Math: behind and beyond Singapore

When I first picked Singapore Math for our homeschool, I picked it based on its reputation. Now, with my daughter in middle-school, we're looking ahead to high-school math and college preparation, and I decided to stick with Singapore.

But, on an impulse a few weeks ago, I changed my mind and decided not to go with Singapore after all. There wasn't any earth-shattering reason for the switch, just a curiosity to try something different.

Since Singapore was the only math curriculum my daughter has used, I wondered (and worried sometimes) if our work with the Singapore primary books prepared her for math beyond the primary years using another curriculum. We had a few slow years in math, but moved ahead quickly last year when I bumped up math to a top priority.

Even so, we just finished Singapore 5B and skipped Singapore 6. Going into 8th grade, did that mean she was "behind," I wondered. She took the Iowa Tests of Basic Skills for 7th grade last year and did well in the math section, but still I worried this fall. Worry can be a hard feeling to shake.

A homeschooling acquaintance of mine pointed out to me that Singapore Primary Math doesn't cover negative numbers or exponents. A day or so after my friend mentioned that to me, I ran across a book at the library about math standards in New York State. Normally, I wouldn't even notice such a book or I might shrug and think, "What do I care about what they are doing in the schools?"

But, now I was curious how our math program at home compared to what the kids in our state's schools are doing in 8th grade, and I checked the book out. I assigned my daughter the chapters about number sets and exponents. Then, she reviewed the topics online with Khan Academy.

While she was learning those concepts, the new math books arrived. I paged through the textbook and saw my daughter was completely prepared for the material. For anyone using Singapore Primary Math with the plans of changing to a different curriculum in middle school, rest assured your child will be prepared. I remain a Singapore Primary Math fan.

I picked Prentice-Hall textbook for pre-algebra and plan to use Foerster's algebra textbook next. I based my choice on a recommendation from a math-loving friend and from some research on my own.

My daughter isn't a mathy kid, but she likes her pre-algebra book and finds the exercises easier to handle than the Singapore problems, especially the Singapore "Challenging" supplements and "Intensive" practices. Those books are indeed challenging and intense!

Both of us miss the format and weight of the Singapore paperbacks. The Prentice-Hall textbook is huge and heavy, and the slick pages are too busy for my taste, but the transition from one curriculum to another has been smooth, and we're moving ahead at a good pace. I hope the transition to Foerster's algebra will be as smooth, and I'm actually looking forward to it with more confidence than I ever expected.

I think I've shaken the worried feeling, at least for this topic for this moment. And you know what? I have to credit the worried feeling for being a catalyst to bump math up to a higher priority in our homeschool. I guess I'm feeling a bit of gratitude for the worry, and I'm feeling a lot of relief that I'm not worried any longer.

These photos have nothing to do with math, but are just some shots I've taken lately when out and about.


  1. Thanks. I'm thinking about math, you and a friend blogger in Spanish posted about math. That's neat!
    I remember another post on how to recap in math when your daughter was a bit stack. I'm doing bad because I broke my promise of making it more oral, with games, with math literature, etc. Despise of my daughter having an acceptable knowledge and good attitude about math, she is not mathy either, and she doesn't do well with the worksheet practice which is what I have stubbornly being pushing.
    But we are on a break! We have a long vacation. I'm going to do things differently, and she'll be fine.
    I don't feel compelled to change from MEP, but I need to use the program to fit my girl, that's all. I was also looking at first grade, her 'school' grade level, and she is fine. I believe MEP is advanced, and I had this dream of a girl doing a page a day independently or graciously with my company... sigh... children challenge us and make us be better, I know that my lack of 'passion' for the worksheet transpires, I'm looking forward to better days.
    Sorry for venting at your post, I just love to read that a hs mom and a not mathy girl made it well through math and are ready for algebra... wow!

  2. It's a good feeling to be rid of the worry. It will be interesting to hear (if you are planning to share) how your daughter does with the Prentice-Hall pre-algebra.

  3. I hope you do post how she does. I'm already trying to figure out what to do for pre-algebra with my sixth grader. BTW, love the fall leaves on the rock!