Monday, July 23, 2012
Crew Review: Math Essentials
We're a "living math" kind of family, but as the girls get older . . . and their logic skills mature, we're getting closer to the point where we'll be looking for something to use for math to breeze through and fill in any gaps that we missed. So I figured we'd dip our toes in and review Math Essentials.
We received 2 books. Mastering Math Skills Book 1, with DVD. And Mastering Math Skills Geometry. We started with Mastering Math Skills Book 1
Each lesson is only 1 page in the workbook (there is no textbook, explanations are on the included DVD). The lesson begins with 4 review problems, reinforcing things learned in previous lessons, and 2 speed drills (one addition, one multiplication). The speed drills are blank, so the teacher can decide what number to use for the speed drill each day.
After the student has done the review problems, and speed drills, and the teacher has gone over these problems with them so they can check their work. We watch the DVD segment for that day. The segments are very short, only a few minutes and very basic, showing only the problems . . . so think of it kind of like your tv turning into a chalk board (white board?) and the teacher is doing problems on the board.
Then there are 10 problems, for the new skill, and one story problem, and that's the end of the lesson.
Doesn't that sound great?!? Having gone through school doing all those repetitive math assignments, I LOVE how short each lesson is and how fast paced, each page adds a new skill. If I could have done math this way, as a student, I'd have loved it! What we discovered, however,is that when a child has never had to sit and do long, boring, repetitive math assignments, 10 problems seems like a lot. So we have ended up breaking most lessons into 2 days and I just make up extra "review problems" for the extra days.
Another thing we came across was that Sassy and MiniMe want to know WHY everything works the way it does . .. they were absolutely NOT content to just take my word for it (or the teacher on the DVD's) that if you carry a number over to the next column (for addition), or borrow from the next column (subtraction), so we spent a lot of time going through WHY it works to carry/borrow (have YOU ever really thought about WHY that works? I never had . . . I SOOOO wanted to say "trust me, it works!!!" but figured that was kind of defeating the whole love of learning thing we've been working on for so long. . . so we plowed through and figured it all out and it finally made sense to them . . . I was blown away with the addition that they could do in their head though, without carrying . . . they have a great grasp of it all, it's just "ok, now let's do it like they do it in school" that gave us fits . . .
We ended up not getting to the Geometry book at all, I think, down the road, it might be great, but at this point they are kind of overwhelmed with just the basic book, so I didn't want to confuse things. by adding Geometry into the mix at this point, I'm excited to use it in the future!
So, what did we decide? I still REALLY like how quick and to-the-point it is! If I had to learn math over again, this would be my product of choice! My girls, have done well with it, they are learning a lot, quickly. But they don't enjoy it. And it hurts my heart to hear them groan at the thought of math. . . . I think it's all a matter of perspective. If your child is used to doing longer math assignments, they will likely love how to-the-point this all is. If your child, like my girls, are used to learning math while cooking or helping build a playhouse, etc, and have never sat down to a math workbook, then, well, this is still a math workbook . . .
I still haven't ruled it out. I think it's not the right choice for us right now . . . we're going to continue with our living math approach for this year, in some ways they're so grown up, in others they're still so very little . . . they know that at some point we will have to do SOMETHING to make sure we haven't missed any important gaps in math. We may very well opt for this series when that time comes, but that's at least a year off.
So, I recommend it if you've been using a more traditional math curriculum and are looking to streamline! And, just to reiterate, I do think this would be an ideal choice for reviewing/filling in the blanks with an older child. It's quick and to the point, but packs a ton of information into the quick lessons!
I'm going to defer to other reviewers on how accurate the age/grade level is. Math is an area where I probably have the least of a solid idea as to "grade level" for my girls. The book we are using says 4th/5th grade, they are finding it challenging, but not un-doable. . . they are 9 years old, but have had no "formal" math, so . . . I just don't know what "level" they are at.
The workbook and CD that we received sells for $33.95. If you have multiple children, or feel confident to teach 4th & 5th grade math without a "teacher's guide", you can purchase the workbook alone for $15.95. The Geometry book, which does not have a CD, is $11.95. The site also offers a variety of other math books.
As always, you can see what other Crew Members thought, here. In addition to the books I reviewed, other crew members reviewed a selection of Math Essentials' products, so browse around and see what they thought of all these great math products.