Saturday, June 6, 2009

Math choices

Clearly, I love Tapestry of Grace. It beautifully pulls together history, literature, art, and geography. However, those subjects are not enough to complete a well rounded school year. I will use the next few posts to tell you what I have chosen to use for our non-tapestry subjects. Let me start with Math.

I have now taken one student through Saxon 1 and 2. Next year I am planning on using Saxon 1 for my first grader and Saxon 3 for my third grader. Homeschooling moms tend to have strong reactions to the use of Saxon Math. Here is my pros and cons list:



Straight forward; my husband can easily teach a lesson, even if he hasn't done so in weeks

Each day, if followed exactly, would take a very long time

Through; plenty of practice with basic skills

The daily repetition can be confusing to young students. If I quiz my daughter everyday on the months of the year, by mid-week she has decided that she must be doing something wrong.

Adaptable; when the teacher's guide suggests sorting pattern blocks we sort laundry

Worksheets follow a familiar pattern; students who are reading well can complete a worksheet with little help

Worksheets follow a familiar pattern; I want my children to be able to answer any math questions, not just "Saxon" math questions.

When we complete a year of Saxon I am confident that we have completed math for grade "x"

I am happy enough with the Saxon program that I have worked hard to find solutions to its weaknesses. It is worth mentioning that I love math, and enjoy finding ways to best teach my children this subject.

I have set a one hour time limit on math. To make that work I look at the lesson in reverse. How long will it take my daughter to complete the worksheet? Are there additional worksheets to be completed? Is the lesson introducing a new concept? How did the "meeting book" time go yesterday? Once I have considered those questions I can mentally divide out the hour. We rarely complete more than one section of "the meeting" each day. I have found that over the course of a school year that is fine. Actually, when I was attempting to complete the entire "meeting" each day I found that my daughter struggled more. It became clear to me that she figured she must have been wrong the past three days. Doesn't that make sense? Typically we drill students on material that they are struggling with. She knew that I asked the "plus 9" facts everyday because she needed the practice. A logical jump for her was, "hmm. . . I must be getting those months wrong. Maybe there are 13." When I switched to asking calendar questions once a week she got them right every time. Less time and greater success, that is a good match.

To address the issue of familiar worksheets I use the Mathematical Reasoning workbooks that are published by the Critical Thinking Company. I also print worksheets from several websites. I will add links to those sites soon.

So, that is what I do for Math. This year I will use Saxon 1 with Mathematical Reasoning B and Saxon 3 with Mathematical Reasoning D. Hopefully that combination will work as well next year as it did this year.

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