By Kristi Kerr
(Ellsworth, KS, USA)
We use Math U See with 2 children currently (2010-2011 school year), and will add a third next school year. Our children are 10 and 8. They are in fourth and second grades. We are currently nearly through Beta level.
We’ve tried a number of programs and approaches to teaching math, and nothing has “stuck” for my children. Beginning Math U See can be a bit expensive, as you buy the blocks, and I was buying for two, but after our last failed attempt at math, we were desperate. Our children didn’t have their basic facts down, and I was at a loss as to how to teach them. They would understand the concepts for long enough to pass the test, but if you tested them a month later, they had forgotten it all. We decided we needed a mastery based curriculum for math, and Math U See came very highly recommended.
We got two sets of blocks and one wooden box set, and we started at the very beginning, in Alpha. (There is a Primer program for Math U See that comes before Alpha, but it’s simply a gentle introduction into math. We decided that Alpha was where the mastery of math facts really begins, so that’s what we started with.)
I’m not very good at explaining math facts. My brain just simply doesn’t work that way. The way the program is set up, you (as the teacher) watch the DVD, and then explain the concept to your children. I knew that wouldn’t work for me, so I have the children watch the DVD with me, and if they have questions, I know what Mr. Demme has said, and am able to teach from there. It gives me a starting point and helps me gather my thoughts better to help them understand more fully.
After the children watch the DVD, they move onto the worksheets. Because my children are older, if they truly can prove to me that they understand the concept, I allow them to complete one entire lesson a day. If I think that they need more review, we only complete one sheet a day and come back to it all week long, or longer, if needed, to solidify the concept in their mind. There are five workbook pages per lesson, A-F. There are also free extra practice worksheets you can get from the Math U See website. Using all of these resources, my children are finally not only getting the concepts, but the concepts are being added to their long term memory, not just long enough to take the test.
You will have to do your own drill with Math U See. There is available a Skip Counting CD that will help when beginning multiplication, but I’ve found that for my children, constant daily drill was essential for memorizing the basic math facts. We chose to use a combination of songs and timed drills. That, combined with the lessons in Math U See, finally, after four years, helped my children memorize their addition and subtraction facts.
Overall, we love Math U See. We will be adding Saxon 5/4 when they are at that level, for extra practice and review. I’m a big fan of overlearning a concept, and the combined math curricula will help us do just that. Next year, we’ll be adding Primer to our growing collection of Math U See DVDs, and my preschooler is very excited for that!
1) The DVDs. I couldn’t teach without them. Mr. Demme explains things so well for my children.
2) The blocks. My children are able to see things much more clearly with the color coded blocks than they were with our Base 10 blocks, which were all one color.
3) Once you buy a set of blocks (I prefer one set for each child), I’ve found the curriculum to be quite reasonably priced.
4) I wish there was more practice on things such as money, time, and measurements. They might come in later lessons, though.
1) The wooden box isn’t as sturdy as I would like. It didn’t hold up to our family of eight.
2) Some of the explanations on the DVD can confuse my children, especially if a “trick” is being taught. I simply teach them that if it’s not working, they can use the standard algorithm and move on.
Math U See is a curriculum I highly recommend, especially if you have a struggling math student. My kids both say they highly recommend it, too!