I started off using Math-U-See with my older son. It worked. No complaints. So used it with younger son too.
Late Winter 2008: Grade two for younger son, he was doing Gamma level (grade three, seven years old at the time). He struggled with double digit multiplication. No matter how I explained it, he got the order of operations mixed up. Up to this point all learning for math was simple and never stumbling. He was mad about his inability to 'get it'. He also naturally memorized math facts, which was cool to see, and a relief as I didn't have to coerce him to learn them and memorize them. I gave him a break from double digit multiplication, shelved the MUS.
Early Spring 2008: Restarted MUS Gamma and still stuck on double digit multiplication. Son being very hard on himself and angry, saying he is stupid and other such ridiculous statements. I put no pressure on him. Shelved the math curriculum.
June 2008: Summer arrived, no formal homeschooling lessons being done.
July 2008: I had been hearing praise for Singapore Math for years. Years. Some local homeschoolers who are Singapore lovers actually have been angry with me for not using it with my kids and for me saying I didn't like what I saw of it. I find it weird. However with all those opinions flying I decided this month, that we'd use Singapore Math for a while with younger son. The thought was if I give him a break from Math-U-See and he 'gets it' from the Singapore approach then after that we could switch back to MUS if we wanted to.
Early August 2008: Gave younger son the Singapore Math placement test. He came out at level 2A. This was due to the fact that MUS did not teach metric system or fractions yet. Whatever.
Late August 2008: I bought 2A and 2B, textbooks and workbooks and a home instructor guide. Confession: I was too busy with summer activities including hosting a Japanese foreign exchange student to study the Singapore materials or their scope and sequence much (didn't know that would haunt me later).
September 2008: Started using Singapore 2A textbook and workbook. This is ridiculously easy. Am not using the activities or lessons in the home instructor guide as they are trying to teach concepts my son has mastered. Son flies through the work. The way the problems are, he is doing almost all of this in his head rather than practicing operations on paper step by step to find an answer.
October 2008: Son finished Singapore 2A textbook and workbook. That is supposed to take a half year. How can people say this is a challenging curriculum when my son flies through it that quickly? Is my son a math whiz or is this curriculum just really easy? Son started in on Sinagpore 2B textbook and 2B workbook. The workbook seems like a waste of time as it is repetitive review that is unnecessary for him to learn (read: it is busywork for him). I consider not having him do the workbook. For now I decide to have him do it. On paper it will look good to finish the book up especially since all his scores are between 98% and 100%.
November 2008: Son finished Singapore 2B textbook and workbook withe ease. Another six months of curriculum was done in one month. What the heck? If we did math five days a week he would have finished it even faster. I don't understand this. I had not figured my son was a math genius but maybe he is?
December 2008: Did supplemental math activities during busy Christmas prep season.
January 2009: I can't find the Singapore 3A and 3B materials I swear I bought. Kept looking everywhere. This really was driving me crazy. I began looking in weird places for them. Finally decided to check my order with the homeschool supply company. Realized I never bought the books I was looking for. I now feel like a total idiot. Suddenly recall I was afraid to over spend on a curriculum that I didn't know if my son or I would like or not. I guess I was being sensible back then.
Early February 2009: Getting ready to order Singapore 3A and 3B. Looked at Singapore Math site and realized that they don't do double digit multiplication until level 5A! So now what? Do I buy 3A, 3B, 4A, 4B and have him do all those then start in on 5A which hits the topic that was the entire reason I stopped using MUS in spring of the second grade year? Not in the mood to ponder this so just ordered the textbooks for 3A, 3B, 4A, 4B. Also ordered both textbook and workbook for 5A and 5B and the home instructor guide for 5A.
Mid-February 2009: Talked to homeschool mom friend about this. She suggests "dipping in and out" of Singapore Math curriculum. Curriculum was delivered by UPS. Will start using 3A textbook because I am not in the mood to figure out how I'd want to approach "dipping in and out" of Singapore Math. This is a pain in the neck and I'm just not in the mood to deal with it right now.
I am reminded of why I loved Math-U-See, just turn the page, do the next lesson, teach short lesson, kid gets it and does the work, move on. Starting to wonder if I show him MUS double digit multiplication again if he would now 'get it'?
I'm reminded again of how switching back and forth between math curriculums is not a good idea. MUS doesn't teach metric system but Sinagpore does. MUS teaches fractions in grade 5 and Singapore teaches it in grade 2. MUS teaches double digit multiplication in grade 3 and Singapore starts in grade 5.
Someone remind me again of why Singapore Math is so highly praised. I find it simple and fast work with not very much revisiting of concepts. I am not asking for tons of busywork and a lot of review An easy example is teaching a concept like volume measurement in metric system can be covered in two day's work and completely mastered by the student, and then never revisited in the entire grade level again. I wonder if that information only made it to my son's short term memory. Does it make sense to cover something so quickly and not revisit it at all for the whole 'school year'?
1. No curriculum is perfect.
2. Perhaps this is another example of my high expectations for products? So the fault would lie with me not the curriculum writers?
3. I would blame my son as the problem, perhaps to say he is struggling with a concept and he might have a deficit or not be bright to be able to learn double digit multiplication at age seven and eight using MUS. However based on him flying through the supposedly challenging Singapore Math I am not going to say the problem is with my son and will blame the curriculum again.
4. Maybe I'm not teaching the concept right and the problem is with the teacher's approach not just with the curriculum. Or is that notion just me being hard on myself?
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