Mastering Math the Singapore Way - singapore math dimensions- learning

Unlocking the Secrets of Singapore Math: Beyond Rote Memorization (Singapore Math Dimensions)

Are you curious about finding a more effective way to teach math to your child? Are you on the lookout for a curriculum that goes beyond mere rote memorization and fosters a genuine understanding of mathematical concepts? Then keep reading.

As I reflect on our homeschooling journey, I can confidently credit Marc’s success in math to one key decision I made – choosing the Singapore math method. From the moment I discovered this approach, I knew it aligned perfectly with my vision of focusing on understanding, not rote memorization in our homeschool.

The Singapore math method stood out to me because it prioritizes meaningful learning within relevant contexts, focusing on long-term retention and deep understanding. These were principles that I had always wanted to incorporate into our homeschooling.

Today, I invite you to join me as we explore the benefits of this math method and the remarkable Singapore Math Dimensions curriculum. Singapore math has garnered widespread praise and admiration for a reason, and I am eager to share it with you.

Singapore Math Dimensions – Forget Rote Memorization and Focus on Understanding

Traditional math education heavily relies on rote memorization, often missing the crucial aspect of understanding math concepts. But Singapore math offers a refreshing alternative, prioritizing understanding, mastery, and meaningful learning.

Originating in Singapore in the 1980s, Singapore math has a proven track record of producing math-literate generations that actually get math. This method uses innovative approaches such as visual problem-solving techniques, concrete-pictorial-abstract (CPA) learning, and the use of number bonds and bar models to deepen students’ grasp of mathematical concepts.

Singapore Math, the company that brought this math method to the US, continues to evolve and enhance its curriculum, and their latest offering, Dimensions Math, is tailored specifically for US teachers. With comprehensive coverage from preK to 8th grade, Dimensions Math just made teaching math by the Singapore methods easier.

If you’re eager to learn more about how Singapore math can boost your children’s math understanding, read on.

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This is a sponsored post. I was given the product to review and I might have been compensated for my time. I would never endorse or recommend programs we wouldn’t use ourselves. Read more about it in my Disclosure.

If you prefer a video to reading, I have an overview video coming soon on my YouTube (I will link it here)

What is rote memorization and why is it bad for learning math?

Rote memorization is the process of learning information through repetition without understanding its meaning or context. In math, this often means memorizing formulas and procedures without truly understanding their underlying concepts.

Do you see where the problem lies here?

….without understanding...

Are you a product of the public school, like me? If so, you probably learned math the same way I did (or at least tried to!). I was a bright student, but math just didn’t click with me. I simply memorized everything the teacher taught and managed to pass my exams. Looking back, I now realize that math never made sense because it was never taught in a way that truly resonated with me. The focus was always on getting through the tests quickly, without much thought about what came next or how we could apply that knowledge beyond the worksheets. And that’s exactly what I wanted to avoid in our homeschooling.

When students solely rely on rote memorization, they may struggle to apply their knowledge in new situations or solve problems that require critical thinking skills. They may also find it challenging to retain the information in the long run because it hasn’t been deeply understood or connected to their existing knowledge.

Now, does this mean that all rote learning is bad and we should completely avoid it? Well, not necessarily. I believe it depends on the subjects we’re trying to learn.

singapore math curriculum - understanding not rote learning- how to teach math

The Limitations of Rote Memorization in Math Education

Rote learning has been a traditional method of teaching math in many educational systems. It relies on repetitive practice, drills, and memorization of algorithms and formulas. But it has some major flaws.

I feel it’s essential to understand the limitations of rote memorization in math education before we decide what math curriculum is best for our homeschoolers. While this approach may help students pass exams or complete assignments quickly, it often falls short in the following areas:

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Some Benefits of Rote Memorization

I don’t want to say all rote learning is bad, but when it comes to math, it shouldn’t be the only way to present math to kids. Here are some benefits of rote memorization that shouldn’t be ignored:

  • it improves memory and enhances neuroplasticity – our brains are like muscles. This means we can train them, just like any muscle, to grow. Rote learning helps train the brain to remember and recall information.
  • is great for repetitive tasks – learning the alphabet in order, the periodic table of elements, vocabulary words, terms in science, a foreign language – these are all examples where rote learning is very useful and necessary. Some might argue that even the multiplication table should be learned by heart (but things are debatable there). The bottom line is that rote learning works best for things that don’t require much of a strategy, which is not the case for math.
  • it works great in conjunction with other methods to ensure a holistic learning experience. Although various subjects require more or less rote memorization, it works best when used together with other methods of learning.
  • it helps with quick information retrieval – great for exams and tests, or any situation where students are under timed pressure to recall information fast. But we all know this doesn’t equate understanding of a concept.
  • it’s good for developing foundational knowledge – like vocabulary words in a new language.

The realm of mathematics education has long witnessed a struggle between two contrasting approaches: rote learning, and meaningful learning.

Rote learning is all about memorizing formulas and steps without really grasping the underlying concepts. It’s the old-school way of passive absorption, where students are simply told what to think instead of actively engaging with the subject. It can leave them feeling disconnected and wondering, “Why am I even doing this?”

On the other hand, meaningful and mastery-based learning approaches take a whole different route. They’re all about digging deep and truly understanding the principles of math. It’s about connecting the dots, exploring the interconnections, and developing problem-solving skills. Active learning is the name of the game here, encouraging kids to ask questions, explore different paths, and find those “aha!” moments along the way. It’s like igniting a spark of curiosity and embarking on an exciting mathematical adventure!

Teaching Math from a Mastery and Meaningful Learning Perspective

“Hold on a moment, Laura. Are you suggesting that the way we’ve all been taught math is completely flawed?”

Well… let me ask you this: Are you satisfied with how you learned math? Did it truly click for you? Were you able to apply it beyond the confines of a textbook? Maybe you were fortunate to have an exceptional teacher or your brain naturally made those connections. Good for you!

But here’s the thing: If we want our kids to genuinely grasp math, not just breeze through it to check some boxes, there are more effective methods than the traditional, repetitive learning approaches.

When it comes to teaching math that truly sticks in the long run, there are two powerful approaches that take center stage: meaningful learning and mastery-based learning.

These approaches delve deeper into the world of math, going beyond surface-level understanding. It’s not simply about memorizing formulas and procedures; it’s about comprehending the underlying reasons behind them. We’re talking critical thinking, real-life applications, and connecting those mathematical dots.

singapore math dimensions review by monekyandmom,png

So, let’s break it down. Meaningful learning is all about forging those connections and uncovering the relevance of math in our everyday lives. It’s about grasping the concepts, not just regurgitating information. On the other hand, mastery-based learning focuses on honing skills and building a rock-solid foundation.

But here’s the exciting part—they complement each other perfectly! By blending meaningful learning and mastery-based learning, we create an extraordinary learning environment in math education. We’re talking about deep comprehension, sharpened critical thinking, and unleashing the true power of math in real-world scenarios.

Oh, now I hope I’ve piqued your curiosity! You’re wondering which math curriculum can truly deliver on all these promises, right?

Well, I’m thrilled you asked because there’s one curriculum that reigns supreme in the realm of mastery and meaningful learning: Singapore Math Dimensions. While there are other curricula inspired by the Singapore method, this one is specifically designed for homeschool parents who were taught traditional math and could use some assistance in implementing the Singapore math approach.

So let’s sum it up before moving on.

Meaningful Learning: Connecting Math to Real Life

Meaningful learning takes math education to a whole new level. It’s not just about memorizing facts; it’s about truly understanding the world of numbers and how they apply to everyday life. By getting kids actively involved in their learning, meaningful learning sparks critical thinking, problem-solving, and deep exploration of mathematical concepts.

In this approach, kids are encouraged to be curious and inquisitive. They can ask questions, draw connections, and uncover the underlying principles behind those math concepts. It’s all about fostering a genuine passion for learning, where kids make those meaningful connections that stick with them for the long haul.

I’d like to think we all want to see that happening.

singapore math reviews by monkeyandom

Mastery-Based Learning: Mastering Concepts at Your Own Pace

Mastery-based learning is the perfect partner to meaningful learning, working hand in hand to ensure kids truly master each concept. With this approach, they take center stage as they progress through the material at their own pace. No rushing, no skipping ahead. It’s all about building a strong foundation of understanding.

In mastery-based learning, students get the time and support they need to fully grasp each concept before moving on. It’s all about solidifying their knowledge and skills, so they can confidently tackle more advanced topics down the road.

Regular assessments and feedback play a crucial role in this approach. They allow kids to showcase their understanding and receive valuable guidance for improvement. It’s a continuous cycle of learning.

Teaching at our kids’ own pace is undeniably crucial, and guess what? This approach works wonders for math as well!

But wait, there’s more! What happens when we bring these two approaches together? Enter metacognition!

Meta-what? you ask

See, I’ve done all the fancy research for you in this article, so keep reading!

mastery based math learning dimensions math monkeyandmom

Metacognition: The Benefits of Meaningful Learning and Mastery-Based Learning in Math

Both meaningful learning and mastery-based learning foster the development of metacognitive strategies that support math learning. Metacognition is a fancy word for thinking about your own thinking! By being aware of what you know, what you don’t know, and how to approach problem-solving, you’ll develop a deeper understanding of math concepts.

Now, here’s the exciting part. Metacognition allows kids to reflect on their learning, analyze their strategies, and recognize what they still need to learn. And let’s be honest, understanding what you don’t know can be just as important, if not more important, than what you do know.

In the realm of Singapore math, metacognition takes center stage. Students are empowered to become their own problem-solving gurus by asking themselves questions, articulating their thought processes, and monitoring their progress. It’s all about equipping them with the confidence and skills needed to tackle new challenges head-on.

Now that we covered these important aspects of a comprehensive approach to math, let’s list some of the benefits of meaningful and mastery learning in math:

Singapore math: Combining Meaningful Learning and Mastery-Based Learning

Singapore math is an incredible math approach that effortlessly combines the best of meaningful learning and mastery-based learning principles.

Curricula like Singapore Dimensions Math are carefully crafted to offer kids a thorough grasp of mathematical concepts while ensuring they master and excel in vital skills.

Singapore math makes learning math a breeze by utilizing hands-on manipulatives and visual aids, making abstract ideas come to life. It encourages problem-solving, critical thinking, and the practical application of math in everyday scenarios.

Before we delve into the world of Singapore math and the exciting new Singapore Math Dimensions, let me clarify something important. There’s a distinction between Singapore math and Singapore Math (notice the upper/lower case difference).

When we say Singapore math, we’re referring to the math curriculum and methodology that originated in Singapore. On the other hand, Singapore Math refers to the brand that introduced the Singapore math method to the United States back in the ’90s.

dimensions math singapore grade 5 review monkeyandmom

How Singapore math method originated

Back in the 1980s, Singapore realized they needed a math curriculum revamp. They used to import math programs, but their students weren’t performing well in math competitions. So, the Ministry of Education took charge and invested in research to create a better math curriculum that would boost their economy and technology. That’s when Singapore Math Inc. was born!

The results were incredible. Singaporean students consistently ranked among the top performers in international math assessments. This caught the attention of educators worldwide, who started incorporating elements of Singapore Math into their own teaching methods. It’s no wonder that today, Singapore Math is hailed as one of the most effective ways to teach mathematics.

“Students in Singapore have once again secured the top spot in rankings for math and science internationally. The Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study (TIMSS) has revealed this in a study that is only conducted every four years, assessing students from grades four to eight.”

Study International, Students in Singapore top international rankings in math and science (again)

Isn’t it amazing how one innovative approach changed the math game for an entire nation (and influenced so many others to make changes in math)?

So what’s special about Singapore math anyway?

Singapore Math’s Secrets: A brief overview of the Singapore math method

The Singapore math method is a teaching approach that’s all about mastering math concepts through problem-solving and critical thinking. It’s pretty amazing, I must say!

One of the coolest things about Singapore math is its concrete-pictorial-abstract (CPA) approach. Students get their hands on real objects, then move to visual representations like diagrams, and finally dive into abstract symbols and equations. By giving students different ways to understand math, this method helps them develop a deep grasp of how numbers actually work.

Singapore math is also big on problem-solving skills, which is something we all want our kids to be good at. It’s not about mindless memorization; it’s about encouraging students to think critically and apply their knowledge to tackle complex problems.

There are so many aspects to Singapore math that make it an amazing choice for a math curriculum and I don’t have space here to go through every one in detail, but other features include:

  • focuses on understanding and understanding the ‘why’ behind concepts
  • mental math
  • builds gradually on preexisting knowledge (incremental approach)
  • focuses on visualization, not rote learning
  • bar models, ten-frame or base-ten for problem solving to represent problems visually (CPA)
  • greater focus on fewer topics
  • focuses on mastery
  • use of manipulatives (like linking cubes) to explain concepts hands-on
  • use of number bonds to represent relationship between numbers

Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract approach

The CPA approach is a key pedagogical strategy of Singapore math that encourages kids to understand concepts in a progressive manner, from concrete manipulatives to pictorial representations of these and abstract math.

Using the concrete-pictorial-abstract approach has some pretty cool perks. First off, it helps students grasp math on a deeper level. Starting with real objects they can touch and play with, students create mental images of those math concepts. And as they gradually move from concrete to more abstract representations, they begin to see the connections between different forms.

concrete pictorial abstract singapore math curriculum dimensions math review by monkeyandmom  - no rote memorization in math

Here’s the scoop on the concrete-pictorial-abstract approach in math! You see, math concepts can be pretty abstract, especially for younger students. That’s why we need to bridge the gap between the abstract and the real world using the awesome CPA method.

One of the great things about this approach is that it works for learners at different levels. By bringing in hands-on experiences and visual models, we give struggling learners a chance to understand math concepts that might otherwise seem daunting when presented in just numbers or symbols.

Singapore does this by use of manipulatives (like Cuisenaire Rods or others) when first introducing a concept. Kids get their hands on things and understand the concepts in a tangible way. Then, they move on to drawing pictures to represent what they’ve learned, which helps them analyze problems critically. Finally, they’re ready to tackle math in the abstract (or traditional) way.

But here’s the cool part: these three steps aren’t strictly linear. They’re all part of the same lesson whenever new concepts are introduced. Kids are encouraged to explore with hands-on manipulatives, express their understanding through drawings, and then conquer problems using abstract concepts.

As they grow, and build their skills and mathematical understanding, kids will be encouraged to move more to the abstract spectrum of the CPA.

To summarize, the three stages of the CPA approach are:

Singapore math curriculum dimensions math concrete pictorial abstract method


In the concrete stage, students engage in hands-on, real-life experiences using manipulatives or physical objects.

Manipulatives could include items like blocks, counters, or fraction tiles.

By manipulating these objects, students can explore and understand mathematical concepts concretely.

For example, to understand addition and subtraction, students may physically combine/detach blocks to represent the joining/subtraction of two quantities.

Singapore math curriculum dimensions math concrete pictorial abstract method


In the pictorial stage, students transition from concrete objects to visual representations.

They use drawings, diagrams, or other visual models to represent mathematical ideas.

Pictorial representations help students bridge the gap between concrete experiences and abstract symbols.

For instance, students might draw a bar model to represent addition and subtraction or use a number line to understand the concept of multiplication.

Singapore math curriculum dimensions math concrete pictorial abstract method


In the abstract stage, students work with symbols, numbers, and mathematical notation.

They move from the concrete and pictorial representations to solve problems using mathematical symbols and equations.

At this stage, students should have a solid foundation in understanding the underlying concepts, making it easier for them to apply mathematical algorithms and solve abstract problems.

Number Bonds and Base Ten Frames

In Singapore math, number bonds and ten frames are visual tools used to help students understand and work with numbers and the relationships between them.

Bar Modeling

Another one of Singapore math’s staples is the bar model technique used for solving math problems. This technique, found in the pictorial stage of the concrete-pictorial-abstract approach (CPA), is a true gem when it comes to solving math problems.

Bar models provide a pictorial representation of relationships between quantities, helping students understand and solve mathematical problems more effectively. Bar models are used to teach various topics such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions, and ratios. With bar models, math problems become less intimidating and more enjoyable.

In a bar model, a problem is represented using rectangular bars or boxes to represent different quantities or parts of a whole. The length or size of the bars corresponds to the numerical value or magnitude of the quantity being represented.

When we use bar models, we allow kids to enter a visual realm where problems take shape before their eyes. They allow them to analyze the relationships between quantities, spot missing information, and discover solutions with clarity.

Bar models serve several purposes in mathematical problem-solving:

  • Visualization: Bar models help students visualize the problem and the relationships between different quantities. They provide a concrete representation that can make abstract concepts more accessible.
  • Problem Analysis: By breaking down complex problems into simpler parts, bar models reveal their inner workings. They unveil the known and unknown
  • Problem Solving: Bar models provide a framework for solving problems systematically. Students can use the visual representation to create equations, set up proportions, or perform other mathematical operations to find the solution.
  • Conceptual Understanding: Bar models promote a deeper understanding of mathematical concepts. They help students grasp the underlying structure and relationships within a problem, fostering a more solid foundation for mathematical thinking.

To use a bar model, kids typically start by reading and understanding the problem statement. They then draw a bar or bars to represent the given quantities and use labels or annotations to indicate the known and unknown values. They can manipulate the bars to reflect the relationships described in the problem, helping them reason through the solution steps.

Bar models can be particularly effective in solving complex word problems involving comparison, proportion, or part-whole relationships. They provide a visual scaffold that guides kids through the problem-solving process, making it easier to grasp the problem’s context and arrive at the correct solution.

most effective way to teach math- singapore math

Mental math

In Singapore math, mental math is a big deal! It’s all about crunching numbers in your head without relying on calculators or writing things down. The goal? To boost kids’ number sense, calculation, and problem-solving skills.

Singapore math teaches kids a lot of mental math tricks like number bonds, compensation, breaking numbers apart, and regrouping. These help them speed through calculations in their mind (without relying on rote-learning techniques). And Dimensions Math has this added in their special printouts packet (more about that in a minute).

Daily lessons incorporate mental math activities to actively engage kids and promote mathematical thinking. They are encouraged to mentally solve problems, estimate solutions, and establish connections between different mathematical operations.

By practicing mental math, they will gain confidence, sharpen their number sense, and lay down a rock-solid foundation for tackling more complex math concepts.

Is Singapore math difficult to teach?

Because of the nature of Singapore math’s methods and how they differ from traditional math, teaching Singapore math can present a learning curve for homeschool parents who are new to the curriculum and its teaching methods. but there are multiple resources available for parents to familiarize themselves with teaching Singapore math successfully in their homeschooling, like online lessons or workshops by Singapore Math.

One aspect that may initially challenge parents is the emphasis on a concrete-pictorial-abstract (CPA) approach. While this approach fosters deep understanding, it may require parents to familiarize themselves with the specific materials and techniques used in the curriculum. No worries, though! Programs like Singapore Math Dimensions have got your back with video lessons.

Additionally, Singapore math often incorporates bar models. These bar models provide a powerful tool for problem-solving and can enhance students’ critical thinking abilities. However, parents who are new to bar models may need to invest time in understanding how to introduce and use them effectively in their homeschool lessons. If you’re new to bar models, don’t sweat it! Take some time to explore YouTube videos that explain how to use them in different situations.

So, to overcome the learning curve associated with teaching Singapore math, you can take advantage of various resources offered by Singapore Math on their website or find similar resources to help you understand how to implement this method.

From my point of view, patience and perseverance are key when tackling the learning curve of teaching Singapore math. It is essential to approach the curriculum with an open mind and a willingness to adapt your teaching methods as needed. With time and experience, you’ll find that the effort invested in understanding and implementing Singapore math curriculum pays off in your children’s mathematical proficiency and problem-solving abilities.

Singapore Math: the Family-Owned Company that Brought High-Quality Math in the USA

Let me share an interesting story with you about Singapore Math, the company behind the Singapore math curriculum in the USA. It all started when the Thomas family moved from Singapore to the US in 1997. They noticed some struggles with traditional math education while their daughter was in school, so they took matters into their own hands and brought the Singapore math curriculum to the US.

Their motivation? To offer an alternative to the old ways of memorization and superficial math learning. Singapore math focuses on understanding, problem-solving, and critical thinking, giving students a more meaningful approach to learning math.

Singapore Math

It didn’t take long for Singapore Math to gain popularity among teachers and parents across the US and beyond. Its effectiveness and positive impact on students’ math skills made it an integral part of many educational methods.

Today, Echo Thomas leads the Singapore Math team as the CEO. Being a family-owned company, they have a personal touch and a true passion for math education that shines through in everything they do.

Singapore Math offers a range of curriculum options, covering students from preschool (PreK) to 8th grade. This ensures that students of all backgrounds develop a strong math foundation from an early age and progress steadily through the grades, building on their knowledge and skills.

With its commitment to excellence and meaningful math education, Singapore Math has truly made a mark on the US educational scene.

Singapore Math Programs for preK-8

If you’ve checked out Singapore Math’s website, you might have felt a bit overwhelmed by the many programs they offer. So, which one should you choose?

Don’t worry! With Singapore Math, you can’t go wrong no matter which edition you go for.

However, let’s bring some clarity to the different programs available and their grade levels. Here’s a closer look at what they offer. The two main lines of Singapore Math are Primary and Dimensions:

Each program has its own unique features, but they all share a common foundation, being based on the Singapore math method of teaching math.

What are the differences between various editions of Singapore Primary Mathematics?

While the two main lines of math that Singapore Math provides (Primary and Dimensions) are pretty simple to tell apart, things get complicated with Primary Math because it’s been upgraded and changed over the years to suit different needs. In a nutshell:

Primary Mathematics U.S. Edition is the original Singapore Math curriculum that closely follows the program from Singapore but adapts measurements and currency to the U.S. system.
Primary Mathematics Standards Edition aligns with the California State Standards.
Primary Mathematics Common Core Edition was revised to align closely with the Common Core Standards.
Primary Mathematics 2022 Edition focuses on U.S. standards alignment and differentiation. It offers entirely new content and covers topics with greater depth and understanding.

So let’s have a closer look and compare the four editions offered in Primary (click on each to find out more):

singapore primary 2022 - monkeyandmom

Primary Mathematics 2022 Edition

This edition focuses on U.S. standards alignment and differentiation, offering entirely new content compared to the old versions.

Primary Mathematics 2022 Edition is designed to cover topics covered in U.S. public schools for each grade level with greater depth and understanding.

It includes differentiated learning pathways and integrates growth mindset, social and emotional learning, and STEAM activities.

New Dimensions Math- Singapore Math curriculum that’s even better than before

Singapore Math has a longstanding reputation for excellence in curriculum development. They have continuously improved their Primary Mathematics series over the years.

Now, they have introduced an exciting addition called Dimensions Math. This innovative program aims to bridge the gap between the traditional US math teaching approach and the highly effective Singapore method. This new program makes it a breeze for homeschool parents to implement!

singapore - dimensions math

What is Singapore Math Dimensions?

Dimensions Math is a comprehensive math curriculum designed for students ranging from PreK all the way up to 8th grade. Created by experienced American educators, this program brings the renowned Singapore math approach to parents and teachers in the US in a format that’s easy to understand and use. It’s divided into two branches: elementary (PreK – 5th grade) and middle school (6th – 8th grade). While the middle school program has been around for a while, the elementary program was introduced in 2018, adding even more depth and breadth to this fantastic curriculum.

Dimensions Math Components

Dimensions Math is structured to follow a consistent lesson format, which includes five steps: Think, Learn, Do, Activities, and Workbook. This format provides a clear framework for both parents and students, ensuring that each math lesson incorporates hands-on problem-solving, concept teaching, guided practice, optional activities for reinforcement, and independent practice in the workbook.

Exactly like with any Singapore math curriculum, each year of Dimensions Math is divided into two semesters (A and B), and for a complete math curriculum pack you will need the following components for each semester:

Singapore Math Dimensions vs. Primary

Dimensions Math embraces the Singapore math framework, staying faithful to its core principles and teaching methods. However, it goes the extra mile by incorporating thoughtful adaptations that cater to learners from USA. These tweaks make Dimensions Math even more versatile and inclusive, ensuring that students everywhere can benefit from its approach.

Now, if you’re someone who loves the original Singapore math style and wants to stick with it, the Primary is your go-to choice (check out Singapore Primary 2022 samples).

Strengths of Dimensions Math

Dimensions Math stands out among various Singapore Math programs with its unique features that make it a top choice for parents and educators alike:

What Dimensions Math level should I choose?

If you are coming from another curriculum, which isn’t Singapore math-based, you would need to take the placement tests available on the Singapore Math’s website.

Our Singapore math journey – 6 years and counting ❤️

Alright, I know this article has turned into quite a monster, overflowing with information. But hang in there as I share our experience with Singapore ath in a nutshell.

When I first started homeschooling, the thought of teaching math sent shivers down my spine. It wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, and I’ve been pretty vocal about it on my blog (check out my CTC math post). So, I dedicated a significant amount of time to researching math curricula.

As soon as I delved into the world of Singapore math and discovered its unique approach, I knew we had to give it a shot. And we did! We embarked on our journey with Singapore Math Primary for PreK and K, choosing the original Singapore math adapted for the US. I was instantly captivated by its math philosophy and knew I wanted to stick with it.

dimensions math 5b

During 1st and 2nd grades, we enrolled with Calvert (I do not recommend them anymore), which offered its own traditional math curriculum or Math in Focus, another Singapore math program. Without a moment’s hesitation, we opted for their Singapore math option, and we never looked back!

Were all of our 6 years of math filled with rainbows and sunshine? Definitely not. Quite the opposite, actually. Let me be honest about Math in Focus: it was designed for the classroom, and they didn’t provide specialized Home Instructor Guides like Singapore Math Dimensions does. That meant I had to adapt, make compromises, and sometimes resort to a little bribery (I admit it 🙋🏻‍♀️).

Given the rigorous nature of the curriculum, it required a lot of effort and dedicated time.

So, why did I keep pushing forward? Because I witnessed immediate results! As soon as Marc started tackling basic operations, I realized we had struck gold. It was all thanks to the way he comprehended math—the way numbers made sense to him and how he played with them—it was crystal clear that Singapore Math works and lives up to its promises! Of course, I attribute some of this success to our use of Cuisenaire rods alongside Singapore math. It truly feels like a match made in mathematical heaven!

My son developed a stronger sense of numbers and a deeper understanding of math than I ever did (and I’m not ashamed to admit it).

dimensions math 5a- review by monkeyandmom

Fast forward to the end of 5th grade, and I noticed Marc growing restless with his math. He excelled in mental math and possessed a natural talent for logical steps and problem-solving. His brain just seemed wired for mathematics, despite his claims of not liking it. Sensing his boredom, I decided to take a leap and introduce Mr. D Math Prealgebra, fully aware of the potential challenges (and secretly expecting him to throw in the towel, but he surprised me!).

To my astonishment, not only did he breeze through prealgebra in record time, but he also genuinely grasped and enjoyed it. He even completed Mr. D Math Algebra 1 during 6th grade as well!

I don’t share all of this to boast. As I mentioned, he insists that he doesn’t like math. However, I credit his math achievements to the solid foundation laid by the Singapore math method! Without this incredible approach that makes math playful, relatable, and easy to grasp, he wouldn’t have reached this point.

And what about grades 6-8 and the Singapore math method? Oh, we didn’t abandon the curriculum. He’s currently tackling Math in Focus alongside Mr. D Math, and it continues to challenge him. We will persist with our Singapore math curriculum until the end because I know it’s worth it.

As my soon-to-be 7th grader gears up for Geometry, I truly believe that Singapore math has transformed our math journey, making it engaging, meaningful, and effective. It didn’t make my son fall head over heels in love with math, but it helped him UNDERSTAND it, which is a significant achievement. I am absolutely certain that none of the traditional math methods, with their emphasis on rote memorization and endless drills, could have accomplished what Singapore math did.

I do wish we had Dimensions Math at our disposal for elementary math because, from what I’ve seen, it promises to be an incredible asset for homeschool parents and a smoother ride for children—something we didn’t quite have with Math in Focus (given its classroom orientation).

So, here’s my advice to you: give it a try! And if you stumble upon a math approach that works, even if it doesn’t ignite a passionate love for the subject, stick with it. Not everyone will adore math, but understanding it is crucial for everyone’s journey.

Who is Singapore math for?

I must admit, it would be wonderful if Singapore math could magically be the perfect solution for every family, but the reality is that every family has unique needs. (However, I can’t help but mention that you might be missing out on something truly special if you don’t give it a try. Just a friendly suggestion!)

Let me present to you two lists that outline the reasons why you might fall in love with Singapore math or why it might not be your cup of tea.

singapore math dimensions

Singapore math is for you if you:

  • Value a world-famous math method: Singapore math has gained international recognition for its exceptional effectiveness. Educators and parents worldwide swear by its effectiveness in teaching mathematics. They have research papers and all to prove it (you can Google it).
  • Seek a rigorous math curriculum: Singapore math leaves no stone unturned when it comes to learning mathematics. It covers a wide range of concepts and skills, ensuring a rock-solid foundation for students. If you want a solid math curriculum that’s accessible, Singapore Math is your best bet.
  • Emphasize understanding and mastery: Unlike traditional methods that rely heavily on memorization, Singapore math puts a strong emphasis on deep understanding. It encourages students to think critically, explore different problem-solving strategies, and truly grasp mathematical principles. If you want your kids to understand math, this curriculum is for them.
  • Foster problem-solving skills: Singapore math equips students with invaluable problem-solving skills. It goes beyond simple calculations and challenges students with complex word problems. By teaching them how to analyze, strategize, and communicate their reasoning, Singapore math prepares them to conquer real-life mathematical challenges.
  • Cultivate critical thinking abilities: Singapore math fosters critical thinking skills by encouraging logical reasoning, making connections between mathematical ideas, and inspiring creative thinking. Students learn to approach math problems from different angles and come up with innovative solutions.
  • Develop a strong number sense: Singapore math places great importance on building a strong number sense in students. It helps them develop a deep understanding of numbers, their relationships, and their properties. This solid foundation enables them to tackle more advanced mathematical concepts with confidence.
  • Support homeschooling parents: If you’re a homeschooling parent, Singapore Math Dimensions has got your back. It offers comprehensive resources, including textbooks, workbooks, teacher’s guides, and online materials. With clear guidance and support, Singapore math makes it easier for you to implement the curriculum effectively.
  • Prepare students for future success: Singapore math doesn’t just focus on the present; it prepares students for the future. By emphasizing understanding, problem-solving, and critical thinking, it equips students with the skills and mindset needed for success in academics and real-life situations. It sets a strong foundation for further mathematical learning and develops transferable skills applicable across different disciplines.

While Singapore math has its merits, it may not be the best fit for everyone. Singapore math might not be suitable if:

  • You prefer a less structured approach: If you prefer a more flexible or open-ended learning environment, Singapore math’s structured and sequential curriculum might not align with your preferences.
  • You prioritize speed over depth of understanding: If your main goal is to cover a broad range of topics quickly without delving deeply into each concept, Singapore math’s emphasis on thorough understanding and mastery may not align with your objectives.
  • You are seeking a purely discovery-based approach: While Singapore math encourages critical thinking and problem-solving, it does provide explicit instruction and guidance. If you prefer a purely discovery-based approach where students independently explore concepts without direct instruction, Singapore math may not align with your preferred teaching philosophy.


I know this article has been long, that’s why I created this FAQ section for quick answers to the biggest questions you might have about Singapore math, Dimensions Math, and teaching math without relying on rote memorization, but focused on understanding instead.

Can Dimensions Math be used for homeschooling?

Yes, Dimensions Math is suitable for homeschooling. The curriculum includes textbooks, workbooks, and home instructor manuals, making it easy for parents to teach their children math at home. There is even an online lessons option for more help when teaching math.

Is Dimensions Math only for advanced students?

No, Dimensions Math is designed to cater to all students regardless of their math proficiency level. It offers a gradual and systematic approach to learning math, which helps students develop a deep understanding of the concepts.

How does Singapore math differ from traditional math instruction?

Traditional math instruction often relies on rote learning and memorization, whereas Singapore math focuses on developing a deep understanding of mathematical concepts and applying them in meaningful ways.

What is different about Singapore math?

Singapore math stands out with its emphasis on problem-solving, concrete-pictorial-abstract approach, focus on mastery and conceptual understanding, problem-solving heuristics, spiral progression, integration of visualization and models, and coherence and connections. These unique features make it a comprehensive and effective math curriculum that develops critical thinking and problem-solving skills while fostering a deeper understanding of mathematics.

Is Singapore Math same as Common Core?

No, Singapore Math is not the same as the Common Core State Standards (CCSS). While both Singapore Math and the Common Core emphasize conceptual understanding and critical thinking in mathematics education, they are separate educational frameworks developed in different contexts. Singapore math originated from the curriculum used in Singaporean schools, known for its effectiveness and strong mathematical foundation. On the other hand, the Common Core State Standards is an educational initiative in the United States that aims to establish consistent learning goals for students in English language arts and mathematics across different states.

That being said, Singapore Math Inc. does have a Primary Mathematics that is Common Core aligned if you wish for it.

How high does Singapore Math go?

Singapore Math has curricula for grades preK to 8 between their various programs.

Is Singapore math spiral or mastery?

Singapore Math follows a mastery approach rather than a spiral approach. It focuses on deep understanding and mastery of mathematical concepts before moving on to new topics, ensuring a strong foundation in mathematics.

Is Singapore math advanced?

Singapore math is often considered more advanced compared to traditional math curricula used in some countries. It places a strong emphasis on problem-solving, critical thinking, and conceptual understanding, which can challenge students to think beyond basic arithmetic and delve into more complex mathematical concepts. The progression of topics and the depth of understanding required in Singapore math may be seen as advanced by some educators and parents.

Final Thoughts

Wow, what an extensive journey we’ve had exploring the world of Singapore math, including the exciting new Dimensions Math. If you still have burning questions or want to dive deeper into this fascinating topic, don’t hesitate to drop a comment.

To put it simply, mastering math and understanding it are both crucial in math education. When you combine these approaches, you get a comprehensive learning experience that boosts proficiency, comprehension, and practical application of math concepts.

And guess what? Singapore math is the ultimate program that flawlessly integrates these approaches. It has an impressive track record in math competitions, and the results speak for themselves. Just look at how it prepared Marc for high school math by the time he was in 6th grade! This math curriculum is truly in a league of its own.

If you’re in search of a robust math curriculum that values both mastery and understanding, I highly recommend diving into the world of Singapore math. It might not instantly turn your kids into math enthusiasts, but it will definitely help them tackle the subject with confidence!

So, did I convince you to give Singapore math a try? Are you already using this approach?

Let me know in the comments and let’s spark a conversation, or join my exclusive Facebook Group to discuss about more curricula.

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  1. Hello dear Laura,
    I really appreciate your experiences shared here on your site. I am interested in your free math
    Cusenaire Rods printable how can i get them? I was impressed with your son’s video explanation of the method and i believe it will help my children.
    I agree with you about Singapore Math, however my kids cried when we moved to Dimensions Math. We also purchased the videos but the explanations are only for a few exercises, many are left out and we struggle to understand we stopped. My kids found out the Math Mammoth videos are much more fun and they love that type of conceptual math. I will keep learning from you. Thanks so much!Ca

    1. Hi Carolina,

      Math Mammoth is an excellent option and is still Singapore-based. So they would still get a solid foundation in math. I am happy there are so many good options to choose from because you can find something that works for every family.
      We ended up linking Math in Focus (still Singapore math method) and we were with them from 1st to 5th when Marc moved on directly with Mr D Math for prealgebra and up. I feel that the Singapore method laid a strong foundation and he is tackling high school math with no stress!

      My Cuisenaire booklet is free for my subscribers in my freebie library: Once you subscribe you get a password to access them all.

      Make sure to check these videos to make the most out of your Cuisenaire Rods:

      Thank you for stopping by and I hope to hear from you soon!

  2. Thank you so much Laura! You are so sweet! Your son is very blessed :)!!
    I wanted so much to work with Dimensions Math. I think it works wonderfully for parents who are very good at math and don’t need much explanations or guidance. It’s indeed advanced math. Also, a private teacher will also help the kids understand, in case parents are not able, and if the family can afford it it’s a good option. We will try again the Dimensions books once the kids learn more into the deep concepts and see how we go. I found your channel because i was looking working along with Math in Focus. I wanted to see how easy the lessons are explained. You mentioned it was not so easy and you had to take a lot of time to get into resolutions of a few lessons. How did you resolve the issues? Where did you look when the Math In Focus did not help you understand the math concept/problem? I have three kids and i have to be practical. Thanks so much!! * *

    1. Hi Carolina!

      Thank you!
      You can definitely switch to whatever works for all of you. It’s important that both parents and kids are comfortable with the curriculum chosen.
      Math in Focus is definitely not easy on the parent. It also has a LOT of practice exercises and it used to take more than 1 hour to finish a lesson. Then I started adapting it to suit us better by cutting some of the workload. It’s a thorough program, but it’s a lot for everyone.
      We did end up skipping a few problems we didn’t know how to solve! They don’t have step by step solutions until you get to middle school, and even there they only have solutions for the extra practice. I used youtube to look for specific lessons. Sometimes school teachers upload some explanations but not for everything.

      They are meant to be used in a classroom environment, so not very homeschool friendly on that front.
      A website that also helped sometimes was:

      If you want my honest opinion, you should probably look at Math Mammoth. It’s still Singapore math inspired and very solid, but it’s easier to navigate, cheaper, and you get less books to juggle. It also has video explanations for some concepts. You can download a free trial and see how it goes. Even if it’s not working down the line, at least you won’t spend a lot of money on it.

      I also recommend Cuisenaire rods and (I LOVED watching her videos). These made our math life easier and less stressful. I let my son use manipulatives for as long as he wanted to and it turned out great in the end.

      I hope this helps. Feel free to reach out with any other concerns or questions.

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