The CPA Approach Explained

The CPA Approach Explained

Singapore Math is one of the key elements of S.A.M and one of the key learning principles behind Singapore math is the concrete pictorial abstract approach or CPA. Wouldn’t it be great if you know the core approach of the enrichment center you’re enrolling your child in? This quick read will shed some light on what the “amazing” CPA approach is about.

The CPA or the concrete-pictorial-abstract approach suggests that there are three steps necessary for students to develop complete understanding. This approach is a progression, which means, the concrete approach must be done first and then followed by pictorial and so on. Children find Math difficult because it is taught first in abstract here in the Philippines. Abstract means the child learns about the lines and shapes that make up digits and the lines that make up the operations (Example: 1 x 1) and a strict way of computing for it. The CPA approach digs deeper and gives the “reason” behind such problems thus creating critical thinking skills.

First, the CPA approach introduces concepts in a concrete and tangible way. This first step is “learning by doing” S.A.M provides actual items to model problems. Math problems are given life once the student handles the pizza (for example) that she is going to cut up for a fraction problem. Or if the exercise is about adding fruits in a basket, there will be fruits and a basket on the table, which will give meaning to the purpose of answering the math problem.

Second, the Pictorial Approach is the “Seeing” Stage. This is the transition for students to be ready for math problems on paper and worksheets. In this stage the children make a psychological association between the items they handled initially and the pictures, graphs or models. S.A.M worksheets are made to attract the student’s attention. For example, 3 red apples and 2 green apples will be added. The worksheets will have circles, properly colored to guide the child in solving the problem.

Finally, there is the Abstract stage where the child will be taught the same problem but this time using digits and operational symbols (for example, +, –, x, /). S.A.M trainers will guide the child through all these steps and will make sure that there is no spoon-feeding and no memorization. A skills S.A.M trainer will also go back and forth on these steps or approach to cross check if the child does understand the problem.

CPA is the best approach in teaching Math. Singapore will not be number one in world rankings according to TIMSS and PISA if it is not. If you like to learn more about CPA and how your child can benefit from it, contact your nearest S.A.M center now!

5 Mistakes Parents Make when Teaching Math

5 Mistakes Parents Make when Teaching Math

Watch out for these everyday mistakes that affect your child’s interest in Math.

As parents, we do not want to make our children feel bad and not experience the difficulties in life. So in simple things like choosing a toy or studying for a quiz, we try to guide them the best way we can – and sometimes a little too much. Here are the mistakes parents usually daily that has an impact on their enthusiasm towards Math.

1. Doing everything for them

Allowing your child to struggle is sometimes necessary. Challenges will teach your child resilience. For instance, opening a sealed jar for them after they’ve only tried to open it once, or finishing a particularly challenging homework exercise for them ay seem like trivial things but overtime, it develops a habit of dependency. In enrichment centers like S.A.M, trainers can help your child become independent learners by not spoon-feeding them. The S.A.M trainer guides your child and let them explore on their own to find the answer.

2. Providing too many options

Though everything is at this generation’s fingertips, having too many options can cause your child to become overwhelmed and indecisive. This is a common scenario especially in a toyshop. You can ask your child to pick only one toy. More often than not, they will want everything or will not choose because having all the choices can cause them to become withdrawn. You might end up choosing for them. Make it easier by offering a few choices–within a certain budget, for instance–but still allowing them to make the decision. When you enroll your child in S.A.M, you can get tips from our trainers how to ask “leading questions”, which is very effective in teaching Math. This can also be used to narrow down the child’s options and assist him in making the decision for himself.

3. Making decisions for them

Be patient. If you are always in a rush and are in the habit of deciding for your child, take a step back and think if this would deprive them of lessons worth learning. It can be as simple as ordering for them at a restaurant when they’re taking too long. Let them verbalize what they want. This builds their decision-making skills as well as their communication skills. Critical thinking is important for children to slowly realize that choosing is a complex process and not just “because they want it”. There are factors such as taste, price, amount etc. Understanding these complex thinking also encourages them to respect the decision.

4. Allowing them to be lazy readers

Yes – math and reading go hand in hand. How else can a child solve a word problem if he doesn’t comprehend it? Not nurturing a love for reading and learning can be harmful to their development. They don’t have to be voracious readers; they just have to be willing enough to sit quietly and finish a short story or a few chapters without reaching for the nearest gadget or remote control. Make reading fun by easing them into it. Don’t pressure them. You can try having a side-by-side reading time to make it a fun bonding experience for the family.

5. Force memorization

Memorization is important for quizzes, exams and school work but it is important also to understand the reason why they need to memorize the whole multiplication table. A parent can and should explain this to their children and not just spank them when they stall in reciting their multiplication tables.

It takes a village to raise a child and you need all the help you can get. You can always ask for help at your nearest SAM center so we can assist your child to learn with the best in Math and apply it in their everyday lives. S.A.M Singapore Math is an enrichment program for kids ages 4 to 12 years old. We have more than 35 branches nationwide in the Philippines.

How to Develop Resilience & Perseverance in Math

How to Develop Resilience & Perseverance in Math

Most students just simply thinking about Math brings so many negative emotions like fear or lack of confidence that he or she is unwilling to even try. This harms their ability to perform.

S.A.M Singapore Math is here to build their confidence in Math.


When you were young and studying Math during your elementary and high school days, some of our teachers gave brownie points for the effort to solve a word problem even of the final answer is incorrect. We were so thankful for these teachers, remember? Not only because of the points during the exam but because we were taught how to try and persevere.


We want this kind of resilience to be taught to our children not just for Math but for life as well. Why wait for exams to test and hone your child when perseverance in problem solving can be exercised with Singapore Math every single time?


S.A.M helps kids get past the fear of being wrong and not even trying. Math will be made fun and easy to understand so that kids won’t fear math anymore. Kids having confidence in math will be made more possible if they are not afraid to be wrong the first time. Learning to work through the initial frustration is the first step to building problem-solving resilience in students.


Our S.A.M teachers take pride when their students do not need them anymore. This means they have been successful in developing the critical thinker in the students’ minds.

But did you know that teachers can have great influence on a student’s feelings toward Math? Even if the school teacher is enthusiastic about Math, you can supplement teaching with a “certified” Math teachers, just like our S.A.M teachers. They can provide personal attention that is hard to get at school. Our teachers can help students work on the math equations and word problems without feeling any pressure, thus improving the student’s self confidence.


A S.A.M teacher will never spoon-feed. She will give open-ended problems to hone critical thinking. These problems will encourage the student to struggle, which will likely lead them to a solution. Leading questions will be asked until the student will find the correct answer for himself. Should the student answer incorrectly, the teacher will still ask him why was his answer like so and because of this, the child will reevaluate his answer and think of the correct solution which results in critical thinking.


There are many ways on how to solve a problem. Although Math can be an exact science where a correct answer is definite, it is important for the child to understand “why” it is the correct answer, how to arrive at that and not just blindly accept that it is the right answer. This way, however the word problem is twisted, the child can answer confidently each and every time.


Do you know a child struggling in Math subject? S.A.M Singapore Math can help. View our website for more details and find a S.A.M Singapore Math location near you!



Why is Fraction Difficult for Kids?

Why is Fraction Difficult for Kids?

After your child has mastered the basic operations in Math, the teacher has now presented a more challenging topic – fractions. Fractions are visually appealing to learn. Remember the classic pizza pie example? The topic is very applicable to everyday life and is therefore a must for your child to have a good and thorough conceptual understanding of it.


The concept is easy. The real difficultly is when your child is starting to learn how to add, subtract, multiply, divide, compare, and simplify fractions. The process becomes more complicated. There are additional steps to memorize and without comprehension, the task becomes 10 times more difficult.


Find the common denominator. Cross multiply. Do the reverse. – You multiply, divide, and do various things with the numerators and denominators to come up with the answer. If students simply try to memorize these rules without knowing where they came from, the rules will probably seem like a meaningless jungle. If they get it right, it will probably just feel like magic and if you ask how they got the correct answer, they probably do not know either.

Magic is not applicable to mastering Math. If the child gets it easy at first by tossing numbers here and there and getting answers without having any idea if they are reasonable or not, his tendency is do trial and error and “try his luck” every time. This, we all know, is not proper and fast learning for Math.


Our solution at S.A.M is to use manipulatives and visual models to groom independent learners. Instead of merely presenting a rule; props and toys are used during the study of fractions. This way, fractions become concrete or tangible to the child, and not just a meaningless set of numerators and denominators. The student will be able to estimate the answer before calculating, evaluate the reasonableness of the final answer, and perform many of the simplest operations mentally without knowingly applying any “rule.

To ready your child for exams in school, the learning is then taught visually – thru drawings on paper. This way, after understanding the manipulatives, the child doesn’t need to bring the props and he can understand the problem when asked in school. Finally, how to write fractions, what are parts, halves, wholes is taught. This is the abstract concept of Math.


More than 50% of students have a hard time in fractions. You and your child are not alone. But you can help your child get ahead if you choose to let him focus on difficult Math topics. We have our ACE program to help your child if he is preparing for exams and need just a little more help on fractions or any other Math topic.

Does your child need help with fractions? We’ll help him/her. Call us today! Visit the nearest SAM branch.



Why Choose S.A.M

Why Choose S.A.M

"I like the fact that the S.A.M program is catered for preparation of the Singapore Mathematics syllabus. Also, as the progression is based on individual ability, it has allowed my 6 year old to progress to Primary 3 Level mathematics in a fun and interesting way. He now comprehends the words and phraseology in word problems easily.

The problems are also set in a myriad of ways, so he is taught to be flexible in finding the solutions. For my younger child, the colours and pictures were exciting and was critical in encouraging her to pick up the homework habit happily. I am hope that she will soon follow in her brother's footsteps."

Joey Wong, In-House Counsel, Mother of Hong Wei 6, and Mabelline, 4

"My son really enjoys his classes at S.A.M and has already progressed very much ahead of his peers. He enjoys working with the teacher and looks forward to class every week. He loves doing his worksheets."

Mrs Teong

"I am glad that I have found a relevant math learning system for my daughter.

She is certainly more independent and motivated in her math learning journey after just one term of enrolment. That's a load off my shoulders!"

Mrs F. T. Wong, mother of H. T. Wong, P5 SCGS

"As a parent who is not too fond of the rote learning method, the S.A.M Approach to Mathematics , with its emphasis on a holistic and conceptual understanding, bodes well for me. I have seen the vast improvement in my 4 year old son in his mathematical abilities ever since he started S.A.M.

Coupled with the fun learning methods and highly illustrated work sheets, John is always eager for his next lesson. S.A.M has certainly made mathematics FUN for my son. Thanks S.A.M !"

Jennifer Sim, Marketing Manager, mother of John, 4

"S.A.M has definitely enhanced my Primary 2 son's understanding of mathematics and, as a consequence, helped him to do well in school. His teacher is impressed that he grasps concepts like fractions and multiplications so quickly.

I believe S.A.M is instrumental in helping him excel in the subject. Also, he is enthusiastic about going for his sessions at S.A.M as he knows it will be fun and useful."

Angeline Teo, mother of Aaron, 8

"My son looks forward to S.A.M every week. He finds the activities and word problems in the worksheets very attractive and engaging. With S.A.M coaching, he became more focused, organized and disciplined in his learning within a short period of time.

He loves to work with his S.A.M Trainers and is very motivated by their patience and encouragement. The S.A.M approach has given my son not only a strong foundation to excel in Mathematics but also inspiration and love for mathematics."

Mrs Tan Lay Hong, Teacher, mother of Tan Hong Zhao, 6 yrs old

"We wanted to let you know that Gabriel had a Maths diagnostic test at his school's student care. It was an unannounced test but he scored full marks. In the primary 1 cohort of 135 students in student care, there were only less than 10% who scored full marks. Though this is only his student care test and does not lead to any academic grade, we are proud of his achievement. We are sure S.A.M has given him a good Maths foundation and given him a good start in this subject. Thank you."

Soh Wai, mother of Gabriel.

"My two ones aged 7 and 5 started the S.A.M program about 6 months ago. They have never been enrolled into previous mathematics enrichment classes and were resistent in the beginning. But now, they are enjoying their lessons and are encouraged to do their best in every topic they were assigned.

They are learners of differing strengths and instead of pushing the children to fit the speed of the program's expected progress, the centre paces both of them appropriately to achieve their optimal performance."

Serene Chan, mother of David, 5 and Alex, 7

"Before joining S.A.M my daughter was finding it a task when she has to do Maths homework and she was finding it challenging to solve the complicated maths questions . Since she has joined S.A.M I can see she has become more confident in approaching the maths questions and she has been looking forward to the class every Saturday . The teachers at S.A.M have also been very supportive and encouraging in her learning journey too! In her last exams my daughter has a more positive attitude towards approaching her maths and managed to score very well for her exam.

As we have 2 daughters. We appreciate that S.A.M is able to cater for their individual needs and both of them can be in the same class but on a different learning journey. My younger daughter who is aged 5. I can see she has taken a great interest in numbers since she has joined S.A.M and she seems to be having fun through the learning too!"

Jasmine Poon, Parent of Helena and Emma Tan

"Before my son joined S.A.M, he had totally no knowledge about mathematics and no interest in counting. After less than a month of S.A.M, my son could perform addition independently, and he is now learning subtraction.

He has also built a lot of confidence in mathematics. He enjoys every lesson in S.A.M, as the teachers are very friendly, patient and passionate in their teaching. S.A.M's Achievers Program is also part of the attraction to motivate my son to work harder.

I have no regret sending my son to S.A.M, and I thank S.A.M for helping my son to build such confidence in Mathematics."

Chloe Sng, mother of Jonathan, aged 6

"My daughter used to merely memorize maths. Now, she comprehends and understands concepts and fundamentals so much more, thanks to S.A.M. The program truly transcends beyond just rote learning, and every skill she learns is relevant to Singapore's school syllabus."

Regina Low, Business Owner, mother of Low Qing Fang, 6

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Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime. </br> <a class=Learn More">

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S.A.M is the only program your child needs to excel in Mathematics </br> <a class=Learn More">

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