We chose Saxon math because it was recommended to us by a homeschool family we really like and respect. Both parents hold biology degrees (and possibly others) and said that Saxon isn't a frilly math program but it teaches math well. They didn't gloss over the fact that it includes lots of drills. Boy, does it ever.
Jamey majored in biology. I did not. The highest level of math I completed was College Math (it was required at the liberal arts school I attended) and there I stopped. That worked out just fine for me. I became a social worker and then a stay at home mom (which I remain) and I've needed nothing more than College Math. We don't know what our kids will aspire to, so...we decided to drill the bejeebies out of them.
If you completed everything the Saxon folks tell you to complete each day, I believe Math would take well over an hour. And that's if you have a math-loving, super-cooperative, never-complaining student. I just couldn't handle the thought, so I've pared it down a bit. I continue with this method because it's working for us. Sam is at grade level and usually only gets a problem or two wrong on his assessments. This may not work for everyone.
I'll begin with the behemoth that is the teacher's manual. For third grade home education, the book is 843 pages. I told you it was behemoth. There is no way I was going to lug this big book out onto the table every day, so the first year we used Saxon, two years ago (we're starting our 3rd year), I began writing cliff notes for myself. I would sit down with the huge teacher's book and make my own notes to work from (maybe 4 weeks at a time). I don't include all the things they include for each day (time, temperature, counting coins, etc.). Instead, one day I include time, the next day temperature, the next day counting coins, etc. One a day, instead of 47. Okay, there really aren't 47, but it feels that way.
Our math binder.
I also include in my cliff notes the bare minimum instruction I will need to teach him the skill for that day. I can fit several pages of their instructions onto less than ten lines of notebook paper. This is much more manageable.
It only matters that I understand this chicken scratch and odd abbreviations, so I'm not very careful about my note taking.
I do always include the pattern and the word problems- those I write out on a wipe board each day (actually the day before while Sam is doing his worksheets and I'm sitting hawk-eyed to make sure he stays on task). I do this instead of using their suggested "Meeting Strips".
The fact sheets are great ways of practicing math problems. If I've just introduced a new skill, I ask Sam to complete the whole sheet. Once he's mastered it or if it's a fact sheet full of review problems, I mark just the top two or three lines for him to complete. If he has trouble with that, I add another line or two until I'm sure he gets it.
Fact sheets on the left, practice sheets on the right.
When it comes to the additional practice sheets (the lovely two-sided worksheets), we only ever look at/do the first side and I circle only 3-5 of the problems for him to complete on the page. I circle the items I know he needs more practice on or if it's an item he hasn't looked at/worked on in awhile.
So, that's how we do Saxon math. It makes it more manageable for Sam and for me. I'm not sure I'm sold on Saxon forever, but for now, I feel really good about the foundation it's laying.Pin It