Monday, February 4, 2008

Math-U-See: My Review

Ok, so I promised I would take each piece of curriculum we use and give you my thoughts on it. The first one I'm going to start with is our math curriculum, Math-U-See by Steve Demme.

As 'Eclectic' homeschoolers we don't use just one specific boxed curriculum. I take each individual subject I feel we need to be covering and research each one until I find what I feel best fits our family. Sometimes I hit it right the first time, other times we have to try two or three different things until we find just the right fit.

Thankfully, Math-U-See was the first math curriculum we tried and we fell in love with it right from the start. Actually, I didn't even have to research anything else for math. Sweetie's cousin, who had been homeschooling her children for several years before we started, recommended MUS to me and, not knowing about any other math curriculums out there, we tried it and have never looked back.

There are no cute, colorful illustrations with MUS like some other curriculums, but for us that isn't even an issue. Sure that might be more 'pretty' to look at, but in my opinion there's nothing to distract my children's attention away from the task at hand. And for the quality of learning they're getting, who CARES whether their paper has cute little bunnies on it or not?

Math U See currently has 13 different levels to choose from, depending on where your child is mathmatically. If you're not sure which level to start with, the Math-U-See website has competency exams for each level to help you know where to place your child.

Each level is centered around one central theme, such as adding, subtracting, multiplication, ect. Mastery of each level is key with MUS, meaning, the student KNOWS, or has 'mastered', one level before moving on to the next. This builds a very strong mathmatical foundation and helps when new concepts are introduced because previous lessons are recalled and reviewed.

But even though there is one resounding theme per level, new concepts are gently introduced without the student even realizing he's learning something from a higher level. For example, our 8-year-old just finished the Gamma, or multiplication, level and while the main focus of the book was multiplying, fractions were gently introduced without Handsome even realizing he was doing something 'harder'. In his mind he was simply skip counting by 2's for the top numbers and by 3's for the bottom. So 2/3 is the same as 4/6, 6/9, 8/12, and 10/15.

The thing that I love the most about MUS is that each level comes with it's own instructional DVD, with Steve Demme explaining to the student exactly how to do each lesson. Mr. Demme, who by the way is a very sweet Christian man, has a way of teaching children that makes it fun and easy to understand, even for us grown-ups! Many times Sweetie and I have commented on how math makes so much more sense now that we've learned the Math-U-See way.

What will you need to purchase to begin using MUS? Well, when you are first starting out you will need to purchase the Starter Set of manipulatives. These are the foundation of understanding math the MUS way. Then naturally you will need the Student Kit, which comes with the student book and test booklet, and the Teacher Pack which contains the teacher manual and DVD (or VHS) instructional video.

Your first year will most likely be your most expensive year since you will be purchasing the manipulatives. After that you will only need the student kit ($20) and the teacher's pack ($35). If you have more than one student using MUS, you will only need to purchase the student kit for your younger children if your older one has already finished that level because you will already have the Teacher Manual and instructional DVD. With four children this happens for us each year. For the quality of the materials and the success we have witnessed with MUS, we think the prices are very reasonable.

Overall our experience has been wonderful with Math-U-See. Never have we gone looking for something different and hopefully we will never have a need to. This is our 6th year with MUS and all of our children have a strong foundation in math that continues to build each and every year we use Math-U-See.

If you'd like to see if Math-U-See is right for you simply request a copy of their free Demo DVD.


Marsha said...

We LOVE Math-U-See! We tried one other curriculum in the beginning but it just wasn't working. This was an amazing blessing to us and is by far the easiest subject for ME. I don't have to teach a thing since the DVDs are that good at teaching-- besides, they can just replay a lesson if they don't understand.

In fact, yesterday I woke up to my oldest son's announcement that breakfast was ready and he also did 2 pages of math. My happy response: Uhh.. it's Sunday! :-)

Stacy said...

I was searching for Math-U-See and came across your blog.

I am so grateful for your review!

We are considerng switching to MUS and your review was very helpful.