Thursday, May 6, 2010

Math (for the umpteen zillionth time)

As mentioned in past posts, I like BJU. It feels simple and (almost) easy to me (well, as easy and simple as math can be, I suppose). It has some of those math perks (it delves into "seeing" the math, but not overly so). It's bright and colorful, without having a million problems on one page (the right mix of white space and color is important to me). Yeah, you'd think I picked this math program *just for me*, not the kids! (I did).

What I'm seeing in the 7th & up grades, however, is this rather lengthy looking text with lots of words. I don't like lots of words. (Sure, I write lots of words, but not so sure I like reading lots of words). The number of problems doesn't look too bad, it's just all that text that gets me. And it's just so...textbook-y. Algebra and geometry textbooks give me nightmares. So I'm undecided on math for the later years. I'm looking for easy (but not too easy - just easy enough to get the job done without too much sweat and tears).

I'm intrigued with Teaching Textbooks. Seems like everyone is switching to TT. Sonlight now uses TT for available grade levels (4th & up, I'm sure they'll switch their 3rd gr now that that's available). Timberdoodle. And a whole host of homeschooling moms - many that had been 100% devoted to one curriculum until TT came out.

Sure, everyone's doing it. There's safety in numbers, right? I have some concerns about it, though. Everyone says it's really easy. The grade levels are misnamed, and so 4th gr is really a 3rd gr level. It spirals. It has small amounts of practice. It's really "light" math, it isn't heavy at all. Yippee!!! Because when it comes down to it, making my child think is painful for us all. Sometimes it's downright explosive.

When is easy, too easy?
When your child breezes through the math, but has no retention (in the long run) for anything that he learned.
When your child is gifted in math/science, and the easy math isn't enough.

When is easy just enough?
When your child struggles through math every day, but the lightbulb finally goes on with easy math.
If your child is not going to go into math/science for a career, so a general working knowledge of math is your end goal.
If your gifted child in math/science uses the easy math as a general overview to help him understand tougher math.

And finally, how should TT be used?
You should give your child the placement test and place him in that level. And most likely, your child will probably place in a grade (or two) above their grade level. You may also want to test your child occasionally with a standardized test or another math program just to make sure that the info is sticking and they are understanding what they've learned with TT.

Do I have this right? I'm interested in your thoughts on this hot topic, so please leave a comment:)


homeschooling6 said...

IMHO it seems like many (not all) but many that don't like it have not tried it. Same with Saxon. Sure there are some who tried it and didn't like it. We tried Singapore up to 3A with Annette. I didn't like it but that doesn't mean it's no good.
I think some on the WTM really scare others into thinking that only certain math programs will bring in results. Not to say they do this on purpose. I have noticed that it is also the same people.
And yes, sometimes I too start wondering if what I'm using is okay.

Just my thoughts.
Trust in the Lord not the WTM is my motto ;) and I do appreciate the WTM forum. I love that I can ask a question and get some great answers. I really 'chew' and weigh everything.

Dee said...

Good post! I actually used TT 7 in my son's 7th grade year. I didn't have a chance to test him in because it was given to me as a gift and I won't say that it was too easy, what I will say is that it was a repeat of what he had done in his 6th grade math paces (a program already touted as being too light and easy) and there was nothing new for him to learn that year. Needless to say, he didn't want me to get that same program for him the following year.

I think that if you test your child in and place him/her wherever she really places, then all these people can't be wrong about the success of this program. Can they? Hmm?

In my case, I have a soon to be fourth grader and when he did the sample lessons, the smile on his face was just priceless! "Mom, I understand this because of how this guy explains it, and I hear it and I get it." Well, I didn't know if that should make me happy, or sad as a parent, that my voice while doing math didn't cause that kind of excitement-ever!

In the end, it's all about trial and error. What will work for some, will not work for others, sometimes even within the same family, but some things just have to be tried before we just let them go completely.

My vote is for the fun math while in early elementary and then the serious math will get serious no matter how the program is formatted.

Many Blessings on whatever you do choose!

Dee :)

Karen said...

Stay with your BJU + MM combo as long as its working for you. Once you get to the higher level, the BJU may still be just the right thing. My upper level plan includes the opportunity for me to bail out Chalkdust (or the generic chalkdust) if I need video.