Math can be an area that causes great frustration and confusion (for adults and children) in many homeschools.
This was true in my home. We waffled between math programs in our first few years of homeschooling, trying different textbooks, living math, and other approaches.
It doesn't need to be difficult, however, with ample resources and assistance available.
I am not a mathematician by any stretch of the imagination. I do not like math, but I am learning to like it more and more.
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I also recognize the supreme importance of giving my children a SOLID math foundation while they are under my care.
After two years of research, one year of using the actual program, and attending a math practicum, I am convinced that Saxon Math is the best option for my children.
*You cannot just choose a math program that everyone likes or is blogging about and hope for the best. I do not believe it's wise to let your child choose their own math program based on what they "like". Math is too important to cut any corners.
You need to do your research, know your educational philosophy, and know your child's learning style. This decision took us a lot of time and effort, but it's worth it.
I will provide you with concrete reasons why we made this math decision, but I wanted to start by sharing a quote with you from Classical Conversations. (I encourage you to read the linked article - it's very good.) This is the ULTIMATE statement of why we are using Saxon:
Saxon, then, is teaching us math the same way we learn the things we feel we enjoy more, in which we experience more pleasure. It teaches us what we know, it provides us types to compare, it asks us to draw out the lesson we are meant to learn, and it provides us with continued and ongoing practice. Essentially, it makes discoverers of us. For some, though, the difficulty may be in that they do not recognize that Saxon teaches this way. If that is the case, try to approach it this way for a while. Give it some time; practice. Your initial instincts will be to just tell your child what he should find when comparing the examples. Restrain yourself. Keep working through examples and asking comparison questions until he discovers the lesson for himself. Do this for several lessons. Eventually, you will find he is looking at the lesson this way himself—and he will be the better for it: he will have learned how to teach himself, which is nothing more nor less than learning how to learn.
It's so much more than MATH, it is a way of approaching life and learning that the authors of Saxon have created artfully in their curriculum.
Why Saxon Math?
- a spiral approach that works best for my children
- thorough mastery and drill of facts, then applying that mastery to real life practice problems
- tried and true - Saxon has been used and loved for a long time
- NO FLUFF!
- college preparatory
Our Saxon Plan
Last year my son began in Saxon 3. This was a wonderful book, geared to a more child like approach to math. It didn't, however, contain cartoons or childlike pictures. It was straightforward, emphasized a lot of drill, practice and repetition.
My son learned his math facts SOLIDLY and enjoyed the book. He spent about thirty minutes each day on math.
This year he is moving into Saxon 5/4 - which is designed to encompass ONE YEAR for either a fifth or fourth grader, depending on their ability.
My daughter used Saxon 7/6 last year.
I will be honest. She told me quite bluntly that she didn't ENJOY Saxon Math, but that she could see it was making her a better mathematician.
And isn't that what we want?
This year, as part of her Classical Conversations Challenge A program we will be using Saxon 8/7.
Last year, I felt ill equipped to teach her the harder concepts, and I felt some things were falling through the cracks because of this.
We needed to find a solution, so I started doing research.
Supplemental CDs, DVDs, for Saxon Math
I investigated three instructional aids for Saxon math.
I had heard a lot of good things about all three resources.
One requirement was viewing on our computer and the ability to navigate between problems with the mouse. This took Teaching Tapes out of the running - although I think the instruction and concept looks VERY GOOD with them.
A very helpful video for me was a comparison between the Dive CDs and Saxon Teacher. After watching this video I made my choice.
I chose the Saxon Teacher CDs because they contain the instruction for all of the lessons AND each and every practice and lesson problem, as well as test problems.
My daughter will read the lesson in the book, watch the lesson demonstrated on the computer, then work through the practice and lesson problems on her own.
After I grade her work, if she has questions about problems she has missed we can refer to the CDs for explanations and answers.
I like this. There will be no scratching my head about how to figure out a problem. Everything we need is right there on the CDs.
These CDs are an investment, but WELL WORTH the investment in our math program this year. To me, this wasn't an area where I was trying to be frugal this year.
Personal Thoughts about Saxon Math
I've created a short video for you about my thoughts on Saxon.
I have not been compensated by Saxon. These are my PERSONAL thoughts after a lot of research and reading.
Whether you choose to use Saxon or not, math in your homeschool is IMPORTANT and deserves your time and research.
It is my prayer you find a curriculum that fits your children and your teaching style/abilities.
What math program are you using this year?