Monday, July 26, 2010

Do we have to start thinking about school yet?

I realize there are some perpetual planners out there who have already planned the next 3 years of their homeschooling. If this is you, you have permission to skip to the end of this blog and leave a lovely comment.

I recently returned from the great outdoors and have not thought about homeschooling for a while. In a few weeks, I will be laying out my books and entering our schedule into homeschooltracker. I used this free program years ago and decided to pick it up again. I may even break out of my tightwad shell and upgrade to the pay version, since high school is a little more than a month away for Paperboy. I am supposed to feel nervous, but I have an amazing peace about this.

When I was a rookie blogger, before I became an amateur blogger, I blogged about my favorite math program. Today, I thought I would be GREEN and recycle this post. Maybe someone who is still planning will be blessed by this, or if you are curious about how I plan, here I reveal my top secret method.....trial and error.

Math-U-See, We Saw, We Loved
March13, 2010

A few weeks ago, I blogged about our math troubles and our eternal search for the right math curriculum. See here. Let me just get something off my mind right now about my homeschool sisters in the trenches. You know who you are! I am insanely jealous of you who just pick a supply company, buy the whole set of curriculum and fly with it. Because my boys have different needs, learning styles and personalities, I am forever tweaking what we use, adding new things and dropping the duds. Thanks for listening.

One company that I have been using for 5 years and plan on sticking with is Math-U-See. This program is not designed like any other program I have seen. Part of the draw for my boys is the fact that they watch their math lesson on a dvd. Now the newness of a math movie has worn off, but it is still a nice touch. Once in a while, I teach it out of the manual. I like having the option of watching it with the boys and pausing it at key moments.

It has a different approach. It spends the entire year on one concept, in a very creative way. When I try to explain that the whole 30 lessons are covering multiplication, it sounds weird even to me. The author, Mr. Demme to my boys, the math saint to me, teaches around the focus area.

In fairness, I have to add a word of caution to those parents who are concerned about the results on the standardized testing. There were concepts that BennyG has learned later than traditional students. I am o.k. with that. He has learned them very thoroughly and I like that idea. This saves time in the long run. Paperboy is currently in Algebra and because he is ahead of BennyG, I have already seen the fruits of this program.

Now let's talk personal experience. One of my children, who shall remain unnamed, at difficult times has decided that Mr. Demme hates his guts. Now, I think it is cute that he really believed that Mr. Demme created this math program to frustrate him. I love this, I have a scapegoat in the house. I may be the grammar and punctuation police, but Mr. Demme is the math bad guy. Now before you start hating this curriculum, don't. Most the time, Mr. Demme is loved and understood by all. In fact when we first saw the Algebra video, they gasped at his hair loss. He is known to them. It's just when the math is tough, (ex. multiple digit division that we all use a calculator for) this child takes it very personal. I always laugh at this. Hey, Mr. Demme, "Do you stay up late at night like I do and plot evil against my children?" "Are you thinking of more chores or harder ways to do a problem?" If I see Mr. Demme at a homeschooling conference, you can bet I will ask him.

I'm not getting worried about the weird homeschooler who harbors bitterness at the guy in the math movie. The boys have met the math guy in person. They actually met his youngest son, too. Mr. Demme signed their math books. He's just like the guy in the movie! I did hear him speak. This man had a lot to say and it wasn't about math. He is an involved dad with three sons and has an incredible testimony of God's hand in his life.

One thing I worship love about Math-U-See is the word problems. They have removed the ability for my children to say. "When am I ever going to use this stuff?" I know everyone has either said, heard or thought this at some point in their math life. The word problems are based on problems that really could happen and are applied to real life.

About the manipulatives. We rarely used them throughout our schooling. My kids have created amazing things with the blocks, and used the fraction overlays a few times. They just are those type of kids. They are audio-visual learners. Hands on is play for them. Some families cannot live without them. I, being on the let's lean on the side of caution, bought the starter set, the completer set(never used once), the fraction overlays and the decimal inserts. I would not have enjoyed needing them, and waiting for my order to come in. Now because the program is so reasonably priced, I still feel like Math-U-See is a great value.

In case you are thinking I work for the company and this is a long shameless promotion, let me clear things up. It's just my experience. I pay the same price you would to use this fabulous program.
My testimony:

Before Math-U-See, my homeschooling math classes were a mess. Now that I have seen the Math-U-See light, I am free. I am free to search for perfect programs in other subjects.

*Note: This is the first of 2 posts about Math-U-See the second one appears HERE.

I realized I have so much more to say, I should have made this a 3 part blog, forgive me?

I welcome reader comments with open arms. I also understand if you aren't the commenting or hugging type of person, you can drop me an email at


Laura O in AK said...


If it makes you feel any better, I wanted to START today, but didn't get my planning done. Amazing how a week of sickness in the house derails the best of plans.

I upgraded to HST Plus a few years back and do NOT regret the decision. (They have a referral program that some of us HST+ lovers have joined, too.) My biggest love of the plus version is the lesson planning feature. A few hours of typing gets the assignments all ready to go for the year. Sometimes you can be lucky enough to find lesson plans you can import from someone who's already done the typing. I'm just now seeing the fruits of this as my younger boys start to cycle into work the eldest has done.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for stopping by my blog. I really appreciate it.

LucisMomma said...

I've just started us in MUS. We've always homeschooled and now we have a 12th grader, a 8th grader and a Kindergartener. We've only been using the MUS for a week now with the boys (the older ones) and so far, so good. Like you, I've been searching for a long time for something that really clicks with my kids. The K DD loves her stuff, she is on lesson 5 already.

Lisa said...

I've heard lots of good things about this program. I love that your son thought that it was created to torment him. :) How funny. I'm dropping by from the Hip Homeschool Hop.