I am going to do a few posts about what we're doing this coming year. Actually our year goes from about Jan-Jan since we school year round. The Winter is when the children seem to switch to new books. But since I read many a homeschool blog post this Fall, I, being one that always gives into peer pressure figured it was time :) I'm going to break these into a couple posts. I'll post what we're using, why we like it and where to get it.
Math first. Seems there's always more talk about math than anything else. Maybe phonics, but math still seems to be the one people debate more, have strong opinions about, and doubt whether they're using the right thing, the most. We as a family use Math U See. I LOVE it. I won't say I haven't had my moments where I considered switching, but the fact that my children love it and thrive on it always keeps me on track with it.
MathUSee is definitely in the middle of all homeschool math debates for a reason. There's also a reason SO many homeschoolers use it. It's different. It's succeeding where for many children, the same old math was not. MUS (Math U See from now on in this post) is different for a few reasons. A, it's visual and tactile. It teaches learning using blocks all the way up through higher math. Being able to see and touch and build using manipulatives helps the brain visualize math. So it's good for those great at math. AND it's good for those who struggle with math. That makes it a great fit for the homeschooling family that will have children all over that map.
B, it focuses on the how and WHY you solve a certain problem a certain way. It's not just about learning how to do something but why you use a certain method, why you are doing what you're doing. I've learned a lot already and Frankie's only in 4th grade.
C, and perhaps the most important and controversial part of MUS, is that it uses the mastery method instead of the spiral method. Normally math is taught via the spiral method. Spiral programs introduce a variety of topics without expecting children to fully understand them. With repeated exposure and continuous review, children are expected to learn and master all necessary concepts. BUT with the mastery method, which I LOVE, a child masters a concept before moving onto a new concept. So you would master addition before moving to subtraction. So you would learn addition, then multiple digit addition before even starting subtraction. Then you would master subtraction, complicated subtraction, before moving onto multiplication, and so on and so forth. I love that my children are actually getting to cement an idea, cement what they've learned before being expected to move onto a totally new topic. They have 3, yes three, pages per lesson (each page has word problems too!). So if your child needs more than just the standard one day on a subject (like most children) they have 3 lesson pages, three days, to do the lesson. Then, it has 3 systematic review pages for each lesson. SO not only do they review past lessons and books (which people worry about) they also get more lesson practice if they need it. And of course lastly, the fact that we USE addition to subtract, that we use it to multiply. Just because we already did addition, it doesn't mean that the children don't use it every day.
Another worry is about the fact that schools use a spiral method so children aren't always in the same place testing wise, or won't have learned the same thing school children have at the same time. Don't worry! It all comes out in the wash. They WILL all learn the same things, they just learn them at different times. So while a public schooled child in one grade would have learned single digit addition and subtraction, our MUS children would have learned addition and double digit addition that year. But the next year the school children would learn double digit addition and subtraction, our MUSers would learn single and double digit subtraction. So after a couple years everyone's learned the same things. And my homeschooling goals do not include mimicking the public school system's goals, so I don't worry about it anyways.
MUS also comes with a DVD that has Mr. Steve Demme teaching each lesson up with a white board. My children just put the DVD in the computer, watch their lesson and that's it. Now I do have to teach now and then :) but Frankie especially doesn't need me at all. The DVD is all he needs. So if you aren't sure about teaching math, then this is great for you.
Check out a free demo here:
That was longer than I expected! Maybe I'll just stop with that for now.