So how are our math studies going? We are two and a half months into our use of the Saxon Math 1 program and I think we have enough experience to share some reflections here.
One of the reasons I selected Saxon was because of the completely scripted lessons. That means they give you a line by line script to refer to when when teaching your child. I know that this doesn’t sound hugely imaginative or free-thinking of me, but remember, math isn’t my strong point. I have no idea the language to use to explain math concepts to a five year old. I needed this help. And it’s been great. The script is there when I need it, but I’m comfortable enough with the program by now that I find I don’t always need it.
Two of the deciding factors when selecting this program was the video review found on the Rainbow Resource website, and product sample material from Houghton Mifflin. You can see from the publisher-provided sample the script I mention above. Below you can see a sample of the workbook pages that Oli completed early on in the program.
Although I love them, it turns out that Oli isn’t a huge fan of worksheets. Given my knowledge of her energetic and active nature, I’m not surprised. But, that is the precise reason that I chose this very hands-on program. Remember the manipulative set that I bought as accompaniment? The script relies heavily on the manipulatives and additional household supplies and the worksheets are for written practice afterwards.
The program recommends the following agenda for a single lesson: meeting book, lesson, worksheet A, and later in the day worksheet B. The meeting is the repetitive transition-to-class piece. You begin by reviewing the date on the calendar, graphing the weather, and practice counting to 100. Then you move onto the lesson and follow-up with the worksheets. Most times, this agenda works just fine for us but at times, I can tell that Oli is really struggling to pay attention so I’ll skip the worksheets until the next day. And, I never do more than two worksheets a day.
Again, as expected, the things I’m that discovering are challenges for her is (1) sitting still and (2) following directions. At her age, if we’re able to progress on number 2, I’ll consider that a huge success. Often, she’ll begin fidgeting and playing with her pencil, or changing the topic on me, and that’s when I know I need to change the pace of the lesson or insert an active element. I’m not always good at switching gears like this but I’m learning.
So, to make up for this lack in skill set, I’ve invested in a few extra math supplies. These help me mix up the lessons a bit more and allow me to insert more hands-on activities into and between lessons. In particular, above, the Usborne Learning Games book is a favorite, as is the white grid boardgame, Blokus.
And of course, I also use Pinterest to catalog ideas for future math activities. Here’s my Kindergarten Math Board: