Five years ago, Laurence School initiated the Singapore Math program in our kindergarten, first, and second grades, and each year since, we have spiraled the program upward. Now, the program is benefiting our kindergarten through fourth grade children with real-life mathematical concepts and problem-solving-based learning.
The goal of the program is not to do away with traditional math, such as learning math facts or being familiar with the popular ways to do long subtraction or division. In fact, the program incorporates these aspects as well so that children are exposed to multiple methods to solve a problem. Rather, Singapore Math gives students a mathematical foundation based on a profound understanding of—not just their memorization of—learned concepts. The idea is to learn to monitor your own thinking, calculate mentally, and persevere in the face of challenges by trying other strategies. Some of these strategies include drawing pictures such as bar models, number lines, and arrays, as well as using ten frames and studying growth patterns and place value charts.
We are pleased that we have been fortunate enough to bring experienced math coaches onto campus to mentor our faculty and community in Singapore Math. On a monthly basis for the past several years, these coaches have both conducted lessons for teachers to observe and watched teachers in action, later providing them with valuable feedback. They have also led parent orientations at the start of the school year to bring our parent body up to speed and to help them feel more comfortable with something that might otherwise be alien to them. The leadership and knowledge imparted by these specialists has helped to optimize our program's success.
Another strategy we have relied upon to ensure we go From Great to Greater is to pair our teachers up with mentors across the grade levels and to provide our staff with other important professional development opportunities.