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Singapore Math Tips 2017: Kindergarten

November 7th, 2017

{photo by Rachel Neumann}

Have you heard about the Singapore Math Training coming up on Friday, December 8th? You won’t want to miss this unique opportunity to improve your own knowledge of this outstanding math curriculum. Learn the WHY behind Singapore’s methods, receive expert advice, get your questions answered, and become more confident in working with your kids at home!

In anticipation of this event and leading up to it, we are re-posting a series that we ran several years ago called “Singapore Math Tips.” While these posts won’t replace the valuable learning and information you’ll receive from the full training in December, we hope you’ll glean a few insights to enrich your math days at home. And we trust that these tips will get you excited for the training as well!

We will start with the Kindergarten level of Singapore Math. Lisa Ann Dillon, our Singapore Math Lead, originally wrote the following post for us, and our current Kindergarten teachers, Amy Houser and Sarah Root, added a bit.

Singapore Math has a wonderful approach to teaching math to Kindergartners.  The program builds a foundation that is rock solid and developmentally appropriate for these young students.  In Kindergarten, children are developing their spatial skills.  All their practice with shapes and size will create a firm underpinning that will come in handy when they advance to geometry.  As they spend a lot of time getting to know what each number amount looks like in different configurations, they are building a pre-understanding of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  These important lessons should not be rushed but instead, these concepts should be allowed to steep so that the learning is like a strong brew; you can’t undo it!  Kindergarten is a delightful time when children learn that school is both fun and meaningful.  Students have new tasks put before them that provide just enough of a challenge for them to realize that they can do more than they could before.  It is a time of discovery when play leads to the uncovering of the lessons, many of which will last a lifetime.  Remember that book, All I Really Need to Know I Learned In Kindergarten by Robert Fulghum?  Kindergarten provides the foundation for all of the learning that will follow in subsequent years.

{classroom photos by Cheryl McCabe}

For some reason, when it comes to math in Kindergarten, we sometimes forget that the year should be foundational, relaxed, and stress free.  At SLOCA, we want to be sure we don’t rush our youngest students into concepts they will have a lifetime to work on.  Because the concepts seem so simple, families sometimes misunderstand the extra practice and feel that the program isn’t geared to the true skills of their budding mathematicians.  However, if we heed the words of Leigh A. Bortins in her book The Core, “I will fail my child if I move him ahead in a math book when the fundamentals aren’t over-learned,” (italics mine) then we will allow children a lot of time to practice ideas.   Did you note the term “over-learned?”  Throughout the section on math, Bortins emphasizes the idea that in order for children to ultimately learn algebra, the basics of math must be practiced repeatedly even once a child has learned a concept


Useful manipulatives for Kindergarten: Unifix or linking cubes, and counters

At SLOCA, we are committed to teaching our Kindergartners math in a way that will firmly cement the basic fundamentals.  Then as students progress through each level, the learning will make sense and hold firm.  At home, you can support this by following the suggestions at the bottom of your child’s math page and taking time to gather materials to bring the learning to life.  In addition, we want to develop habits of mind in Classical Education.  So let’s begin by teaching our youngest children that we practice, practice, practice.  It will help build their ability to do so in other areas as well as begin to teach a bit of self control and focus.  

Here are a few ideas for extending those math lessons and increasing the fun.

  • {photo by Salvation Army USA West / CC BY 2.0}

    Count, Count, Count!  Count shoes in the closet, cans in the cupboard, birds you see during the day, cars that pass by the house, silverware as you put it away – you get the picture.

  • Compare groups of items and ask “How many more?”  “How many less?”

  • Utilize your subitizing cards!  They are a great resource for improving number sense and are the stepping stones to number bonds.

Subitizing cards
  • Connect math to literature - "How many cows are on this page?  How many chickens are on this page?  How many animals altogether?"  or "Wow.  Let's see how many different shapes we can find on this page."

  • Connect math to art and crafts - Build fine motor skills through painting, cutting, gluing, etc. while creating a piece of art that tells a math story.

  • Get creative with manipulatives - use silverware, stuffed animals, toy cars, rocks, sticks, beans - to complete math assignments.  

  • Use pinterest as a resource.  It is filled with wonderful ideas.

  • Have fun with it!  Practice number writing in sand or shaving cream (within handwriting lines of course), build shapes out of rocks, paint addition problems, use hula hoops to help form number bonds, etc.

We hope you can jump in and have fun with your lessons, right from the start. Your child's teachers are here to help answer any questions you may have, to provide guidance for your home days, and to help you understand the big picture of our math curriculum.  Please let us know how things are going at home!  Remember, practice, have fun, be kind, and take turns.  Aren’t these the first lessons in Kindergarten?! 


SLO Classical Academy is not affiliated with any of the above mentioned websites, businesses, or organizations.