There’s always a slump at this time of year when people start to look at what’s working and what isn’t. I decided to do some research for different math options just to see what else was out there. We are happy with our math right now but, Green Bubbles is only in Kinder right now so if we do end up making a switch I want to do it soon rather than in the thick of things. Once you pick a math curriculum, you really should stay with it. Jumping from program to program can cause confusion to kids since each one teaches math a little differently.
Hopefully, a break down of some of the different options that are out there will be helpful for someone besides just myself.
Singapore Math – This is what we are using right now. It uses a 3 step process for teaching math. Concepts are introduced in a concrete setting, through games and manipulative that the teacher’s manual tells you. After the concept is introduced, the textbook and workbook offer a pictorial representation and finally an abstract problem. For example, when introducing addition to my child (2+2), before I even open a book I give him two blue cubes and two red cubes and have them add them by counting a physical object he can see and touch. After he understands that concept we move to the textbook that shows a picture of 2 apples and 2 oranges that has has to count. Finally the textbook will show 2+2. I love the concept of how to teach math and I can tell they are really teaching great strategies that can easily translate into mental math, but most of the time I am skipping the concrete introduction due to my lack of preparation. I could easily solve this by planning ahead, like I should, but I haven’t done it yet.
Saxon Math – Singapore is a mastery approach. This means they work on one concept a chapter, and then leave them behind for the next section. Saxon takes a very different approach.
“Incremental Concepts are taught in small, approachable progressions. Distributed Increments are spread throughout the year, building in complexity… Cumulative Practice and assessments include concepts from the most recent lessons as well as from earlier in the year…” If you didn’t understand that, they basically take a small part of a lesson and spread it out over the entire year, building upon concepts. The work also includes all previous lessons and is constantly reviewing. I think this is a great option for kids who may need extra or continuous review, but I’m not really sure that’s what Green Bubbles needs.
Math-U-See – Like Singapore, Math-U-See is mastery based. The lessons are short and on DVD so the students can watch the lesson and move on to the workbook without much assistance. The books are orgnaized by topic rather than grade level. There’s not a 1st grade workbook. They start with Alpha which focuses on single number addition and subtraction. The Beta book focuses on multi-number addition and subtration.
Right Start Math – Right Start focuses on visual strategies. The big tool they use is a two sided abacus which helps see place values. They de-emphasizes counting and worksheets and use math games to master concepts and facts. They also don’t have grade level books. Instead of a 1st grade book there is a Level A book. This helps kids work at their own pace and level rather than being stuck to a certain grade level.
Beast Academy – I’ve heard this from a few friends now and I’m intrigued. It’s for grades 2+ so we are not at this level yet but if you have older kids it might be fun to look at. There are 4 books per year that are written as a comic book style, each with a matching practice book for concepts learned.
I know there are many other math programs out there but these are the most common that I hear of. Life of Fred is also on my list to check out but from what I hear, it’s not enough as a full curriculum. If you have any other suggestions, or want to add anything to what I wrote, please feel free to leave a comment.