Thursday, April 5, 2012

Math.. what to do?

So, I've been obsessing about the curricula Amber will use next year for 5th grade.  Of course, I had plans but as this year is quickly drawing to a close I keep re-evaluating those plans. Part of that re-evaluation was Math.

The quick background is that I didn't look into any other math program other than Saxon because both parochial schools that Amber attended used it.  If she were to return to either, then it would be in her best interest to continue with Saxon during homeschool.

Now, we have nearly come to the decision that she won't return to the parochial schools before high school.  This opens up my math options.  Do I really need them opened up?   I have decided no.  We will stick with Saxon Math because she is doing very well with it and understands the way it works. Why mess with that.  She gets 98-100% on all the tests.  She doesn't study, just does her daily work.

However, while I was evaluating if we wanted to stay with Saxon, I needed to know at what level Math Amber truly is.  And here is our main issue with math: Amber gets bored fast because she catches on fast.  She spent a lot of 3rd grade math class daydreaming and still got A and A+ on everything in her classroom setting.  She does catch on to the concepts the first time around so the way Saxon cycles caused some boredom.

We had some of that problem in 4th grade as well in the classroom, but once she was homeschooled I didn't have as much of a problem with it because if she understood I just stopped talking and on she went to the assignment for the day.

So, back to the evaluation of Saxon. I found the placement tests for Saxon, and I know they don't recommend their use for children who are already in Saxon.  I had Amber take them anyway so that I could see just what she is able to do.  She placed in at least Math 7/6 - possibly Math 8/7.  It was borderline.   That is just scary.  She is only in Math 5/4. I do admit that I sometimes teach her further through a topic when she is very interested in the lesson of the day. Or sometimes, (nobody yell at me), it seems that Saxon is teaching a concept in a very backwards and unintuitive way.  So, I teach it the "correct" way.  Before anybody starts preaching, I'm a math and science person.  I have a minor in Applied Mathematics (and Physics) - I've gone all the way through Differential Equations, Vector & Tensor Analysis, Matrix Algebra, etc.  I started my college math in Calculus I (actually, I retook it after taking it in high school to be sure I had it all down just right).

We are definitely concerned about the boredom factor in Math 6/5 for 5th grade.  We are also concerned about skipping a whole year and missing vital instruction for topics that will be assumed as mastered in Math 7/6.

We discussed this with Amber and she, on the whole, has found 4th grade math simple and quite limiting.  She is up for a challenge and wants to learn more.  I also realized yesterday that Amber will finish math 5/4 at the end of April while a few other subjects for 4th grade will run through mid-May. That gave me an idea that I've run past both Amber and Fred.

Our plan, I think, is to start Amber with the tests only for Saxon Math 6/5 as soon as she finishes Math 5/4, at the tail end of 4th grade.  I will give her a test a day and we will stop when she no longer gets an A on the test.  If she can get most of the way through the book, then we will finish Math 6/5 as her summer math review. Every summer she has always done math review 2-3 days a week.  This summer will be no different.  Then, assuming that goes well, she will start Math 7/6 with 5th grade.

However, if she doesn't get a significant way through the book with A's on just the tests, we will simply start 5th grade with math 6/5 and go forward as previously planned.

I know this isn't how they recommend to use the curriculum, but we have to do something different. She is very good at math and tests high (98%) on math aptitude as well. Worst case, in my eyes, is that we do use Math 7/6 and it is a little hard and I spend more time each day working with her on math topics.  I'm okay with that and so is she.  She'd rather it be hard than as easy as it has been.

Anybody have any thoughts?


  1. No advice, just wanted to say you can teach math for me any day! It's by far my least favorite subject to teach and I'm afraid I might be passing that on to dd. I wasn't bad at math in school, but I didn't excel in it either.

    My humble opinion is, that with a math-minded mom and one-on-one attention, your girl will be fine going up. And she wants to! (Thump!) That was me falling over...hearing that a kid wants to be challenged in math. :D

    Good luck!

  2. Thanks for the encouragement. We've only been homeschooling since the end of January and there are times (often) that I doubt any decisions we make that are different than the standard school path.

    I just know we have to do something different with math before she ends up discouraged and bored.

  3. I LIKED reading more detail about how you've worked this out. I was luckily homeschooled myself in fifth, sixth and seventh grades, and my dad taught all my math - NOT at grade level. I'm no genius, but that subject was just my "thing." In fact, the reason I went back into public school for eighth grade was because my dad passed away while I was in seventh and my mom, who only had business math, was afraid she'd hold me back. (At that time, there weren't as many options for pre-taught curriculum, so she'd have had to "know" it herself!)

    Your daughter is very lucky that you guys are putting so much thought into this. What a blessing!

  4. Thanks for the comment. It sounds like you got a good math basis too.

    Saxon Math 6/5 arrived yesterday and from wht I can see, except for reciprocals (fairly easily explained) , Amber shouldn't have trouble with the whole of it. I guess we really will be skipping over most of it.