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Math U See -- primer vs alpha

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 
We are unschoolers and haven't done any formal math except some workbooks here and there and some math games on line. Both of those--very limited amount in the last 2 years, probably an hour of total time.

DD is 8, and she is not a math person. She finds it boring, and even declared that she hated math . I assured her that she simply dind't find an approach that worked for her. We haven't tried any approach, really. She can do basic addition and subtraction, most of it with manipulatives. At one point she was interested in multiplication, and she understood the concepts, but that was 2 years ago. She grasped the concept of place value well. But she finds it tedious to figure things out. She doesn't like skip counting, even she can do it.

We were reading something where ratios were used, and I tried to explain to her ratios with a pie chart, and she she started freaking out when I showed her that one half was two quarters--she claimed she wasn't getting it. Even after I cut it out and demonstrated to her. So I think there's some resistance there, and some math anxiety, and who knows how THAT happened to her.

But I think there's some pressure from her schooled friends, and she now wants to find the right approach. She wants to be good at it "because other people are", but says she hates it. I've been researching, and I think Math U See could be our first try.

She wants to start from the very beginning and do things in order...But I wonder if the Primer is just too basic for her needs.

Anyone does both Primer and Alpha? Anyone started wtih Alpha with a kid who wasn't natural at math?

Any other thoughts on this situation?

Thanks!
post #2 of 8
PRimer would be way below her. We got alpha for my DS cuz we US'd until we started K and I thought the Lego-like aspect and mastery approach would be better for him. Once we started adding MUS and SOTW - it kinda took off and he has been asking for more. Not so much more structure, but more to learn about. He is hungry to learn, but still very USly in the manner in which we use the curricula and our approach. Little sit down time - most of it being with math.

MUS alpha is nice. The blocks are awesome. He LOVES them. Enjoying building and playing with them - but not the C rods so much cuz the rod don't have the tactile bumps to count or to allow him to "build" with them. The program is great. We got thru the first few chapters (place value and number/block recognition) and were doing really well with it (doing one side of a worksheet every other day - along with LOTS of free block playtime). Then DH decided to "help" with school - DS had been asking for homework to do while Daddy did his....I left a MUS worksheet and a few other things like Discovery Movies, practicing letters on his letter boards, etc. Usually they picked movies. One night DH decided he was going to MAKE DS do the math worksheet. Refused to allow him a movie or educational games or even just normal play time until he completed the worksheet....apparently DS was in tears and fighting with him to no avail.... Needless to say it turned DS off to math in a HUGE way. And ruined our relationship with MUS. He refused to come to the table if it was out, ran and hide and cried instead. So I have the complete Alpha set just sitting on my shelf collecting dust now.

Other programs we have tried since losing the MUS love - Miquon, Singapore, and Math Mammoth. WOW, these are great!!! So different from MUS, but in a really good way. DS is back to liking and enjoying math again. They are fun to learn with and fun to teach. Not what I expected, especially since neither DS or I have ever come across a workbook we liked....

Look into Miquon Orange and Red book. Get the Lab Annotations book. It is all "play" and discovery based learning. It looks weird at first, but once you get started it is really cool. We use it to intro the lesson - discover all about it, then go to the Singapore text and workbook. The teachers book for Singapore also is worth it - lots of great ideas on games, activities, etc to promote mastery of the concept and skill. Great if you are not mathy, like me. Math Mammoth is super cheap but great too. That is how we got DS back into math. He LOVES MM. I have found the three can easily stand alone. But since we have all 3 now, I am using them all and it is working. Miquon to "discover", Singapore to "learn" thru textbook, workbook, games, etc, and then occasionally use Math Mammoth for the extra practice (which he sure does need alot of!!).

Before you go with MUS (which is honestly a quite boring in comparison - very slow moving and repetitive). I would check out these. I brushed them off over MUS, cuz i knew the blocks would be a really good fit for DS and cuz he ws so resistive to workbooks in general, and it all just seemed so traditional schooly....but they really can be made to be fun and USly if you choose to bring in manipulatives and do the games/activities. THey use manipulatives, but also use concrete pictures. Encourage mental math. Are much more fun. I LOVE Miquon and how he gets to discover so much on his own. I like the way Singapore teaches the concepts of math - number bonds/stories BEFORE officially adding. Thru pictures too - Come up with number stories that go with the picture. Or Miquon making "number trains" which is just number bonds using C rods (we do it with MUS blocks even though they are not exactly the right scale). He is suddenly starting to "get it" and remember some math facts - not from drill, just from play and learning the bonds.
post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Thank you so much for your thoughts!

Hugs re DH turning DS off math, but great to hear he is back into it with other carricula.

We had a similar story with Miquon--DD was into math, and all it took to turn her off was me opening the Miquon parcel when it arrived, and telling her that some people used those for math

I think right now she is not into discovery math, because of her anxiety about it. She just gets blocked. I wonder if spoonfeeding her math at this point might work better, until she gains confidence.

I haven't looked into math mammoth, will check it out now. Thanks again!
post #4 of 8
We finished Primer and started on Alpha last week. My son is 6.
I wished I had just skipped Primer.
post #5 of 8
Math Mammoth is bright, colorful and varies the ways in which the problems are presented. No real manipulatives involved - just pictoral. but we bring manipulatives into it. I downloaded the Addition workbook for I think $4 and just print it out as we go... Check out Singapore too - It is really gentle and really fun. We are using 1a now for basic addition/subtraction. Currently working on number bonds, creating number "stories" based upon the pictures. Between the number bonds and the "trains" using the rods - it is all starting to "click"
post #6 of 8
I think Alpha would be a good fit for her. I own both Primer and Alpha (as well as others up to PreAlgebra) We really like MUS. Short lessons. Short worksheets. You can skip what they know or use all the sheets if the need extra help.
post #7 of 8
Ditto, you don't need primer. My 4 year old is half way through it and my 7 year old is half way through Alpha, definitely a good fit. They teach lots of cool tricks to remember addition problems. We review them orally a lot, seems to help with the math anxiety, good luck!
post #8 of 8
The Math U See site has a placement test that may help you decide.

I would definitely go with Alpha instead of Primer. Primer is really just a watered down version of Alpha so you wouldn't miss any concepts by starting with Alpha.

My dd was very math resistant and using Math U See has helped her a lot.
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