Make it Count

kid blackboard math equations
Learning mathematics is more than just the computation of numbers. We are no longer impressed by the ability to calculate numbers quickly or mentally. Calculators could do that quite well, and Singaporean students are allowed to use them at Primary 5 and 6. Instead, children in schools today are being taught to understand mathematical concepts and problem solving strategies.
Lau Chin Loong, Co-founder and Lead Mathematics Curriculum Developer of Seriously Addictive Mathematics lists the do’s and don’ts of teaching maths.

1. Use the Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract  (CPA) Approach

When you show a child the number ‘2’, they may not understand that ‘2’ represents two quantities. Simply writing the number down and telling them “This is number 2” would not be meaningful to them. Hence, it’s important to start at the concrete or manipulative stage. This would involve using manipulates like blocks or cubes to show two quantities.Once they can successfully
display two quantities using manipulates, we can move on to the pictorial stage. At this stage, we would encourage them to draw pictures of two quantities using coloured pencils and paper. After successfully drawing pictures of two quantities, they may proceed to the abstract or symbolic stage. Here, they would be able to read and write the number ‘2’ with understanding.
Concrete examples are objects, such as figurines, toys, and blocks. Pictorial examples are diagrams and drawings. Abstract examples are symbols, i.e. 10 – 3 = 7. This approach can be used to teach across all levels and topics. It is particularly useful in

teaching how to solve problem sums. E.g. It’s your birthday and you have a birthday cake thatyou would like to share with 5 of your friends. But on that day, 3 more friends came over. How many slices do you need to cut now? Is each slice of the cake

smaller or bigger?

2. Slowly graduate your child.

Once your child understand the sum at a concrete stage, you can move on to pictorial stage, and lastly, understanding the sum in its abstract form, which is translating the ‘story’ into numbers. Slowly, graduate them from the concrete to the abstract stage. They should not be rushed to move from the concrete stage to the abstract stage.

3. ‘A little bit every day’

Practice makes perfect. Do a few sums each day. By doing a little bit every day, it becomes a lot. If you ask your child to practice five questions each day, they would have done 30 questions per week. Make sure that they are practicing and solving the sums with the right understanding and concepts. If they are practicing sums with the wrong concepts, it will be more difficult for them to unlearn them. If you are unsure of the teaching methods or concepts, seek help from teachers.

4. Attitude is key

It’s not just the IQ, it’s the attitude. In calculate a love for  mathematics by instilling the right attitude towards learning. Be encouraging and praise them when they have done well or manage to complete their set of math sums without any help to encourage further learning. The emphasis is not about having the right intelligence for mathematics, but having a positive mindset when it comes to doing maths.



1. Don’t use memory work

 instead teach concepts. Memorisation of maths facts is similar to memorising the multiplication table without understanding.
E.g. your child knows that 2 x 3 = 6, but does not know how the answer is derived. If  your child understands the concept behind  2 x 3, they will understand that it means there are two groups of three, and the total of that is six. They will also know that there is a difference between 2 x 3 and 3 x 2 even though the answer is the same; 2 x 3 means two groups of three, whereas 3 x 2
means three groups of two.

2. Don’t feed your child with answers.

Assist your child by asking leading questions. E.g. “Why do you think the answer is 8?” or “What happens if you do this?” The main purpose of this is to allow the child to discover, and self-learn. Feeding them answers or providing obvious clues hinders a child’s learning opportunity.

hate math _pic1

3. Don’t be hasty.

Do not advance your child until they fully understand the concept. Make the effort to go back and revise on the basics. Assess and focus your child’s understanding and ability. Take a step back if you need to, even if that means more time and effort. E.g. if a child does not understand the concepts of subtraction and addition, go back and start from the beginning. Don’t keep banging on the same problem. If you are stuck at a problem or concept and don’t know how to progress or teach your child, move on and seek help if you need to. Refrain from working on the same problem over and over again. Help can be in the form your child’s teacher or someone whom you know is better at Maths and able to teach it well.



Seriously Addictive Mathematics (SAM) program is modeled on Singapore Math Curriculum and can be a stand-alone or supplementary math program for students from 4 years old to 12 years old.  For inquiries:  964-9759 or email at