Topic | A couple Math U See Questions

This topic contains 13 replies, has 10 voices, and was last updated by  Sue 3 years, 8 months ago.

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  • MamaSnow

    I am thinking about the possibility of switching dd6 over to Math U See. We are currently using Math Mammoth Grade 1 and supplementing with the Right Start Games. It is working OK for us, but I am feeling like I’m having to tweak and supplement more than I should. I am concerned that this won’t be sustainable in the long run once my younger 2 reach school age, and I’m also sort of feeling that the linear, mastery approach of MUS will be better for my dd in the long run. But, I do have a few questions/concerns that have kept me from seriously considering MUS in the past:

    – Are the DVDs totally necessary/integral to the program? Or is it possible to use them more as a reference if needed? Or is it possible to skip them all together? (I feel pretty confident teaching math)

    – Is the cost (+ cost of international shipping in my case – we are missionaries overseas) really worth it? If you were moving overseas and could only take a certain amount of homeschooling stuff with you would it make your top-5-priority-couldn’t-homeschool-without-it list?

    – For those of you teaching multiple children: is the amount of preparation and teacher intensity reasonable?

    – Is there anyone who has used MUS and didn’t really like it? If so, why? I’ve mostly only seen positive reviews of it…curious to know if/why there is anyone on the other side.




    Hi Jen, we love MUS. With my ds, who are now 14 and 11, I did not use a math curriculum until they were in 4th grade. I came up with math challenges for them, played store, etc. Then when my oldest was in 4th grade I tried a few math programs which killed the love for math. After about 2 years we switched to MUS and the love came back. With my youngest, now 7 I started with Alpha this year and like the teaching, but wish there were more practice of some of the problems. She does not like playing games, but loves workbooks so I print extra worksheets off of the MUS website. I feel very comfortable teaching math and have not used the DVD;s until this year with Algebra and I have only used it a couple of times to clarify the method to teach a concept.

    Hope this helps.


    Well, the techniques used in MUS are not exactly the same as most of us learned previously.  I think you’d need to see even if only briefly how Steve Demme approaches the material.  And anyway, the DVD is packaged with the TM.  I watch the DVD regularly and would have had no idea how to teach, for example, his approach to multiplying fractions or factoring binomials or whatever.  If you are starting young, you are going to need to knwo what Decimal Street means when that pops up.  I personally can’t imagine not watching the DVD.

    Well, it would have to make my personal list.  We’ve used it for 12 years now–it’s the first homeschool purchase I made and the only thing I’ve never changed. 

    I have had 3 children in the program at once and I felt the teacher prep was very reasonable.  My kids were almost always in various parts of lessons–one might be ready for the new video, one might be doing worksheets, one might need me to practice a concept with the manipulatives with them.  The first few days of a lesson are the more teacher-intensive parts.  I myself think that there are PLENTY of worksheets–I can’t think of a time when we’ve actually even used them all.  They are just the “see, mom, I get it” part of the lesson, after the child has already mastered the material demonstrating the concept with the manipulatives. 

    I also love that the only part I need to replace each year is the student workbook.  I have a whole “library” now all the way through Calculus and all I need to do is buy the student book and we’re all set.  I do run into lots of people online who don’t like it as well–are you on the MUS email list?  That might be another good place to get more information while you decide if it’s worth the money.


    Jen,  I recently did a review of MUS for a local homeschooling friend who was looking at MUS vs. Saxon.   Here was that review from my perspective…


    We’ve been using MUS nearly 2 years at multiple levels and love it!  

    Yes, Saxon and MUS are different in their approach.  MUS takes a mastery approach in that your student really shouldn’t move on until they’ve mastered the concept.  Saxon is considered a spiral approach, where they introduce a topic, then keep spiraling back to build on it.  I have Saxon and we’ve tried it at the older levels for periods of time, but never completely through any grade level.  I’ve spent much time looking at the younger levels and they look good, but very teacher intensive.  Once you get on to MUS, there is very little prep. 

    Here’s the intended way of teaching MUS…

    There is a DVD, where creator Steve Demme teaches the new concept at the beginning of the lesson to the parent, these are approx. 5 minute segments.  Then the parent teaches the lesson to their student.  Then there are 3 practice pages for the student and 3 review pages for the student (use 1 per day as needed).  If the student gets it, there is no need to complete all 3 practice pages, unless you have an OCD child like me who can’t leave any blank workbook pages ๐Ÿ˜‰  Once the child masters the lesson and completes the review, there is a test.  Then you move on to the next lesson.  All the levels we’ve done so far have 30 lessons.  

    I am currently homeschooling 3 kids at 3 levels and find it very managable.  Here’s how I teach MUS….

    Ruben (K-1st – Primer) – each day he completes workbook pages with my guidance

    RileyAnn (2nd – Beta) – Day 1 she and I watch the DVD together, then I watch her do a few problems to make sure she gets it  Day 2 & 3 she completes practice pages typically on her own (she’s my OCD girl and can’t get enough workbooks) Day 4-6 she completes review pages again, on her own Day 7 she takes the test

    Angel (10th – Algebra 1) – Day 1 she watches the DVD on her own and completes practice page, we correct together, if she has 1 wrong or less, she moves onto review pages, if more than 1 wrong, she completes more practice pages      Day 5 she takes the test

    So as you can see from our random schedule, MUS has given our family the flexibility to meet each child where they’re at.  Because MUS teaches math differently and our older daughter struggles with math.  We did put her back a year when starting the program.  We were previously using A Beka math and she completed pre-algebra in 8th grade, but when we switched to MUS in 9th grade I had her redo pre-algebra with no regrets.  It helped her understand the MUS style of teaching and seems to be working for her.  We’ve finally found a program she likes, well……as much as she can like math ๐Ÿ˜‰

    MUS has a different system since it’s mastery, the program is really not graded as in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc.  They use the Greek alphabet for the different levels and the focus of each level is as follows…

    Primer – Having fun introducing math

    Alpha – Single digit addition and subtraction

    Beta – Multiple digit addition and subtraction

    Gamma – Single & multiple digit multiplication

    Delta – Single & multiple digit division

    Epsilon – Fractions

    Zeta – Decimals & percents

    Pre-Algebra – Prerequisite: Student should have mastered basic operations, fractions, decimals, and percents

    Algebra 1 – Prerequisite: Student should have completed pre-algebra

    Geometry – Prerequisite: Student should have completed algebra 1

    Algebra 2 – Prerequisite: Student should have completed algebra 1

    PreCalculus – Prerequisite: Student should have completed algebra 1, geometry, and algebra 2

    Stewardship – A christian approach to personal finance

    Honors Books – extra credit, enrichment, or challenge for Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 (we use these are review with our older daughter)

    I’m not sure where your daughter’s at with basic operations of add, subtract, multiply, and divide, but I’m thinking if it were my child and they were average, I’d place them in Alpha.  This may be review, however, since you’re starting a new program, you want to make sure the child has an understanding of how it works and the basic fundamentals.  You could always skip the extra practice pages and finish the book sooner.  It’s much easier to back up in the early grades than to wait until there’s problems in high school.  I have learned this from experience. There are placement/assessment tests here for MUS…

    I would also check out/play around on the MUS website at  They have newsletters, a blog, worksheet generators, etc.  Last year, when Angel was struggling with a new concept, I called and she was able to speak with a MUS expert who walked her through it over the phone and helped her understand.  I’ve found them to be a very good and reputable company.  

    We’ve tried many math programs including A Beka, Teaching Textbooks, Saxon, Math Lessons for a Living Education, etc.  My kids enjoy MUS best of all, I feel they are getting a good foundation in math, and for us it’s worth the cost.  Bookworm brings up a good point, in that if you have younger children, you will only need to replace the workbook.  MUS is a very popular program and you can often times borrow or find it used, though it does retain its value.  We’ve been fortunate to borrow the older high school levels and each year we’re purchasing one of the younger levels for our 8 year old that can be passed down to the younger children. 

    I hope this isn’t too lengthy.  Please let me know if you have further questions.  





    Nothing to add exept we love MUS, too. Like Bookworm, it’s the only program that I started from the start and haven’t switched (except Handwriting Without Tears workbooks).  The dvd’s make it very simple….I just watch w/my kids, help them with the first few problems on the new lesson, and then they’re pretty much independent the rest of the lesson.  I don’t really use the teacher manual…except for grading, since the dvd explains so well. We don’t do all the pages if they get it….so it leaves plenty of time to get through a book per year w/o feeling pressured.   We’ve used it in K-6th so far. HTH some:)  Gina


    I also would take mus without a doubt. This is the one program that as a math person at heart I wouldn’t do without. Math is huge in our house and mastery is very important. this program is great. The workbook and worksheet generator online is more than I could ask for. I would not do without this one. I know I have 5 kids using it right now and it’s spending (and I am just buying the workbooks for the most part) but so worth it.


    I’d like to chime in with a question or two as well.  My oldest is about to start Algebra I and this is our first time using MUS.  Am I correct in assuming (from reading previous posts) that she could just watch the dvd herself and then go through the instruction manual for the lesson on her own?  She is very independent and doesn’t like to have me doing math along with her, just asks if she “doesn’t get” something.

    Also, my other daughter is nearly ready to start the Delta book (division).  Should I absolutely wait until she has her multiplication facts down pat before starting it?  She understands the concept of multiplication, so maybe I should just have her work on a few worksheets for mult-digit practice while she’s still memorizing the facts.  Like tiffgriffin, my daughter just loved math until we encountered a couple of math programs that weren’t a good fit for her.

    Finally, I am looking to buy a used set of the basic manipulative blocks that are used for all MUS levels up to Algebra I.  (We already have the decimal inserts.)  I keep seeing things like “Math-U-See Completer Set” on eBay and Homeschool Classifieds.  Is that the same thing, or are they talking about something else?  From the descriptions and pictures, it looks like it is probably the same thing, but I want to be sure I get what I really need.


    Well, I watch the upper-level videos with my children.  I also go over the lesson material with them until I am sure they have it down.  Unless you are really, really good not only at math but at the way Steve Demme teaches it, you are going to encounter problems where she doesn’t know what to do or doesn’t know why she got it wrong and if YOU have no clue either, it’s going to be harder to address it.  We do a lot less practice out of the TM with blocks, obviously, for the upper levels, but still, I watch right along and do everything I can to stay right up there with them.  And for me, that’s a struggle since I get lost somewhere around the end of Algebra II.  I have one in precalc right now, and one in Zeta. 

    I do want to note that the upper levels are NOT all the same as the younger ones.  They do NOT all have 30 lessons and they do not always keep with the “three practice sheets, three systematic review” system. 

    About Delta.  She is going to need to work on the division facts when she starts it.  I’d make sure she pretty much has the multiplication down first.  It’ll be hard to be trying to do BOTH at once, I would think. 

    The Completer Set used to be sold alongside what was the basic block set.  It was a set to bring you up to a certain number of blocks–I think so that you could make the entire “clock” out of blocks?  I never bought it, I’ve been just fine with the basic set all these years.  So it won’t be quite the same thing–it’s the manipulatives and you could probably  MAKE it work but you might sometimes be frustrated at the numbers of the blocks since this set isn’t designed to stand on its own, but to complement another.


    Thanks for this discussion, ladies.  I am pretty much settled on starting MUS pre algebra next year with my daughter who just finished Math Mammoth 6th grade level. I think I will set Math Mammoth aside for my just-turned-8yo ds as well, he finished the 2nd grade section this year and is learning his mult tables now…he is reading at more of a 1st grade level, but ready to move on to what I think of as 3rd grade math (he can do multi digit adding and subtracting with regrouping – what I call borrowing and carrying LOL – and wants to learn multiplication).  I have been helping him to read the instructions and we read together and talk through word problems… I was hoping that the dvd lesson would be good for a struggling reader. He will be in gamma…


    “- Are the DVDs totally necessary/integral to the program? Or is it possible to use them more as a reference if needed? Or is possibleto skip them all together? (I feel pretty confident teaching math)”

    Yes, the DVD is necessary. Believe me you will be glad to have Mr. Demme in your home

    “- Is the cost (+ cost of international shipping in my case – we are missionaries overseas) really worth it? If you were moving overseas

    and could only take a certain amount of homeschooling stuff with you would it make your top-5-priority-couldn’t-homeschool-without-it


    Yes, the cost is worth it. It is deffinately top priority. It is one of the only cirr. I have used from the beginning.

    “- For those of you teaching multiple children: is the amount of preparation and teacher intensity reasonable?”

    I teach 3 children all different levels, and it is very easy to get done. Very little prep ( I say none at all). Watch the DVD then do the lesson.

    Now to Sue-

    Concerning your dd that you want to put into Delta. If she does not know her multiplication fact really well and does not feel very comfortable with multiple didgit multiplication, I would not put her in Delta. I would start in Gamma, and move through it quickly if need be. You do not want her doing long division without being really really comfortable with multiplication jmo.





    I have a little different perspective, I’m sure the DVDs are helpful, but I don’t always have them since I buy used and if I find a teachers manual for cheap, I buy it without the DVD.  There are times I wished I had them, but we’ve been able to figure it out from the manual.  One of my children watched the DVDs and the other doesn’t need to.  I’m sure the upper levels are when the DVDs are really helpful but I think your child’s age isn’t necessary. I also would make it my top 5 things to bring, it’s the only thing I actually spend money on right now.  You can also save money buy using dry erase markers/overhead sheets and re-using the student workbooks for each child. 

    As for amount of teacher prep/instruction, I researched a lot of math programs before we started, and I just really liked that it is low teacher prep (although sometimes I have to learn his way, which actually makes sense compared to the way I learned it in school which didn’t make sense!), and if you do use the DVDs you don’t have too much instruction either. 

    Maybe look on ebay, I’ve found great deals there too, and don’t know how the shipping would compare to buying it straight from Math U See.  Do you have friends/family members here in the US that could maybe buy them off ebay/homeschool, etc. and either hold them for you if you are ever back here, or mail them media mail to you?  I’m ignorant on overseas shipping, so maybe that wouldn’t help at all. 


    THanks for all the great info everyone. I will have to think/pray on it some more and talk with dh about what he thinks, but this is all really helpful as we work through what we want to do. I would probably start dd in Alpha – we have done addition and she understands the concept, but doesn’t have her facts down yet, and we haven’t done subtraction at all. She’s doing well with what we’re doing now, so it’s not a huge immediate problem, but the further we get in to the Math Mammoth book the more unsure I am that it is going to work for us in the long run. I’d rather switch sooner rather than run into problems later, as many of you who started out with other programs have mentioned.

    Oh and international postage: it’s just a lot of money no matter how you do it. Unfortunate but true aspect of our lives, sigh. Does make you think twice about what you get before clicking that purchase button, though!

    Thanks all,



    I haven’t read every post in detail, so forgive me if this has been mentioned!  But there’s a MUS yahoo swap group…you could post what you’re looking for and might be able to find something used that way.  HTH some:)  Gina


    Thanks for the tip, Gina.  I’ll have to check out the group.  All I need right now is the manipulatives starter set.

    About starting my daughter with Gamma, I think that would be spending too much money, imo.  She understands the concept of multiplication and can complete multi-digit multiplication problems, she just doesn’t have all of her multiplication tables memorized or is slow with some of them.  I’ve been having her work primarily on that each day and playing online multiplication games, but it’s taking a little time.  I think it would take longer to go through Gamma altogether.

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