Tagged: choosing a math curriculum, Life of Fred, LOF, math mammoth, math on the level, Math U See, RightStart
This topic contains 13 replies, has 11 voices, and was last updated by my3boys 3 years ago.

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Hi everyone, I am so glad you are all here to help me!
I have two kids who struggle in math. We have tried so many math curriculums. Abeka which stunk for everyone, Singapore which was ok, Rod and Staff (awful), currently my oldest is doing teaching textbooks but still needs a lot of help with it.
I was thinking of life of fred or Math mammoth? (hope that is what it is called). Life of fred goes through high school but I don’t think mammoth math does.
Learning times tables is coming slowly with my oldest, and I suspect my daughter (almost 8) has a learning disorder or dyslexia. She can not grasp multidigit subtraction. Which of these curriculums would be best for multidigit subtraction? I am thinking more of my daughter, she is very visual, very creative, and has to “hold” something to count. Is this a bad thing? It’s ok right now, but will she ever learn how to do simple math in her head?
I also have a kiddo starting kindergarten soon and really want to start off on the right foot with math.
Help please! I need reviews, input, guidance before I go plain crazy, LOL. Math is so hard for us.
I have used Math Mammoth for 2nd and 3rd grades. I have since switched my auditory/visual learner to MUS because I found it second hand really cheap. It is a better fit for him, though MM worked ok, too. He also really struggled with multidigit subtraction, which is largely why we did grade 3 MM with him though he is in grade 5 this year. We have read the first of the LofF elementary series. I would not consider LofF stand alone going by this book, however I know some people say it could be. It introduces concepts very well, explains the why and how, but doesn’t offer a lot of practice — only a couple questions per chapter and usually only one per idea. I mean that in Apples they would have Fred add to seven — but that was it, really — just all the combinations that add to 7. Telling time to the hour was discussed at a rate of one hour per chapter. Other things might come in to play through the chapter such as science, geography, astronomy. Rarely was there more than two questions for each of these topics. If this pattern continues through the rest of the elementary series I can’t see it being a full curriculum, but it might help with comprehension. There is nothing to say the parent can’t expand on those questions or to the point that the material is mastered, either through asking similar questions or finding additional worksheets on line to match up with the topics. I think this is just one of the reasons the series is meant to be read to the child by the parent — so the parent has an opportunity to recognize if their child really gets it or needs additional work to go from understanding to mastery.
Your 8 yo is young, so I would not yet panic or decide she has a learning disability just yet. Some times it just needs a chance to really “click”. Have you determined where the problem is? My son does have a mild learning disability which partly figues into his challenges with subtraction. He has difficulty focusing completely and would either subtract the top number from the bottom number instead of regrouping, or add instead of subtract. Part of the solution has been training himself to pay closer attention. Graph paper has helped him considerably in terms of making sure he has his numbers in the correct place value and we are really needing this now with multidigit multiplication. We also found too many questions on a page was visually over whelming to him. You might try cpoying questions onto graph paper in pen no more than three at a time. (Pen makes it easier if she has to erase her pencil mistakes, she’s not erasing the whole question.)
MM is great for mastery, but you might want to consider giving her multidigit subtraction problems at least a coouple times a week even after you think she’s mastered it and moves on. Sometimes the old habits come back and you’re nearly back to square one. I love that MUS has this review built in. No more trying to remember to add in the review.
We used Math Mammoth first grade for awhile, and ending up changing to Math U See (with my dd6). From my experience, Math Mammoth might work well for a child who can work independently or doesn’t need a lot of direction in math. It wasn’t a good fit for us because I found myself needing to supplement with a lot of games and other handson stuff in order to get the addition facts to ‘stick’ for her. I was comfortable doing this for basic addition, but didn’t see it being sustainable for us in the long run, especially when we got into more complicated math concepts that would be difficult for me to try to explain or supplement on my own. Math U See has been a much better fit for us. Using the blocks has been really helpful for my visual, manipulative loving dd and I am seeing real progress with mastering the facts. I also like that between the TM and the DVDs it gives me multiple teaching helps. I had hesitated on MUS in the beginning because of the cost, but it has already proved it’s worth to me. =)
HTH some,
Jen
I posted on the other thread – so went back and cut out my reply. Here is my opinion:
I have 2 daughters who have tried PS math, Abecka, Saxon, Math Mammoth and the Activities for the AL Abacus. We are in the same boat as you, but I finally found what I think is going to work best with all 4 daughters. =)
Math Mammoth will probably not be very effective for your 8yo daughter. It is pretty brief in examples and goes through material very quickly. It drove me nuts trying to help my dd. Worksheets can be added to for more practice but my daughter with some learning issues really struggled with it anyway. It is a good program for kids grade 16 that can grasp math fairly easily I thought.
Then I tried Activities for the AL Abacus, which is like the forerunner of the RightStart program and it just drove her crazy. She had already learned her addition and most of the subtraction facts a different way and it was so frustrating to her. This one drove me nuts as well because the lessons weren’t really divided out into scripts.
I did buy RightStart since I heard so many fabulous things about it before she told me that the abacus was confusing her and making it harder. Well. Okay. =) It is a really strong program, but I needed something less stressing for her since she has learned it differently. Ugh. After completing Level E or G, they recommend movign to VideoText or something for the higher level maths.
Life of Fred I hear is awesome, but most people talk about it being a fun supplement to another practical program. I don’t have any of the books, but I am looking into getting them since I understand that they teach the whys of needing strong math skills. I don’t know if it can stand alone or not.
I let her take the placement tests for several curriculums and she has decided that Math U See is what she can relate to. This program allows her to physically move the numbers (blocks) as she is learning to do it. Math U See also goes through HS levels. It contains DVDs that help explain each concept, is mastery based, and I can reuse it for all my kiddos. =) So we are going to be using this program…
I hope this has been helpful and not more confusing. =)
Thanks everyone for the advice.
I did forget to say that when we first started homeschooling I bought and tried MUS. None of us really liked it or understood it. I feel we are in some kind of a math black hole where nothing is working well for us. *sigh*
I ran across this thread a while ago and am pretty decided on trying Prefessor B with my ds9 who hasn’t done well with math. I haven’t purchased it yet, but throw it out in case it might look like something that would work for you:
http://simplycharlottemason.com/scmforum/topic/professorbmath#post39514
Well, I am partial to RightStart math, and it sounds like your younger daughter would like the handson activities. We have tried Saxon and MUS and they either frustrated my ds or did not make sense to him. The AL abacuse with 5 yellow plus 5 blue beads = 10, made sense to him. We also use base 10 blocks. The RS manipulatives have you use base 10 picture cards, but I had the blocks already, so I figured why not use the real thing. To show multidigit addition in level B, your build the numbers with the blocks, then put them together and trade up. Trade 10 ones for a ten. Trade 10 tens for a hundred and trade 10 hundreds for a thousand. Later, this trading is shown on paper as carrying the 1 to the next place value. But it starts with showing why we start adding multidigit at the ones place and what the carrying means.
Check out the website at http://www.alabacus.com where they have a digital abacus you can try. I also recommend the math card games from RS for all of your kids. But I would not switch your oldest to RS at this point. They have a different way from the start and have a different scope and sequence than other math programs. However, there are transition lessons available that you may want to try for your older child. I recommend starting your younger children in RightStart level B. FYI: The first 23 lessons of 107 total lessons of level B are a review of level A.
I have Life of Fred Fractions and Decimals & Percents and I love to read them myself, but I would consider them a supplement. You can get through a book in a month, or spread it out to once a week.
No matter what math program they use, they should be playing some kind of math game regularly. Joan Cotter, the author of RS, says that games are to math what books are to reading. Can you imagine trying to teach your child to read without using good books for practice? Your children need to practice math with games.
Thanks! I will look at rightstart (it’s pricey though) as well as professor b.
I have not been good at doing math games, but that is changing. I have lots of games in the works for them and I am so excited that it will help!
You might consider looking at Math on the Level as well.
We love the program and it has been very effective for our children, all differently abled and some naturals at math and some not (including me the teacher).
I just posted in brief about our experiences with it on this thread: http://simplycharlottemason.com/scmforum/topic/thoughtsonmathonthelevel
HTH
Sahmamma, I have a daughter who I thought just didn’t “get” math. We tried Abeka, Singapore, Saxon, Modern Curriculum Press, the Key to Series, and back to Saxon. She never did seem to really “get” it. I tried everything with her it seemed. We even backed up to 4th grade math when she was in 6th grade because she wasn’t doing well with fractions. She never did get really comfortable with math, but she did get through it.
Fast forward a few years and this daughter is now 22. Looking back, and after talking to her about it quite extensively, I firmly believe that the real problem in her math was that we weren’t consistent enough with it. I was flirting with the idea of being an unschooler at that time and I also had a real misunderstanding of what Charlotte Mason education was. I gave her way too much freedom with her lessons. I believe that if I would have been more consistent (a steady progression of math every single day, even if only for 10 minutes) she would have been much better off. I was always looking for the *perfect* math curriculum for her. In the end, this only hurt her.
I have no idea whether this is the problem in your family, but I just wanted to throw that out there for you to think about. While I do believe that some math curricula is better than others and that different kids learn differently, I also firmly believe that you can make ANY math curriculum work for you if you take the time to know your child and know how they learn.
pslively…..Thank you for your post. I appreciate your thoughts and have also wondered if my “curriculum hopping” was just making it worse. Just a few weeks ago my oldest son was struggling with some math and said to me “I want to switch to a new program”…UG, knife in mom’s heart. Switching repeatedly can not be the answer. I think I have figured out a plan. I am going to keep the kids on teaching textbooks and if they don’t understand something supplement with games and more lessons and just wait until they get it. I know my daughter is a slow learner. It takes her forever to grasp a concept, but when she gets it, she remembers it forever. Thanks for the feedback.
I used Proffesor B math this year and we liked it a lot. My DD9 was “behind” in math, though it is my fault that she was. She cried every day last year when doing math. Proffesor B changed that and she told me math was her favorite subject. It has a different way of learning/teaching then I was used to, but it worked for her and her 7 year old brother who seems to catch on quicker to it then her.
I used it as a stand alone this year, but am planning on next year using CLE along with it. Mainly to help me teach it clearly to them. The games are simple and what my daughter liked was they didn’t have work sheets every day, although now that we are into multiplication and division they do. I’ve just this week started setting the timer for shorter lessons as my DS7 (just turned 8) has a very difficult time concentrating. I am hoping the shorter lessons will help him.
I was having a hard time deciding on math mammoth or CLE which I have.just read about recently and today I finally asked my DD if she would have an easier time with a mastery approach or spiral and she thought spiral, so I plan on getting CLE and we will try that.
It sounds like many people struggle to find a math that fits for all but like the previous posts I too think you can make any math work if given the right time and patience!
BTW I also use the free Khan Academy to help them also.
Good luck in making your choice!
I
We just recently found Life of Fred after trying Singapore (Math In Focus – too textbooky, too classroomy) and RightStart (too structured and BORING). LOF is LOL! My dd8 LOVES it! She has done at least 5 chapters a day since I gave it to her (in desperation) a few days ago. She loves Fred, loves his story, and really enjoys keeping a notebook of all her work ( LOF is nonconsumable, you use you own paper or notebook to complete the minimal amount of problems. Go to the Polka Dot publishing website and research it. Dr Stan seems like a levelheaded, practical guy. My husband is an engineer and a mathy kind of guy and he thinks LOF will be a fantastic stand alone curriculum, which is what the author intended. We’re in the Apples book right now, and looking forward to going through the 11 elementary books with dd8 at least twice before we move on to Fractions. Hope you find something that fits!
My 9yo struggles with math most of the time as well. We have only used 2 programs and was very consistent with the first one. He loved it, but the concepts were just not sticking outside the context of the lessons. Had I waited (and been more patient with him) we could probably still be using that program and have had some breakthroughs. Fast forward and we did switch programs but mostly to decrease the teacher intensive lessons. He is doing so much better now that we are using MUS, mostly because it does not have a grade level. (I know alot of them don’t have number grades, but levels, but the other program did have #’s on it.) For him, it is more of mastering the concept. We are just now solidifying regrouping and the blocks are a must for him. He has some multiplication understanding and we will hit that starting this coming school year and I have no doubt that he will understand it in time. He is just now recognizing fact families and somewhat memorizing math facts. I’m actually very proud of him for working so hard this past school year.
And, LOF would be perfect for him…I’ve thought of it for him just for fun/reinforcement since he really into stories, etc.
I say all of this to say: Be patient, 8 is very young, take a break for a bit, short lessons, not everyone is great at math, she has other strengths that should be praised (which I’m sure you do), and so on.
And, I can totally relate.
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