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Monday, July 19, 2010

Woe is Math...

I admit it...I feel like a total failure when it comes to mathematics and my oldest son. My younger children are comfortable with math. To them it's just a part of life. A little game they play. Mary begs to do math. Really.

David (age 10) has a stress reaction every time he is approached with a math worksheet...or even the mention of the word "math."

It all started back when he was in school. Kindergarten was a breeze. Then came 1st grade...and the wheels came off.

He was stuck reading a 1st grade reader all year that he read from cover the cover the first day he brought it home.

He was taking spelling tests for 3 letter words, words he could spell with his eyes shut, and reading at a 5th grade level.

And he decided he absolutely hated math workbooks. Every single page was like wringing a quart of blood from him. Homework took hours. And every ounce of patience I had.

So second grade we did at home and things improved for him, but he still hated math.

Over the past 3 years, I've tried this math program and that math program (Singapore, Making Math Meaningful, Math Mammoth, Math on the Level, and supplements like Mathletics, Quarter-Mile Math, Calculadders, Time 4 Learning, and plenty more, I know I'm forgetting some:-). I've tried no math program in an effort to just shore up his current knowledge and use every day experiences.

The funny thing is...he's very good at math when he applies himself. He picks up concepts easily. But, he's convinced that he's not good at math. And he hates repetition. Once he's decided he knows something, he doesn't want to practice it. At all.

I'm at the end of my rope here. This kid wants to be a structural engineer or an architect or a scientist...some day. He needs the math. But now he's behind. I know there's still time for him to gain all the skills he needs for higher math, but I need to find something to use with him that we can both stick with without pulling our hair out. Preferably something mastery based, because endless spiraling review is something he won't stand for and it would take him forever to catch up that way. Possibly something that comes in smaller books instead of one huge book...or with a computer component.

I would say he's at a beginning 4th grade level (he'll be entering 5th, whatever that really means, in the fall).

Anybody have any suggestions? What math program do you use? And what do you like about it?


  1. I am using Righstart now but most people do not like it. It is very teacher intensive. I am looking into Teaching Textbooks for next year though. It was at our convention and looks pretty promising. Good luck!

  2. Since, the time is changed, the way of teaching too. Nowadays students are more inclined to online tutoring services. I think online tutors are best persons to guide students doing their studies. They provide 1-to-1 tutoring to the students. There are several websites available to help students learning math. I personally like My daughter uses it; she is in 8th grade and has improved a lot after she has started taking online math tutoring from this site

  3. We use Math U See. Very mastery-based and almost enjoyable. lol I'm a math-hater, too.
    We have a unique approach to math, which I have chronicled on my blog, if you want to click through and read about it.
    I hope you find something that works for your son!

  4. We use A Beka, but it is definitely not for the math-faint-of-heart. I highly recommend RightStart math if you want a non-computer based program. It worked well for us when we went through a bad math patch. It is, though, VERY teacher intensive. People who use Teaching Textbooks rave and rave over them. I was thinking about it for James when Henry officially starts homeschooling to take some pressure off of me for teaching. I looked it up and it does look really good.

  5. I looked at RightStart...I also love MEP, but at this point I definitely need something that is not teacher intensive for David. He really needs more independence in his studies and the littles are needing more and more of my attention.

    Teaching Textbooks really looks great to me (I've checked out their online samples and read tons of reviews), but I'm concerned that it tends to be about a year behind other programs and the sequencing different, making it difficult to switch later if I want to use a more rigorous program. Plus, let's face's expensive. I might be able to buy it for a year, but beyond that? Who knows.

    I was really really really going to buy Teaching Textbooks, but then I started thinking about the cost and the computer aspect of it (for me, the computer use is a plus and a minus at the same time). I'm still undecided.

    And I'm concerned about going to a spiraling program, it makes it more difficult for him to gain his lost ground.

    I'm considering Developmental Mathematics, which is a mastery program. I gave D the placement test and we would have to start with level 7. I like the fact, too, that the levels are not graded he won't feel like he's behind. They are also not year long levels, so he can move onto the next level as soon as he's ready.

    He actually told me today that he likes math (?). But he hates, placement tests :-)

  6. Ok, spoke too soon. We will considering a teacher intensive courses, that might be what David needs to get him up to speed.

  7. I was going to recommend Rightstart or Maths-U-See. We, personally, don't use either of them, but I've heard many good reviews from local homeschool mums.

    Also, have you read any 'living' math books to him? Sometimes they can stir up an interest if children, say, see they have to solve a problem at the end of the story and see how the maths is applied.
    We only use some of these randomly throughout our math curriculum to have a change.

    HTH. Catherine (aka alecat, via TOS Crew)

  8. Christian Light Education and Christian Liberty Press catalogs are good to have- especially in regard to math. has an interesting review in March concerning Alpha Omega Publications and Horizons.- Taryn

  9. Taryn,
    CLE's Sunrise Math was actually on my list of possibles...but I think we are leaning towards a mastery program.

    It's a thought. I don't do much in the way of living math books, per se, but I do make a point of showing him how math relates to his life and his personal big interest of his is architecture and we've done a lot of hands on work with that (building bridges and things).

    Once he gets into higher maths, I think he will be fine. He always enjoys learning about Geometry, for example, and loved it when we reviewed an Algebra 2 DVD a while back. It's getting down the basics. It's not as easy as he would like, and he has decided that it's also boring.

    13 before his time.

  10. That stevenandersonfamily link is actually OT---it's more a blast of AO. Read with your critical thinking cap on.

  11. We use right start, and I started my boys a level below where the testing suggested. I wanted to begin very simply for them. They did much better after we rebuilt their math foundation with a lot of visuals, and different strategies. I won't lie though, it IS teacher intensive. But there are days you can put the books away and play the games, and you can also set a time limit for how much you will do per day. It's a little expensive to get started, too, but there are always people from the yahoo group selling used books.

  12. We switched to using CLE math last year (after trying a couple other msatery math currics that just did not work for us) and we LOVE it. It is a spiral program, but I have found that it works better for us...

  13. We are still working on this. It's so hard to know the "right" choice, sigh. I've pulled out our Math on the Level, again, and we will be using it the next week or so to see if we make any progress. It is a very teacher-intensive program, as well, so we'll see.


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