Topic | Math-U-See vs. Teaching Textbooks vs. Saxon

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  • First of all, sorry to everyone about the confusing topic title! 

    Our family is new to homeschooling this year (and CM) and would love some advice/input/wisdom on math curriculums… 

    I have done research on MUS, Teaching Textbooks and Saxon.  My kids are pretty good in math but I wouldn’t say it is their strong-suit (basically, I believe they understand the concepts enough to get correct answers in their grade/learning levels, but maybe not to the point of “really” getting it). 

    MUS seems a great way to learn math (and really get it) but I want to make sure that all the bases are covered for ACT’s and SAT’s in the future. 

    Teaching Textbooks has come highly recommended by some moms in our homeschool group.  We’ve looked at it, done sample lessons and think it’s equally as helpful as MUS.  But I have the same concerns as MUS.

    Saxon scares me, plain and simple. Math is not and never has been my strong suit so I am hesitant to purchase something that is so “workbook” oriented – and honestly concerned that I can help my kids with Algebra, etc.  My oldest son (now in college) had Saxon math all through his middle and high school years in Christian school.  He loved it and did very well.  He recommeds Saxon but I’m just not sure.

    Can anyone offer pros as well as cons of the above mentioned curriculums?  Any info is much appreciated!


    Lesley Letson

    I’ve been really impressed with Math Mammoth – even if you don’t decide to use her stuff, she has a TON of great information about teaching math in general. You can sign up for her emails and she sends very good articles dealing with math education (without the sole purpose of pushing her curriculum). Another bonus to her books is that they are very inexpensive. I like that it is very down to business, but easy to understand. It seems like a very good curriculum to adapt to your particular child’s needs. BUT I am not meaning just to promote her books – I really just think her different articles/emails can be very helpful in helping you decide and implement.


    I don’t know what age kiddos you have but we have had great success following Sonya’s recommendations for math.  We are using RightStart for the younger crowd and Math-U-See for the bigger one. 



    I’ve used all three. I will give you a quick summary of how I’ve used each program, but each mom knows her children and what will probably work best for their own children.

    Saxon – To textbooky for us. My dd used it when we first started homeschooling three years ago (she will be in 7th grade in the fall). She used it for a couple of years, but didn’t feel confident in math nor liked the subject although she did o.k. with it.

    Teaching Textbooks – I used it in our first year of homeschooling for my 11th grade dd. I had taken her out of PS at the end of 10th grade and I couldn’t nor did I want to teach Algebra 2. She liked it and did well with it. It explains things thoroughly. I think for the elementary age, TT is too expensive (that’s just me). I’m not sure how my girls will do with the high school level of Math-U-See. If I feel that they need some hand holding, then I will possibly consider purchasing TT then, but I still have another two years before that happens.

    Math-U-See – All my girls use it now and my oldest dd at home now (she used Saxon above) enjoys math and feels confident because she feels like she not only understands how to do the problems, but knows why (she’ll be in 7th grade in the fall). My 4th grade dd did very well with Horizon, but is now struggles a little with double-digit multiplication with Math-U-See, but she’s working diligently through the program. I wanted my children to really understand the how and why behind math. I did not learn it that way. I just do the problem so I’m also learning along with my children so it’s been fun.

    I met a young man at the Math-U-See table at one of the hs conferences and he indicated that he’s used Math-U-See from the beginning through high school (on his own during hs) and he scored a 29 on his ACT and was upset that it wasn’t higher. He did very well in math.

    I also have a Math-U-See newsletter that Mr. Demme (author of MUS) discusses parent’s concern with upper level math:

    “It seems that every spring and earyl summer I hear from parents who are questioning whether Mathusee is the right program for the upper levels.  I believe it is, but then I was a high school teacher and wrote the prgram.  This month I thought I would let you hear from your peers.  And I hope what they have to say will encourage you.”

    I checked the Math-U-See newsletter archives on his website and didn’t find the rest of the above entry, but if you’d like, I can email it to you privately.

    You can read more about Math-U-See on his website ( They also have a blog and a forum you can check out. 



    We went from public school math to Singapore to MUS.  We are really enjoying MUS.  My DS, 1st is finishing up the Primer, my DD, 3rd is in Gamma, my DD, 7th, Epsilon.

    The DVDs are great, the Teacher’s Manuals are extremely helpful, and the manipulatives/workbooks are a perfect fit for us.  Not too much, not too little.  We usually do all 6 pages, some weeks quickly…other weeks when the concept takes a little longer…we just go over things again.  Sometimes my children even watch their DVD a 2nd time if they are a little confused.

    Saxon seemed to “schoolish”, and we researched Right Start, and if I remember correctly, is seemed a little confusing for me, placement wise.

    I really think we will be sticking with MUS.



    We had my dd using Saxon and (3 years of it) and she simply was not understanding math.  It dis not make ‘sense’ to her.  So this summer we started over at the beginning with MUS Alpha.  My dd is 3rd grade.  It has made a huge difference!  She understands what she is doing and why, uses the manipulatives, and even watches the dvd with me.  She says she likes math now. 

    Saxon would cover 12 different topics in 12 lessons (4 lessons per week), and then come back and cover them again.  (a learning spiral)  While I think that would work for my next child(math makes sense to him – very math/logic minded), it simply didn’t give my DD enough focused practice.  With MUS we take the lessons as they come and stick with one until she understands it.  DD also hated the workbooks for Saxon. 


    We’ve used Math-U-See for 10 years now.  We love it.  I also hear people say things about upper level and testing concerns–I really think this is nonsense, now that we’ve spent time in the upper level books.  (My oldest is about halfway through Algebra II right now, my second is about halfway through Algebra)  I really encourage parents to use the Honors word problems with the regular books (now, in the newer editions, the Honors questions are right in the regular student book) My children test very well in math, and it certainly isn’t because of me.  🙂  We are sticking with it, I only wish they had calculus!

    I love MUS as well, but I wanted to plug a  couple of other things that have worked for us too. I love Life of Fred, which goes from pre-AL to Statisitics (including Calculus).  My kids really like Fred. 🙂

    Also, I have had HUGE success with Systematic Mathematics.  I bought all of the modules used and my 11 year old does it all completely on his own.  The books this site recommends for the younger ages are wonderful too. My 10 year old is working through Practical Arithmetic book 1 along side Delta from MUS.

    We adore MUS too, but I just have the urge to experiment when I see a good deal.

    Karen Smith


    According to Math U See’s Web site they are suppose to come out with a Calculus book this Fall.

    If this is true I will definitely be using it for my kids in the future.


    I just LOVE being able to get all this input on curriculum and ideas! Thanks so much to everyone who takes the time to share! I am overwhelmed with all the choices for math, and don’t want to make a costly $$ mistake. I haven’t seen many comments about Singapore math, at least not in this thread and a couple others I checked. What are your experiences?


    Bookworm – I know I’m pretty busy aka scatterbrained :), and I tend to sometimes overlook quite obvious things…but what are the Honors ?s…we bought our books last February, would they be in our versions?  Are you speaking of the word problems?

    Leah – We did not like Singapore very well.  It moved way too quickly for our youngest daughter.  We do, however, miss all the colorful illustrations.  I’ll add…my oldest daughter did fine with it, but since we were switching the youngest to MUS, we went ahead and switched her too. 

    *Really…I think MUS would work for any kind of learner…advanced, average, “behind” math student as well.  I also like that is doesn’t give a big, fat grade/number on the front of the book…makes sure my children don’t feel ahead or behind, silly, I know, but after coming out of public school…that is an issue we deal with.

    HTH, Kathi


    Hi Kathi:

    Here is more information on the Honors portion of Math-U-See. It’s only available from pre-Algebra through pre-Calculus.

    For the older version, the honors book is sold separately. For the newer books (the contents is the same, but they contain enhanced solutions for all of the math problems), the honors portion is included in the book due to the high cost of the binding.


    Thanks so much to everyone for replying.  I so love being able to glean wise knowledge from the CM forums!  Sorry that I forgot to mention the ages of our homeschooled kids…13, 12 and 10.  As suspected I don’t think Saxon is for us at this time.  Our oldest (the 19 yr old in college) is a very good math student – good enough that he took advanced Statistics in high school and passed with flying colors….that stuff was SO over my head!  🙂

    Caroline4kids, thanks for the info on Life of Fred.  I’ve never heard of that and am anxious to check it out.

    Sharon, your informative post was most helpful.  Thanks for taking the time to share your wisdom.  We are really trying to decide between TT and MUS.  From the info in your post, I don’t think either is a bad choice!

    Bookworm, I love reading your posts!  It seems you have such peace at homeschooling and it always encourages me to read your advice! 

    Again, thanks to everyone who posted.  I know we’re all busy with our own lives but it sure is comforting to know that I can ask questions and get near immediate responses that are always supportive and honest…what a blessing! 

    I’m going to commit this to prayer and will let God lead us in the right direction.





    I read through the calculus portion of life of fred.  I wish I had been taught math that way!


    Oh, this is awesome! Math is my big concern, too!  Out of curiosity…why would you start off in Right Start Math and then move to MUS…why not start with MUS?  We went with Singapore (son…1st grade) because it was suggested with Heart of Dakota, and I honestly didn’t know what to spend my money on.  Our bulk money went torwards the other core, and I figure I can purchase the “big math” purchase around Christmas.  I am torn between RSM and MUS…I am also going to check out the TT and the Mammouth Math?.  My son has high functioning autism and is a mover and a shaker…so I need something he will truly enjoy or it will be a major fight ever time!  I wish there were the Fred books for little kids!!  They look fantastic!  Math is NOT my strong suit, so I need a curriculum that the whole family enjoys! 

    Thanks to all of you moms!  This is my first year to HS…I am so excited and in so many ways that excitement comes from this forum!


Viewing 15 posts - 1 through 15 (of 16 total)
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