Last June 9, I was given the opportunity to attend a bloggers’ conference of BrainLight Learning Center in BGC. I got really curious and excited to attend as soon as I found out that the center offers Singapore Math. I have been hearing a lot of things about Singapore Math from other mommy friends and they all had good things to say about it. So coming to BrainLight Learning Center was really literally a door opening to new knowledge and learning.
Upon arriving I was greeted by their warm teachers, Teacher Jo and Teacher Donna. My first impression of the center was it’s cozy, comfortable, and lively. They had beautiful painting on the wall, appropriately sized chairs and tables, and a wide variety of manipulative displayed in the area. Enzo would have really enjoyed the center, too bad it was raining really hard so I had to leave him at home. So anyway, before the program started we had a small chat with the owners of Brainlight, Ms. Julie and Ms. Cash. Right after some snacks and refreshments, Ms. Julie gave us a comprehensive overview of Singapore Math and the services of Brain Light Learning Center.
It was a great introduction that Ms. Julie started her talk with Singapore Math’s history. I actually wondered how Singapore became so popular and good with their methods in teaching Math. As we all know, Singapore is a small country and upon separation from Malaysia in 1965, the country was faced with high levels of unemployment and poverty. There was a decrease in the rate of illiteracy in the country which left them with a big challenge to address. The government of Singapore then realized that the country may lack natural resources but they have human capital which is their best asset. Thus, the country invested on its people capitalizing on their education especially in Math and Science. They looked at their people as their most valuable resource and they started with their children with a vision of creating a productive and competent workforce in the future. They introduce a problem-solving curriculum in 1992 which was then revised in 2001, 2007 and 2013 to give more emphasis on a range of heuristics. Their Mathematics curriculum framework has 5 key target areas which are Attitudes, Metacognition, Processes, Skills, and Concepts. At present, looking at the state of Singapore, their methods and approach have proven its worth.
In the desire to bring this program to the Philippines, Brain Light Learning center: Singapore Math offers their program and services to Filipino children.
What is Brain Light Learning Center?
Brain Light Learning center is an after-school Math enrichment program center based on the world-renowned Singapore Mathematics Curriculum set by the Ministry of Education of SIngapore. Their mission is to provide the right opportunities for children to develop deep and sustainable understanding of Math concepts through hands on experience, variation in teaching techniques, and well-though sequence of concepts expressed both verbally and in written.
According to Ms. Julie, Singapore Math is already here in the country but Brain Light Learning Center is different from other mathematics programme as they do not only equip students with Mathematics Operation such as addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Brain Light Learning Center differs as it shifted its focus from basic math operations to applications and analysis.
This actually struck me most because growing up, I had a difficult time with Math, and for the longest time I felt it was only there as a subject to make my life difficult. (hihi!) As a parent, this is something I hope would not be the case for my child. Ms. Julie further on discussed the focus of Brain Light Learning Center and how they can help guide and teach students and children the love for Math while targeting the five key areas of the curriculum.
So how do Brain Light Learning center do Singapore Math?
They focuses on developing problem solving skills as the heart of its program. We always encounter problems on a daily basis and in as much as we do not recognize it, skills in math prepares us for such situations. They provide scenarios that are realistic and that challenges children to think in different ways just to be able to solve a problem. As children gain higher self-esteem in solving simple to complex problem they learn attitudes and values that would prepare them in solving problems.
Focus on Thinking and conceptual understanding. The methods of Singapore Math opens up children and students to a variety of solutions. This in turn enhance the cognitive development of children and they are able to process concepts in Math. It is important to recognize that math concepts are cumulative in nature, which means that understanding the basic foundation is significant to learning other advance concepts. Thus, it is important that students and children understand the relation and connection of each concept to another.
Emphasis on Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract (CPA) Approach. As math are highly conceptual in nature it is important that children are able to understand it as a concrete idea before they can understand it in abstract form. Such process is most important in later life so they have devised a Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract approach in their teaching strategies. This means that children are taught Math concepts first as a concrete concept, meaning they are able to interact directly to the material (numbers in Math) which would help them actually make sense of the concept. In example, children are taught numbers using toobs, or counters where they are able to actually see, and hold the concept of number 1, 2 or 3. After using their senses (touching, seeing, smelling, etc) they are now ready to understand the concepts in pictures. They are then taught to see the concepts in paper in drawing, example picture of bears, boxes, or columns. After getting a good grasp of the concrete and pictorial they are now able to think about the concept in its abstract form.
Utilizes a Spiral Curriculum. Spiral curriculum is an approach to curriculum which compounds the topic in its appropriate levels. This means that there is an emphasis on the sequence of topics wherein children would be able to relate each topic to the other in the most seamless way. In addition, the topics are well thought out and planned so children can make relation and connection with the concepts easily. Thus, this will strengthen the foundation of the child and would enable them to transition to complex topics with much ease. This kind of approach is also made more effective by the use of variation of activities instead of just repetition. Such strategies increases the opportunity for teachers and students to asses themselves on whether they really understood the topics and concepts.
MY THOUGHTS ON BRAIN LIGHT LEARNING CENTER: SINGAPORE MATH
Looking at the concept from a child development course graduate, I love how the approach and strategy used are appropriate for the natural development of children. The use of concrete-pictorial-abstract approach reminds me of Piaget’s cognitive developmental stages that emphasizes on the unique characteristic of children in different ages. According to this theory, children think differently depending on their stage, thus it is important to work within their unique way rather than go against it. Children learn to understand their world as they experience and interact with it, thus the use of manipulative addresses this. The spiral curriculum also is a good way to approach abstract concepts in Math so students are able to think, and solve problems with comprehension. Thus they are able to make use of their skills in simple to basic problems.
As a parent, I am very excited about the program. I can imagine children enjoying Math and genuinely understanding concepts and problem-solving. As I mentioned earlier, I was miserable with Math growing up but learning about Singapore Math and Brain Light Learning Center, I am hopeful that children would not have to feel horrible and have dreadful memories of Math. The location is also accessible and the center is spacious and quiet that would give children a conducive environment for learning. Their materials and manipulatives are also complete, clean, and appropriate for the approach they are using in the learning center. I also super LOVE the teachers because they were very accommodating and friendly to us parents (especially to me, since I had lots of questions). I could say they really are skillful and competent in teaching because they are able to explain and demonstrate the books and materials in the center. We had a long conversations with them and they eagerly answered our questions. They even offer information to us that they think would be helpful for us to know. Plus, I found it really sweet that they already knew Enzo even before we visited and they have already prepared for his assessment. With these teachers, a parent would truly feel safe and assured that their children are well taken cared of by everyone in the center.
So, these are my take away from the conference, and it was really great being there as I learned a lot about Singapore Math and how it can help our children. If you are interested about their services, Brain Light Learning Center offers FREE ASSESSMENT for your children at their center.
Brain Light Learning Center is located at Unit 317 McKinley Park Residences 3rd ave. BGC, Taguig. You may call them at 0917 122 9978 and 0919 297 1167, 02 211 9624. Like their FB Page here: BrainLight Learning Center
If you have any questions, feel free to contact me too! I’d also like to hear from you, what are your thoughts on Singapore Math? 🙂