially through 4A) will put us too far behind in learning other concepts. Yet going ahead without these basic skills seems not only impossible, but highly unpleasant (for my kids AND me 🙂
That’s the thing about the math facts: they take some time to learn, but without them, math is a real slog. Dimensions 4A definitely assumes that kids already know the division facts pretty well, so your kids definitely need some extra practice here. Division Facts That Stick would be a good way to get the division facts consolidated quickly so that you could tackle that chapter. In your shoes, I think what I would do is skip the division chapter and start the fractions chapter after it. Do a half lesson of fractions each day, along with 15 minutes or so of division facts work. There’s a little bit of division in the fractions chapter, but I’d bet that your kids will be able to handle it once they get to it. Then, you can circle back to the division chapter after your kids have a better mastery of the division facts.
Don’t worry about being a little behind here–Dimensions is quite advanced, so even your fourth-graders is still “on grade level” in terms of the material.
This is a very helpful review!
My son just finished Singapore Standards Edition 5B, and I was thinking we’d just move on into 6A as it’s been a great fit since 1A. However, I noticed there doesn’t seem to be a Home Instructors Guide and I didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on the teacher guide if it won’t be as helpful. I’ve really relied on the Home Instructor’s Guide, especially for extending the lessons and finding more challenging problems. Is the 6th grade Dimensions user friendly for a homeschool environment?
And if we were to continue with Standards, is there a smooth transition to Dimensions after 6th, or is it better to start Dimensions in 6A?
I can’t seem to find a document that compares the topics covered in Standards Edition 6th grade and Dimensions, but I’m not sure I’m looking in the right places.
Thank you so much!
6th grade is a good point to switch to Dimensions, since that’s the “official” beginning of the middle school Dimensions program. Families don’t seem to have much trouble switching after 7th grade, though, either, so you could really go either way.
I’m afraid I’m not familiar with the teacher’s guide for the middle school levels, but it switches to a more student-directed textbook so that kids can become more independent in their math studies.
Thank you! We’ve got Dimensions ordered and on the way. A little more student directed sounds like just what we’re ready for. I really appreciate your help.
Like everyone here, your reviews (and other advice/articles) are so helpful! I think I know what I need to do but I’m a little unsure, so I’m asking you. 😉 My 7 year old first-grade daughter has hated math since she first started learning numbers. She was reading Little House in the Big Woods to herself when she was 4, but couldn’t remember the number 8 by anything other than “the snowman one.” I almost certainly pushed too hard starting out as well, and now we are finishing first grade and hating math.
We’re doing Dimensions 1B (we did 1A for kindergarten). Because I split the two Level 1 books over 2 years we regularly take breaks from the books to drill tough concepts (subtraction facts, anything over 10, etc), so it’s been working and when we finally learn something, she really has learned it. BUT now the book is introducing 2-digit addition and subtraction that involves making and breaking new 10s and I just don’t see that happening. I see two options: forget doing it mentally and just have her line up the 10s and 1s and add them that way and figure understanding will come later; or skip it altogether and try again in 2nd grade. Will Dimensions 2A reintroduce this such that I’m ok skipping it? It seems like a tough concept for first grade, but I may be out of touch with what first grade math should look like!
Hello there Kate
I would also love some feedback. I was considering a Singapore style math curriculum but now I am not so sure. My 4 th grade 10 year old daughter struggles in math. We have been doing Math u see but she does not remember the concepts even after all the mastery exercises and pretty much hates it. I want to make it fun and enjoyable for her. I was thinking something colorful like math dimensions could work, but you said it is not the best fit for struggling students rather rod and staff. We need a non Christian curriculum recommendation as that is what our school pays for. I looked into BJU press, Abeka, Horizons and Math lessons for a living education they all looked colorful and fun but expensive in the long run except for MLFALE which was affordable as I would have to buy them. I could buy one if you think it is really the best for someone who struggles in math. What would you say is like rod and staff but a secular curriculum? And also what would you recommend to supplement it with if it is not a stand alone type of thing?
That’s wonderful that Dimensions is working so well for your daughter, and that she’s learning the material so thoroughly! For these tricky two-digit problems, bear in mind that the real goal is to prepare your daughter to understand regrouping as she adds and subtracts larger numbers in second grade. All the mental math is there in order to give her a thorough understanding of place-value and the fact that 10 ones can be traded for 1 ten (and vice versa).
So, keep the focus on these core principles.
1. Allow her to use manipulatives for every single problem if that’s what she needs, and constantly talk about what you’re doing. I’m a big fan of ziploc bags with 10 counters in each for this age, because it’s easy for kids to *see* that 1 bag equals 10 counters.
2. Use a place-value mat to help her focus on the place-value concepts.
3. Talk constantly about what you’re doing.
4. If you’re short on time or attention, It’s better to do fewer problems and thoroughly discuss and model them than to race through a bunch.
(You might find my article on mental math helpful, too. )
I agree with you that a Singapore style curriculum is probably not the best choice for your daughter at this point. It can be difficult to switch into in fourth grade, especially for a student who finds math challenging.
Out of these options, your daughter would likely enjoy Math Lessons for a Living Education the best. She may also find all the real-life examples to be very helpful in making math make sense to her. Math-U-See is a very abstract program, and the concrete applications in MLLE would likely be a breath of fresh air. It’s not the most rigorous program, so if you go that route, make sure to pay attention to her fluency and add extra practice if she needs it.
For a secular option, I’d suggest taking a look at MCP Math. It’s a solid, straight-forward and secular program (although I’m not sure whether the fourth grade workbook has color or not).
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