My Singapore Math Mistake

My Singapore Math Mistake

In my first year as a homeschooler, I made many mistakes.

One was choosing the wrong math curriculum.  I decided to go with a boxed program. After much research, and limited time to put together a custom lesson plan, I decided that this was the most effective way to make sure that there were no holes in our work.  We chose Timberdoodle’s Fifth grade program, which included Teaching Textbooks as its math component.

For the first six weeks, everything was fine.  My son was intrigued with the computer portion of the program and aced each assignment.  We’d taken many diagnostic tests, but, I found that between my son’s Montessori experience and his being entrenched in  public school for one year, he was “in-between” many homeschool spines.  He began to complain, “Mom, I’ve done this already!”  So, we looked for replacements.  Enter Singapore math.

By this time, we were pretty settled into our homeschool co-op and I began to ask around for recommendations on a math curriculum and most folks suggested Singapore Math.  I ran over to the Schoolbox and grabbed a Singapore workbook.  We began to work through it, but it was very intense.  My son became overwhelmed and we abandoned it.  I began to hang out a bit with the girls at the co-op and through conversation, realized that I’d purchased the wrong Singapore Math book.  The Singapore I purchased is used in school systems, and it specifically correlates to the California State Standards. Because of this, it moves at a much faster pace, without the time for repetition that cements concepts, unlike the homeschool philosophy that exposes children to complex concepts early and often. Another four weeks down the drain.

For those unfamiliar, Singapore Math- its American-given name, was developed by the country’s Minister of Education about thirty years ago.  It was imported to the states in 1988. And students in Singapore have repeatedly ranked at or near the top on international math exams since the mid-1990s, while U.S students continue to lag behind students from Europe and Asia when it comes to math.

Once I took a look at the correct Singapore Math, I discovered that it was a math program that was similar in many ways to Montessori math, except that it had visual, not tangible, manipulatives.  It also did an excellent job of connecting math concepts to real world scenarios, which is an important Montessori philosophy. Maria Montessori said: “The instruction given must be scientifically correct and must be related to simple everyday facts so that it can always be tested and confirmed by observation and experiment.” However, we didn’t end the year with Singapore Math.  We were already light years into the Keys to Fractions math curriculum, which was suggested by consultants over at The Munchkin was happy, and there was no need to change at this point.


The big lesson learned? If you are a new homeschooler, I suggest meeting with a homeschool consultant.  I spent $700.oo on a curriculum that didn’t work with my son’s learning style, and a subsequent $100.00 on replacement curriculum.  With the advice of consultants, we ended up using Keys to Fractions, an excellent and comprehensive math program that costs about four bucks per book.  The program requires four books, which includes the teacher’s guide. $50.00/hr. for consulting, with a two hour session will run you $100.00 and then $15.00 for the curriculum. A savings of $685.00 – a no-brainer.  I just wish I’d done it sooner.


  1. Kathleen says:

    We use and love the Key to… series!

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