How I Use Singapore Math

screen-shot-2016-10-19-at-8-18-58-pmI have a love/hate relationship history with Singapore Math.  It has really been awesome for my kids (and for me) to learn math the Singapore way.  I was always really good at math, but it has been shocking to see my mental math improvements over the last few years as I have taught my kids through this math program.  But it isn’t as easy to use as some other programs would have been, and there have been quite a few crisis moments when I thought I would throw the books out the window and grab something easier to use.   Continue reading

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Beast Academy

We love Beast Academy here.  My son works through the practice books for fun, and my daughter and son both enjoy reading the comic book guide.  This probably sounds weird, but this program has been worth its weight in gold for helping my son enjoy reading.  He is such a mathy kid and we love that he is reading and rereading these guidebooks.

We also love the interesting topics that are included in Beast Academy.  For example, there is a whole chapter on logic puzzles in book 4B.  Andrew learned to play minesweeper this week and really enjoyed it.  Beast has really enriched and rounded out our math education.

Is it a full curriculum?  I would have to say no, or at least I wouldn’t use it as one.  For one thing, my son went through the entire third grade year in a month and a half.  He was doing it in every spare moment, but it still seemed to be over too quickly.  He is now halfway through fourth grade.  I told him I won’t buy the next one until he is done with Singapore 5A.

I guess you could argue that the amount of time that a curriculum takes doesn’t affect whether it is stand-alone or not because frankly, Singapore doesn’t take that long for him either.  But they have a lot of supplements to Singapore that help round it out including mental math, challenging word problems and intensive practice books.  I actually got BA to try and slow him a little since he is starting 2nd grade this year, and I wanted to make sure he is really prepared before he starts pre-algebra in the next year or two.

I would say that BA teaches things well and in-depth for kids that are willing to sit and puzzle it out.  Andrew has frequently said that something in Singapore is too easy, and that he learned those skills already in BA.  (And remember he is 1/2 grade down in BA, but catching up quickly because it is more fun).  However, we have run into several instances where Singapore adds new skills to something he already covered, and that makes me feel like there would be gaps if I did BA alone.

I do understand that different math curricula can cover different topics and still be considered complete.  But since Beast Academy is a new program, and there are no test scores or success stories from past graduates, I am not going to have my son be the first guinea pig to only use that program.  The entire idea of Beast Academy is catering to the advanced math student, and most of us in that category want a rock solid foundation to build from.  We aren’t generally going to be the experimental type with our kid’s education.

Also I have no idea what kind of gaps could exist if I had done BA alone.  Andrew started BA with a whole grade more than required of Singapore math, so I am not sure what would have been absent without the other program.

Andrew told me that he likes being a grade behind in BA compared to Singapore because then he learns a topic in Singapore, and then goes “really deep” in BA.  He said the problems in BA make him think and understand the math differently.

The argument could be made that it is a complete program, but the biggest reason I wouldn’t use it like that is because of the way it is set up.  The comic book style encourages my children to race through the guide, and I am not always sure that they stop to really think through the information.  There are stop signs that tell you to try the problem, but who knows if that is actually happening?  The practice guide has problems to work out, but an unmotivated student could easily look up the answers in the back of the book because they are all there.  Andrew is super-motivated and really wants to learn the math so he uses the program correctly, but Anna has flat out told me that she doesn’t stop at stop signs and looks up answers if thinking about it takes too long.  She said she is just in it for the story.  I really couldn’t recommend it just because of the policing you would need to do for a child who wasn’t self-motivated.

I do highly recommend Beast Academy paired with Singapore Math for super mathy children.  I also like it for fun math-based reading for both of my kids.  I don’t make my kids do the guides, but if they want to, I make it available to them, and I have seen great things from Andrew because of this program.