math u see


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    OK, so I got Math U See this year for my kids who struggle with math. My 12 year old just hated it. That’s ok; I’ve found what I think she needs finally. It’s my 9 year old I’m worried about. She had been adding facts (still counting, just VERY fast), adding with carrying and subtracting with borrowing for over a year, but we started with Alpha, and it’s like she didn’t know how to do anything any more!

    So I stopped using it, and she still doesn’t seem to know anything. She said she likes it though. (And my 8 year old likes it and didn’t have much problem.) I thought the “tricks” to help them learn the facts threw them off. My 9 yr old started always putting answers like: 9-5=16 (or maybe 14 sometimes). I think she was trying to use some trick instead of thinking about it.

    Anyway, besides figuring out what to do to bring her out of this, I was wondering if maybe using Math U See just showed me that she didn’t really understand what she had been doing before (why we carry or borrow). Like I said, when she did facts before, she would just count really fast. 

    Should I let her do that? She was so happy doing that. It was very impressive actually. You’d never know she was counting. So should I let her count and eventually, she’ll have them memorized. Or will that never happen if she doesn’t think about it?

    My teen did a lot of memorizing, but it was so easy. My 12 yr old never memorized any, and she has problems with that slowing her down even though she knows most of the facts now.

    Any help would be great-we’re getting desperate!


    I think in the long run that counting instead of memorizing will hinder her. She’s just going to be adding bigger and bigger numbers. Plus when she’s an adult, she will have to do sums in her head sometimes, like at the grocery store.  I would agree with you that it shows she doesn’t really understand what she’s doing.  This is one reason I picked RightStart vs. Math U See. I can tell with my ds that he would be able to do the sums, but really not understand the concepts behind them. I wish I could give you some advice on materials that might help her – games or such. Hopefully someone else will chime in with some ideas :).


    Maybe someone could tell me about Right Start. I’ve never been interested in the abacus, but I admit I haven’t given it a chance in my mind.

    Also, if anyone has used both Right Start and Math U See, what did you like/dislike about each one and how do they compare?

    Ok, RightStart teaches children to use non-counting strategies for computation – to see quantities in groups of fives and tens; also it focuses on teaching tens and ones – ex. if the number is 14, the kids will see it as 1 10 and 4 ones instead of fourteen ones. The abacus is a tool for them to visualize this concept – the beads are in lines of 10, with 5 yellow and 5 blue. So they learn 5 + whatever = 10 very easily. It also shows them how many 10s are in 100. This is from the book, but its a simplified explanation. There are very few worksheets, its mostly playing games and working with the manipulatives (the abacus, place cards, etc.). A lot of people have commented on how teacher-intensive it is, and while this is true, its pretty easy and I like being able to see first hand if my child understands the concept being taught. The lessons aren’t long, either. Hope that helps some.


    Can I jump in on this?  Also interested in Right Start & Math U See.  Someone loaned me Alpha for my 6 yr old to begin – but Singapore went fairly well for my 10 yr old this year & it is much cheaper.  I hear great things about MUS & I thought Right Start looked like it would really be strong – but expensive.  I like the mental aspect of Singapore – I agree that mental math is the way to go in the long term.  I also read that Horizon has an excellent math program???  And…then there is math mammoth – which also looks like a strong program!  I need a strong program that does an excellent job of guiding me to teach them!  I would really love to see the input – math is just way too important to me to not teach it well – but I’m not very strong in upper level maths like Algebra & Calculus – so I really need to help my kids have a good foundation so they can be able to move forward on their own in high school.  I pray to either find a great math teacher or a program that will help them help themselves then! 

    LOL – there ARE a lot of choices for math out there! 🙂

    My children are 15, 13 and 11.  My oldest two used Rod & Staff until 8th grade.  We loved it!  It is very inexpensive and teaches the facts as “fact families”.  It also had plenty of review and drill.  I didn’t typically assign all of the page each day. However, it was great knowing that the drill was there if we needed it.  In the 8th grade (Pre-algebra) we switched to BJU and it has worked very well for us.  We are currently using the pre-algebra and algebra I.  We have already purchased geometry for the older son to use next year.

    My youngest used Rod & Staff through 3rd grade, but really struggled with multiplication facts. She is dyslexic and struggles with memorization.  For her, we have switched to Math U See and it has really helped.

    Also, I think Math U See is a great program if you think like Mr. Demme does.  My younger two children do.  My older son and I do not. I have watched the DVDs and just got confused. However, the younger two children can watch him and it just “clicks”.  I certainly think it depends on how you think and learn.  Smile

    We enjoyed BJUP as well and used it through the early years and then at Algebra changed to Teaching Textbooks though we had the BJUP books as back up so we could see different ways of doing things.  For Geometry we had Jacobs.  My children unfortunately did not get Mr Demme – I think if we had started with him in 1st grade it might have worked, however we did not start homeschooling until 5th grade and the Public School math had really let them down so we had lots of catch up to do – by that time the MUS method just was not a good fit.  I think for any math program you need to figure out if your child is a visual or auditory learner or one of the other types and then look in person at the various curriculums and make a choice that way.  Math programs are expensive and so make for pricey mistakes if we choose the wrong one.  I believe that those early years in math say the first 4 are vital in getting your child on track with math – those basics must be learned so that they can move on to the higher math skills – from personal experience with my daughter’s terrible math programs in PS for the first 5 years, they have never reached their full potential in math – by the time we started homeschooling, they were already hating the subject and had been subjected to different math programs every year, so there was no continuity and it was just a mess.  My advice to anyone would be make sure all the basics are in place before high school, even if it takes repeating a few things, and also be patient with your child to avoid them becoming phobic.  Also, don’t chop and change with the curriculum in those early years, try and make a decision and stick with it, so that there is continuity and then the child’s confidence will grow in the subject.  That is the reason for really checking with friends, or online math program samples before purchasing – math is one subject that needs careful thought and planning, because even if a child has no interest in a career later in life that requires higher math, we all need basic skills for being good consumers.  Blessings, Linda


    I have just borrowed the Beta level TG/dvd from a friend of mine who needed a better foundation for her 3rd grader.  She said it helped immensely.  Well, after looking at the guide…I was confused by the explanations and what the guide was for anyway:)

    I felt I owed the dvd a chance so I watched the intro (had already read it) and the first lesson.  I am going to encourage my 8 yo (9 in July) ds to watch the video also and tell me what he thinks.  I am thinking he is lacking somewhere but don’t know if MUS is where we are going to find the link, kwim?  I did enjoy the video. I think I think like Mr. Demme thinks, but then again I could probably use any math program, I’m not a math wizard by any stretch of the imagination, but I get what the programs are trying to say.  But, that’s not what is important to me…what’s important is will I be able to convey that to my child in the way he understands it and feels confident in his skills.  So, I’m going to see if Mr. Demme can explain it in a way that my ds can understand:)  If not, then it’s back to Saxon which is what he prefers anyway.

    My son does have some foundational skills missing (or I just think he does) so I have been trying new programs, researching here and there.  He ends up telling me that he just likes Saxon better…but, I still feel he is missing something, maybe I’m wrong and it’s just his timing of things.  He is not a slow learner, but really needs to take things slow, digest for awhile then he is able to move on.  I’m rambling now.

    One thing I can see, is that the explanation of ‘place value’ in the first lesson may really help him and I’m hoping that will build part of the foundation that may be missing.  I have been trying to explain the concept, but he just looks at me with his sweet eyes like I’m an alien.  I do a pretty good job with my explanations, charades and all, but maybe Mr. Demme is not quite as wordy.  We’ll see.

    I’ll let you all know later what he thinks…I can already hear his little voice and probably tell you right now what it will be, but I still want to give it a try:)

    Place Value messes a lot of kids up, and that is another piece that a child really must know and know well.  If he is really enjoying Saxon my inclination would be to leave him with that program and just reinforce some of the areas where he may have a weakness.  Linda


    Oh my!  So many choices for math – and I know I have to pick what is good for my child – but you are right Linda – math programs are expensive.  Singapore was so inexpensive & had such great reviews – but I did not realize that the manipulatives would have really improved this program for me.  Maybe – since it is going well – I should stick with it & try to add the manipulatives – since I already have tb’s & even some wb’s for my 6 yr ds to pick up after my 10 yr ds has used them.  He says he hates math & wants something else – but on the other hand – like you also said Linda – he came from public school. He was in ps from k-3rd & I am shocked @ how behind our school is – I moved to a smaller district from a larger district when my now 17 yr old was in 4th grade.  He had a great foundation from a much better school & has soared through school – he is in the top 10.  My 10 yr old was doing very well too – but I was stunned to see where they were compared to where my older son was at that age.  This – and many others – are the reasons we decided to homeschool. 

    I think my biggest concern with math u see is that I think from what I’ve read – it teaches very well – but it does not focus on mental math – and I know in life – I have been forced to learn mental math just to keep up – something my public school also did not focus on.  But – on the other hand – maybe it teaches in a way that many understand so well – that this naturally happens.  I don’t know – but all of these great math programs seem to be overwhelming me.  I guess – largely because I am struggling with what kind of learner he is.  My 6 yr old – with no formal math program having been taught – is already doing math that he was doing in 2nd grade in her head.  She just walks up & says “Mom – 8+8=16” and she is so excited.  Other than MFW K math, which was very basic, counting sticks – calendars, etc., I printed some fun domino math sheets & put them in sheet protectors.  She played with them twice & now she never picks them up – but she runs around the house & will randomly stop & give an addition fact.  I am so glad I am not sending her to public school – I remember my boys being so able to think through things like that – and it seems like school literally stifled their own ability to problem solve on their own!


    For fact memorization, Rapid Recall by Little Giant Steps is what has finally worked for my dd and we tried so many diff. things. For a curr. I like Ray’s Arithmetic.


    We are using MUS and love it.  I have DD7 in Alpha and DD5 who has completed the Primer and started the Alpha.  I think the tricks that are taught help them get going and when maybe they forgot for some reason.  I allow my DD to use the blocks for regular assignments, but when we get to the test I don’t allow blocks at all, except for solving for the unknown.  I don’t give the test until I know that she can do it.  I have made 2 sets of flash cards, one with the answer (3+2=5) and one without the answer (3+2=)  and we go over these everyday for which ever facts she is working on.  I usually start the with the first 4 or 5 and once she can answer all of them without doing the ones with answers first then we add the rest.  I have her read the cards with the answer and go through them 3 times and then read and answer the ones without the answer one time.  They know their facts and then have the tricks if they ever need them.  The tricks don’t seem to handicap them but make them think it through and why if they get stumped for some reason.

    Just a plug for RightStart – it teaches place value from the beginning and very well. This is a core concept of the program.


    Update on my 8yo:

    He enjoyed the video and understood the explanation of ‘place value’.  I reminded him of our conversations and it clicked when he saw the video, whew!  He did watch part of the second lesson and played with some of our blocks at the same time.  He was concerned that he wouldn’t be able to use the Saxon, so I reassured him that we can, but if he is having trouble understanding a concept (or I’m having trouble explaining it further) then we’ll use something else (maybe the MUS video) for a different explanation.  He was fine with that. 

    BTW, I plan to use RS with my 5yo (6 in late Nov.).  Can’t really say that I don’t like Saxon or that he won’t like it, but I’d just like to try something else.  We’ve been using Saxon for about 4-5 years (12 still uses it), but I’m comfortable with the change.  Plus, I think my 5yo will like it and my 8yo can tag along playing games, etc. with him.

    It’s nice to be able to ‘pull’ favorites or explanations from one curriculum to better enhance another, which is what I feel I have done (or have had to do at times).  My oldest needed a little more in the fractions dept. awhile back and MM was great for that, but the level 2 MM did not seem to work for my 8yo.  The MUS’s explanation was great for him, but he’s real hesitant to give up his ‘meeting strip/coin cup’ from the Saxon.   He likes their worksheets and wants to ‘see’ the worksheets from MUS before he makes a decision on the matter.  I generated him some from the site, but he hasn’t used them yet.  I’m just glad to have options and to be able to use them if/when necessary:) 

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