Mastering Primary 2 Math Heuristics: A Comprehensive Guide for Parents

As parents, you play a vital role in supporting your child’s learning journey, especially when it comes to mathematics. Primary 2 marks a crucial stage in your child’s mathematical development, where they start encountering more complex problem-solving scenarios. In this guide, we will explore primary 2 math heuristics used in our enrichment courses, which are problem-solving strategies that can help your child excel in math. By understanding these heuristics, you can provide valuable guidance and support to your little mathematician.

We believe in the Concrete-Pictorial-Abstract approach, among other approaches, to help our primary 1 and 2 students to understand an abstract subject such as math.

  • Concrete stage is the “doing” stage where children use physical objects such as manipulatives.
  • Pictorial stage is the “seeing” stage where children use drawings or pictures.
  • Abstract stage is the “symbolic” stage where children use abstract symbols to represent math.

At primary 2, simple math heuristics are incorporated into the math curriculum in Singapore. As the children progress in age, more math heuristics techniques are added each year while prevailing methods that have been introduced are reinforced with questions of increasing variables or what we call sums with ‘increasing difficulties’ to match their primary level.

Primary 2 Math Heuristics

Here are SAM Hougang the primary 2 math heuristic strategies taught following the Singapore Math Syllabus and incorporating primary 1 math heuristics introduced prior:

Act it Out

Children act out the problem using role-playing or manipulatives or simple objects. This also helps them understand the context and apply math to real-life situations so as to reinforce mathematical concepts better. It fortifies their conceptual understanding of the first two stages, that is, the ‘doing’ and ‘seeing’ stages before the ‘symbolic’ stage is introduced.

For example: If the question involves understanding addition and subtraction, use objects like toys or fruits to represent the numbers in the problem and physically perform the operations. Manipulatives are helpful, too. One need not buy expensive tool kits as simple improvisation like ice-cream sticks and buttons can work just as well.

For the sample question of ‘Act it Out’ Strategy

Make a Systematic List

By putting given information in an organized list, you can clearly analyze this information and then solve the problem by completing the list. This can help eliminate distractions and organize the key points that can direct your child to seeing the pathway to solving a solution. 

Question 1 Strategy: Make an Organized List

Look for Patterns

Encourage your child to search for patterns in numbers, shapes, or sequences. Recognizing patterns can lead to quicker solutions. Learning about patterns and connections can help children understand sequencing and making their own reasonable predictions. This foundation of forming logical relationships is crucial in later mathematical thinking.

For example: If the question involves finding the next number in a sequence, ask your child to look for a pattern in the differences between consecutive numbers.

For the sample question of ‘Look for Patterns’ Strategy:

Restate the Problem in Another Way

By restating a problem in another way, young pupils can view the problem in another perspective to help them figure out creative solutions. Sometimes, through restating a problem, it can actually help point your P2 child to the solution at hand.

Draw a Picture or Diagram

Encourage your primary 2 child to visualize the problem by drawing a picture or diagram. This strategy will help him understand the situation better and visualize relationships between different elements in the problem.

For example: If the question involves comparing the heights of two objects, drawing stick figures or bars representing the heights will make the comparison clearer.

For the sample question of “Picture Drawing’ Strategy:

Question 2   Strategies: Restating a Problem and Drawing a Diagram

Use Known Facts

Remind your child to leverage what they already know to solve new problems efficiently.

For example: If the question involves adding or subtracting single-digit numbers, your child can use their knowledge of basic number facts to find the solution.

Let us consider a 16 + 25 sum that is unknown to him for now. Your P2 child could think about a closely linked known fact like 15 + 25 = 40, then adjust in accordance by 1 to provide the answer to be 41. 

In this manner, your child is beginning to work with numbers in a more efficient and flexible way. In this case, he builds on the part-whole math concept, the first number (or part), plus a count of the second number (or part) will give him the total sum (or whole)

Guess and Check

This heuristic technique involves making an educated guess and testing it to see if it works. It helps your primary 2 kid explore different possibilities until he finds the correct solution.

For example: If the question requires finding the number of apples in a bag, your child can start with a reasonable guess, such as 10 apples, and then adjust it based on the given information.

Question 3 Strategy: Guess and Check


By introducing these primary 2 math heuristics to your child and providing guidance as they tackle math problems, you can empower them to become confident problem solvers. These math heuristic strategies will not only improve their math skills but also enhance their critical thinking abilities, setting them on a path to excelling in mathematics and beyond. 

Remember to be patient and supportive during their learning journey, as every child progresses at their own pace. With your support and these heuristics, your primary 2 child will develop a strong foundation in math and embrace the joy of learning.

At S.A.M. Hougang, we are always ready to answer any queries and to help guide your child to the right path of learning and discovering mathematics the fun and meaningful way. We offer a comprehensive Singapore Math curriculum while incorporating the 12 math heuristics and Polya’s four-step problem-solving process over the full eight odd years leading up to PSLE. Our programme starts as early as four years old. 

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2 thoughts on “Mastering Primary 2 Math Heuristics: A Comprehensive Guide for Parents”

  1. Pingback: Exploring Primary 3 Heuristic Math Techniques | Advanced Learning Centre

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