For more than a decade, Singapore, along with other Asian countries (South Korea, Taiwan, Japan, Shanghai, Hong Kong), has been at or near the top of international leagues tables that measure children’s ability in reading, math and science.
So what do they do to get there?
A main differences is their focus on: Mastery of specific procedures – automatization of facts
They focus on the basics first – like memorizing multiplication tables. This can have a real benefit to learning, especially when the subject gets more complex. For example, brain imaging research from Stanford U found that 3rd graders who did well in math used a part of the brain that had automatized math facts – this meant that they did not have to waste cognitive effort trying to count out the answer.