We are well-aware of the hostility among many home schoolers about the standards normally being called "Common Core." And we are not enthusiastic ourselves. However, Primary Math Common Core does not have us worried. Very similar to its predecessors—both the US and Standards Editions—Common Core maintains the integrity for which Singapore Math has such a reputation. It does not dumb down or drastically change their approach to teaching math; it simply rearranges the order in which topics are taught.
How Do These Work?
Unlike the US and Standards Editions, this series only goes to 5th grade, but like the others each grade is split into two semesters (A and B), each consisting of a workbook, textbook, and teacher guide. An extra practice book for each grade level is also available, but this edition does not currently offer test books. All books are consumable except for the teacher guides. The Common Core teacher materials are easy to navigate, boasting wrap-around reduced student pages, and including lots of ideas for use of manipulatives and activities to illustrate important concepts. The teachers guides options include answers to all workbook and textbook problems; less-expensive home instructor guides are forthcoming, to be released starting next year.
The concrete-to-abstract method used by Singapore (see the main Singapore Math review) means teachers will need to take an active role in their students' education. Much of the material is explained and reinforced through the use of manipulatives and teacher-guided games and activities.You won't be able tohand your kids a book and let them loose; each lesson will need to be explained to them, ideally after they've read the text but before they finish the problem set. Students are expected to fully grasp the concrete/practical foundation of any given mathematical procedure before learning how to do it in their heads, thus helping them to think mathematically and logically.
Textbooks are divided into chapters, so complete concepts are taught thoroughly before moving to a new one. Each chapter is broken into lessons, so kids aren't bombarded with more information than they can handle all at once. This is considerably harder math than is generally found in an elementary course, though the instruction is clear enough that kids will genuinely learn even if they're stretched beyond their comfort level.
Like both the U.S. and Standards Editions, these use both English standard and metric systems of measurement. These are slightly easier than the Standards Edition. Kids will welcome the full-color texts that visually engage them instead of just hurling facts and problems at them.
It may be difficult to jump in to Singapore (any edition) from another program because of its advanced nature. There are diagnostic tests available on SingaporeMath.com to help place your child. Don't feel like you need to start with any given grade just because that's what grade your student is in, either; if he's in third grade but is only at the second grade Singapore math level, have him do second grade instead of trying to force him into alevel that's too advanced.
Our Honest Opinion:
While we are not worried about the use of these books, we would like to point out that we do not believe these are the best option for privately home schooling families (charter school families may be required to use these if the charter schools requires common core compliancy). The main reason is cost, and that comes down to the teacher's editions. Singapore Math originally stated that they planned to release "home instructor guides," but these have not been forthcoming, and for now the only option for teachers are the much more expensive teacher's guides. The lack of tests does not concern us.
Comparison of Scope & Sequence for Standards & U.S. editions (through 6th grade)
Comparison of Scope & Sequence for Standards, Common Core & U.S. editions (through 5th grade)
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