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Singapore vs. Right Start, an Afterschooler’s Dilemma

Afterschooling with Singapore Math?

Afterschooling with Singapore Math?

The other day I was at the teacher store buying Christmas presents (yes, I’m weird), when I  decided to take a look at the Singapore math section.

Long time readers will remember that I’ve blogged about Singapore math before. A couple of years ago, I used the fourth grade Singapore Standards book to help supplement my son Bruce’s math work afterschool.

A math balance is a fun way for kids to develop number sense.

From our Right Start kit.

But with my daughter Jenna(4), we’ve been working through Right Start Level A, because I love Right Start.

I love the manipulatives…I love the constructivist approach…I love that handwriting doesn’t have to get in the way of progress… Dr. Joan Cotter is my hero!

The downside of Right Start is that parents have to set up a lot of stuff. You can’t just open a workbook and hand your kid a pencil.

Right Start Level A also seems to stretch out into 1st grade territory. So right now, Jenna’s on lesson 30 (out of 77), and we’re pretty much treading water.  I need to wait a bit for her to developmentally catch up and be ready to continue.  Some kids would be able to move faster. Some kids would need to move slower. But Jenna’s only four, and there’s no rush.

So while I was at the teachers store I picked up a copy of the Singapore Math textbook A for Kindergartners. It’s colorful (some would argue cartoonish), and really engaging for a little girl like Jenna, who loves to do “homework”. She breezed through half of the book in a few days, of her own accord, and then polished off a lot more over the weekend.

Earlybird Kindergarten Mathematics Textbook A (Standards Edition)

Now we’re at the point where Jenna really needs to learn to write the number 5 before she can finish up book A, and move on to book B. (Darn, that handwriting!)

Anyone familiar with Singapore can probably guess what we have not done this past week, which has allowed Jenna to breeze through those pages so quickly.

We haven’t been following all of the instructions that involve collecting toys to count, measuring objects in the house, or discussing potatoes as a food source.


That’s the real danger of using Singapore. It’s easy to skip all of the important, hands-on stuff, and just have your kid do workbook pages.

That doesn’t mean that I think Singapore is bad, I just think that parents need to be careful.

In our situation, I’m fine with Jenna using it as a fun workbook so that she can have “homework” like her brother. That’s because she’s been doing so many hands-on activities from Right Start.

But if Singapore was the only way I was supplementing math afterschool (or in this case before school), I would purchase the teacher’s guide and be a lot more careful.

Teaching is different than watching your kid to workbook pages, –even if you are drawing out dots for the number 5!

Earlybird Kindergarten Mathematics Textbook A (Standards Edition)

Earlybird Kindergarten Mathematics Textbook B (Standards Edition)


  1. Anne says:

    Thanks! My kindergartner loves math and has been happily playing on Dreambox. I want to supplement at home, not necessarily because I am concerned about her progress but mainly to wrap my head around the way math is being taught. So different from the way I was taught, probably for the better! I was so math-phobic as a kid. I don’t want to hold her back!

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