Math curricula

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  • 7blessings

    We’ve been Math-U-See die hards for years. I just finished administering the IOWA test to my children (state requirement) and I see huge gaps in the what we’ve taught and what the test is requiring them to have been exposed to. I know, I know, don’t teach to the test, but in states that require testing to be able to homeschool this is a real problem. Can anyone speak to the rigour of Ray’s Arithmetic, Saxon, – any other curricula that I might not know about? I’m beginning a 4th, 2nd and 1st grader. Over the last couple of years we graduated 3 of our children from homeschooling and they scored low on the SAT college exam and I’m beginning a quest for a different math curriculum to try with the rest (I think!).

    Thanks everyone,



    We also have been die-hard MUS from the very beginning 7 yrs ago. But, we have decided to move on. The mastery approach which I love my children do not. They cannot stand the constant repetition. So for my older ones we are moving on to Teaching Textbooks and for the younger ones I am either going to just work on basic math with them till around 5th or I might use Rightstart. I am still looking at it though.

    Can anyone tell me if RS is from a mastery approach or a spiral approach?


    I’ve mentioned this math program in this forum before and I hope it’s OK to do so again. It is quite honestly, one of the most stellar math programs I’ve seen. And it’s available online free! It’s a spiral approach program if that’s what you are interested in. Those of us that use it call it MEP and it can be found here:

    It’s not for the faint of heart though, it promotes an entirely new way of thinking about Math. Not only are my children excelling, but I finally understand Math myself. It is my kids favorite subject! It took me about a month to understand where they were going and now you couldn’t convince me to go back to traditional math (the way I was taught) for anything.

    They have a wonderful yahoo group that can answer all your questions or concerns:

    This was a comment made yesterday on the yahoo group that really says it all “The different ways of tying math to everyday life in an intentional fashion with writing math problems for addition, subtraction, less than, more than and even noting how many less or more a number was from another. Weaving in the mental math and the word problems from the beginning instead of making those things be *their own discipline* and showing the relationship between these things.”

    I included that only to show the value of considering the program. Sometimes the word “free” denotes inferiority, but this program is worth taking time to review. We are blessed because of it.

    There are costs involved, but only in printing out your workbooks & lesson plans. I had mine done by Kinko’s (submitted the files online and I had the books in my mailbox the next day) and it was about $18 a book, printed, bound with vinyl covers!

    Hopefully, someone will find it as beneficial as we have.



    Well, I don’t want to try to convince people to stay with something that isn’t working. But I live in a testing state, and I’ve found that the problems with testing really straighten themselves out by 6th-7th grade. I was able to help matters with a little bit of speed drill, a program called The Mad Minute, and my boys’ test scores improved without my needing to change horses midstream.

    ALSO, about repetition—a mastery-based program has NO unneeded repetition. So if you are using it correctly, there will be none. When the student has truly achieved understanding and mastery, can demonstrate it back to you and do problems correctly, you move on. Period. If you spend twenty minutes on a lesson to get there, you spend twenty minutes. I once had a son do an entire book in four weeks. 🙂 The worksheets are a tool, not the program. If the child does not need the worksheets, he does not do them.

    Just a thought or two!

    Michelle D


    Hi Tonni,

    Thanks for the link for MEP. It looks really interesting. I was trying to look at the Year 7 program though, and I got a bit lost with what you actually use. Are the practice books all that the student use? Do you have to buy them separately? How does it work? Sorry about all the questions.



    Hi Linda. Unfortunately, we’re down in elementary grades and I’m not sure about those upper years. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard the other moms saying at the upper grades, that the student books were actually available online (Year 7 anyway). So the kids could do the work on the PC rather then on paper. Some did on paper, some on PC, some a combination of both. You would need the lesson plans for yourself, unless you wanted to read them online instead of printing them out.

    All the books are in a PDF format, so you could print them at home or take the files on disc to a printer (or email to the printer like I did).

    If you have a chance, I’d recommend joining the yahoo group cause there are ladies with much more experience then I have to help. And there are also extensive help files and placement information for those coming in from different Math programs.

    It’s not necessarily an even 7th grade does Year 7. Because MEP is presented so differently (we had Algebra & Geometry concepts introduced in Year 1), you’ll need to review the lesson plans to see where your DC fit. I think it’s most common to go back a year or two from the child’s grade. The child can then work quickly through concepts they know and pick up new ones they’ll need.

    I wish I knew more about those upper grades, but it is a hot topic right now in the group. Lots of mom’s asking placement questions, I’m sure they could help.

    I hope it works out for you, we sure love it!


    Rachel White

    I have finishing K and 1st graders, so we don’t have testing until the end of 3rd in Ga. However, I have been pleased so far with Developmental Mathematics and Ray’s. DM is mastery which is why I veered towards it. Financially I needed something I could use w/both. DM workbooks are inexpensive and doesn’t require you to purchse mas amounts of extras.

    With my dd, we can do every problem (about half orally) b/c she needs the repetition and my son I skip about half the problems! It’s very incremental and thorough; though no measurement and weight problems. Also, it begins the concept of word problem thinking from the get go. It also lends itself well to manipulatives if you want-we just use an abacus. I read alot about it before choosing due to the fact that I needed something slow and promotes independance in math. Math’s not my strong suit. I would definitely suggest researching into how, by whom and why it was developed.

    I picked Ray’s for a few reasons; to fill in where DM is weak & to stress more oral work to balance the writing of DM, and economically you can’t beat it. I bought the first one used for $5.00 and they both use it (new is $7), and it is used for 3 yrs. (if my memory serves). In additon, Ray’s continue’s to strenthen mental math as well and you can go as fast or slow as you please. Also, it has quite the record of success in our country’s past, without a doubt! One of the first ways those strong basics shine through are in teaching how to actually SPELL the numbers. To be honest I would have never considered teaching that! But it is important, because they’re written all over our society. If you look back over the past in our country at what children used to be able to accomplish (and w/o a calculator!).

    I alternate my days using them. Mon. and Wed. is DM and Tues. and Thurs. is Ray’s. They’re very compatible w/each other.

    Hope this helps,



    We have used Saxon Math from the beginning and really like it. It is a spiral approach so I never need to worry about reteaching forgotten concepts, an important consideration for my eldest as he has special needs and poor memory retention. For him, we make a lesson last two days and it is has lots of built-in repetition for him.

    For my younger son without learning issues, we take a slightly different approach. We do some of the lesson, skipping problems, and sometimes whole lessons so that he is not getting bogged down with repetition he doesn’t need.

    Both of my boys love the hands-on approach and the chance to manipulate and play with a variety of objects.

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