As Singaporean parents, we must all go through the ritual of getting our children past the PSLE, their rite of passage to next phase of education.
And no hurdle is more feared than PSLE Mathematics.
Today’s Primary School Mathematics syllabus and pedagogy is radically different from what we parents went through ourselves many decades ago. The emphasis is now on thinking and problem solving, rather than merely computation and rote learning. Doing well in maths is not just about memorizing formulas, and step-by-step solutions. Students must now understand and analyze problems, and apply heuristics, meta-cognitive and critical thinking skills. Merely being able to compute and use formulas is not enough to score well in Maths.
To achieve this higher-order form of cognitive thinking, children are trained in the visualization of problem constructs, using bar models to represent components in math problems. Such techniques allow students to better understand the problems, which increases their ability to solve them.
In fact, the pedagogy used for Singapore Mathematics is so effective that it has gained worldwide recognition. Singapore Mathematics is ranked amongst the top in the world. Many cities in countries such as US and Israel have implemented the Singapore Mathematics pedagogy in their schools with great success. While we may have concerns with our children’s ability to solve math problems in school, we should also understand that our children are truly immersed in a world-class education program!
Of course, this is no consolation for parents of children who are failing in Maths. It is time we get serious about Mathematics. As parents, many of us are ill-equipped to guide and support our own children in this new thinking approach to Mathematics. It may be necessary for us to seek help from professional service providers with the right curriculum and program to train our children to become proficient in Singapore Mathematics.
There are many tuition centres and mathematics enrichment services in Singapore, making claims from being able to make geniuses out of our children to offering last minute cram courses for panicky Primary Six students preparing for the PSLE. Without passing judgment on their effectiveness, prudent parents must evaluate these services with great caution. The truth is, there is no magic “pill”. Success comes from hard work, and hard work must be properly guided and supported in a consistent manner throughout the years leading to the PSLE.
In our search for reliable service providers, we found a unique establishment called S.A.M. Short for the whacky phrase “Seriously Addictive Mathematics“, we determined that S.A.M. is indeed serious about giving children the best learning opportunity to master the essential skills required to do well in Singapore Maths.
S.A.M. is a combination of class-based instruction and take-home assignments. While this is atypical of many similar services, what stands out are the following:
S.A.M.’s curriculum is fully aligned with MOE’s mathematics curriculum.
The Award winning programme has 6 Levels, covering a Pre-Primary preparation program, as well as a programme for Primary One to Six.
S.A.M. has produced well over 30,000 pages of worksheets that focus on building the specific skill sets required to excel in Singapore Maths.
S.A.M. has a classroom pedagogy unlike any other, where the focus is on encouraging students to think independently, discover ideas through concrete experiences, and to learn at their own pace, rather than by topics taught to a group of students.
Here are some samples of preschool and Primary One worksheets. These will clearly require analytical processing, going beyond the mechanics of addition and subtraction.
As students progress into Primary 2, they will start dealing with problem sums.
The sums become quite a bit more abstract in Primary 3. In Primary 4, students will learn basic geometry concepts and fractions.
The difficulty level stepped up in Primary 5 as students prepare to sit for the PSLE. They will have to tackle problem sums that correlate 2 independent variables (eg. number of people and money), and advance their understanding of fractions to ratios.
Primary 6 students will be given questions closely aligned with the expected difficulty level of the PSLE Math paper.
SAM meticulously tracks each individual student’s progress using an in house tracking system. The system allows trainers to identify the specific topics that students are weak in so that they can be given more training in those areas.
Students get to progress at their own pace. Faster students are allowed to move ahead of the cohort to higher levels as long as they have demonstrated mastery of their current topics. Weaker students will be assigned more problems that focus on their weak areas. All students are given individual attention by trainers.
To make the learning experience fun and interesting, Trainers at SAM use the CPA approach to learning, and are taught to encourage and motivate students towards achieving specific goals.
SAM has 9 centers in Singapore, and nearly 100 centers in the region spanning 14 countries. It is a unique and fully made-in-Singapore enterprise specifically catering to the needs of students preparing themselves for Singapore Mathematics, regardless of whether they are in Singapore or in other countries. Parents who have spent the first couple of years with the program are happy with the progress of their children. With its focus on quality and effective teaching methods, SAM has the makings of a successful venture that will greatly benefit our children and relieve us parents of our difficulty in handling Singapore Mathematics!