These are a Few of My Favorite {Homeschool} Things: Math

By | February 15, 2024
This entry is part 5 of 6 in the series These are a Few of My Favorite {Homeschool} Things

For elementary math, I use Singapore Math.  I really like this curriculum (but I also really like math). What I most appreciate about the program is that it teaches the students to understand how the math works. It encourages the use of math manipulatives (connecting blocks, place value charts, etc.) for the child to use to make connections.

I started using the program in K-4 with my kids using Earlybird Kindergarten Standards Edition Textbook A. This was a simple, no-stress way of introducing my kids to math (I think we did it just 2-3 days a week). In kindergarten we did Earlybird Kindergarten Standards Edition Textbook B. Both of these books are consumable, so a new one will need to be purchased for each student.

In 1st-6th grade, we use the Primary Mathematics U.S. edition series. Each year has an A and B set, with a textbook and a student workbook. I also purchased the home instructor’s guide, which I highly recommend. So for first grade, for example, you would purchase Textbook 1A and 1B, Workbook 1A and 1B, and Home Instructor’s Guide 1A and 1B. For subsequent children, however, you only need to purchase the workbooks (as long as you don’t write answers in the textbook).

The home instructor’s guide for each level gives  recommended lesson plans, aids for teaching lessons, game ideas to help students, mental math exercises, and an answer key for workbook and textbook problems.

The concept of teaching mental math strategies and methods for doing algebra-type problems without doing actual algebra was new for me. I was taught (to the best of my memory) to write out math problems and figure them out the old fashioned way. I like a good formula, so I can just plug in numbers and get the right answer.

I believe a strength of this program, though, is to teach how the math works, so that it makes sense and can be figured out without just plugging numbers into a formula. The curriculum really builds up the student (and the parent!) to think this way. It was initially a little bit of a learning curve for me, but I have seen the benefit in my kids, as they learned to do this from the get-go. I think they have the ability to do math mentally almost better (if not better!) than I do.

For 7th grade last year, my son used Dimensions Math 7 A & B, a middle school program through Singapore Math. I only purchased the textbooks and the teaching notes & solutions for this. My son and I did fine with this curriculum, but I will explain why I don’t think I will continue to use this.

First of all, the layout of Dimensions Math is completely different than the Primary Math 1-6. This in and of itself wouldn’t be the biggest deal, but Singapore Math only offers math through 8th grade, so at least by 9th grade I’d have to figure out another option anyway and learn a new format.

Second, I also realized that Singapore Math is actually a little advanced. By the time my son completed Dimensions Math 7, he had basically completed a course in Pre-Algebra. I have been told that Dimensions Math 8 is pretty much Algebra 1.

Since I was going to have to find another curriculum for Algebra 1 anyway, I decided to switch over in 8th grade. I was planning on doing Saxon Math, but a friend loaned me the books to look through, and I just couldn’t handle how boring they looked to be honest. I saw in front of me a bunch of black and white text that—if it looked boring to me—I knew would appear boring to my son. But I had heard many good things about how solid Saxon Math was, so I searched the internet for reviews.

In my search I stumbled (providentially!) on to Shormann Math. I was hooked almost immediately. Dr. Shormann is a Christian who is a well-qualified math and science teacher. His passion for both the Gospel and math/science is very evident. He encourages his students to know the Gospel and to pray for God’s help in understanding their schoolwork.

The classes are pre-recorded and can be done at any time within the number of months allotted for the class. He teaches the students on a virtual whiteboard, so the students see him writing out the problems as he teaches. He allows the students to correct math problems and get partial credit on corrected answers. He teaches students how to study for quizzes and exams and how to take notes during class.

So, this year my son is doing Algebra 1 with integrated geometry. He will receive 1 credit for Algebra and a half credit for geometry. When he completes Algebra 2 next year, he will have received 3 math credits—2 for algebra and 1 for geometry. My son has loved his math this year. He has learned note-taking and listening skills that he just wasn’t quite getting under me. I love too that he can listen to another teacher who is passionate about both the Lord and his subject.

The cost for the course is very reasonable, and siblings who take the course in the future receive a discount as well. I have decided—along with input from my upcoming 7th grader—to try Shormann Math for Pre-Algebra next year. My daughter likes to be independent, and she seems excited about trying online learning. I will have to post in the future about how we like that course, but I anticipate it will be a winner, like Algebra 1 has been.

I was a little hesitant about my son’s jumping in to Algebra 1 in 8th grade without a formal Pre-Algebra course. However, he is about ¾ through his Algebra course at the moment, and he is doing extremely well (and enjoying it!). Singapore Math prepared him very well for Algebra, so I am confident in going forward with it with my other kids.

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