Thursday, October 6, 2011

I"m on a Math U See High.....

I know  the title of this post sounds weird.  But, that is me. Weird.

For 6 years, Ben used a fabulous math program.  I chose it because it consistently produced the highest math scores for its home country in global assessments of mathematics education.  Following the if-it's-good-for-them-it's-good-for-me philosophy, I bought the whole kit and kabooddle. When we got to portions of the program that just didn't fit with Ben's learning needs and styles, I ignored my gut and pushed through.  Ugh.  It wasn't pretty.

I contemplating switching SO many times, but I was petrified with fear that I'd make a wrong choice and ruin his future as a STEM prodigy (I'm being facetious).   The scope and sequence of  our program was different enough that I didn't want to switch for fear of having to back up very, very far to catch up to his grade level peers.  And (transparency here) my pride was in the way:  my kid is smart, and he should be able to learn with this program!!!

OK, he did learn -- a lot -- and has some great mathematical problem solving skills.  But our math history is not pretty and is filled with tears and frustration for both of us.  It shouldn't have been so tortuous.

As we neared 6th grade, I was really ready to switch -- but since this program is only an elementary program, I figured we'd push through. I could see the light at the end of the 6th grade tunnel. I decided we would stick it out until he was ready for pre-algebra which is when I knew I would have to find another curriculum anyway.

Fast forward to this August.  Our school year was to start in just a week or so, and I had no pre-algebra program for Ben.  I couldn't decided between Math U See and another fantastic program.  I asked Dave and Ben to watch the sample lessons for both and they choose Math U See.

 [insert angelic choirs singing 'Halleluah']

A month into the program, and math is no longer a struggle.  There is enough practice (and an online drill page generator for more if we need it) and systematic review (which Ben really needed all through elementary school).
While researching middle school math programs, many people complain that MUS is too easy.  Here's my response to that complaint: 
MUS is a mastery-based program;  if a lesson is 'too easy,' than I have my son take the lesson test and pass out of it -- then we move on.  I've decided that 'mastery' in this house is at least an 85% or better on a test (depending on the concept being taught; I can foresee that certain foundational concepts might require a minimum score of 90% to be considered mastery)
This means that we could scoot through this level of MUS quickly or linger through it until Ben is solid.  Whatever it takes, people, we'll do it.

I've got Luke in the last third of Beta and Levi is at the beginning of Alpha.  They are both learning tons and it is painless.  Luke is working through the concept of regrouping with subtraction, and I'm so pleased that it has been very effortless up to this point.  This means that my Lukie has learned regrouping without tears. Priceless.

I'm not naive enough to think all math concepts to come will be easy to the boys (multiplication facts are right around the corner for Luke), but I am confident that the step-by-step approach that we are following with MUS is going to bless our entire family.

P.S. -  Ben doesn't hate math anymore.  He may not like it, but he doesn't hate it. *smile*


Jennifer said...

Way to go Mom :) We love MUS too! Great advice for determining mastery of the concept! Thanks for sharing!

Jamie Thompson said...

Thank you so much for sharing your expreiences with MUS! My son is a K this year and I was so very nervous about math. We went with MUS also and you know what? Math is his favorite subject!!! He loves reading and the lessons we "say" in LA but hates writing...unless its numbers! I am astounded and thrilled all at the same time. MUS is easy, easy to follow, easy to learn and easy to have fun with! Anyone who thinks its TOO EASY obviously hasnt used the program.
I can not say enough good things about it! I <3 MUS!