By Kathy LaPan
(Hudson Falls, NY, USA)
I use Saxon Math with my kids now for homeschooling (just finished 6th and 3rd grade) and I also used it when teaching math in a Catholic school.
The best part of Saxon is the repetition. A lot of math is memorization – multiplication facts, formulas, processes…and Saxon is excellent in really keeping kids up on what they’ve previously learned.
When you have kids that are very bright or who are ahead of the game, you can easily adapt Saxon. For instance, for my son who is great at division but needs help with fractions, I simply pick out the questions in the Mixed Practice that focus on what he needs help on. For most lessons, he would do the lesson practice (work on what he just learned) and then the Mixed Practice I picked out that he needed help on.
I am not the biggest fan of Saxon in the younger grades, where they use worksheets. Even the kits intended for homeschool use are set up with worksheets that have a side A (to do with the “teacher”) and a side B (to do as “homework”). We just didn’t do the side Bs. It felt too much like public school.
I’ve used Saxon for grades 3, 5, 6, 7, and 8. 4th grade and up are better in my opinion. The very best part of Saxon is that you can choose the level based on your child’s level, not on their “grade level” (a ridiculous, arbitrary sorting mechanism used by public schools). For instance, Saxon 76 is for the advanced 6th grader or the slower 7th grader. 54 is for the advanced 4th grader or slower 5th grader. They also have the Algebra series etc…which focus on those particular topics.
My son believes himself to be “terrible” at math and successfully completed Saxon 76 this past year, and will be doing 87 (meaning 8th grade math for his “7th grade” year).
You also don’t have to “complete the book” to move on to the next book, because the beginning of the next series will pick up on the repetition of subjects from the previous book. Therefore, if you find you’re halfway through Saxon 87 and your child is bored stiff, you can start on 98 and you won’t find that you’re out in the wild with no idea what’s going on.
I have heard of many other math programs, but my kids used Saxon in public school and with me, so the comfort level is there also. I highly recommend the Saxon series.