Monday, June 20, 2011

Math U See: Alpha

We love this hands on, base 10 math approach. I did not received a great Math education, the teachers were always boring and typically my middle/high school math teachers also taught sports, so Math was their secondary job. I did not had the privilege of learning math holistically and at my own pace, having one skill build upon another. Often I would get lost and couldn't keep up with the new skills because I didn't know how to implement the materiel from the prior week. The years I  was in school, curriculum changed often, so it was hard to figure out what I was suppose to be learning. It wasn't until college that I discovered the uses for math, I went back to the basics and gradually built one skill upon another. I ended up loving statistics and felt like the college years truly taught me the purposes for math. I hope my son discovers that long before college!  Both John and I researched the Math U See curriculum for a year before we purchased it. 
We both appreciated the fact that Steve Demme is a Christian, has taught math to all ages in the  public and private schools and  homeschooled his own children - well his wife did most of the daily work!  We went and heard him speak on parenting at the Arlington Book Fair last month, he spoke on the role of fathers in training children and John just ate up all the biblical advice he provided. He is really a fascinating man with great godly wisdom for homeschooling moms and  dads. His youngest son has downs syndrome and he spends a lot of time volunteering/speaking at the Joni and Friends family camps. We appreciated his humility and the way he shared about the pitfalls' he had as a father and how the Lord changed his heart.

The Alpha kit comes with a DVD that is suppose to help the parents teach the material, but Drew loves watching the video with us,  since he is very visual and learns best watching something. The curriculum also comes with the manipulatives, which are great because Drew is very tactile - they look a lot like Lego's. There is also a lesson book for teachers - their theory is to meet all learning styles - which they do. Best of all - it doesn't take a lot of time! We looked at Saxon Math, but the time invested and all those math problems just made me think we'd both be tortured trying to get through it all. 
Drew loves the Math U See program and has flourished. Each concept builds on the other and some concepts taught at the basic level will follow the child into pre calculus. They won't have to re-learn anything when you start from the beginning. The worksheets are short (4-8 problems) and involves using the manipulative, which makes for a change in the worksheets - they don't just sit there and do 6 problems, there is a lot of different skills covered. They also stress story problems, which I  really could have used when I was learning Math! 
John did a ton of research on this program since he loves math and really wants our kids to love math - he thought this program was the best for our kids and their very short attention span. In fact, Gabe was so envious that Drew was doing math that we bought the primer and Gabe is already 4 lessons in and begs for his "math" time. There are video's online which also helped us with our decision. They also provide extra math problems online in case a concept needs to be worked through longer. I loved all their additional support and free printables, if you subscribe to their newsletter they normally send some free stuff in that too.
We also supplement with Xtra Math - it takes about 5 minutes a day and works on quick math facts - best of all its FREE. The program sends a parents update each week and just repeats the  math facts at the child's independent level. As the child gets more accomplished it adds a few new problems into their drills. It is very simple, easy to do and doesn't take much work on the parents part.

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