Math curriculum- Help please! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 10 Old 11-05-2008, 11:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Backgroud: Dd is 6 and to this point we have been unschooling math, she is actually well ahead of where I would expect an early first grader to be with math skills. However, dd has announced she would like a more structured program, I think she wants to be able to see her progress and have more evidence of her learning. She has a strong dislike for worksheets- but can do amazing amounts of math in her head.

Can someone recommend a good math program for us? I need one with a pretest we can take to figure out what grade to buy- and heavier on manipulatives rather than worksheets.

Thanks for any ideas you can give me!


Laura, Mama to Mya 7/02, Ian 6/07 and Anna 8/09
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#2 of 10 Old 11-06-2008, 12:19 AM
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Well I would first think Saxon. Their K-3 uses lots of manipulatives and goes in such a nice logical order that it makes math exciting to me and the kids!! They also have a pre-test. However they also are heavy on worksheets- though they are by no means required, the Saxon teacher's book is a fab resource on it's own with WONDERFUL scripted lessons that I LOVE. The worksheets could be optional, or just used to make sure she has an understanding of the concept just taught.

I head Math-U-See is wonderful and it's in my back pocket in case my last little doesn't mesh as well with Saxon as the first two.
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#3 of 10 Old 11-06-2008, 01:19 AM
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Go to and check it out. Totally manipulatives. Lots of people love MUS but I see a good number of folks on the RS forums who are MUS refugees. It has a great fundamental concept which is actually different than most math programs... most math programs are the same basic program with different packaging. This is actually a different approach.

They're very keen on "math must be 95% understood and 5% memorized".

I'm switching DS over to RS -- he's finished grade 6 math but we're going back to their level E for some refreshers and learning their system, then going to do their middle school program. And I'm planning to use RS from the start with DD when she's old enough.

There's a basic placement test on the website. You'd probably end up with level B, is my guess... if she already knows some things... level B and level A overlap a good amount, the first dozen lessons or so are basically the same but B goes a bit quicker. A is for the 'typical' kindergartener with no formal math, the B is for the 'typical' first-grader with either a bit of math or no formal math but a bit ahead anyway.

Anything level C and above, you have to start with "transition" lessons to go through their early stuff and 'catch up' with their methodology. That's what we're doing with DS. We got the parcel notice today, we can pick it up tomorrow, we can't wait!!!

Heather, mom to Caileigh 12/06 and aspie ADHD prodigy David 05/98 :intact lact
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#4 of 10 Old 11-06-2008, 02:36 AM
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I like the idea behind RightStart but I found it to be a poor fit for the ability and interest of my unschooled (-but-wanting-a-curriculum) kids. RightStart expects kids to get full mastery of multi-digit addition and all the place-value abstraction this entails before even beginning to connect 3+3=6 to 6-3=3. Subtraction and multiplication are delayed for way too long, IMO.

On balance we've found Miquon and Singapore to be a much better fit for my kids and the sorts of things they were interested in learning, when they were interested in learning about them ... and the two are cheaper, even in combination, than RightStart. Both explore number relationships and operations with small numbers very thoroughly before moving into place-value abstraction and regrouping algorithms.

Miquon is very unschoolish ... playful, hands-on, easily child-led, discovery-oriented. It can seem chaotic to parents, who need to spend a good bit of time exploring the annotations manual and the program's philosophy. I love it because it's so conceptual and mathematically robust. It's always best to start with Miquon at the beginning (Orange book). If your dd wants a workbook-based approach that she can do on her own, Miquon may not be the best choice. If you want to keep things unschooling-like, Miquon "math lab" sessions are a pretty neat way of doing so.

Singapore's placement tests are readily available at and IMO are very accurate. I'd encourage you to trust them even when they give unexpected results. My 9yo graduated from Singapore Primary Math this week -- she's my third child to do so. My youngest finished the level 2 stuff yesterday. All four of my kids, even though they learn math quite differently, have done well with Singapore Primary Math.



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#5 of 10 Old 11-06-2008, 11:13 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you all for the suggestions, I think dh is going to end up helping with math now, so I'm going to let him look over these too. Looking at them, Miquon might be what we try first, because it sounds like a good next step from unschooling and its way cheaper than the other choices (a big deal this close to Christmas). Thanks for the thoughts on that, Miranda. Its also good to know about the other options incase its not what dd wants.


Laura, Mama to Mya 7/02, Ian 6/07 and Anna 8/09
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#6 of 10 Old 11-06-2008, 11:30 AM
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We are on our third year using Singapore Math after having used Saxon for the first half of first grade with ds1. Singapore is reasonably priced and has a placement test available. Ds and I both like it a lot better than we liked Saxon, though we still play with the Saxon manipulatives we bought.

Midwife (CPM, LDM) and homeschooling mama to:
13yo ds   10yo dd  8yo ds and 6yo ds and 1yo ds  
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#7 of 10 Old 11-06-2008, 12:18 PM
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I think in your situation I would vote against using Saxon.

After the cost of the program, I would find it disappointing to to not use it as it is intended. If your dd prefers flexibility and easily grasps concepts I expect she would be frustrated at Saxon's repetition and practice. I guess you would be skipping entire lessons and many of the worksheets. Further frustration would set in with the lessons you do choose to do as much of the lesson format is steeped in routine and builds incrimentally on previous lessons.

Although I haven't used them, I would echo Miranda's above suggestions.

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#8 of 10 Old 11-06-2008, 12:51 PM
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Math on the Level is exactly what you're looking for.

We welcomed our 3rd , 7th September 23, 2010!
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#9 of 10 Old 11-06-2008, 09:05 PM
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Another vote for Singapore. In my sig link I have a bunch of pics of what it looks like page by page.

To my husband I am wife, to my kids I am mother, but for myself I am just me.
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#10 of 10 Old 11-06-2008, 09:09 PM
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We have had great luck with Miquion (I know I spelled it wrong) but that isnt the point of this post. There is a great math sticky at the top of this page that has mamas tell what their philisophy is, that their kid is like, and what curriculum you use and how you like it. That is how I chose Miquion.....I feel like it steered me right!

Best of luck!!!
DS 7, DD 3, twin DDs 2

Tassy mom to DS(13), DD(8), and twin DDs (7)  homeschool.gif

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