There's been so many people asking for an in-depth review of the Math-U-See program, especially one that explores both the positive and negative sides of the program.
Of course, we recommend the program. Not only because we represent the program material here in Australia, but because I have also used the program - well before we got involved in representing it - for homeschooling my five daughters.
They were all at different level of maths - and all a year apart - but the student-paced, individualised approach of Math-U-See made it easy for me to teach.
They all knew what lesson they were up to and what they needed to do.
Maths class started and five little girls got out their books, took out the blocks and watched the DVD lessons one after another. They learnt their basics - telling time, addition, subtraction and place value. Then they went on to learn fast adding or "skip counting, multiplication and division. They used the manipulatives and saw, touched and felt how the numbers worked together.
Now, years later, all my girls have finished high-school, university and have gone on to other studies. They excelled through using the Math-U-See program not only through getting a good mark on paper, but they can all use what they were taught in their day to day lives - adding up, budgeting, working out costs and finances.
It's worked for us. Really well.
But you have to decide that for yourself. Kelly George from Fearless Homeschool has a great article which goes through, lesson by lesson, describing all the components of the Math-U-See program. It's a very worthwhile read!
Here are some of the pros and cons from her point of view - she's taking her 4 kids through the program too and has the hands-on experience of math success.
An excerpt from Kelly's article:
Best things about Math-U-See
We’ve had some basic manipulatives before, but because I understand maths abstractly I just assumed my kids would too. Turns out they will – AFTER they understand it concretely.
I’ve been amazed at how useful the blocks are. With Rex in particular, I can actually see him making connections between the concrete blocks and the abstract concepts, and his understanding increases with every lesson.
Short lessons – It’s much easier to sit down to a lesson knowing it will only take 15 minutes. And having that small win means my kids are much more likely to feel good and continue onto the next.
Mastery based – The school workbooks used to frustrate us. The kids would just begin to get the hang of a new concept, then the book would switch to another, not to return to the first until next year. Not great for deep understanding.
No annoying ‘fun’ stuff – I find that the further we get through homeschooling the more no-nonsense I like our resources to be – we want to get in, learn, and finish up without all the irritating clutter of characters and extraneous junk.
Word problems – Actual real-life situations! I find that our biggest problem, and most people’s, is being unable to work out what sum we need to do for real-life problems. So we might know that we need to work something out and have the ability to come up with the answer to the sum, but not know what sum we should do in the first place. The word problems are fantastic at helping us learn to apply the concepts to real life.
Not grade-specific – Ever tried to convince a child they need to do work below their actual grade or age level? It can be humiliating. Math-U-See is ordered by Greek letters and has no relation to grade levels. You can begin at any level without your child resisting the work or getting upset because they think they ‘should’ be further ahead.
Video lessons are FANTASTIC – I love not needing to explain things. The video lessons do all the explaining, quickly and clearly.
Doesn’t match the Australian curriculum straight out-of-the-box – If you’re homeschooling for a short time or planning on going back to school Math-U-See might not suit. However, there are adaptations you can make to meet ACARA’s standards. If you’re swapping from another program or method, like we did, then you may have to start at a level earlier than you expected to fill in the gaps. But filling in the gaps is, well, great.
Read the full article below, which details what is in each lesson, how the manipulatives work, the video lessons and the excellent results she has had with her 3 kids.
PLUS - you can download your free copy of coloured number bookmarks at the end of the article. These are a great tool to help kids learn their numbers, and its free.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below - and if you've used the Math-U-See program before in your homeschool curriculum, at school or when tutoring small groups.
The Team at Maths Australia