Posted on Leave a comment

Can the Singapore Method Help your Children Learn Maths?

Source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/skillswise

1

Singapore teaches maths better than most countries including the UK, according to international rankings for secondary pupils.

The difference starts at an early age.

There are many reasons but one key factor is its step-by-step approach that can be used at home or in the classroom.

Young children are happy playing with blocks or drawing pictures. But they can find number symbols, like 5 + 2 = 7, mystifying.

So the Singapore method begins by allowing children to start learning about maths by playing with real objects, blocks or cut-out pictures.

They build confidence with the basic ideas of adding and taking away. There is then a second stage of drawing pictures representing the objects. And only later do they gradually start to add numbers to their drawings.

Maths without symbols?

5 planesStraight to the symbolic – a leap too far for many children?

In education systems in the UK, pre-school children are often introduced to maths and to number symbols at the same time. For instance through brightly-coloured counting books which show a picture of an apple – or a kite or a butterfly – next to a ‘1’. Two new things next to a ‘2’. Three new things next to a ‘3’. Culminating in a loose group of ten things next to a ’10’.

But number symbols like 5 or 10 as well as symbols like + or – are often difficult for children to understand. And if they are introduced too quickly, there is a risk that young children will struggle and from then on never fully recover their confidence in maths. Failing repeated tests on symbolic sums at school only deepens their anxiety and they soon learn that maths is not for them.

The Singapore method illustrated in more detail below goes more gradually – from handling “concrete” things, to drawing one-to-one “pictorial” iconic representations of them, to eventually understanding and using the mysterious “abstract” symbols with confidence.

1. Lining up objects in a row

Real objects, cut-outs and blocks

Children start by counting familiar things using blocks or cut-out pictures they can physically line up in a row. For instance counting pieces of fruit, their own ages, or people in the room. With one block or cut-out picture for each orange, or year, or person.

They can learn most basic maths concepts with these objects. For instance add objects to the row, or take them away, to understand adding and subtraction. Or split a row in the middle to understand halving.

2. Drawing boxes around pictures

A drawing of 3 oranges in boxes

Then children start to draw pictures on paper of the things they are counting, with a box around each picture. So there’s one box for each thing they are counting. Over time they drop the pictures and just draw the boxes.

3. Labelling the boxes

A drawn box labelled with a 3.

Gradually, once they are confident with drawing boxes to count objects, children start to write the number of boxes as a figure above the drawing.

Eventually they no longer need to draw all the boxes. They just draw one long box or bar and label it with the number. This step away from one-to-one representations to symbols is crucial and it may take a year or more for some children to become confident with it. But the benefits later on are worth it.

The Singapore Model Method

This model of numbers as labelled bars is known as the Singapore model, and it’s a tool children can use to understand almost any concept in maths, including multiplication and division and even algebra.

Professor Lianghuo Fan, former editor-in-chief of Singapore’s maths textbooks, has researched the reasons for Singapore’s success in maths. As he puts it: “People have different views about the reasons for Singapore students’ performance, but one thing that is universally agreed is that the Singapore model method is key.”

You can see examples of different stages of the model in this slideshow:

Algebra bar modelIn a year group there are 50 children. There are 10 fewer girls than boys. How many boys? The model can help visualize the unknown quantity. You can see that x + x – 10 = 50. If you add the 10 you get x + x = 60. So x = 30.
Posted on 2 Comments

Tips to Help Children Understand Maths Concepts

model-drawing-hIn any school system one finds children who excel in Maths; but one also discovers that an equal or even greater number of school children fare poorly – probably because of their failure to understand basic math concepts at a very early stage.

In this article I would like to ventilate the following tips to help children, young and slightly older ( teens in their junior and middle High School years ) ones who have difficulties grasping math concepts, resulting in them not doing what they are inherently capable of achieving in general mathematical performance.

Tip # 1: INTRODUCE MATHS CONCEPTS PROGRESSIVELY with emphasis on developing manipulative skills and activities-based learning.

It is vital that children in elementary schools be taught the fundamental math concepts involving the usual operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) and fractions, proportions and percentages. Early Maths education should be as activity-based as possible: from simple additions ( putting objects together and counting them ), subtractions ( removing articles/items from a certain number of such articles/items ), multiplications ( linking addition to the ultimate concept of multiplication ) and division ( dividing a certain number of objects equally among say 2 or 3 or more children ).

Tip # 2: EMPHASIZE both THE PRACTICAL IMPORTANCE OF MATHS and the INTERESTING ASPECTS OF MATHS – hands-on and practical approach.

Many children would question why they have to learn Maths concepts like fractions, percentage, decimals, etc.; they demand to know why they are in a sense compelled to learn sometime apparently ‘useless’ and ‘abstract’ topics. It is therefore incumbent on the teacher or the parent or anyone who is interested in the child’s Maths abilities to try a hands-on and practical approach, at least at the beginning stage of learning of the more abstract topics. This necessarily requires that the learning of these ideas be associated or linked with everyday, commonplace activities.

Children could be brought to markets, both traditional and the modern ultra-modern hypermarkets – to see and experience themselves first-hand activities and visual stimuli that involve math: fractions, percentages (e.g., on signboards in departments that offer discounts), geometrical shapes of bottles ( perfumes and toiletries department ). Slightly older children could also pay visits to local banks to find out the meaning of interest rates, exchange rates, etc. – practical matters that bear some relation to what they learn in classes.

Tip # 3: EXPOSE THE CHILDREN TO THE POSSIBILITIES OF MATHS: make attempts to encourage and stimulate children to think of areas which could make use of Maths concepts.

Although children with some form of learning difficulties in Maths are generally not whiz-kids it does not mean that they all are lacking in imagination and enthusiasm. It takes a dedicated, qualified, well-trained and inspired person ( usually an educator ) to motivate these seemingly less Maths-inclined children; with appropriate approaches and methodologies, it is not impossible for educators to unearth the potential abilities of these children.

Suitable strategies can be drawn up in attempts to pique the children’s curiosity as when the teacher poses the interesting question of how Maths concepts like game theories and stochastic processes are used to forge new and novel designs in both weaponry and machinery. Children could also be guided to navigate the huge resources offered by the Internet – with its several hundreds of thousands of useful math websites; to look for interesting, interactive Maths programs that teach basic math concepts. The possibilities offered by Maths are therefore quite limitless though not immediately tangible and practicable. By encouraging children to freely voice their opinions and suggestions (however naive and improbable) on the use of Maths concepts, they realize that learning Maths can be fun and Maths is not a dull and abstract subject at all!

Your child can achieve. At MathsExCEL we guide them Step-by-Step using Model Drawing.

P5 Problem Solving Question

We invite you to try out 2-hours FREE Trial Lesson, a FREE diagnosis and advice how we can assist your child to improve his math.

joinnow-banner

Read What Our Parents and Students say about Us here.