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Self-Paced Math... is Math-U-See the Winner?

By Heather Idoni

Added Monday, September 10, 2007

The Homeschooler's Notebook
Encouragement and Advice for Homeschool Families
Vol. 8 No 70 September 10, 2007
ISSN: 1536-2035
Copyright (c) 2007 - Heather Idoni, FamilyClassroom.net

Welcome to the Homeschooler's Notebook!

If you like this newsletter, please recommend it to a friend!
And please visit our sponsors! They make it possible. :-)




Notes from Heather
-- Accelerated Feedback
Helpful Tips
-- Scouting for Scholarships
Resource Review
-- 25 FREE Gifts!
Reader Question
-- Self-Paced Math Programs
Additional Notes
-- Searchable Archive
-- Our Email Group
-- Sponsorship Information
-- Reprint Information
-- Subscriber Information

Notes from Heather

I so appreciate hearing from our readers! It is just the encour-
agement I need to keep on keeping on. ;-) I love knowing you are
all out there and whether what I 'gather' for you is hitting the
mark! Here is some feedback I received over the weekend...


On accelerated learning --

"Heather -- I am a much older homeschooling mom, in my mid 40s,
with an almost 20-year old who was brain injured as a toddler
and is working between the 5th and 7th grade levels, plus another
child, age 10, who is working at the 6th grade level. Years ago
I read many articles by Joyce Swann. She homeschooled her 10
children and each one entered college in his/her early teens.
Here is a link to a very brief summary of what she did (usually
termed *accelerated learning*):


While my older child obviously didn't enter college in his early
teens (!!) and while he obviously struggles greatly with learning
issues, I have followed the principles she outlines and find them
to be very beneficial. Just as Mrs. Harding mentioned, early
college isn't the point at all; educating the child is the point.
I feel my son has reached much higher learning levels than he
would have otherwise, had I not applied Mrs. Swann's principles.

If you are interested, you can find other articles written by
Mrs. Swann (and two of her children) here:


Thanks for the great newsletter! Even with 15+ years' homeschool-
ing experiences, I still find many wonderful ideas, suggestions,
considerations, materials, etc. in it.

Keep up the EXCELLENT work!

Jennifer R.

[Editor's note: If Jennifer is "much older" then I am joining
the ranks, too! I turn 43 this month. :-) One day I feel young
again (being suddenly pregnant after a 7 year gap!)... and the
next day I feel equally OLD -- for the same reason. Hehe!]


And here is more reader appreciation for the reprint of Lynn
Hogan's article in the 8/31 issue:

"Heather -- the article on homeschooling (by Lynn, 2 years ago)
was just what I needed! Sometimes I feel like I'm failing, but
I just keep going. Because I have one child that is having a
hard time learning, the other seems to get held behind. She does
good work on her own, so I know she's where she needs to be, I
hope. Again, thanks!" -- Jan in Missouri


Do you have comments to share? Please do!

Send your emails to: heather@familyclassroom.net


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Helpful Tip

Scouting for Scholarships

"My son started Cub Scouts before we began home schooling, so we
have continued with Boy Scouts and my youngest will start Cub
Scouts this year. One of the main reasons I want to continue with
scouts is that each of our troop boys that have attained their
Eagle Scout has received a full scholarship from the college of
their choice."
-- Lesa W., contributing member of our HomeschoolingBOYS.com group


Do you have an idea, experience, or tip to share? Please write!
Send to: HN-ideas@familyclassroom.net

Resource Review

Old Schoolhouse Magazine - 25 FREE Gifts with a 1-year subscription

Well, they have done it again! This time Old Schoolhouse magazine
is offering 25 free gifts (valued at almost $400!) just for trying
a year's subscription.

These 2 testimonials say it all:

"I love this magazine! I've read a lot of different homeschool
magazines to get ideas, hear about curriculum, stay on top of what's
happening, etc., but this is the first one that I've read cover to
cover, I mean every page, and I keep finding myself going back and
reading it again. I will be telling everyone about this magazine
and why they absolutely must subscribe to it." -- Sonya Tebo

"Other homeschool magazines have always left me with the feeling
that I didn't measure up. You know, the stories where all the
children in the family are working way beyond grade level, the house
is always clean, and the schoolwork is always finished, the children
don't argue, etc. I hope you know what I mean. Thank you for being
willing to share the downside of your lives, as well as the upside!"
-- Julie DeKorne

I am not one for writing reviews, but Cindy is off this week and I
got Old Schoolhouse's new deal in my email box -- so I thought I'd
let my readers be the first in on it! :-)

Old Schoolhouse Magazine is one of only TWO homeschool magazines I
ever even open to read. (And believe me, being a business owner I
am sent everything out there, because the publishers hope to get me
to advertise with them!) I highly recommend this one homeschool
magazine, sometimes referred to as "THE" Homeschool Magazine for all
the reasons given above and more.

Click the link below to find out how to get YOUR 25 free gifts!


-- Heather

Last Issue's Reader Question

"I have 2 sons that seem pretty gifted in math. The oldest is just
now in Kindergarten, and the younger is only 3. The math curriculum
we have been using for the last 6 months (with the older son) is slow
and requires a lot of steps; yet I'm afraid to skip ahead and miss
something. Does anyone have a good recommendation of a self-paced
math program that starts as young as Kindergarten or first grade?"
-- Diana

Our Readers' Responses

[Just for the record, Diana, 5 of our 12 responders recommended
Math-U-See for a self-paced curriculum! -- Heather]


"I really like Math-U-See - http://mathusee.com - Each lesson has 6
worksheets -- 3 for that day's lessons and 3 that review both that
day's lessons and the lessons that came before, then a one-page test.
It's very flexible in that if your child gets the concept easily,
one worksheet may be all he needs and he can move on, but there are
more pages just in case he needs to work on it some more before he
understands. And it comes with videos where the teacher explains
each lesson (usually less than 5 minutes per lesson). I like this
program because each lesson builds on the one before and it works
well for both the slow learner and the fast learner." -- Jennifer


"Oh, Diana, please don't worry about structured math programs at
such young ages for your boys. For a self-paced math program, let
them play with money, tape measures and rulers, thermometers, calen-
dar pages, scales, measuring cups and spoons -- anything in real life
that uses numbers. Play games with them which involve counting or
money. When my son was small, he would bring me a dollar and ask for
dimes; or a quarter and ask for nickels. I spent all day exchanging
money with him. We counted everything we could; we recorded the out-
door temperature on the calendar; we played card games such as War;
we would look at the calendar and figure how many days until a certain
event; we measured, we weighed -- everything was an issue with numbers.
When I determined that he was ready for a structured math course, he
started at the 4th grade level. I might also mention that we tried
several different math curricula and have found Developmental Math to
suit our needs very well. It is no frills, almost self-taught, very
self-paced, and inexpensive. It does not include a lot of drill work,
and at times we have to supplement when we need some extra practice."
-- Mary Beth


"My 6 year old is the same way. We did kindergarten with no tradi-
tional curriculum and I printed out custom math sheets from
www.homeschoolmath.net . It's completely free and customizable. You
can print randomly generated math sheets (you set the parameters) for
everything ranging from basic addition and subtraction to clocks,
fractions, and decimals! By this summer he was doing triple digit
multiplication, addition with 4 digits & addends and carrying over,
subtraction with borrowing across zeros, and could tell time down to
the 5 minute mark! We got a 2nd grade Abeka math book for this school
year and it is way TOO EASY for him, so I'm just letting him work
ahead at his own pace. I'm also going to have him start doing one
page a day from the homeschoolmath.net site so he doesn't lose what
he has already learned while waiting for his actual books to catch up
to where he is. We will be starting our 4 year old on this program
very soon also and I'm expecting the same results. Not because he is
a little math genius, but because you can concentrate on one area at a
time and have the freedom not to move on till he is ready." -- Jennifer


"I found Math-U-See a great way to start my kids when they were young
with K-2 math. The sets are affordable and it is easy to follow."


"My oldest son has always picked up math quite easily, pretty much
doing it on his own with no lesson or text book -- only a little help
here and there. With both our sons, we have been using Singapore Math
3rd Edition (K-6). He is currently in Grade 5 and looking to finish
level 6 Singapore around Christmas. He moved through at his own pace.
I like that there is a teacher's guide/solutions manual because I have
now started doing short lessons with him. There is enough balance
between new and review. You can see samples and topics covered as well
as placement tests at www.singaporemath.com . They also have supple-
mentary material as well. We will be continuing on with their New
Elementary Math (7-10), but haven't used it yet." Dawn in BC, Canada


"I'd suggest either Right Start Math, http://www.alabacus.com or
Math U See http://www.mathusee.com/ . Both are excellent programs."


"My son is 13 but it seems to me this suggestion would work for any
age. I allow him to go straight to the chapter test anytime he thinks
he might be ready. If he passes, we move directly on to the next chap-
ter. If he fails, no big deal, we can go back and do the exercises.
Actually I don't just allow this, I encourage it because I am in as
much of a hurry as he is to get through the book and be done with math
for another year." -- Rick M.


"I do not have a suggestion on a curriculum that is self-paced, but
want to encourage you to 'go with the flow' with your child's interest
and abilities in Math. When my son, now in 5th grade, was in Kinder-
garten, he asked one day in the third or fourth week of school if he
could do an extra math page. I said that would be fine. He asked if
he could do another and another. That day he finished about 20 pages
of Math. The next day he finished even more pages and the day after
that he finished his Kindergarten Math Curriculum. When my husband
came home that day I told him what had happened and asked him, 'What
do I do now?!' He said, 'Keep him busy with something that we have to
supplement his math or let him get on the computer and play math games
and order 1st Grade!" So he finished K Math and 1st grade math in one

Last year he got stuck on fractions. He was very frustrated with him-
self. I told him this is why we homeschool -- so that when you under-
stand things and want to zoom ahead you can; and when you get stuck we
can slow down and get out more manipulatives and games and go over the
topic in different ways until you get it. It doesn't matter how long
it takes.

Don't be stressed by thinking he is missing something. Maybe you can
use the curriculum you have but make it work for you. Maybe you could
skip ahead 10 lessons and give him a section test. If he passes that
skip some more and give him another test. When he gets to a place
where he gets a lower percent right than you want, then start him there!

Maybe you need a new curriculum; I don't know what you are using.
Maybe you just need the confidence to do what you think is best for
your child with the curriculum you already have." -- Debbie P.


"You might consider the 'Keys To' program. Each math topic is a separ-
ate set of workbooks. The child can move along at his/her own pace.
They are also inexpensive for each set." -- Debra in FL


"We have just started using Math-U-See and it is all self paced. You
move ahead as soon as the child masters the step and that is demon-
strated when they can teach it back to you. It is perfect for all
learning styles because of the manipulatives and the video instruction
together. I was concerned about the video idea because I dread those,
but it is so helpful! My daughter who hated math a year ago loves it
now! There is a workbook and teacher (parent) guide. You can keep
moving up when your child is ready for that. It's very easy to follow
and teach. I love the video because Steve Demme (the creator of the
program) explains the concept clearly. My daughter likes to watch it
with me then we try the concept (ie. adding, fractions, etc.) by using
the manipulatives. It is different from other programs and you can
get a trial DVD for free to see how it would work for you."
-- Michelle in OR


"I would recommend 'playing' math for a while. Bake with your kids
and double recipes and really measure out 1/4 + 1/4 = 1/2. Count
things and add and subtract and group things while they play. Don't
force it. It sounds like your boys probably are good at math because
they like it. I would recommend against too much paper work, especi-
ally for boys.

That being said, I recommend the Miquon math program.

We really love this program. I started it with my daughter in first
grade. She really gets the concepts as explained, including division,
and she is 7. I don't want you to get turned off but this program is
different. The work book pages are called 'lab sheets' and they are
designed for your child to explore. You use Cuisenaire Rods, which
will reinforce and even help teach the concepts in the book. We
started 'playing' with the Cuisenaire rods for awhile before starting
the program. The rods vary in size starting with a 1 cm cube and
working up to a 10 x 1 cm rod, gaining length in 1 cm increments.
Each size has its own color. This fails to describe how useful they
are when teaching math!

The program starts with counting and progresses through addition,
subtraction, multiplication, division, greater than/less than, telling
time, and measurements. The way the problems are grouped connect
interrelated math concepts. For example, there are pages that compare
addition and multiplication and show how they are related. The 'lab
sheets' don't always have directions. We did get the lab notes with
it, and once in a while need to look up a lab sheet. The first couple
of pages in the first book look very confusing, but they are counting
pages with unique shapes on them. After that most pages are self-
explanatory. The program is creative without sacrificing proper math.
Processes are emphasized, but not to the exclusion of getting the
answers correct. If you are looking for big work sheets, timed math
tests and emphasis on memorization, this is NOT the program for you.
If you are looking for math for your boys to understand but not do
lots of drills, and a program with manipulatives that are fun to play
with, this could be the one." -- VW in MA


"Math U See is an excellent program. There are 30 lessons per book.
You work on each lesson until the child has mastered it (can teach it
back to you). Some lessons my sons get through in 2 days, others in
2 weeks. The course is focused on mastery, not just doing worksheets.
You can order a free demo from their website. www.mathusee.com
Good luck." -- Beth

Answer our NEW Question

"Do your readers have a suggestion for a chemistry website or two
which could help a learning disabled student learn this subject
with some ease? -- Judy L.


Do you have a suggestion for Judy?

Please send your answer to: HN-answers@familyclassroom.net

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Send it to HN-questions@familyclassroom.net and we'll see
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