Math U See Early Review

Note: This review is an early review – we’ve only made it through about a half years’ worth of the curriculum.  It is by no means a complete review.  I will add more as we progress and my understanding of the curriculum grows.

Math U See is a Kindergarten through high-school mastery-based mathematics curriculum.  Each level is given a number in the Greek alphabet, until pre-algebra.  The program features a fairly large student workbook, a test book, a teacher’s manual, and a DVD of lessons.  Each level runs around 85$ for a complete kit.  In addition, each level requires manipulatives.  There are several sets of manipulatives for various levels.

Each level includes 30 lessons and is not completely based off of traditional grade level curriculum.  Instead, the levels focus on one topic and requires a student to master each sub-concept completely before moving on.  In this way, it is formatted more like a traditional high-school math class.  At the end of the year, a student should have totally mastered the concept.

When my son started having huge problems with our former math program, I went hunting for a new curriculum.  This decision was difficult for us, for more about that click here.  We stumbled upon Math U See and the format seemed like it might work better for us, so we gave it a try.  So far, we’ve made it through half of the Delta level.

My first impression with Math U See was that it was too simple.  The lessons seemed skimpy, and there was no practice work, just the worksheets.  Where were the pages of daily drills?  Where was the warm-up work?  Where was the daily lesson?  I wasn’t sure this was going to work.  After three years of Saxon and all of the ‘stuff’ the students do, I was unsure about this new method.

So far, however, this lighter method has not done any damage to my son’s math comprehension.  If he struggles with a new concept, we cover the material together, then we come back to it the next day and he tries again.  The curriculum doesn’t demand that we march on and let it slip – what a concept.  The workbook comes with a generous number of worksheets for each lesson, and it’s recommended a student do as many as they need – not a single worksheet more.  If a student masters the concept after two sheets, you just move on.  If they struggle, they use all the sheets, and if they still need more, the website offers more.

The DVD’s are a great addition to the program.  A teacher is supposed to watch them to learn to teach their student, but I find them to be a great way to warm-up the student.  The teacher on the DVD’s is engaging, and my son loves his jokes.  If my son needs more explanation, then I step in and help.  Sometimes the video is enough.

There is a decent amount of review.  There is not quite a Saxon amount of review, but maybe that’s a good thing.  The first few worksheets contain just new concepts, but the next few contain mixed review that brings in old concepts and can tie them to the new learning.

Though it’s a small thing, I have to mention the success we’ve had with word problems through Math U See.  In our old program, my son was lost with word problems, hopelessly so.  He couldn’t figure out if he needed to add, subtract, multiply, divide, or some combination.  With Math U See, he is almost always able to puzzle it out correctly.  The teacher’s guide also has a list of helpful suggestions for assisting students with word problems.  This has been so helpful for a child I worried would never get the hang of word problems.

I can’t say enough about the mastery approach.  It really seems to work well and perfectly incorporates why we homeschool; children do better with individualized education, not some cookie-cutter program.  While I respect the goals of the spiral approach, I am starting to realize how much better the mastery approach fits us.

Another fabulous bonus of Math U See is that it seems to be much more ADHD friendly.  My son was diagnosed with ADHD, and we are always looking for better approaches that balance preparing him for the real world and working with his needs.  This program knocks it out of the park.  The shorter math lessons do so much good for him.  With his old program, math was a two hour a day affair, now it’s more like a half hour.

I am cautiously hopeful about Math U See.  It seems to be working very well for us so far.  Despite losing so much extra practice and drills, I have seen no loss in math ability, perhaps the opposite has happened.  My son is able to focus on the learning, get the practice problems done, and not get buried under tons of work and become frustrated and inattentive.  Now, we are treading some ground we have already covered in Saxon, so some of the ease may come from familiarity, but he has picked up a few new skills too.

Will this be the math program for us?  Only time will tell.  Things are looking great, but we’ve just scratched the surface.  Next year, we’ll forge on, and even get little brother in on the action.  He’ll be learning multiplication and I wonder if the lighter format will provide enough practice to memorize multiplication facts.  I can’t wait to see how we do.

Overall –

Pros: Simple format, DVD instruction, mastery-based

Cons: Basic skills may require more practice, costly set-up


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