Saxon Math 76 Complete Homeschool Kit, 4th Edition
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I wish all curriculum choices were as easy as this! Saxon has proven to have the best mathematics text available today. Every school in the U.S. that has used them has raised college board scores 20% and has tripled Calculus enrollment, has doubled Physics enrollment and has reduced the number of kids on the slow track by over 50%. The reason? Normal math books introduce a new concept with each chapter, then drop that topic as the next chapter goes on to something new. This week, it's multiplication; next week it is fractions, and I can't remember multiplication! In Saxon books, the concepts are practiced daily, over and over, until they are fully automatic and math becomes easier and more enjoyable.
Starting out on Saxon: I have used both the K and 1st grade and really find the Kindergarten program unnecessary. Buy the first grade program and move a little more slowly and you will save yourself a lot of money. Workbooks present a lesson on the front side of the page and a duplicate type lesson on the back side for added review, so theoretically, you could teach two children the same level, having one do the front side, and the other do the back side of the lesson. Teacher Manuals are not absolutely essential for grade 1 and perhaps grade 2, but they are helpful if you don't feel confident teaching math. You may buy the complete kit (which includes the Teacher Manual) or the workbooks, fact cards and meeting book separately, thus saving the cost of the big Teacher Manual (approx. $55).
During the early grades, children do one book per year: Math 1, 2, or 3. By the time they reach 4th grade, the book titles change. Look at the last digit to determine the grade: Math 5/4 is for 4th graders, Math 6/5 for 5th graders, and Math 7/6 for 6th graders. Now you can choose a customized program for your student! if your student is whipping along eager to go forward, put him in Pre-Algebra, skipping Math 8/7. If math is challenging, choose Math 8/7 to give him another school year to fully master the basic concepts. Math 8/7 is the culmination of Saxon Homeschool Math for Middle Grades, reviewing arithmetic calculation, measurements, basic geometry, and other foundational concepts and skills. Math 8/7 gets a child ready for Pre-Algebra with extensive pre-algebra exercises. If you choose to do Math 8/7, then you will start Pre-Algebra in 8th grade.
Since the first 1/3 of every math book reviews what was lost over the summer, if you keep at this program steadily and don't stop in the summer, you can make incredible progress. When ready for a new book, I have my student just take the unit tests that come at the end of every five lessons until we "find our place". Usually, if they have been doing math regularly, they can jump into the next level book skipping lessons 1-15 or more. This is great to know if you feel behind in math--you can catch up!
Here's what each grade has to offer:
Primary Grades 1 - 3: complete kit contains paperback consumable Student Workbooks (part 1 & 2), Fact Cards, Teacher Manual & Meeting Book.
Two big Student Workbooks contain worksheet pages, giving practice and problems for the day's concept and are the core of the program. Fact Cards are flashcards used to drill the basic math facts. (I prefer Math-it for this purpose, as it gives children a way to figure out the math facts.) Homeschool Teacher's Manual contains 130-140 lessons with step-by-step scripts and instructions and is spiral-bound to lie flat when open. Approx. 700 to 850 pages. Meeting Book is used for the daily opening exericise and provides a fun way to teach the days, years and dates.
Middle Grades 4 - 8: contains paperback non-consumable Textbook, plus Tests and Worksheets
Customized for homeschoolers, this 2-color textbook contains 120 lessons and 12 investigations. Approx. 630 pages. There are no answers in the back of the book. A separate consumable workbook contains worksheets, facts practice and tests for one year. The Solutions Manual (sold separately) has full step-by-step solutions to all lessons and tests.