Monday, June 27, 2011

Math, math, math...

Argh. I just don't know what to do.

I just cannot make math decisions for any of my kids. And my decision process was complicated this weekend when I was given the teacher materials for Math U See Primer, Alpha and Beta.

<sigh>

So here is my dilemma... my three youngest kids (kindergarten, 2nd and 5th grades) have never truly had formal math. We've dabbled with stuff, and they are all quite good with math theory. They are all weak on math facts. That, by the way, is also true for my older kids who HAVE had plenty of formal math.

So... in looking at the realistic options for my kids, I can use Math U See, Math Mammoth, Singapore Math, Scott Foresman Exploring Mathematics, or possibly Math on the Level.

Singapore Math -- I own the textbooks and home instructor guides for levels 1-6. I own workbooks for all of Earlybird, and levels 1A through 2A. So Trina would cost me nothing, Richard (who tested into 2) would cost me 1-2 workbooks (I think he'd work through 2A, 2B and 3A in a year), and Thomas would cost me 3 workbooks (we'd review the text for 3A and 3B, then 'do' 4A through 5A, I think).

Advantages: I know the program works. Richard is very much like Connor with math, and this program was fantastic for Connor. Dale likes the idea of us using this.

Disadvantages:  I would have to teach, and it isn't as fun as some other options out there.

Scott Foresman Exploring Math

Colorful, inviting, worksheet based for K-2, text for 3 and up.  I own it all and wouldn't have to spend anything.  This goes in a more traditional scope and sequence.  I worry about too much busy work, but really, a couple pages a day isn't all bad.  The textbooks though, I don't know...

Math Mammoth

I  own Grade 1 and 2 but would have to purchase the rest.  I love that it is non-consumable.  I like the way it teaches.  It doesn't help me figure out what to do with Trina this year.  It incorporates games, websites, all kinds of fun stuff.

I like that the page count is fairly low, and the individual worksheets are rarely intimidating.  It is thorough, and I don't have to keep track of anything besides where I saved the file.

Math U See

This would be the expensive option.  I need manipulatives, I'd need the student books.  And those add up.

The biggest advantage would be that I could be a step removed in the teaching process.  Anything that lets me "hire help" is a good thing.

What I worry about, though, is that my kids are very, very (VERY) strong on theory, and they struggle to memorize facts.  My biggest hang-up is camping out while they work on truly knowing a given set of math facts and them being bored to tears.  Conceptually, my 7 year old is understanding high school geometry and beginning algebra.  Math facts though?  He is still working on addition and is intimidated by a page of single digit addition problems. 

My concern is him zoning out and hating math.  Because honestly, I'm not all that worried about whether or not he has memorized his addition tables... his older brothers have all mastered them when they actually needed to (but way later than everyone says kids are "supposed to")

Could I buy the manipulatives and use the DVDs as a supplement?

Math on the Level:

I own part of the program, and I love the concept.  I wish it had existed when my oldest was around 1st or 2nd grade, as I think it would have been great.  Right now, though, I look at it and think "I do not have the time or patience to figure this all out."

<sigh>

How do I decide?  The cheapest option (Scott Foresman)?  The least time consuming for mom option (Math U See)?  The one Dad likes best (Singapore)?  The one that looks like the best mix of straight-forward and not time-consuming for the kids (Math Mammoth)? 

Or do I just roll a die?  We own a 10-sided one...  I could give each option two numbers...

10 comments:

Hidden Jewel said...

I like MM very much but I'm not sure it would be a good fit if a child already knew concepts well. And I think MUS would get redundant very quickly.

In your situation I would probably go for Singapore, especially since you have used it before. It would provide enough challenge for them. And you can easily add in something like Calculadders for math facts.

But I have not seen MOTL or SF.

Tristan said...

I can not speak to any of the math except MUS. After Makayla did 3 years of Saxon (which did not work for her - she needs mastery, not spiral approach) we switched to MUS. She began Alpha going into 3rd grade and by the end of 4th (this year) she has completed Beta and Gamma as well. It's been wonderful. Meanwhile I've used Primer with Joseph and Emma, and they've begun Alpha. Makayla still isn't strong on her multiplication facts, (has addition and subtraction down), so we're using Math Right Now! from our Crew review time to practice those until she's faster. (She still prefers to skip count her multiplication facts, which really slows you down at the end of Gamma with multiple digit problems like 4567x932). I'm not sure if you were on Math Right Now, it's just a computer program where they practice math facts (you set lessons, time limits, etc).

I really like MUS. I'm understanding math better, and the blocks are great. Check into the Yahoo group for buying and selling MUS to get blocks cheap.

Naomi said...

I have to agree with Tristan about MUS! When my DD11 was in 2nd, we realized that the spiral way of AOP Horizons wasn't working for her. After many people suggesting MUS, we made the switch. I knew that she was weak in her facts, so I took her straight to Alpha. She is now in Delta and doing a fantastic job! I couldn't recommend anything other than MUS!

Michelle Smith said...

I vote for either MUS or Singapore. MUS because I know it's a good program; it's what we use. Singapore, because I've thought about using it before, and I think it's a solid program. And you've taught it before. Nothing new to learn.

I just made a similar choice on something for one of my littles. I chose something I knew, which would cost little to get a new workbook for. It's a solid program which I think will work great for that child. I don't know whether it's the best of all possible options, but I suspect it will work and work well. Even though it will take some time on my part to use it with her.

Heather Lynn said...

WHAT? No mention of Right Start? LOL I only mention it because I am struggling with this decision too and looking at Right Start. I wish you the best....

Debra said...

Oh, Heather, LOL...

Ummm, I said "realistic options" in there somewhere, didn't I?

Right Start is amazing. And it wouldn't cost me as much as some of the options I listed (I own nearly all of it). But I do. not. have. time. to do this with three kids. I just can't.

Given that my kids pick up math pretty easily, anyway. If they struggled with math, I'd find the time.

I need to spend the time on language arts. That's where my kids need me to invest ME.

I think Right Start is at least among the very best elementary math programs out there though.

Heather Lynn said...

Thanks, that helped. You were supposed to say "Right Start is horrible, don't use it" so I would have an easy decision. (Kidding of course)

Very Blessed Mamma said...

I totally understand your dilemma.
I am in the same boat.

I want to do TT and MOTL, but can't afford them.

My husband and I decided to stick with ABEKA, because it is really one of the better programs out there, and way cheaper too.

I still want MOTL someday, and figure I can do it along with my son's workbook.

Math is tough. But I did see MM on the crew list today!!!!!

Debra said...

Heather -- sorry! Right Start isn't awful though. It's just very teacher-intensive.

Very Blessed -- LOL, yeah, I know. I had not done much more than hit publish on this post, when I got the notification about Math Mammoth...

I am no closer to making a decision now than I was when I posted...

Very Blessed Mamma said...

It is hard. for sure.
Well, I'm off to bed goodnight.
Hope you figure it out soon.
Rodna