Well I have two days left to blog on “Getting Started” and I had a good list of topics some of which ended up together and I blogged extra days. I’m saving some sage advice for tomorrow so today I thought I’d go ahead with my original idea of a math post. Math and science are sometimes the intimidators when it comes to homeschooling. I’ll list some of the math programs I know folks use and I’ll provide some details on the ones we have or do use. Then I will share some of my favorite math websites we use for practice and enrichment.
Math on the Level-This the program we use primarily in our homeschool. Developed by Carlita Boyles, it’s a program that relies on math maturation in order to teach kids. There is no scope and sequence set in stone, rather there is a list of concepts kids must know before they get to Algebra. Some things require prior mastery of skills and some things don’t. The hallmark of MOTL is that you as the parent choose when your child is ready to learn a concept rather than the publisher. MOTL is a great way to teach math if you like putting together what and how your children learn something. For me, it is a great way to do living math- that applied math we sometimes see so little of- like an after thought so many times. It is teacher intensive, but well worth the time IF that is how you want to teach math. It’s not for everyone. I have lots of homeschooling pals who carve their own path in math. MOTL is a great way to have sort of a “spine” to rely on if you are going your own way. It’s pricey at $315 with shipping, but that is your whole program from Pre-K to grade 8 (or whenever you start algebra). There is an Excel spreadsheet you can use to have review problems come up regularly based on what your child needs to review. This is the “5-a-Day” which is another hallmark of Math on the Level- five math problems a day! I have other posts on how we use Math on the Level. Feel free to check them out. Also be sure to check out our math journals.
Horizons- We have the entire Horizons series except for the newest pre-Algebra level. We used it a long time because it’s cheap, thorough, and visually pleasing. It’s a spiral program which is great for my oldest son. Spiraling means that it teaches new things in a lesson while reviewing older concepts all the time. As opposed to the mastery method where you teach that concept and just that one until it’s mastered. Eventually, we left Horizons because my other kids, especially my daughter, did not do well with it. Too much repetition and too many problems! Also, teaching three levels of Horizons required that I do three 45 minute lessons (or at least two since my oldest prefers to read and do himself) which was just too much.
Singapore- “Singapore Math” is not a trade name but a general term referring to the math curriculum, or syllabus, designed by Singapore’s Ministry of Education. Singapore students regularly perform well on math tests in comparison to other countries so people became interested in how they did math and formed this program based on that. Several publishers produce a Singapore syllabus program.
Math U See- this is a method where you watch videos of math teaching and work with manipulatives to learn math. This is a very popular program though I have not seen it personally beyond what is on their website.
RightStart – uses the AL Abacus to provide a visual, auditory, and kinesthetic experience. RightStart seems heavy on trinkets and price to me, but a lot of homeschoolers really like it. I use their elementary card games for math fact practice.
Miquon- Based on the belief that mathematical insight grows out of observation, investigation, and the discovery of patterns. The concrete models are the way the kids learn with this program. They are not a supplement.
Life of Fred- Oh how we love Life of Fred! This one is a non-traditional text book written to the student format with math portrayed in a story form. Fred covers Fractions through Calculus and everything in between in a series of reasonably priced books. The student gets to try out problems along the way and every ten chapters they take a bridge test in order to move to the next set of chapters. I love Fred because he makes my students think! Not many folks are satisfied with Fred as a full program, though it is a stand alone curriculum, but many of us use it as as supplement to traditional math. For $25 to $30 a book, it’s easy to add it on to any program. Fred is entertaining and though provoking and he is a standard part of our homeschool!
Saxon- Often considered the quintessential homeschool math, it is certainly the grandfather of all the math programs. It is similar to Horizons because it is a spiral program with many problem sets, but it has some distinct differences. For one is is not visually pleasing! Very plain presentation. One thing about Saxon is that it is completely scripted. If you don’t know a thing about math, you read the scripting for each lesson and come away fairly certain you got it right. I have never used Saxon, but I did get a good look at it before going with Horizons. We do have Saxon Algebra I which we will be starting shortly. The entire program was on the “free” table at co-op one day. I couldn’t leave it behind knowing we’d be needing Algebra very soon. One thing to note- Saxon is well known for its college prep math- the higher math stuff.
Math Mammoth- I love Math Mammoth! It’s very simple. It has text boxes on the teaching pages with exercise to follow. Maria is extremely homeschool friendly. I use her program all the time to supplement the problems I give my kids. I wouldn’t hesitate to use her full series. It doesn’t come with bells and whistles like all the manipulatives some companies rely on and/or provide, but it is thorough and cost effective. You can buy it in full or purchase only those units you need. Great way to go!
Teaching Textbooks- this is a computer based model that allows the student to watch the lessons being laid out on a “whiteboard” and answering questions there. You can track your student’s progress and you can even tell how many tries it took to get the correct answer. This is an easy way to go hands off with math if that is your desire. My experience with it is that it is a slow method which would not work for my oldest and I know that it would get old for my other kids as the newness wears off. My daughter knows what math is even if it’s disguised in computer “fun”! Also, this one is a bit on the pricey side for one level of math.
Now that you have some idea of the various programs (disclaimer: there may be more I didn’t mention), I’ll give you some great math sites we enjoy.
Hopefully, this has given you something to ponder in regard to math. Feel free to ask more questions!
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