Hey there Mamas. Wanna talk math?
Oh, well. Let’s do it anyway : ) This will just take a minute.
Consistency? Hmmm. Not really.
As I have mentioned before, I have tried many, many different curriculum over the last 9 years. And the only thing I have remained consistent on is the last 3 years of math we have used for our 12-year-old dear daughter. (Of course, that could change next year:)
She is currently using Saxon Math 7/6. After trying out K12.com, Alpha Omega Life Pacs, Singapore Math, Horizons, and bean-counting (we may have done 1/2 those books each year if we were doing well:), she started using Saxon 5/4 , then moved on to 6/5, and now is using 7/6.
Why did we switch around so much during those first few years? It was mostly me. They bored me. And I thought if they bored me, they probably bored her. Also, I think it was the “workbook” thing. Oh they were nice and colorful and got great reviews, but I suppose it was the “sitting-and-filling-out-workbooks” part. Ugh. Can’t we go outside or bake cookies or measure how tall we are or……I kept thinking “surely there is a better way.”
But back then…
…I was not as secure as I am now about how to do math with the younger ones. I thought I had to buy a formal curriculum and have her fill in all the blanks. And for some moms, this is great, but I am slowly moving into the idea that it is not necessary until they reach the 4th-5th grade arena. (Heck, maybe even later) See my post here on the experiment I’m doing in math for my 8-year-old dear daughter who DOES NOT LIKE MATH. By the way, I think it is going well.
Now you may think Saxon looks boring, (Actually, I think it does) but now that Emma is older, it doesn’t seem to be an issue. (And can I just say once more – that is for her. For her particular personality. For her purpose in the world.
What do they really need at a young age?
Part of my personal math theory has evolved into the idea that a child could learn the basic math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, division), however you want to teach them – easily with no curriculum at all – And then, for instance, if you want to use Saxon, you would go into book 5/4.
5/4 means 4th or 5th grade. 6/5 means 5th or 6th grade. 7/6 means 6th or 7th grade and it goes on up. Why do they say 5/4 instead of 4/5? I’ve heard the reason and I really can’t explain it. Something like “average 4th grader, or slower 5th grader.” But that still doesn’t make sense to me. Oh well.
Ok…..on to Saxon
I’m not going to explain how Saxon is written or what techniques they use. You can read about that in many other places. I just want to tell you why I like it, at this point in time.
I love Saxon FOR EMMA mostly because…
…she is very self-motivated AND she does it on her own fine without me. She “gets” math. If I had to have serious oversight, I’m not sure if I would like Saxon as well.
Here are the specifics:
For each daily assignment, there is a section for your child to read first. Ok, that’s nice. An explanation of what is to come.
Next, there are 25-30 questions to answer.
A spiral notebook for this is perfect and you can use the textbooks again for your next child if you want to, give them away, or sell them on Ebay.
I’m really not concerned about what her assignment pages look like. Though I have tried to get her to circle her answers, so it is clear where her answer is.
If you think your child is doing great, you might be able to do every other problem. I like for Emma to do them all. It doesn’t seem to be a strain for her.
Now this next part is my favorite!
To the left of each problem, it shows the child exactly where a sample of that kind of problem was discussed in a previous chapter. So if the child can’t remember how to do that problem, she/he simply looks back to that spot in the book for an example. It is a WONDERFUL way to teach a child the ability to research and the fact that “Yes, you can find it on your own. You don’t always have to ask me, though I am here if you still have a question.”
See the little number right below “the problem number?”
Here is my other favorite part!
I LOVE that I am not supposed to grade every lesson! Ugh! When I hear other moms talk about grading math lessons everyday, I just cringe and am thankful I don’t have to do that. (I know, one of these days I might have to) I only grade the tests which come every 5 lessons. That is where we see if she is “getting it.” Saxon designed it this way.
I probably should have put a picture in here where she got an A+/100. She gets lots of them :)
Ok, you want my true confession right now? The last time I graded her test, I had to grade about 5 tests in a row, because I hadn’t checked in that long. (Heavy sigh – well, we had some other big “life issues” going on – it happens:) But truthfully, I knew she was doing fine. She would have told me, if she was not.
This little page here is the most important page for mom.
There are also lots of drill sheets. More than enough. We did alot of these in 5/4, but haven’t done so many since then. She doesn’t seem to need them as much now.
Is Skipping Parts OK?
It turns out that 6/5 is mostly a review of 5/4, so I had her just do all the tests. There were a few new concepts and when we came to those, she did the lessons, learned them, and moved on. So she got through 6/5 quite quickly.
In addition, you can buy DVD’s that give you a live person instructing your student for each and every lesson. We bought one, looked at it a few times and have never used it again. It just doesn’t work for her. She prefers to read the book. But for a student who likes that, it might be a good thing.
The Right Fit
I do not in any way anticipate that this will work for my other children. It might, but I think that math is definitely an area that we have to really find the right fit for each child. It’s not the same with other subjects.
And One More Thing
Can I remind everyone that if mama doesn’t like it – that goes for almost all curriculum a homeschool mama is going to teach – then it just ain’t gonna work. You better love the look of it, if you are planning on buying it and teaching it. And one more thing mom….We have all spent too much money on curriculum that we didn’t like and so we didn’t use. Don’t be too hard on yourself when this happens, because it inevitably will.
Life of Fred
One last thing about a totally different math curriculum. (See, it’s all about consistency :) I am intrigued by Life of Fred. I glanced at it at the last homeschool convention and I am thinking about buying it this May when we go again. Your child would not start these books until they know their math facts – they say around 5th grade, depending on the child. But it looks fascinating. Check out that link and read about the author and his theories about math.