A Snapshot of Mathematics

MATH IN FOCUS CURRICULUM (Kindergarten to Eighth Grade)


Math in Focus®: Singapore Math by Marshall Cavendish is adapted from Singapore’s My Pals Are Here! Maths. The underpinning philosophy of both series is the same, and their aims and objectives are to ensure children’s ability to achieve mastery of mathematics concepts, computational skills, problem-solving skills, and application of mathematics activities in daily life. Math in Focus has also adopted both Eastern and Western approaches to critical and creative thinking, thus preparing students to face challenges ahead of them. The Eastern style of teaching focuses on drill and practice to ensure mastery of facts, computation, and problem-solving skills. The approach is related to Piaget’s cognitive learning theory which states that it is not sufficient to just assimilate ideas but also to accommodate ideas learned through drill, practice, and reflection. The Western approach complements this structured style of learning through peer interaction to stimulate critical, enquiry-based, and creative thinking. In order to achieve these objectives, the authors conceptualized a framework for teaching and learning which was based on well-proven teaching and learning theories, as well as research on the best ways to teach children certain mathematical concepts, computational skills, problem-solving skills, and the application of mathematics in daily life.

Strategies and Methods

Math in Focus is based upon the use of mental computation, the model approach, and an interactive, hands-on approach which enhance teaching and learning. Mental computation is paramount if children are to master mathematical skills and problem solving. With speed and the ability to operate mentally, children are able to excel in math. The program introduces not only the mental strategies, but also prepares students to perform mental sums through the use of number bonds and manipulatives like unit cubes and the math balance.

The use of the model approach or bar modeling is based on the fact that children at the elementary stage are unable to solve abstract problems. The introduction of the model approach helps children to visualize and see connections between facts and information embedded in the questions. This ability to see the connections helps pupils to solve difficult and complicated problems. This is the strength of the model method. In other words, the model method simplifies the problem-solving situation and translates it to a form which average and below-average students can conceptualize.

The use of interactive, hands-on activities is also another strategy which helps average and below-average students tackle challenging questions. Based on Richard Gardner‘s theory, each child has to develop his/her own talent, and only by identifying the talent can a method be implemented to help them. This philosophy is adopted in this series. The use of diagrams, manipulatives, games, and active participation are in accordance with Gardner‘s theory.

Creative, Critical, and Enquiry Thinking

Creative, critical, and enquiry thinking skills are the key objective of the Math in Focus series. Creativity can be trained if the children are put in an environment where their mental thinking is stimulated. The series contains many activities where they are asked to create alternative solutions to a problem. Likewise, critical thinking is stimulated through activities that require children to use their enquiry skills and abilities on multiple-choice exercises.


The Algebra I Program is designed for students who have exhibited an aptitude at this stage in their mathematics development and have demonstrated a readiness for the rigors of a fast-paced mathematics course. We are delighted to have 8th graders demonstrating these advanced mathematical abilities and hope that your child will be excited about the prospect of taking a challenging course next school year!

Algebra I is widely accepted as an essential foundation not just for higher-level mathematics but for the knowledge required for participation in our democracy and for a successful economic life. Throughout the Algebra I course, students will:

  • Learn to use basic algebraic tools to represent problem situations
  • Gain a sound understanding of functions and their multiple representations
  • Develop a solid understanding of rate of change
  • Model and solve important problems with linear, exponential, and quadratic functions and related equations

Because of the rigorous nature of this Algebra I program, enrolled students will be held to a higher academic standard than their peers. To meet the high expectations of the course, students will need to display several observable skills and habits.

Eighth Grade students enrolled in Algebra I must:

  • Demonstrate a consistent commitment to completion of all assignments
  • Demonstrate high motivation and exceptional effort
  • Produce quality work, with attention to substance as well as presentation
  • Persevere when confronted with a challenging problem or concept
  • Take ownership for getting extra help when needed
  • Access online information and resources

Students who maintain these high standards and demonstrate mastery of the Algebra I curriculum will receive credit towards High School Graduation and will be eligible for advanced placement in their High School Math Program.