It feels like the bulk of our morning is spent with Math. Oh. Maybe that’s because it is!

We switched curriculums again this year for both boys for math.

Jon – age 11 – 6th grade – is working from Saxon 7/6. He started out using . . .something? My brain is fried . . . . in September, and it wasn’t working. We have the DIVE CD’s to go along with the lessons. Nate used 5/4, 6/5 and 7/6 so I am familiar with the program. It is working a lot better to have the instruction for the day come from the video, then Jon works through the problems, circling questions he does not understand, then we work on those together. Some days take longer than others, but this last week he was able to do them all save for 1 or 2.

Nate – was using Teaching Textbooks Pre Algebra last year – and we agreed to review No Nonsense Algebra last spring. We decided to move forward with NNA this fall. It also comes with a video tutor, which Nate prefers over the TT tutor. All in all – it has been seamless for Nate. The trouble comes when he gets an answer wrong, and can’t figure out how to solve for the right answer. In TT we had videos for each problem letting us see how it should have been worked out. I have spent HOURS on Kahn academy re-learning pre algebra and algebra 1 to get to where I can help Nate with his homework. My afternoons have been spent with a clipboard full of paper and the laptop telling me where to put the n or the x or the negative or such. Just when I think I have it, the next lesson in NNA brings up something new and I’m back to Kahn.

I am thinking of switching to Math U See Algebra 1. I’ve heard really great things about it. They also have the intro lessons on DVD along with the problem answers being solved. However, I trusted TT and handed it over to Nate. I didn’t learn along with him. I still need to get Jon through, and he doesn’t do as well learning from a Video. Nate really likes NNA – it’s me with the problem.

The MUS is really reasonable – less than a hundred dollars. We have the manipulatives already. If Math continues to be a ‘til noon’ topic through November, I’ll make the switch to TT or MUS.

Why I Don’t Think Public School Answers this Problem:

This week we are on equilateral equations. There was a step we were missing, getting the answer wrong. Nate was getting half the answer wrong, which told me he didn’t understand the steps. After taking the classes from Kahn so I could understand – I got together with him one morning to see where his understanding got off track. We spent 15-30 minutes – and he was able to work the problems correctly. I wonder though, had it been a large classroom environment, how many weeks would he have turned in work and gotten lower grades? Would he have been tagged as a C student or less? We don’t really have grades at Petra School – we have levels of Mastery and Understanding. If you understand – you move on. If you don’t we pause. We move towards mastery of a topic, a full rich useful understanding. With his math, he does make careless mistakes. Depending on distractions – he might get up to three wrong on a day. I have been marking those wrong, he re-works them, and moves on. If we were to give the School District a grade for math for sports – that is how I would figure it out. However, getting half of them wrong each day – is a red flag for me. My husband and Nate were talking about how this was resolved a couple of weeks ago – and shared stories of kids from our local school that dislike math, having a hard time in Algebra, and have lost time in sports or days off due to piles of back homework. Sending him to the local school would not be a means to meet this goal. I’m adding in this last paragraph – because each time I talk about Algebra this year – 95% of the time I am met with the question – Do you know you could enroll him for Math at the High School? Yes. I do. But I don’t see that as helping, just handing over.

Angie, I totally agree with you on this! We’ve had families tell me that when their children ask for help with math at school, the teachers will literally tell them, “We don’t get paid to stay after school and tutor students, so I can’t help you.” Shocker! So some students transfer to a local private school because they can actually get help when they are struggling. I agree that placing a child in a public school for math is not going to make it any easier on the parent. Instead, the parent won’t have as clear of an idea of how a concept was taught in the classroom, and if the student is really behind or getting the assignment day to day.

We use Math-U-See for Algebra 1, and Kelsi has had very few questions on it. She is almost halfway through the book, and it has been relatively painless for her. Math isn’t her strongest subject, but she is a hard worker and pays close attention. I do really like how the complete answers are written out step by step in the MUS Algebra text. It has helped this mommy brain a lot! So far, the videos have explained all that we need to know – haven’t needed to go to Kahn Academy at all yet this school year.

Not trying to get you to switch curriculum to MUS, but just adding in my two cents that it has been a positive experience so far, and she “gets” it. She doesn’t always get A’s on her assignments, but she is doing well enough and also doing the Honors pages for Algebra.