Even if you have invested a lot in the successful Singapore Math implementation in your school and you have given your students the best math resources available, you are only half-way towards achieving the success. Negative attitudes towards learning and lack of motivation in your students can undermine all your efforts. This is where the role of parents in the process of teaching Singapore Math becomes particularly important. Parents should act as supporters of their kids, however, to do so, they need to know how they can help and what they should avoid.
Step 1: Be open minded
Be prepared that some parents will not embrace Singapore Math problem solving strategies right away. The method is significantly different from the way they were taught math and it is natural that some parents might be concerned whether this technique is really effective. The most difficult to convince group are often parents, who are good at math and attribute their success to the way they were taught math at school. What you should do is try to encourage open-minded attitude among parents: Singapore Math method is different, but its unorthodox approach might also be the reason why it is so successful. Other methods can be effective as well, but studies show that Singapore Math is the most effective method for all groups of students. Prepare handouts and other materials, which explain the rules of Singapore Math and list the most important successes of the method. Give these materials to parents during a meeting at school.
Step 2: Avoid being too Helpful
Many parents, who have good intentions, might unwittingly hamper their children’s development by trying to show them “a better way” to solve the problem. This happens often when parents try to help a kid, who asks for help in solving math problems. What those parents do not understand is the fact that Singapore Math is not focused on finding correct solutions to the problem, but on being able to explain why a specific solution was used to solve the problem. Learning kids useful tricks without improving their understanding of the underlying principles will not enhance their knowledge of math. Reassure parents that although the process of learning Singapore Math might take longer, it leads to the development of much more solid math skills.
Step 3: Learn how to help
It does not mean that parents cannot do anything to help their children progress in math, quite contrary, their assistance is often crucial. However, in order to help, parents need to know how to do it. Inform parents where to buy Singapore Math books they can use to practice solving math problems at home and recommend good introductions to the Singapore Math theory for those parents, who want to help more. Teach parents how they can control their children’s progress, for example, instead of simply checking the homework, the parents can ask their children to explain how they reached the solution. This way the parents will be able to check whether their children understand the math procedure and for children this is one more opportunity to practice what they have learned.
Marta Gromadzka is a writer and editor with a wide variety of experience, including writing for websites internationally and editing books on many different subjects and in a variety of formats.