Welcome, homeschooling friend! I’m so glad you’ve visited me here!
Today, let’s talk about teaching math with the Math-U-See homeschool curriculum.
As you have discovered, there are about a million different homeschool math curricula available today. Early in our homeschool journey, we used Bob Jones University Press mathematics, then we switched to Saxon Math. I never got comfortable with them; perhaps I was too new to teaching. Then I discovered the Math-U-See store when I attended a home school convention.
I immediately liked the clean, uncluttered, black-and-white student workbook pages. Each has lots of white space for the students to write on, and it makes each page seem less intimidating. I think the brightly-colored pictures and informative side boxes in many textbooks distract my kids’ attention away from the lesson, making it harder to concentrate. I administered the Math-U-See Placement Test for each child before purchasing the appropriate Instructional Packs.
But just because Math-U-See isn’t overly-stimulating doesn’t mean it’s boring! No way! This hands-on, multi-sensory approach to learning is exactly what my four children need, so we’ve used it for years!
The initial cost of the Instructional Pack for one level (which traditionally coincides with one year’s work) seemed prohibitive for our large family, yet once we owned it, we used it through several kids, so the cost went down for us each year. The first year, we bought the Universal Set for one level (Instruction Manual, DVD, Student Workbook and Test Booklet, and Manipulatives) plus the Level Up Set (Instruction Manual, DVD, Student Workbook and Test Booklet, WITHOUT Manipulatives) for each of the levels for our other kids. Then each year thereafter, we replaced the consumable Student Workbooks and Student Test Books.
The DVD Teacher Makes It Fun
Each lesson is introduced and taught on the DVD by Mr. Demme; the lesson takes from 5 to 10 minutes to watch. The same material is also explained in the teacher’s Instruction Manual.
During my preparation for the school week, I read the lesson in the Instruction Manual. When my child and I watch the video lesson together on Monday, she and I construct with our Math-U-See manipulative blocks the same problems that Mr. Demme is solving with his blocks. His presentation is easy to follow, and I can tell that he likes his students as much as he likes math!
One Lesson Equals One Week
For our family, one lesson usually progressed like this:
- While watching the DVD with my child, we use our manipulative blocks in the same way Mr. Demme is using his.
- Then my child and I use the manipulatives while completing one practice page together from the student workbook.
- We check answers against the answer key and correct any mistakes.
- While I watch closely to ensure my child understands each problem, she attempts to complete a second practice page independently.
- We check answers, then I help my child understand any mistakes.
- My child attempts to complete the third practice page independently.
- Again, we check answers, then see if my child can make corrections on her own.
- If the child appears to have mastered the concept, she completes one (sometimes 2) Systematic Review page(s) independently.
- If not, I review some more using manipulatives and guide her through another Practice Worksheet.
- My child takes the test on that lesson if she thinks she’s mastered the material.
- If not, we practice some more and also as work on a Systematic Review worksheet.
- If the child correctly answers all the test problems, she begins the next lesson on the following Monday.
- If she gets several incorrect, we don’t move to the next lesson yet.
Sometimes, it helps my child learn more easily if she reads the lesson in the Instruction Manual. That way, she sees the problems again, on paper, studying the step-by-step strategy that Mr. Demme uses.
She can also watch the video again.
Mastery is imperative, as all the following lessons build upon the preceding ones.
One Level Equals Thirty-two Lessons
One of the beauties of homeschooling is the flexibility it allows! We can move as slowly or as quickly as we need to. We can take a break when we want to. And, we can take it wherever we go.
Traditionally, school consists of 36 weeks out of a 52-week year, with daily math practice. But because we home school, those weeks can be consecutive, or not. Depending on what your child, or your family, needs, you can take a break from math. Our family went through times when we continued methodically through school work for many consecutive weeks. Also, we went through times when OTHER valuable learning opportunities were pursued while our academic activities were decreased or even postponed. When I realized that flexibility in our school work could be valuable to our learning lifestyle, I relaxed and enjoyed everything more!
So, it works well for us to plan for one Math-U-See lesson per week.
- Nevertheless, we remain open to the idea of moving faster through the curriculum,
- or to taking a break when we need one,
- or to extending the time spent on one lesson until the child masters that concept.
The kids finish each level at their own pace.
Kindergarten Through High School
The main focus at the elementary and middle school levels:
- Primer – number concepts, counting, and telling time. No tests at this level.
- Alpha – adding, subtracting, place value
- Beta – regrouping
- Gamma – Multiplication
- Delta – Division
- Epsilon – Fractions
- Zeta – Decimals, percent
The high school levels:
- Algebra 1
- Algebra 2
- PreCalculus with Trigonometry – requires a calculator
- Calculus – requires a calculator
I love the Math-U-See homeschool curriculum!
- It provides the convenience of having a different teacher – other than myself – initially present each new concept to my child. This brings more variety into our days, so we don’t grow bored easily.
- The workbook is uncluttered and non-distracting with lots of room for my child to diagram or write out her math work. She doesn’t need a separate notebook.
- If needed, I can print extra daily math practice pages from the Math-U-See website for any lesson.
- The program is easily portable by taking along our personal DVD player or my laptop computer.
- The same Manipulative Set is reused for many years, and the Instruction Manual for a level is reused with the next child.
- Math-U-See is multi-sensory – hear it, handle it, see it, say it, write it.
- We can take as long as we need for my child to master each concept before presenting something new.
- And previously-learned material is regularly reviewed each week in the Systematic Review worksheet pages.
- I can relax, because I trust that Mr. Demme will teach us everything we need to know to be good math students.
Note: I did not usually require my child to complete as many tests as are provided in Math-U-See.
Rather, the Unit Tests that covered several lessons together sufficed. Isn’t the flexibility of homeschooling so wonderful!
Have you used Math-U-See in your family? Did it help you feel more at ease with teaching math? Please leave your comment below.
I hope you’ll visit me here again soon! If you enjoyed this article, you might also like How To Teach History To Kids | The Great American Bathroom Book.
Relaxing into the journey,