Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Math U See - Alpha {Schoolhouse Review}

If you ask Elliott what his favorite subject is, he will answer math in a heartbeat.  Although I realized he enjoyed playing with numbers, I still elected to delay starting a formal math curriculum until he was closer to age six, as I did with all subjects.  Now, just a few months after his sixth birthday, he has flown right through our first program with ease, but I knew he needed something else, perhaps with a different approach, to keep him engaged.  The opportunity to review Math U See came at the perfect time!  We were blessed with Alpha, which is the second level of the program.

Math U See was created by Steve Demme, a math teacher and homeschooling father, in response to requests from fellow homeschoolers.  Math U See is a complete, comprehensive, mastery based program.  Each level focuses on one topic in-depth so that the student truly masters the concept before moving on.  It is a multi-sensory program that uses manipulatives to help make concepts concrete.  Because Math U See uses manipulatives, I believed my tactile learner would benefit.

There are no grade levels to Math U See.  It is about skill, mastery and understanding, and it doesn't follow a traditional scope and sequence since it focuses on one general topic.  Alpha is described as "addition & subtraction for single-digit numbers and other topics" and focuses on conceptual understanding and fluency.  The other topics include telling time, fractions, skip counting, word problems and more.

I felt like Alpha was a good place to start--some review, but particularly because of the more thorough coverage of topics.  I want my children to have a FIRM understanding of math before we move on.

I received the following for the Alpha program:
Instruction Pack (Manual and Instructional DVD) - $43.00
Student Pack (Workbook and Test Book) - $30.00
Manipulative Blocks - $38.00/ea

How It Works In Our Home
  • I review the lesson in the teacher's manual and look at the examples
  • We watch the video lesson together 
  • Elliott likes to work through the problems with Mr. Steve on his dry-erase board
  • If he needs practice with a newer concept, we work through one lesson practice page per day until I know he understands
  • For concepts he seems to understand, we jump straight to the Systematic Review and/or the Application & Enrichment pages 

I love that the program stresses going at the student's pace.  If my son needs review, it's there, but if he is ready to move on, we get to move on so it does not become boring or monotonous.

There is a test booklet, but because we're working together, and I know when he masters a concept, I don't see the need to test.  I think it is more appropriate for older students who work independently, or families who need it for record keeping purposes.  I also like the suggestion that teachers can use it for additional practice if needed There are also Parent Resources online for creating extra practice too.

What Do We Think?
I like that the video allows someone with math knowledge to gently, but thoroughly explain concepts to my son.  We all know how children respond to parents sometimes, so it is a nice little "break" for me as the teacher.

Math U See teaches in a sequential manner, layering one topic onto another, which I like.  I believe it is truly multi-sensory in that it has audio, visual and kinesthetic approaches built in.  The student is encouraged to BUILD, WRITE, SAY which addresses the needs of different types of learners.

Elliott loves the videos and loves the blocks.  It makes math even more fun for him.  I think the program seems very thorough for younger students, and what's more, my son likes it.  He asks for math, he likes Mr. Steve, and he understands what he is doing.  He already enjoyed math, so I was worried that "fixing what isn't broken" with a curriculum switch might be a bad thing, but I think I found a program that just improves upon my son's natural inclination towards math!

Keep Reading
Math U See FAQ
What's New 2013
Placement Tests

Math U See offers all levels of math, from introductory material all the way up to Calculus, and my crew mates have reviewed all levels of Math U See, so be sure to hop on over and check out what they have to say!

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  1. We really enjoyed Alpha, too. Great review =)

    1. We liked it so much I think we will move on to Beta!

  2. We love Math-U-See!! I need to finish my review tomorrow.

    1. I looked at Math U See when we first started but didn't go with it. I'm glad we got to review it, though...I'm definitely thinking we're going to make the switch!

  3. We are in Alpha right now, but I've done it with 2 other kids too. It's simple, yet introduces those concepts that they will need much later on. We only test sometimes..I throw a test in here or there to get him used to tests (as we have to do standardized testing by law at the end of the year). Like you though, I know if he gets it or not. It's a great program. I've done Alpha through Epsilon so far. I might switch to teaching textbooks after the Zeta book. Not sure yet. I've talked to Steve Demme on the phone too when I had some problems with my Asperger child in math and he was great. They are just so concerned with people and that is why I like them and continue to use their products. The only thing I don't like is the enormous shipping fee ($9 for one book) and they raised the prices and keep changing the books around. But I guess that is business, right?

    1. Hi Elle, thank you for for sharing your personal experience with the company and Steve Demme...they sound amazing!