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Friday, April 14, 2017

How We Homeschool: Math (Blogging Through the Alphabet)

There are so many math programs available for homeschoolers! When we started teaching our kids at home, we struggled with what math program to use. So many seemed like they would work well. I started looking at various programs, trying anything I could get my hands on, and reading reviews and books/websites that explained them.

We finally settled on Saxon. The spiral method works well for my children (they did not do well with the mastery program they used at school). There is SO MUCH hands on work for the younger grades, and we've found ways to carry that over into the older grades when the kids need it. I read many things that helped me understand how thorough Saxon is. Every time one of my kids struggles with math, I switch up how we work and learn so they can get past the difficult part. I finally quit researching other methods because whenever I did I was reminded how great Saxon is, and that nothing else was going to work as well for my kids. If someone was truly struggling with Saxon's methods we would switch for that child, but usually the trouble we experience is because we need to refocus or examine how we're using our time.

Saxon is a procedural method, meaning it teaches procedures to follow more than it teaches why the concepts work. So when we had the opportunity to review Math Mammoth I fell in love with it. It is a conceptual method, and can be purchased in small workbooks to supplement Saxon when my kids struggle.

Once my children got to middle school math I worried about my abilities to help them. Math is my weakest subject (probably because I am a child who was taught only procedural methods and never understood why math worked). There are a few options that I know of that help teach the lessons, Saxon Teacher CDs, DIVE discs, and Art Reed's Mastering Algebra DVDs. We tried DIVE and while they were okay, they weren't great. My child didn't like watching a virtual whiteboard, and I walked in on a math lesson one day that was teaching about the Trinity. My children know what the concept is but we believe that Heavenly Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost are three separate beings. Art Reed's DVDs show him teaching at the front of a classroom and my kids prefer to watch him teach, plus they say he's a funny guy. So that's what we use.

I have discovered that the younger Saxon books (K-3), are written with fewer lessons per grade. They are great, especially if you do a 4 day school week. What I prefer to do is teach one lesson a day. The K book guidelines are for only 3 lessons per week. So when we teach one lesson a day, my child completes Saxon K-3 by the end of their 2nd grade year. That left me with a dilemma... start my 3rd grader on 4th grade math, or use something else for a year. I researched Saxon Intermediate 3 and decided it was the perfect book to fit in between the younger Saxon curriculum and the upper levels. E will finish Saxon Intermediate 3 next week and I'm going to supplement with Math Mammoth through the end of the year, then she'll start Saxon 5/4 in the fall. Exciting! I'm nervous about having M do Algebra 1, but she has been doing great with math and she will be fine. It's me who struggles!

A Net In Time Schooling

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