Like a lot of moms, I have taken a whirl with many different curricula over our 6+ years of homeschooling. Some programs are the perfect fit on the first try. Others are the perfect fit for one child’s learning style, but not other children.
Needless to say, I’ve tried quite a bit of homeschool curriculum throughout the years.
Even though I have 4 children with vastly different learning needs and learning styles, Singapore Math has been a mainstay in my arsenal of teaching methods.
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It was that one subject that I didn’t have to laboriously think through each semester and make sure it was still “working.”
However, I’ll admit, that I do think I got a bit complacent with my math curriculum of choice over the last 12-18 months. There were signs that I needed to switch, and I wasn’t paying close enough attention to those signs.
Was my needing to switch an issue with Singapore Math?
Mostly, no. Let me give you the low down, but first I’ll start with all of the reasons I love Singapore Math.
Why I Chose Singapore Math in the First Place – And Why I Love It
When I first started researching math programs, my oldest child was in Kindergarten. He’s a bright boy and needed (and wanted!) to be challenged.
We started with Horizons Math K, and the spiral approach made us both want to crawl under the table every single day. After much research, I settled upon Singapore Math and we used that the rest of Kindergarten.
At the beginning of his 1st grade year, I claim that I had some type of amnesiac event because I switched him to Math-U-See.
It was an utter disaster.
Math-U-See is an excellent program and we adore their manipulatives; it just was a poor fit for my son. So back to Singapore Math we ran, and there we stayed for awhile.
I loved Singapore Math (and still do!) for a multitude of reasons, which I’m listing in no particular order:
— It teaches critical thinking skills and problem solving skills, starting from 1A. Their emphasis on critical thinking was a determining factor for me.
— Their Home Instructor Guides, despite their multiple typos, share this thinking process in terms that the average homeschool mom can use day after day. There’s no need to spend time reviewing how to do specific math concepts, as it’s spelled out in the HIG. This is especially important as you head into 5A – 6B, which is more complex math and more complex critical thinking.
— The Home Instructor Guide has numerous card games, hands-on activities, and learning ideas to help solidify math facts. Super important!
— The approach is mastery-based and not spiral. There are reviews scheduled in the workbook, but there are only 4-5 in the whole A or B section.
— There is an Extra Practice Workbook, Intensive Practice Workbook, and Word Problem Book if you want to purchase them. We’ve used a variety of these over the years for various children at different levels.
— The textbook pages are not cluttered. That makes a difference for some of my kiddos that are easily overwhelmed with a lot of text and/or pictures on a page.
How Did I Know We Needed a Math Change?
Well, I’m so glad you asked, because there were several signs that I needed to change curriculum, but I chose to put them on the back burner, so to speak.
During our last school year, my oldest son blew through 5A and 5B and was looking to be challenged in 6A and 6B. And while it was challenging in many aspects, the format of the 6A and B were hard for him. He’s at a stage where he wants to see if he can solve the math problems himself.
Because of the way Singapore Math is set up, it’s extremely teacher-intensive. The textbook is certainly not self-explanatory in the older elementary grades.
Despite giving my son the Home Instructor’s Guide and the textbook to study on his own, the presentation of information needed to be different for him. He completed all of 6A and some of 6B before our big switch.
Also, my oldest daughter was having significant trouble with the Singapore Math method. Her learning style is very different than my son’s, and she does need quite a bit of spiral review.
Because I have 4 children, I wanted to keep it more simple and have only one math curriculum for all of them, at different levels, of course. I wanted one math program that I could use with my eyes closed.
Singapore Math was that program for a long time. But as my children get older, I can see that I need to bend to their learning styles and needs, despite the “burden” it might put on me as their mama/teacher.
I also felt like my oldest daughter did not retain many of the concepts. We got to the middle of 3B, and I realized she had significant trouble with concepts taught in previous lessons. This probably had to do with the fact that she needed a bit more spiral review.
I knew we needed a change.
Lastly, I found myself not doing math as often as needed with my first grader during our last school year. Because Singapore Math is quite teacher-intensive, I found us not doing math very often, simply because I had run out of time and energy during the school day.
As I planned for this new school year in June, I took the time to truly evaluate our math program and write a list of what was working and what was not. Seeing that list on paper was the confirmation and the kick in the rear I needed to choose something else.
This post was a bit longer than I expected, so I’m going to write about Math Mammoth and publish it tomorrow. Make sure you check back on Monday (or possibly Tuesday) to read why I chose Math Mammoth for my children and how it’s working for us so far!