I received a complimentary level of Math-U-See in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. Please read my disclaimer in the footer for more information.
I grew up hating math.
See, I was always the kid who was really great at writing, reading and english but not so great at math and science. I quickly categorized myself as a right-brainer and conceded to the fact that I would never be good at math. I therefore set the scene of my academic career – excelling in language arts and learning just enough math to pass a test.
Sound familiar to anyone?
To be honest, this didn’t seem to disrupt life too much until recently. See, as a writer, I just avoided math like the plague in college, taking only what was required. As a waitress, I figured out enough math to decide if someone had left me a good tip or not and as a domestic engineer, I’ve learned how to double recipes.
This seemed to be enough until I decided to homeschool my kids.
My kids are little, so I wasn’t too scared at first – but I quickly realized that the older they got, the more my lack of math knowledge would show.
I knew I wanted a mastery program to ensure the boys would fully understand what they learned. I know growing up this was a huge factor in my dislike for math – math facts build on each other and if you don’t understand a concept, you can never develop it further. I feel like somewhere very early on, that happened and I just never recovered from it.
I also knew I wanted something tactile, working with manipulatives, because our boys are very hands-on.
Secretly though, what I really wanted was for someone else to teach my kids math.
Enter Math-U-See and an answered prayer.
When I found Math-U-See– a mastery-based, multi-sensory program that helps the kids to work at their own pace – I was more than excited to review it.
Let’s watch a quick video to answer that…
Here’s a great quote from the website that sums it all up:
Math-U-See is designed to teach students specific skills that build as the student progresses. This systematic and cumulative approach uses a definite, logical sequence of concept instruction. The Math-U-See system is structured with step-by-step procedures for introducing, reviewing, practicing, and mastering concepts. Each lesson teaches using multi-sensory tools such as videos, manipulatives, and other resources, designed to appeal to any type of learner.
So how do we use it?
Because we homeschool, that is the view I write this from. That being said, Math-U-See is also is also great for co-op (see their online co-op) and tutoring.
When our twins were diagnosed with autism, we knew that would become the lens we saw things through when making choices for them – especially academic choices. We knew, like with any child, we needed to play to their strengths in looking for curriculum. One of the quickest things I began to understand about the way they learn is that they do better without any fluff – let’s just get right to the point.
Math-U-See does just that.
This curriculum could easily be called “Math-4-Rinnagades.” This is not your traditional math program. How excited are the boys to build during math? They have spent almost an equal time playing with the bricks in their “off time” as they have doing the work. Although this is not specifically for special needs (anyone can use it), I have not seen a better math program for kids with autism.
The Primer is the first book of the complete K-12 curriculum. This book is intended for Kindergarten or earlier, but do not get hung up on grade levels. The Primer goes over very general math skills including counting, place value, reading and writing and recognizing numbers, addition, time and more. The children are also introduced to the manipulative block system.
Alpha moves specifically into addition and subtraction of single digit numbers, as well as other topics. (He enjoys the math…having his picture taken, not so much ;))
1. The Video Teaching
Included with the teacher’s manual is a DVD. The creator of the program, Steve, (We’d call him Mr. Demme to his face, but at home the boys love to watch “Steve!”) teaches an introduction to the lesson. The boys can watch it as many times as they need to understand the concept. Of course, I watch it along with them so I can help explain (and actually learn math for myself!). I love this, especially in anticipation of the more difficult years ahead.
2. Short Lessons
This screams Charlotte Mason but know that no matter what homeschool style you follow, Math-U-See is for you. I the boys seem to be flying through the material, it is easy to “test out” onto the next lesson instead of enduring repetition that is unnecessary. If the new lesson is easy for them, they can just skip ahead to the review.
3. The Manipulative Bricks
This surely is where the curriculum gets its name because it is literally math you can see.
4. It is a Mastery Program
This is the opposite of spiral, which most of us are familiar with from traditional school. In the mastery program, your child works on a topic until it is mastered before moving on.
I know secondary math is a long way off for us, but I was beyond impressed that they took the time to make this a course all to itself. This alone will ensure we stick with the curriculum long term :).
So you’re thinking…sounds great, how do I get started?
Well, I’ve got some good news and some even better news.
The good news, is Math-U-See makes it really easy to figure out how to place your student and get started with your materials.
The even better news is that they want to give away an entire level to one of my lucky readers.
Told you it was even better news ;).
We’ll get to the giveaway in a minute. First let me tell you how to get started…
The initial assessment is the first step in documenting a student’s academic performance. This ensures that you place your child in the appropriate entry level and helps you identify holes in his past understanding.
Have you ever heard of Math-U-See? What do you look for in a math curriculum?