Monday, January 14, 2013
I've been homeschooling for more than 15 years, and the biggest challenge I've faced during those years (as far as choosing curriculum goes) was finding a math curriculum that I liked and that worked well for my children. Math has never been a favorite subject for my children, and it has never been a favorite of mine either. I'm sure my less-than-favorable attitude toward math rubbed off on my children, and I wish I could go back and change that! Since I can't, though, I try to show them that my attitude toward the subject has changed, and I try to make it something they can enjoy and that fits with their learning styles and ability levels.
My older two children (17 and 15) used Saxon and Singapore math when they were in their early elementary years. Both are great programs for some students, but neither worked particularly well for mine. Singapore was good until they reached about 6th grade. At that point, it became too confusing. There just wasn't enough explanation in the teacher's book, so I couldn't offer much help. It became frustrating for all of us! (Note: They may have improved their teacher's manuals since then. I haven't looked at them for a long time!)
Saxon is a very reputable program, and I know many families who use it. My children, though, really didn't enjoy it at all. I'm honestly not sure why. For some reason, they just didn't like it. I thought it was a great program and hoped they would come to enjoy it over time, but that didn't happen. That's when I began looking for something that would work better for us.
I don't remember how I learned about the Math Mammoth curriculum. I'm glad I did, though, because my older two really loved it and did well with it. It was simpler to understand, so it was easier for me to help them if they ran into trouble figuring out a concept or particular problem. The way the information was presented worked well for my children, so they had a much easier time learning the math concepts, so they enjoyed it more. For some reason, it seemed easier than the other curriculums that they had been using. I know it wasn't because they were learning the same things that the other programs taught. I was happy, though, that the kiddos thought it was easier!
There were also some things I, as the homeschool teacher, really liked about Math Mammoth when we used it. First, I liked that Math Mammoth offered (and still does offer) many curriculum options. They have complete curriculums, books by topic, worksheets by grade, worksheets by topic, and real-life math. I used the complete curriculums with my children, but I also sometimes used the worksheets by topic if they needed more practice in a certain area.
I also really liked that Math Mammoth was affordable! They offer downloadable workbooks and worksheets, printed materials, and CDs. All of those options (to me) were very reasonably priced.
Another favorite math program (which we currently use) is Math U See. My youngest child (now 5th grade) had a very hard time "getting" math at all. In fact, she didn't begin doing a formal math program until 3rd grade because she just wasn't able to understand math concepts and got terribly frustrated and upset when she tried. (She's very gifted in language arts and reading, but not math!) I didn't want her to hate math, so I gave her a quick little math assessment every few months to try to determine if she was ready to begin a formal math program and actually understand the concepts. Finally, when she reached age 8, she began showing that she was ready.
I had heard good things from other families who used Math U See, but I had never checked into it. Because my youngest child had such trouble with math, I decided to try it with her. I knew that she needed a program that used manipulatives so she could actually see each math concept she needed to learn. And I figured that she would need to use those manipulatives not just in her early years of school but probably for quite a few years. Once I checked into Math U See and realized that it incorporates manipulatives into the program throughout the years, I knew I had to try it out!
My daughter was reluctant to try out Math U See because she was so afraid that it would be frustrating and difficult. When I brought out the blocks that go along with it, she became more interested. Then, after she tried doing a lesson or two, she decided she loved it! She is actually doing very well and making such progress. I honestly never thought she would be as successful with any math curriculum as she is with Math U See!
Another benefit in her eyes is that, if she catches on to a concept and doesn't require a lot of practice, she can skip some of the practice pages that are included in the workbook. That is a huge motivation for her! The program actually tells you that, if the students gets all of the problems on the first practice page correct and obviously understands the math concept being taught, there is no need to do the next practice pages.
I really like that the lessons are taught in such a clear and understandable way. (I let her watch the teacher's DVD along with me.) Each lesson introduces a very small amount of new material so it's not overwhelming for her. Then plenty of practice is included (both for each lesson and cumulative reviews). This program simply works extremely well for us!
It has been so wonderful to see my children make progress in a subject that hasn't ever been a favorite of ours. If you have a child who has a difficult time with math, don't lose heart! Try out some programs that might work better for your child, be sure to demonstrate a positive attitude, and know that you will find a curriculum that is just right for your child and for you.
NOTE: I wrote this post as a participant in a Virtual Curriculum Fair. If you'd like to see more posts, visit Homeschooling Hearts & Minds. Have fun!
Here is a list of the other folks who shared their favorite math programs. Be sure to visit some of them! :)
Delight Directed Middle School Science? by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
The Hardest Part of Math by Kristi @ The Potter's Hand Academy
A Tour Through Our Math and Science Life by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
What Works for Us…Math by Piwi Mum @ Learning & Growing the Piwi Way
Math Art – Geometry by Julie @ Highhill Education
It's Math-magical by Missouri Mama @ Ozark Ramblings
Virtual Curriculum Fair: Fun and Games with Math by Tonia @ The Sunny Patch
Discovering Patterns by Lisa @ The Golden Grasses
Math for the Natural by Erin @ Delighting in His Richness
Virtual Curriculum Fair~ Discovering Patterns by Karyn @ Teach Beside Me
Too Many Math Programs or Not by Linda B @ Homeschooling6
Virtual Curriculum Fair: Math and More! by April @ Coffee, Cobwebs, and Curriculum
The post where I admit I was wrong by Kristen H. @ Sunrise to Sunset
High School Math - Beyond the Textbook by TechWife @ A Playground of Words
Discovering a World of Logic and Order by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
2013 Virtual Curriculum Fair- Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science by Leah C @ As We Walk Along the Road
The Plans of Mice and Math (My Math in Focus review) by Chelli @ The Planted Trees
Rightstart Math is right for us! by Leann @ Montessori Tidbits