We are currently using Saxon Math 1 for Marco's kindergarten. I've been meaning to post on this subject since math has recently come up with some of my friends. Trying to decide on a math curriculum is not easy; especially if you and your child enjoy different methods of teaching/learning. Luckily, Saxon Math has fit us and here I am telling you why!
Saxon uses a spiral method of learning. Basically this means that concepts are broken down into pieces and presented throughout the year. There is daily review through worksheets and practice problems. The material is eventually mastered through this incremental development. The good thing about this approach for us is review. Constant review is what helps us really master all those math facts.
Another plus side for Saxon is the ease of use. I am not a seasoned homeschooler. Marco is my first and I'm still learning as I go. Because of this, Saxon is my logical choice. The lessons are scripted so that you always stay on track of the lesson. It is because of this that I never fail to ask the right questions and present the material in the best way possible. Other programs are merely made up of examples; Saxon goes further than that. They provide all the necessary strategies needed for you to truly teach your child. It's really a no-brainer.
The positive for the kids? Manipulatives. At this age, learning is made so much easier with the use of manipulatives. Saxon provides this in practically every lesson. The use of counting bears, pattern blocks, scales, geoboards, etc. make learning more hands-on and fun. It makes for a completely balanced curriculum. Anther good thing about the use of manipulatives is that they change. If you sit my child down with blocks to do math every single day...he'll get bored. But here, you are interchanging the use of blocks with other hands-on learning. It keeps boredom at bay.
Finally, how do I get 3 children ranging from 2 to 5 engaged in learning math for 15-20 minutes? Our math meeting time! Included in the lower Saxon grades is the meeting book. This is comprised of calendar time, counting, time, weather, money, and other concepts...each introduced slowly throughout the year. This is how we start math every day (or mostly everyday). The great thing about this is the flexibility. You really don't have to use the meeting book if you feel your children don't need it. I, however, find it to be a great way to really drill everyday concepts into my kids. It offers practice and goes along with the spiral approach to teaching/learning.
I can't promise you that your child will leap for joy at the mere mentioning of math; I know that my kids sometimes run and hide. But in the long run, it has given them a certain confidence about numbers and math concepts. It is the hour of our day that goes by the quickest and it is by far one of the easiest subjects for me to teach. I appreciate the repetitiveness involved with the calendar and counting before every lesson and the diversity in the introduction of new material. The kids appreciate the fun in the presentation of the lessons, the worksheets, and the independence they gain during our meeting time. Given the choices out there, I believe that for now, we have made the right decision!