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First off, I am a natural HATER of math. I cried and cried over math, at times even in high school. Math homework made my heart sink and instantly made me nervous.
I do NOT want my kids to feel this way, but I have already seen my son's heart sinking when he looks at a page of problems in his MCP Math book (1st grade). I want to reverse this as quickly as possible and help him really "get" math and make it a little more fun, if possible, without adding so much entertainment that it gets distracting or confusing.
Right now we are using MCP Math and although I like its simplicity, I can see that the drilling of the same thing over and over again and the few and far between interesting exercises (which aren't even that interesting), are just boring him to death.
DS is a creative kid who loves movies, literature, and is quite good drawing. Is there any math program out there that appeals to creative kids?
Also, a couple things about what I want:
1. I have 3 other little ones, so I would rather spend the parent-intensive time reading good books rather than hand-holding with math (but I will if I have to so he understands, of course).
2. I HATE instructors guides. LOL (Am I the only one?) That's probably a bad thing, but I hate reading about how to teach my kids, and I hate it even more when they tell me exactly what to say. I love when they make the curriculum in such a way that it builds one skill on another and reinforces it in many different ways, and makes teaching it so intuitive that an instructor's guide is pretty unnecessary. (I think Explode The Code is like this. DS does GREAT With ETC. It has all of these qualities so it works for both of us!)
3. I can't spend much money so expensive programs like Horizons is out purely because of cost.
4. My son loves videos for some reason. Is there any math program that has lessons he can watch on DVD or CD-rom (I don't want him sitting AT the computer doing problems, though - He already spends too much time there). But I think he would think DVD lessons were exciting, plus it would free me from a subject I do not love! I don't want that if it would be an inferior program, though, because I want him to GET math.
5. I would like something that introduces skills in a very logical sequence, but allows the kid to work on that concept in several different ways (instead of drilling the SAME way over and over). Again, this is something that ETC got right, IMO.
You guys are experienced enough that I was hoping that based on this info you could give me a great recommendation. You didn't let me down with Explode The Code. I was SO glad I asked!!
I'm glad you liked ETC. I totally agree with you. I think math should approach the same concepts from several different angles like ETC does. That way when you get it, you get it. No going over and over things you already know. You can skip exercises when necessary. I like how ETC is very easy for a child to pick up w/o much help from parents. It really helps drive independence.
Now for math... ... if only ETC made a math version!!
Let me think for a moment.
(1) I love Rod & Staff. It's cheap. It's all inclusive (no buying the teacher's book separately or anything like that). The teacher's guide is extremely easy to follow... actually, I rarely use it at all. BUT, it doesn't teach concepts in several different ways. It teaches only one way (the way I was taught... not the "new math" stuff... too confusing). It's also all one color, without lots and lots of distracting pictures. It also has tons of repetition... which is great if you need it, and can be skipped if you don't. We skip quite a bit, but that's ok. I'd rather have too much than not enough, ya' know?
(2) You already touched on Horizons, and that would also include Abeka and BJU. Too expensive for the ballpark you're looking in.
(3) Mammoth Math might work for you, but I don't know a whole lot about it. I DO know that you can download examples from the website to review before buying (tons of downloads, actually).
(4) Someone already mentioned MUS. That may work for you, but IMO, it's probably too expensive for what you're looking for.
(5) I have a set of math DVDs called Mathtacular, I think. (They're in a box... we're in the middle of moving). Ben likes them, but like a lot of kids' stuff, the host of the show really gets on my nerves. You might have to leave the room while it's playing. I bought mine really cheap from Sonlight, but I can't remember how much it was.
(6) Teaching Textbooks is probably a great option for you, but it's not available until 3rd grade. Take a look at the site, though, because TT tends to be a little behind the game. It might be in line with 2nd grade depending on what you've already tried. (I've never used MCP.)
(8) I've heard nothing but wonderful things about McRuffy. The black and white version might be in your price range if you come up with your own manipulatives. You don't necessarily have to use theirs. I haven't looked at the teacher manual, so I can't comment on it.
(9) Just a word of caution to stay away from Saxon. It's a great curriculum, but it's out of your price range, and it's very dictated. It tells you word-for-word what to say (and expects you to learn it well enough that it doesn't sound rehearsed). Way too much prep for my taste.
(10) Also look into Singapore. It teaches things differently than most other math curricula out there, BUT I don't know the price, and I'm almost certain the teacher book will drive you insane.
We LOVE Math-U-See here!! The TM's are only supplements to the... DVD! Mr. Demme teaches the concept on the video, and most of the time my kiddos don't need me to go over anything else. If they need a little more, there's some help in the TM, but it's super-simple and isn't really usable *without* the DVD.
Even new it's about $20 cheaper than Horizons, but really - buy used, especially the teacher materials and the student blocks. There is a whole yahoogroup run by MUS themselves in order to sell used MUS products.
And often you will find people selling whole sets including student workbook (and sometimes the test booklet, sometimes not). Sometimes those sets have a lesson or a few done already, but sometimes not. Usually the ones that have lessons done up only have a couple of pages per lesson, which is a plus about there being SIX pages per lesson - and they are not all required. Whenever the student has mastered the concept, you move on. And there are additional worksheets available online if the extra practice is needed.
I've gotten every full set I have - Primer, Gamma, and Delta - each for under or right at $35 a set. I bought the Alpha student text at a local used sale for $2. I haven't needed the TM or DVD for that one as my current 1st grader is a math whiz, and it's pretty easy to figure out how to use the blocks with it. (The hardest one is the clock, but if you watch the demo DVD online and/or the one they will send you for free if you ask, it's easy. Plus, I have the Primer DVD so that made it easier.) Actually, I bought Primer and Delta together with the starter AND completer blocks for $45 total.
Do look into it! Great samples and demo vid on the site that a pp already linked for you, and if you still aren't sure have them send you the free DVD. It's a lot the same as the site video, but has more on it... including demoing Algebra using the manipulatives. One of the things my kids love about MUS is that I let them "play" with the blocks after our lessons. LOL Every single one of my kids - see my siggie - ASKS to do math.
We love this one!!
Much thanks to Alethia for my beautiful siggie and tags!!
1) MUS (especially if I can get some of it used to keep cost down)
2) Math Mammoth (never looked into that at all - I'll have to)
3) Singapore (but if BensMom thinks I wouldn't like the Teacher's book I bet she's right!)
I'm thinking I will end up going with MUS but I have to rule out the other 2 first. I did watch a good chunk of the hour and a half video demonstration of MUS and it already rocked my mathematical world. LOL I had no idea WHY multiplication of bigger numbers works when you put a zero in as a place holder, etc.
I think my son will like the blocks, too. (I hope!)
Thanks for all the info! If anyone else has anything to add, go for it!
As of now I think I will go with MUS. A big reason is that I get the way Demme (sp?) teaches math in the videos, so I think that will help me explain it to my son. And I think he will find the blocks helpful. (Although I'm not going to bother with them if he doesn't enjoy it at some point. I view them as only an aid!)