The post What is “Singapore Mathematics”? appeared first on The Math Lab.

]]>The term ‘Singapore mathematics’, which ironically is unknown to most Singaporeans, was coined in the US and refers to the unique national mathematics curriculum used by the Ministry of Education in Singapore. Generally, it refers to a method of teaching that covers less topics but and far greater depth. Singapore mathematics has its own range of textbooks in the US and has grown in popularity ever since Singapore was ranked at the top of the TIMSS (Trends in international mathematics and science study) on multiple occasions.

**Mastery of a Topic**

The Singapore mathematics method of learning requires students to master a particular topic before moving on to the next more advanced topic. This allows students to build upon previously learned knowledge and skills and not need to repeat Learning the foundation concepts after they have been mastered. In conjunction with this, the Singapore Math curriculum does not cover a lot of topics within an academic year. The primary aim is for children to perform well because they have mastered the material at a deeper level, and not simply because they are memorizing it for the exam.

In addition, the sequence of topics in the Singapore curriculum has been thoughtfully crafted based upon the learning curve of a child. This means that easier foundation topics are covered first before the student moves on to do increasingly harder problems. Even within a class, students may not learn at the same pace. But ultimately, every student will come to master the foundation topics, and that’s be ready to move on to the next grade.

Observers and educators praise Singapore mathematics because of its emphasis on understanding problem solving. The curriculum requires children to understand how something works both visually and conceptually. Kids will not just learn how mathematical concepts work but also why it works that way.

**The Visualisation Approach**

Another aspect of Singapore mathematics is its emphasis on visualization. Instead of using an abstract approach, educators in Singapore use physical objects, such as paper clips or wooden blocks to demonstrate the basics of addition or subtraction. Similarly, at The Maths Lab, we use projector screens and tablets to help students visualize these physical objects. Furthermore, Singapore maths also requires that students use an intermediate step called a pictorial approach. Students will be taught how to draw a particular diagram that represents the mathematics problem at hand. Thus, students use actual drawing diagrams to solve word-based problems. Instead of simply trying to imagine the problem in their minds, and then writing equations to solve it, students draw the diagram out physically.

**A New Approach**

The Singapore Math approach is unique, in that just a generation ago, math was being taught in a very different manner. Parents in particular may find it difficult to accept this new approach; and just because they learn the times table in a particular way in the past, it doesn’t mean that that is the best way to learn something. The Singapore math approach is useful in that it does not always emphasize getting the answer rather it is about the journey two words obtaining the answer and explaining that journey in a way that makes sense.

Back in Singapore, despite Singapore leading the world in mathematics, parents often face an uphill task getting children interested in mathematics. Many parents tend to lean towards math tutors to help their children master this interesting yet confounding subject. Here at The Maths Lab, we try to make math fun, interesting, and to relate abstract mathematics concepts to real life examples. Moving forward, we hope to do our part in inspiring students to fall in love with the subject of math all over again.

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]]>The post Finding the Best Tuition Centre: 6 Questions To Ask appeared first on The Math Lab.

]]>**(1) Class Size**

The class size is one of the most important factors you should consider when picking a Maths tuition Centre. Many tuition centres have enormous class sizes and simply pack as many students as into a class as possible to achieve higher revenues. In these large classes, it is often difficult for students to ask specific maths questions, Leading teachers to mistakenly believe that since no students has asked any questions, they fully understand the maths subject matter being taught. But also remember that very good teachers often have large classes because there are a large number of students that want to be taught by these teachers. Thus, you should weight the credentials of the teacher against the size of the class to make an informed decision.

**(2) Teachers Qualifications & Experience**

A surprising number of parents do not ask about the qualifications of the teacher that will be tutoring their child. Instead leaving the decision to the tuition centre, and assuming that the tuition centre will simply assign one of the better teachers to teach their child. Most tuition centres have a few good teachers, and many more mediocre teachers. So chances are that your child may not end up with one of the best teachers.

The next important factor you should consider would be the qualifications of the teachers, especially qualifications related to the field of mathematics. And most importantly, the qualifications of the teacher in charge of the class you’re interested in, as well as the supervising teacher, if there is one. Most tuition centres will readily provide you with a profile sheet of their teachers; as you scan the sheet, take note of (1) the number of years of experience the teacher has, (2) where the teacher has previously taught, and (3) what academic qualifications the teacher has attained.

If possible, you should also ask to speak with the teacher, even if it’s only for a short while. Prepare one or two specific maths questions your child has, see if the teacher is able to explain the problems in a way that is understandable by your child. But remember not to ask too many questions (not more than 15 mins) and thank the teacher for their time. If you do eventually decide to pick that class, you’d want the teacher to have a good impression of your encounter.

**(3) Past Track Records**

When you have a potential tuition teacher offered to you, always ask how their students performed in the past year’s exams. Tuition centres often keep specific records on student examination results for each teacher. Just as you are assessed on KPI goals in your corporate workplace, a teacher’s performance is directly linked to the results of his or her students. Diligent tuition centres keep track of this but may only furnish this information to you upon request.

However, do not simply ask how many of their students scored an ‘A’. It is important to keep in mind the calibre of students that the teacher taught. A teacher who taught high-calibre students from the top schools and obtained a bunch of ‘A’ grades may be worse than a teacher whose students grades went from ‘D’s to ‘B’s. Any teacher can take a bunch of good students and produce good results, but it takes a good teacher to noticeably improve the results of their entire class.

**(4) Scope of Syllabus**

Aside from the teacher, the maths syllabus is the next most important thing to consider. The maths syllabus is essentially a lesson plan that describes everything that the teacher will be teaching the class over the next few months. Many parents think that tuition centres have a systematic syllabus plan that follows the same syllabus in school, but this is not always the case.

A significant number of tuition centres engage teachers on an ad-hoc basis, that is, the teachers are employed as part-timers that come in only to teach a particular class. Often the tuition centre leaves it entirely up to the teacher to decide what to teach and how to teach it. Many tuition centres also ask the teachers to prepare their own maths notes. The result is that these centres have poorly-planned mathematics lessons plans that cover bits and pieces of the topics required for the exams.

You should ask the tuition centre for (1) copy of the syllabus, and you should also (2) check when the syllabus was last updated (frequent updates show a centre takes it’s syllabus planning seriously). Finally, you would want to know (3) whether every teacher must closely adhere to the syllabus, or whether each teacher is free to adjust the lesson plan as necessary. Note, however, that allowing a teacher to change the lesson plan from the syllabus is not necessarily a bad thing, as a good teacher will be able to customize the mathematics lesson plan to best fit the specific needs of the students in the class.

**(5) Fees**

Tuition fees are perhaps the single most important thing that parents look at when deciding whether or not to enrol their child into a tuition centre. But besides simply comparing fees are different maths centres, remember that the tuition centres’ biggest cost is teacher remuneration. And very experienced and qualified mathematics teachers will command a higher salary, and this will be reflected in higher tuition fees. So although every parent has a budget, it is prudent not to simply pick the cheapest tuition centre on the basis of price.

Also, remember that tuition centres located in glitzy shopping malls have expensive rental overheads which will be passed on to students in the form of increased tuition fees. Many of the best tuition centres are located at HDB shop houses or in older shopping malls. So while it is natural for parents to want to give their children the best learning environment possible, remember that the fancy tables and nice storefront not an absolute indicator of the quality of the tuition teachers inside.

**(6) Trial lessons & Deposit Fees**

One thing you always want to do is to ask if the tuition centre offers (1) trial lessons, and conversely if they have any (2) deposit fees. Trial lessons are great to because they allow you to see how the lessons are actually conducted, how the teacher speaks, and judge whether or not this is a place that you can actually learn well. It is also important to ask what the terms for the trial lessons are, and in particular, how long the trial period lasts for.

It is also important to ask about deposit fees. Deposit fees are usually used to lock students down, so that they cannot easily change tuition centres. If there is a deposit fee, it could be an indication that the centre is not confident that you will want to stay on.

In conclusion, remember that it always pays to do due diligence before deciding on a maths tuition centre. Picking the right maths teacher with the right centre can save you a lot of time from scrambling to find a suitable teacher later on. In the long run, picking the right teacher usually leads to very good results in the PSLE, 0-level, & A-level examinations!

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]]>The post 5 Best Ways to Deal With Stress Before a Maths Exam appeared first on The Math Lab.

]]>**(1) Take Regular Breaks**

It may sound counter-intuitive to some students to take a break when they hardly have any time left to finish revision. However, study breaks are critically important to allow your brain some time to rest and recuperate. Maths is sometimes a mentally challenging subject. After doing maths problems for a while, a person’s concentration starts to significantly decrease. You may not feel the fatigue directly, but it affects your problem-solving productivity and your memory. You may find yourself stuck at a simple algebra problem because of a ‘mental block’ caused by fatigue.

**(2) Exercise**

Many students react with incredulous expressions when we tell them to take time off to exercise. However, exercising is one of the best ways of relaxing yourself so that you can continue studying those trigonometric math functions. Exercise increases on mental alertness, boosts our energy, and actually has a positive impact on our mood. The good news is it does not take a lot of exercise to achieve these results, simply take a brisk walk for 20 minutes and you can go back to that integration math practice.

**(3) Drink lots of water**

Keeping hydrated as one of the more important but often overlooked factor. Drinking lots of water during the exam has two benefits, it actually helps you to concentrate better. And because drinking water helps your liver do its job a bit better (by removing toxins from your body) it also helps prevent you from getting sick during this critical period.

**(4) Do not “burn midnight oil”**

Many students study late into the night because they feel that they want to get as much done as possible. However, studying late at night affects your mental alertness the next day and results in an overall decrease in your productivity. You will find yourself making careless mistakes on simple math equations.

The lack of sleep can also increase your anxiety and stress levels. If you do feel that you’re able to study better at night, make sure that you have a full 8 hours of rest. In other words, make sure that you are able to wake up later the following morning so you will still feel refreshed and ready to continue your maths revision.

**(5) Talk to someone**

If you feel that you are unable to cope with the stress, or feel overwhelmed by everything that’s happening around you, speak with somebody you trust. It could be your parents, a good friend, or even your tuition teacher. Having a good talk with someone that can provide a listening ear goes a long way in alleviating your stressful thoughts.

Being a mathematics tuition centre, we often see first-hand how exam stress can grip a student, and see many students struggling to cope during the exam period. These students are driven by a keen fear of failure, many times because they do not want to disappoint their parents. Other times, students give themselves unrealistic expectations because they see academic achievements as the only route to success in life.

Getting a distinction for maths (or any subject) is great but remember that there’s more to life beyond simply getting good exam results. Even if you do badly in a particular exam it is not the end of the world. That will be many other opportunities to express yourself and succeed later on in life. In short, go in there, do your best, and keep your focus on your long-term goals!

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]]>The post Singapore: Top-Ranked Nation In Maths appeared first on The Math Lab.

]]>One of the goals of the team of teachers was the move away from rote learning and instead to try to place the emphasis on actual problem solving. The group of MOE teachers produced a series of textbooks that took into account the teachings of educational psychologists from around the world. The findings from the psychologists were that people learn in three stages: by using real objects to visualise concepts, and then using pictures and finally using symbols to reinforce their learning. This led to the MOE’s emphasis on using visual aids to model Maths problems (e.g. the use of colored rectangles of different sizes to represent a fraction problem).

**At The Maths Lab we use projector screens and tablets to create the same stimulating visual experience** that help students understand complex mathematical concepts, effectively building upon what students learn in school, and helping them to master Maths topics much more quickly.

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]]>The post Choosing the right tutor appeared first on The Math Lab.

]]>**Get your child’s cooperation**

Talk about the area of concern with your child in a positive way. He or she may want help if you explain the problem. There may be some apprehension on the part of your child, but your encouragement can make the process easier to handle.

**Think about the Type of Tutoring**

A small group class might be right for your child, but for another child, one-on-one instruction is important. You might choose in-person or online tutoring. Find out the maximum number of students in the class. Think about location and how often you want your child to be tutored.

**Ask for Recommendations**

Talk to your child’s teacher or school principal for recommendations for tutors. Your school district might maintain a list of tutors as well. Check your local parenting magazine or website. Another good resource for tutor recommendations is other parents.

**Check the Tutor’s Qualifications**

See whether the tutor has experience tutoring the subject your child needs help with. If the tutor holds a college degree and has finished a tutor or teacher training course, he or she may be of great help to your child, even if the person is not credentialed to teach your child’s grade level. Find out how many years of experience the tutor has and his or her style of teaching. Observe the tutor’s attitude and demeanors with children before hiring him or her as well.

**Look at the Tutor’s Record**

Does the tutor have records that indicate definitively that he or she has helped students improve grades and test scores, or have better rates of homework completion?

**Cooperate**

Communicate with your child’s teacher, your child, and the tutor about the areas in which your child needs help and the areas in which he or she is progressing.

**Ask for Progress Reports**

Your tutor may offer progress reports and a redefinition of learning goals every so often. Ask that your child’s tutor keep track of how he or she is doing. Also, support your child and the tutor by having your child practice for each tutoring session.

Iron Out the Logistics. Find out your tutor’s cancellation policy, and how much / how to pay him or her.

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]]>The post Chosing your tuition class appeared first on The Math Lab.

]]>**Price**

When choosing your math tuition class, take a look at the price tag. Just because the tuition rate is high doesn’t mean that the quality of the education is as high. While price should be a factor in your decision, it shouldn’t be the only one. Price is the most visible factor people often use to make a decision, but make sure you consider how much you’ll learn at the centre and not just the price.

**Location**

Depending on the age and maturity level of the student, choosing a specialised math tuition centre close to home is a good idea. Younger students who won’t have adult supervision as they travel to the centre should enrol in a tuition centre that is near home or school. This also eliminates unnecessary travel time. If you can have a tutor come to your home, that’s even more convenient.

**Reputation**

Ask for recommendations for math tuition centres or teachers. A good centre or teacher is always in demand. This might mean that prices are higher or the locations are inconvenient, but if the reputation is the best in the area, it might be worth the difficulty. You may even have to book ahead with a centre or teacher if they are in high demand.

**Outside Influence**

You might also choose the tuition class based on what your friends are doing, or, if you’re a parent, what other parents in your social circle are choosing for their children. As a student, you may want to be with your friends, or you may attend the same centre that your siblings did. If you decide to go where your friends go, make sure that your grades are, indeed, improving.

Make your choice of a math tuition class on the basis of more than one factor. While price is certainly important, remember that you can also get a high-quality education at a lower-cost centre or a less expensive teacher. Do your research, and make a choice that is logistically comfortable.

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