Finding a homeschool math curriculum I can teach to two VERY different kids has been a challenge! There are now SO many options.
Singapore has been around a long time, and is known to be an advanced program. Math With Confidence is still being written (one level each year till 6th grade), and is created to be “middle of the road” in difficulty but super fun, affordable, and user friendly.
When I went to see if anyone had written about switching from Singapore, I couldn’t find anything! We ended up jumping into First Grade Math With Confidence mid year with one of my kids who had finished about 3/4 of Singapore Primary 2022 book 1A. My older child is still doing Primary 2022.
I didn’t know how the transition would be, and turns out she’d covered a lot already so we’ve had to skip pretty far ahead.
While I really want Math With Confidence to work for us, my daughter will be constantly waiting for the newest grade level out each year…which could be a problem if she finishes a book super early.
So switching her back to Singapore isn’t out of the question if we need to. Read on to see how these curriculums are similar and how they differ!
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Why we switched one of my kids from Singapore Primary 2022 to Math With Confidence
We are using Singapore Primary 2022 with my oldest in 2nd grade, and Math With Confidence with my 1st grader.
I didn’t switch one child because I had a big issue with Singapore. It was because I had such a great experience using Math Facts That Stick with my oldest (also written by Kate Snow), that I wanted to see if Math With Confidence had a similar teaching style.
I almost quit Singapore within a few months of starting because it was hard for me to learn addition their way…let alone teach it. We paused, and used Kate Snow’s Math Facts That Stick for 6 weeks. See here why it clicked with me better for some reason!
Turns out she uses the same method as Singapore! We used 10 frames to break numbers apart to form 5’s and 10’s before adding. But it was 1000 times easier to learn and teach for a newbie.
Once I’d figured it out, Singapore 1A got easier to teach! I finally understood what they were asking me to do.
Now that I have one kid in each, I see that Math With Confidence IS easier to teach. It’s also lighter, slower paced, and goes less in depth in some areas with questions to ask the kids.
But that could be a good thing depending on your style and teaching goals.
Will there be gaps if you switch math curriculums?
Yes, probably some. But switching in 1st grade is probably the easiest time to do it, especially if you start at the beginning and whiz through the easy stuff.
Gaps could happen switching between Math With Confidence and Singapore (or any math) because:
- Topics for each level differ some between curriculums
- The order the topics are introduced are different
- How they teach you to find the answer is sometimes different
For Example: Having used Math Lessons For A Living Education Level 2 when my oldest was in 1st, I see how differently Singapore presents material. The scope and sequence was different too.
It’s much faster paced and teaches addition and subtraction basics differently than MLFALE. There’s a home instructor’s guide to navigate. A new layout to get used to. You get the idea.
I needed to see if Singapore could work for us, so it was worth trying the switch. But if your math isn’t causing you frustration, I’d stay put.
How is Math With Confidence different from Singapore Primary 2022 for 1st grade?
There are many differences! Some main ones:
- Singapore is tried and true: Math With Confidence (MWC) is new and grades are still being written.
- MWC will have 1 version for each grade, while Singapore has many versions to choose from
- Singapore is advanced: MWC is made to be “middle of the road” in difficulty.
- MWC includes daily spiral review, Singapore is mastery based.
- Singapore uses 4-6 books a year (2-3/semester): MWC only uses 2 (thick) books/year.
- Singapore includes written word problems: MWC has some oral word problems in the Instructor’s guide, but none in the workbooks. I’ve heard there will be some in older grades.
Math With Confidence is easier for me to teach and the Instructor’s Guide is very user friendly
The biggest difference to me is the Home Guides. MWC is easier to teach.
While both MWC and Singapore Primary 2022 are scripted, with the part you are supposed to say in bold, MWC is easier to follow down the page. There’s pictures to back up the activities too…super helpful!
Singapore’s Home Instructor’s Guide has more detailed questions to ask the child for each lesson. You’ll find “teaching tip” boxes and “focus question” boxes and “digging deeper” boxes….but it’s visually distracting during a lesson and I end up skipping most of those boxes.
The nice part is that you’ll find sections in each lesson that match up with the student book (called Learn, Learn Together, and Practice On Your Own). This makes it easier to use.
Also Singapore Home Instructor’s Guide explains how to set up activities, but has almost no pictures.
You have to buy more books for 1 year of Singapore Primary 2022 than MWC
Another noteworthy difference: In MWC, there’s 1 student book per grade, plus 1 teacher’s guide for the whole year. Simple and VERY affordable. Did I say simple?! Because wow that’s a big deal. You can check the price here.
With Singapore Primary, you’ll buy a minimum of 4 books a year (less if you reuse the Home Instructor’s guides for more kids, more if you want added review books).
One year of Primary 2022 uses the Home Instructor’s Guide (reusable), Student Book (not reusable), and Mastery And Beyond for chapter review (not reusable). That brings the total “recommended” books in a year up to 6!
That cost me around $100. Math With Confidence on sale (which is is often!) cost me about 1/3 that.
Choosing Singapore Dimensions or Primary
I am indecisive by nature. Singapore made it really hard for me because there were TOO many choices.
You’ll have to first research if you want to use Dimensions or Primary. If you choose Primary, then you’ll have to choose which version of Primary (most use US version or the new 2022 version.). I’ve compared those 2 here.
Then you’ll have to choose Home Instructor’s Guide (made for homeschooling) or Teacher’s Guide (made for classrooms). Plus you’ll research if you want to extra workbooks and what they are all for. Yikes.
So much researching and agony of choosing! Decision fatigue! This is a great Singapore Math Facebook Group you can join if you need to see what’s working for other families.
Math With Confidence is ONE decision. You pick a grade and press “Order” on Amazon.
Singapore math teaches multiple ways to solve a problem.
At first, this annoyed me. And I felt it confused my kids a little. (Eventually your kid will use their preference). But I see how it’s part of developing a stronger number sense too.
Kids are asked to show two ways to solve a problem. They are asked to verbalize why they chose one and what they think is easier.
For example: 14+5… your kid can use counters or do it in their head…but they have to verbalize how.
They might write a vertical addition problem to keep the ones and tens tidy and visual. Or they may count on from 14 till they get to 19. They may split 14 apart to make 10+4+5. Or they may say they know that 5+5 is 10 so 5+4 must be 9 and then add in the extra 10.
All are right, all are practiced with Singapore. But eventually they get to choose their method and by 2nd grade those problems have turned into something like 123+47.
Math With Confidence moves slower
It also feels slower paced than Singapore.
1/3 the way through MWC and I was thinking, hmmm, my 1st grader is way beyond skip counting by 2’s and 5’s and has her combos of 10 down already.
Matching 13 cookies to the number 13 seemed…way to easy. She needed more of a challenge. So we skipped it. She was bored until we skipped ahead at least half way through the book and even then some of the things we had already covered I guess.
A lot of it was review from what we learned in Singapore 1A.
MWC has less practice problems per day than Singapore
Each day has a front and a back page to complete that’s colorful and short. The front page has problems they’ve just learned, and the back side has spiral review.
I’d say Singapore Math has double that in 1st grade, with some added in parts Math With Confidence doesn’t have like their “Think” problems and “Heuristics” questions (strategies for solving challenging word problems).
Singapore math includes word problems
One thing I do like more about Singapore are the word problems. Some of them really challenge kids (and me!) to think through the problem. To work backwards with what information we have.
This is closer to how we get to see math in real life, which is why they are valuable.
We underline the question. We talk about clue words like “more than” or “difference” or “sum” to see if we need to add or subtract.
There’s a whole unit in 1st grade just for word problems, but we see some every week in our lessons.
Math With Confidence doesn’t have a focus on this (at least in 1st grade that I’ve seen).
There are SOME oral word problems in the Instructor’s guide. Perhaps that’s because many at this age don’t read, and problems can be part of the lesson rather than on the independent worksheet.
Singapore has a supplemental workbook we don’t use called Challenging Word Problems for each level. I may end up getting level 1 if we continue on with MWC.
MWC has a 4 day week, Singapore Primary 2022 has 5 days/week
I like a 4 day school week in general because we have a nature co-op once a week. But I do feel like I have to do 5 lessons of Singapore a week to not get behind (we sometimes do 2 on one day to keep a 4 day week).
4 days of MWC leaves an extra day for you to play math games, do nothing, or the optional enrichment activities included if you like. Things like math story recommendations (which I get at the library and read whenever, not just on that day) and an activity.
Since 2nd grade MWC doesn’t come out till spring/summer of 2022, there’s no reason to “get ahead” in the books for us. If we do that then we’ll be hanging with no book till the next one comes out a year later which wouldn’t work.
How we plan our math lessons for the year with Singapore and Math With Confidence
I enjoy taking apart our workbooks and separating what I hope to finish each week using our 36 week homeschool crate system. Then I can easily grab 1 week of worksheets and put them into our weekly homeschool binders.
Singapore Primary 2022 has made this super easy to do, which I explain in this video.
Math With Confidence is also easy to do this with, and I just tear out 4 days of worksheets for 1 week.
How is Math With Confidence similar to Singapore Math?
Math With Confidence seems very similar in some ways to Singapore math! Now that I’ve shared some differences, here’s what they seem to have in common.
Singapore and Math With Confidence focus on the WHY behind numbers…building strong number sense
There’s 3 things you’ll see in both curriculums for each lesson that help kids understand numbers and the why behind what they do.
- Hands on math first
- Pictures of math next
- Workbook problems last.
I see this in both curriculums with each lesson.
I know plenty of people who don’t do all the hands on stuff. And others who use videos by topic to teach for them (for Singapore).
Honestly we skip a lot of the hands on activities if my kids seem to understand what’s going on…it just saves a lot of time and “Mom I already know this!” complaining. But when we do need it, both curriculums have awesome hands on explanations.
I will say Singapore math uses base 10 blocks ALL the time for teaching place value, addition, subtraction, and “renaming” (I grew up using the terms carrying and borrowing but whatever…)
MWC uses “bags of cookies” (counters of whatever you like in ziplock bags) to do this, which is a bit messier to keep up with.
Or “part part total” if you’re familiar with that. This was an easy transition from Singapore because it’s taught in level 1A there too.
Both curriculums spend a good deal of time helping kids understand that 4 can be broken into 4 and 0, 3 and 1, or 2 and 2.
Both teach kids to write addition and subtraction equations from those fact families. So for the numbers 5,3, and 2, kids will learn to write:
MWC and Singapore both make parents use 10 frames and counters to help kids visualize numbers in terms of 5’s and 10’s. I did not learn to add and subtract this way, but now that I have gone through it once…my mental math is WAY better as an adult!
For example, for 7+4 you’ll put 7 green counters on a 10 frame, and 4 blue on another 10 frame. Kids will have to move 3 blues over to the greens to fill all 10 spaces. They SEE that 7+4 is the same as 10+ 1 extra.
With practice, eventually you don’t need the 10 frames because kids see it in their head. Then, making sets of 10’s becomes automatic. It’s really cool!
What manipulative pieces do you need for Singapore and Math With Confidence?
Both of these curriculums need math manipulatives, but don’t come with them. Both have lists of what you need in the Instructor’s Guide.
Things you’ll use for both:
- Counting pieces for 10 frames (MWC also puts these in groups of 10 in zip lock bags for place value)
- Connecting cubes for showing combos of 10 (we use those for our counting pieces too)
- Deck of cards
- Tangram shapes
- Place value manipulatives (Singapore uses these a lot)
What to use if one of your kids is too old for Math With Confidence and you don’t want to use Singapore?
This gets asked A LOT in the group because many families, like ours, have a kid that’s too old for MWC books currently published.
Kate herself recommends Math Mammoth, and many families also really like Right Start. Though Right Start is said to be super teacher intensive and one of the most expensive maths!
I think parents are raving about this in the Math With Confidence Facebook group because it’s fun and not intimidating to teach and their kids are learning a lot! Those are BIG wins.