Need some guidance with switching to Math-U-Seee for DD11 and DS8

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  • missceegee

    A brief bit of background…

    • DD11 has used too many programs to count – Ray’s, Math Mammoth, Singapore, Strayer-Upton, a tiny trial with Math-U-See, Life of Fred. This was my problem, not hers. We’re finishing Strayer-Upton Book 1 right now and it includes addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and some very beginning fractions.
    • DS8 has used only Math Mammoth (grades 1 and finishing grade 2 now) and Life of Fred. 

    I’ve decided to switch everyone, including my youngest scholar who will be 5. She won’t be any trouble as we’ll start from the beginning. 

    I’ve ordered Primer for dd5, Gamma for ds8 and Epsilon for dd11. DD11 and DS8 will take the placement test to make sure they’re ok, but from the looks of the tests, it looks right.

    Questions and Concerns:

    • We have missed the early ways that MUS explains things. Will this matter? Should we back up more just to know the MUS way?
    • With 3 kids doing MUS and all needing to watch the videos, I’m a bit concerned about scheduling. I intend to watch the videos with the kids most often, esp. the younger ones. What if on Fridays dd11 sees Epsilon and proceeds from there, Mondays ds8 can watch Gamma and Tuesdays dd5 can watch Primer? Does that work? Or should I just schedule more time on Mondays for math to do all 3 videos then?
    • There are worksheets A-F and a test for each chapter. How do you all schedule these out? Do you ever skip any or do them all? 
    • I’m thinking this might work for a basic plan:

      • Day 1 – Watch video & do Sheets A & B
      • Day 2 – Corrections plus Sheets C & D
      • Day 3 – Corrections plus Sheets E & F
      • Day 4 – Corrections plus Test
      • Day 5 – We usually have co-op 1 day per week and don’t do extra work this day, but we could do something if need be. Maybe the test on co-op day would be good?

    • What about Extra Practice, Extras like calendar, time, money, basic measurement? Do you add them in?
    • Is there a quick catch-up method for learning MUS way for those coming in later? We have the right skills, but I’m thinking more about the how it’s done. 

    I greatly appreciate your input. I intend to stick with MUS for at least next year and preferably for the long haul. We will keep doing LOF, too, because we love it. 




    YOu’ve got tons of questions let me try to explain what we do:

    The dvds are for YOU, but some watch them with the kids. I’ve just begun that recently with my oldest (dd10, on lesson 22 of Delta). I don’t even watch the video for the two in Alpha or the one in Primer, but I’m familiar with how MUS works and I’ve been through those levels before with oldest. Decide if you want to watch the dvd yourself over the weekend or if a child would benefit from watching it with you.

    I teach a new lesson to 1 child or level per day. So if Makayla starts a new lesson on Monday then I’ll start Joseph and Emma’s new lesson Tuesday (both in Alpha), and Daniel’s new lesson on Wed. It is easiest one me thisway.

    Generally it goes:

    Day 1 – new lesson and practice with problems on DVD or in Book.

    Day 2 – Sheet A

    Day 3 – Sheet B

    Day 4 – Sheet D if concept is well grasped. C if we need more practice.

    Day 5 – Test. Or use pages D, E, or F for more practice if needed.

    I’ve found most weeks we finish a lesson in the 5 days. Occasionally a lesson is super easy to a child and they go to the test on day 3 or 4. Sometimes a child needs all 6 practice pages and so a single lesson takes us 8 days. No big deal. The goal is mastery, not getting done in 36 weeks. 😉

    Time, Calendar, we do on our own whena child is interested. Money and measurement are introduced in MUS and slowly built on. nickels when skip counting by 5s, etc. However they don’t do it in detail as far as we’ve gotten so I would guess it is covered more when in the level for decimals. We’ve just covered it as it comes up for the child.

    I’ll post more about learning to use the blocks later, hubby finally got home from being on the road all day!


    Christie, you may not want to hear this, but you really can’t schedule out MUS.  You will have a hard time scheduling specific days to do the videos–your children will get done with chapters in different amounts of time.  You will sometimes have more than one child needing a video on the same day.  I recommend slotting math for different times, that’s what we always did. You’ll have children not ready to move on on “their” day, or they will be waiting a day or two before they get done and can move on.

    You’ll find that it’s tough to do two worksheets a day.  My kids are good at math and have never been able to keep up a pace like that.  You’ll also find that sometimes you need all the worksheets, plus some extra practice, and sometimes you can cover a chapter in three days.  It just depends.  MUS is totally  mastery-based.  You move on when–and only when–the child has mastered the material.  The number of worksheets is irrelevant.  Mastery could come on the first day, or on the 28th (yes, this once happened to me!) 

    You will totally need to base the amount done on worksheets to the child’s progress, ability and mastery.  A TYPICAL schedule for me in the pre-upper-level math might look like this:

    Day one, video; days 2 (and sometimes 3 or 4)  lesson practice with Mom and manipulatives, days 3, (and maybe 4 and 5) one or  more of the A-C worksheets; day 4, first Systematic Review page, day 5, rest of word problems from systematic review pages, day 6,  test.  Sometimes this will go a lot faster, and sometimes it will go slower.  We typically do at least one of the lesson practice pages (the ABC pages) and always at least one of the systematic review pages (DEF)  If they get all the questions right on the systematic review, then I only make them do the word problems on pages E and F.  They ALWAYS have to do all the word problems.

    All you really need to do is briefly show your older two what colors are with what blocks, and what the blocks represent, and show briefly how multiplication problems make a rectangle. 

    I really, really encourage you to “go with the flow” on this one and not schedule it tightly and depend on the cues your children give you about mastery and understanding to determine how long to spend, how many worksheets to do, and when to move on.  It is critically important with MUS. 

    You’ll want to look at the tables of contents of the earlier volumes, Christie, to know if you’ve missed the MUS coverage of time, money, measurement, etc.  Those things are all in there, and your youngest will get them naturally as he progresses through, but your two older ones may have “missed” the places they were taught since they are coming in later.  You may or may not need to add in, I don’t know if they might already know some of those things.  They are taught as they come up, or as the child learns a related skill, all throughout the program.



    Sorry, I don’t have time to read all the replies, but here’s what I did switching my 11 yr old and 7 year old to MUS after using MM for the first 2 terms:

    Both boys wrote the Gamma placement test.  Older is doing Gamma as a review this term before jumping into Delta in September.  He really struggles with math, as you can tell.  For about the first 10 lessons I had him watch the video and take the end of unit test because I was pretty confident he had that much down.  After that I started having him do one of the work sheets – either A, B, or C.  If he mastered that I moved on to the review pages and did two of the review pages until I could tell we needed to slow down more.  So it’s kind of going something like this now:

    Mon – Watch video, work with mom on page A with the blocks to make sure he understands the concept being taught.

    Tuesday- work sheets B & C

    Wednesday- Work sheets D & E

    Thursday- Work sheets F & Test

    Friday – either watch the next video and start the four day cycle again, or if the lesson has been more challenging it gives us another day to work on it before doing the test.

    We have just finished lesson 23.  It was a harder one for him and we spent about 6 days on this lesson.

    If he’s been having trouble with something I will usually get him to only do half a page before checking it, until I know he’s got the hang of it.  I will often have to write the questions on graph paper because with his dysgraphia he has trouble lining up place values and working in the small space provided on the worksheets.  Fewer questions on a page also keeps him from being overwhelmed. 

    The review pages has been wonderful because now I don’t have to pull extra pages for subtraction review.  He’s had a very difficult time with regrouping. 


    My younger started Gamma about two weeks after my older.  He is on lesson 10 and we will probably be able to only do 3 of the lesson pages again (1 or 2 lesson pages  & a review page) as I think he has master the 9x table already.  I suspect he could average two lessons a week for the next several weeks, but I am only planning to go as far as lesson 20 with him before September.  He is the kind of child who says he doesn’t like math, but when you assign only half a sheet does the whole sheet anyways, just because he wanted to. 

    The adjustment for us was super easy.  My boys both love MUS.  We don’t use the blocks much at all.  My younger has used them to build with, but not much else. My older uses them on day one of a new lesson, and if he really gets stuck. 

    I will probably be using the grade 3 MM Money and time chapters for my younger ds as Gamma doesn’t cover these. 


    I have not used Math Mammoth or MUS, but I just wanted to share that if you are a member of Homeschool Buyer’s Co-Op (which is free), you can get the MM Clock 78-page PDF worktext for FREE with 400 smartpoints.

    I just got it the other day, and will be printing it out soon.

    Thought this might be helpful to the OP.


    I don’t have a ton of time, we’ve used MUS from the beginning and I totally agree with Bookworm – she’s a MUS geru from everything I’ve read that she’s written on this forum… if you want MORE advice from seasoned MUS users, there’s a MUS yahoo group where you’ll likely find at least one person with exactly your same experience… or at least close.  If you’re going to try to do more than one page in a day, I usually have them do an “A, B, OR C” page and then one of the D, E, OR F pages… here’s my reasoning.  When you first learn a concept and it’s fresh, it’s VERY easy sometimes to just whip through 3 pages of only that topic, but is that really mastery???  For example, my dd learns that 12 inches equals one foot, but if I let her do all three pages of 12 inches equals one foot, will she still remember it when we come back to it the following week after only do a very small number of problems on the review pages.   

    I can’t remember if you use the organizer or not, but we just schedule 30 minutes (ish) of math a day and then check off what we’ve done with the organizer and when we get to a new lesson, we get to a new lesson, if we need more time, then we take more time.  That’s the great thing about scheduling via the organizer.


    We’ve always used MUS and love it.  I think it would be ideal if you can go w/the flow as Bookworm suggested.  But I tend to want to have it all scheduled and don’t do well adjusting things day by day!!  So what we do is up through Delta I like them to do all the worksheets so they have the math facts practice.  We do something like:

    Day One: Watch video together. I help w/first couple problems of A.  They complete A and B.

    Day Two: C and D

    Day Three: E and F

    Day Four: Test

    Basically how you outlined it!  I just do corrections in chunks of time when I get to it…they correct almost everything. Since it’s only a 30 week course and this is only 4 days per lesson, it allows time for corrections. Also, if a child is struggling w/getting facts quick enough I will have them just do one page of the book and one page of math copywork of the facts they are struggleing with until facts are mastered. 

    Then for Epsilon and Zeta (all we’ve covered) I allow skipping of pages if they’ve mastered it quickly.  My ideal w/this is if they get 95% on A and B they can skip to E and F.  However, I’m just not good at keeping up w/checking their work daily (my bad!)  So, my dd has been skipping to E and F and if I notice a problem area (certain types she keeps missing) I go back to the skipped pages and just give her extras of those particular problems.

    It has not been a problem having videos on different days. They just tell me when it’s time to watch a new one and we take 5 min. and do it:)  Blessings, Gina


    I ordered Primer, Gamma and Epsilon and the box arrived this afternoon. I’ve opened it up and read through the posts here.

    @Tristan – Thanks for sharing your experience. Yes, I know the DVD is really for the parent, but in reality I know that my oldest will most likely watch it alone and I’ll probably let the others watch with me. I like your plan of one new lesson per day and spreading them out through the week. It seems a bit less overwhelming that way. I realize it might not always work out, but it’s a good goal. You typically use 2 of the practice sheets and 1 review sheet before testing, unless there’s a struggle? That sounds great and is only 1/2 of the sheets. Is that the norm of what you’ve needed? I look forward to hearing what you have to share re. blocks.

    @LDIMOM – thanks for sharing. While we’re doing great with time, I’m sure that will benefit others. 

    @Momto2blessings – Thanks for sharing how it’s working for you, too. It looks like some are good with 1 page per day and others 2. We may have to try it out to see for ourselves what will work in our house. I didn’t realize the videos are only 5 minutes long. That is very helpful info. Yes, I am a scheduler. I ALWAYS have to start with a plan. I can change or flex the plan and even throw it out when needed, but I have a need to start with a plan.Wink

    @Bookworm – Hmmm. The planner in me wants to have everything all laid out, esp. for my oldest whose math education has suffered from switching too many times. I tend to plan in mini-terms, 3 weeks of work in a 4 week time frame. So perhaps if I simply plan 3 lessons per mini-term, I’ll be able to stay on target. We may be able to move faster or need to move more slowly, but it’s a reasonable plan to start with, I suppose. I am going to do my very best to “go with the flow.” We’ve always done math at the same time, but I can see how it might work better giving each individual attention, though it’s a challenge with the little ones. I like your plan of doing 1 review sheet + all word problems as the minimum needed. That seems a reasonable amount if there’s no trouble. I’ll look at the scope and sequence for all of the books and see what might need shoring up. For dd12, that will mainly be measurement. I’m not concerned about teaching these topics with whatever resource is handy, but should I go ahead and purchase Alpha, Beta and Delta in the event I need to show something I discover is missing? I have several kids to go through them, so I’ll have to buy them at some point anyway. Maybe we could start with the tests from the lower levels (Beta?) to help us learn the MUS way and review slightly before getting going in the proper level? 

    @Rebekahy – I like the plan of one A,B or C sheet with one D,E or F sheet each day as needed. That’s a good way to mix it up. I don’t use the organizer any longer, but I do plan in time blocks. I just like having a bit of a long term, where are we headed this term, year, etc. 

    OK, after reading all of this. My FLEXIBLE plan looks like this:

    • Perhaps start with the tests in Beta and Gamma as a touch of review and a means of learning the MUS way with topics we know. (Feedback on this idea, welcome!)
    • Start with Lesson 1 and spend 30 minutes per lesson 4 days per week, maybe 5 if we must.
    • The Daily Plan

      • Day 1 – Video + problems in teacher’s book together; Sheet A (alone if able)
      • Day 2 – Sheet B + D (help as needed) 
      • Day 3 – Sheet C (if needed) + E (if needed or just the word problems)
      • Day 4 – Test or Sheet F (if needed)
      • Day 5 – Test if not taken previously
      • Days 6+ – Continue, if need be, otherwise move to next lesson.

    If 2 pages are too much, we’ll cut the work load, but from the looks of the samples, I think we’ll be ok. 

    I’ll take as much feedback as I can get. So keep those ideas coming.




    I hope I’m right about 5 min. for the videos.  They don’t seem long to me at all. Maybe 10 min. max.?  I don’t pay attention! Somebody please correct me if I’m wrong:)


    Just one more thought…  With the lower levels – like Gamma – where they’re learning the same thing “multiplication” but just for different numbers… I have found with my oldest that she really does NOT need ME to teach it to her if she’s seen the video.  I know, I know, the video is for the parent, but once she’s grasped the initial concept of multiplying and skip counting especially, I just let her watch the video on her on and do the first page – with a 3 and almost 2 year old underfoot, this has worked well for us.  I can see if you have a child that really struggles working independently, or with math, or is at a higher level learning lots of new concepts, this may not work, but if you do it this way, you might still be able to schedule everyone in math at the same time.

    I also would not buy all of the math levels just to have them there to catch your kids up on time and measurement etc…  You should be able to find them used through out the year if you’d like to save money, but I’d just keep a running list of the things your kids need to learn and have them work on one at a time.  At the end of the primer they teach telling time, so you’ll already have that and throughout Gamma they teach different measurements with skip counting multiplication, so you’ll have that one too! 


    I know you’ve gotten a lot of replies but here’s my $.02 anyway . . .

    I don;t necessarily do everything in MathUSee. I have never used the videos. And I like to try to do one chapter a week so we almost never do all 6 pages of work. Often we will do just A,B,D and E. A,B and C introduce the concept and D,E, and F have more practice plus review. And sometimes I don’t even have them do every problem on those pages. This is especially true in the levels that teach multiplication and division. I think those are the hardest. And frankly I couldn’t do 10-15 long division problems in a row without my mind going googly. I would rather have them do 2-3 problems and get them right than wear themselves out doing more. The truth is in life it is good to know how to do these sorts of problems but as an adult if we have thta much math to do, we go and get a calculator.



    Yes, 2 practice and 1 review is usually great for us. I couldn’t see sitting any elementary or middle school child down with 2 worsheets per day, it’s overkill and in no way fits ‘short lessons’. But that’s based on my kids, I’m sure for someone else it may be perfect I suppose!

    Okay, first thing, this page has all the extra downloads for MUS.

    Look at it because there are free hundreds charts that are MUS style (0-99), there are the block clock printables too. At the end of Primer is a lesson or two with clocks, but you may want to print these printables to go along. You’ll see Activity Sheets for Primer, Alpha, and Beta that you may find helpful or fun too.

    Look at Lesson 9 and 10 in Primer with your older kids to learn about Decimal Street (place value). In Alpha they have you actually take a posterboard and draw decimal street to size for the MUS block and it looks like that is shown at the end of lesson 10 in Primer too.

    In Alpha that spend a whole lesson on the unit bars, learning to recognize them by color by playing some games. Simon says (put a 3 on your nose, etc), What’s Missing? (have one of each block on the table and take 1-2 away when they close their eyes, they name what color and number the missing blocks are), etc. I did this with even my oldest when she switched to MUS. Take the time to play with the blocks. Another lesson in Alpha is making 10. This was so important for Makayla! You spend a week or however long learning all the numbers that make a 10 (0+10, 9+1, 2+8, 3+7, 4+6, 5+5). Really really learn it! Then any time they’re doing something in the decimal system that general 10’s knowledge is in place, and hundreds, thousands, and more all base of 10s. They can see that if they have 6 hundreds blocks they need 4 more to make 10,000 (6+4).

    Do your kids know how to skip count or know their facts well? MUS offers a skip count cd that was really helpful for makayla. The songs are aimed more at younger ones, but when you just can’t remember all the 8s it’s really helpful to put that skip count to music. When teaching addition they introduce basic algebra by giving problems like x+6=10. The child learns to grab a 10 bar, put the 6 on top, and see ‘what piece is missing’. In subtraction they learn to line blocks up just like writing a math problem vertically, then flipping the number you’re subtracting upside down on top of the top number’s blocks. The blocks are hollow/empty on back, so it looks like you took away blocks. (Not sure if that description makes sense).

    The Yahoo group is helpful too, and they’re probably on FB like it seems most places are these days.


    Compared to MM, there are not nearly as many questions per page on MUS — maybe 18.  That’s not too bad.  Depending on how much practise is needed I’ll have them do every question.  I often break it up though, so that they do a page and then do some reading or othr activity while I correct the first page.  If I find they need a refresher then I do the first couple questions with them on the second page and then let them finish it on their own.  How many of the pages they do depends on how quickly they master the work.  I very seldom assign every question on the review pages — though as I said, my younger would do them all anyway. 


    @4myboys – I agree that the number of problems is way fewer than what we’re used to, so I’m thinking 2 pages a day should be a breeze, but maybe not if we’re doing build it, say it, write it for all of them.

    @Tristan – if 2 pages per day is too much, maybe your schedule will work for me, too. We usually spend about 30 minutes on our basic math. I like the idea of less being more or at least being enough. Yes, my kids know their facts well. DD11 knows all of them, DS8 knows add, sub, and mul. Both skip count by 2, 5, 10, 20, but not as well with the other numbers and not starting at a unusal numbers (counting by2’s starting at 1 or 5 or whatever). I did buy the skip count cd, so we’ll incorporate that. Thanks for the info. on using the bars. That helps me to see it better. Also for the download page and the lesson numbers to get us going. 

    @Nebby – I appreciate your sharing what’s working for you. Like Tristan and Bookworm, it seems fewer pages often work for you and you flex where needed. I’m going to try to do the same. Just figuring out a starting plan. We will definitely use the videos. I’m quite good at math, but not so good at communicating the hows and whys to my kids, esp. dd11. I end up confusing her. Your comment about getting a calculator for a lot of math struck a chord, too. I know that’s what I do. It’s not that I can’t do it, but I usually don’t b/c the calc. is handy. However, I don’t want to intro. calculators too early to the kiddos. They need to exercise those brain muscles until they build those grooves well in the knowing how and why we solve problems the way we do. 

    After a bit more thought, maybe this would be a better starting plan for us.

    • Use Placement Tests and Scope & Sequence for each level to see what’s missing. Work on it a bit until we have it. We know our facts well, but need to get used to the MUS way.
    • Regularly, I think we may have to just see how it goes. Ideally 1 lesson per week using as few or as many sheets as needed to master. We’ll take more than a week if need be, but I will plan on 1 per week to start with. 
    • It may sound silly, but I think I need to make myself a flow chart of sorts while we get started. I am having brain fog problems with my thyroid issues right now and I just to make things as simple as I can. I’m really uncomfortable just going and having to evaluate each day where to go next w/o a “cheat sheet” to help me. 

    Thanks for helping me so much as I think through how to use MUS in our family. More thoughts always welcome!




    Alright, I feel better about this switch since I’ve taken things out, watched some of Gamma and am having dd11 watch the videos and try her hand at some of the problems. So far, we’re good with gamma. I decided Epsilon might push her over an “I hate math” kind of edge and that doing some review with Gamma and Delta on multiplication and division would be perfect. This way, she gets to learn the new system while doing what she’s pretty good at. It would be too much for her to learn a new system and fractions all at once.

    We have about 10 weeks left for this school year plus 2 weeks of break time. So, if we work the next 12 weeks with Gamma (might take 3 weeks tops) & Delta, we’ll do fine. Delta will carry over to our new year which begins in Sept., but at this pace, she’ll be ready for Epsilon no later than January of 2013 which is just the 2nd term of our next year. That is more than ok. That’s terrific! 

    I’m going to go ahead and order Beta for ds8 and we’re going to stop with MM and pick up where we are in Beta. This way he will adjust to MUS as well. 

    I wish I’d just started with this from the beginning.



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