What Singapore Maths

“There is no such things as Singapore Maths!”
– Dr. Yeap Ban Har

As explained by Dr. Yeap Ban Har in this video, Singapore Maths is a mix of proven mathematics theories in placed from different parts of the world. There is nothing new about Singapore Mathematics.

Singapore Mathematics is the system of how children are taught in school (or by private tutors!), the textbooks and the professional development of the educators. It has been implemented for more than 20 years and results of Singapore children has shown that the strategies used are proven to work.

Why Singapore Maths?

Singapore Mathematics is gaining attention in the mathematics education field internationally because Singapore students were amongst the top in  OECD’s first PISA problem-solving test. Read here.

Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012
Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) 2012

Read PISA 2012 report here.


Read TIMSS 2011 full report here.

Though we did well in these international studies, personally, I felt that these results from international tests do not show the full aspect of the success of Singapore Mathematics. This is so because as a teacher in Singapore, we know how children are also taught to be ‘exam smart’ by exposing them to a variety of questions in form of worksheets, worksheets and MORE WORKSHEETS! (not forgetting extra tuition sessions!)

Growing up in Singapore, I have experienced Singapore Mathematics both as a student (>20 years ago! Oh my!) and as an educator making Mathematics fun to learn. I see the transformation from rote learning to process learning; from the shift in focus of getting answers, to emphasising the process of doing problem solving.

To me, I feel that the success of Singapore Mathematics comes from the joy and excitement in children during Maths classes, how they apply the mathematical concepts in their daily activities and eventually, developing a positive mindset in problem solving in their life. These are possible as there is a framework in place as a guide for educators to deliver exciting and meaningful Maths lessons.

How Singapore Maths

Problem Solving Framework


From primary to pre-university level, problem solving is the focus of Singapore’s mathematics curriculum. Different aspects of the curriculum is placed in a framework, as shown above.

The 5 inter-related components in framework stress on:

In relation to Singapore Primary Mathematics, the outline and summary of the mathematics content (mathematics syllabus) is organised along 3 content strands with a listing of mathematical processes that cut across the 3 strands.

For easy reference, I have put the summarised content strands of primary mathematics syllabus organisation in the Concepts section.

Singapore Maths, problem solving framework, attitudes, metacognition, processes, skills,
Content process strand


Attitudes refer to the affective aspects of mathematics learning such as:

  • beliefs about mathematics and its usefulness
  • interest and enjoyment in learning mathematics
  • appreciation of the beauty and power of mathematics
  • confidence in using mathematics
  • perseverance in solving a problem

Read more…


Metacognition (the thinking about thinking) refers to the awareness of one’s thinking processes and one’s ability to control them.

How do children get aware of his/her thinking processes?
What are the different t
ypes of problem-solving strategies?

Read more…

Concepts (Content Strands)

Mathematical concepts can be broadly grouped into

  • numerical
  • algebraic
  • geometric
  • statistical
  • probabilistic
  • analytical

Summarised content strands of primary syllabus organisation are placed here.

Read more…


Mathematical skills refer to

  • numerical calculation
  • algebraic manipulation
  • spatial visualisation
  • data analysis
  • measurement
  • use of mathematical tools
  • estimation
  • use spreadsheets and other software to learn and do mathematics

Read more…


Mathematical processes refer to the process skills involved in the process of acquiring and applying mathematical knowledge. This includesCPA approach

  • Reasoning
  • Communication and connections
  • Applications and modelling
  • Thinking skills and heuristics

In addition, Singapore Primary Mathematics place an importance of using the ‘Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract’ approach in the process of problem solving.

Read more…

“Chapter 2 Framework Problem Solving,” Primary Mathematics Teaching and Learning Syllabus, 2012, 13-17.

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