This is a guest post from Leanne Seel of frenglishlearning.com. It contains affiliate links.
This is our 7th year using Math-U-See in our homeschool. I like its mastery approach. My kids learn one concept completely before moving on to the next. The program is manipulative-based – the idea is that the students build the concept with the blocks, write it in the worksheets, and say it by repeating it back to the teacher.
How we use Math-U-See
The funny thing is that even though Math-U-See is really big on manipulatives, both of my kids absolutely refuse to use them. They prefer to work through the concepts with a pencil and paper.
Each level of the program has 30 lessons. Each lesson has 6 practice worksheets (A through F) to go with it. At the start of a new lesson, my kids either watch the DVD instruction lesson included in the teacher package or I explain the concept to them. They then complete worksheet A on their own and I mark it in the evening.
The next time we do math (usually 4 times/week), they correct their errors from worksheet A and complete worksheet B. My 9-year-old son says the B day is his favourite day because it’s the easiest for him, lol. He has already learned the new concept; he’s just practicing.
For the 3rd math session on any given lesson, my kids correct errors from worksheet B and complete worksheets C&D. These worksheets include practice on the lesson concept as well as review.
For the 4th math session, they do corrections from worksheets C&D and complete worksheets E&F, which again have more practice as well as review.
The last 2 math days definitely take longer than the first two – it just means that we lighten the load on other subjects on those days to balance things out. If my children show that they really understand the concept and don’t need any more review, I will drop some of the worksheets and we move on to the next lesson and/or skip a day of math that week. If they need extra practice with some concepts, I add in some extra practice from Math-U-See’s online worksheet generator or other sources and we don’t move on to the next lesson until they are ready.
Adding in Life of Fred
The Life of Fred book series features Fred, a 5-year-old boy who is so good at math that he is a university math professor. Each book follows his adventures and teaches math concepts along the way.
We started these books about 3 years ago when my children were 8 and 6 years old. The author’s recommendation is to do only one lesson maximum each day, but because my children already knew the math part of the lessons, we read three at a time every day. If it had been up to my kids, we would have read the whole book in one sitting – they loved it that much!
Once we were past the early books in the series and they actually had to think about the answers to the questions, we slowed down to one lesson a day, and now that we’re on the Elementary Physics book, we read 1-2 lessons per week. As a side note, I am learning a ton from the physics book myself!
Using both together
I like using Life of Fred with Math-U-See because the approaches of the two programs complement each other very well. Math-U-See has lots of practice problems, drilling, and makes sure that my children master the concepts and memorize their math facts. Life of Fred shows math in everyday life and really emphasizes the application of what they are learning.
Yes, it’s true that Math-U-See has word problems and application too, but Life of Fred takes application to a whole other level and is a lot more fun.
Those who use Life of Fred as a stand-alone curriculum would say that Life of Fred has drilling and memorization in there so using a separate program for additional practice isn’t necessary. For my own teaching style, I prefer the more structured approach of Math-U-See for practice and drilling so these two programs work really well together in our homeschool.
Do you use more than one program for math? If so, which ones?