When I began homeschooling, I chose to use Saxon Math curriculum. We’ve gone through Saxon K, 1, and halfway through 2. It has proven to be a great fit for my family.
At first, I thought Saxon Math K started out a little slow. It feels like there’s more playing with the manipulatives than actual work. But I came to realize that for a kindergartener, that is the work. As they’re doing this, they’re becoming familiar with numbers, shapes, and patterns and how they work. This provides a really critical foundation of understanding a lot of basic concepts the students will need for more advanced skills.
There’s a lot of thought put into the scope and sequence of the lessons. Playing with pennies and dimes leads to counting by tens, which leads to understanding place value, which leads to addition with regrouping. (That’s carrying if you’re old school.) Even the order in which addition facts are learned have been thought out carefully. Students don’t just blindly memorize the addition facts. They are taught to learn them by the relationships between the numbers. First you learn doubles, such as 3+3. Later it’s doubles plus 1, such as 3+4. It’s easier to learn 3+4=7 once you know 3+3=6. I didn’t see it when we first started, but now after a few years, I can see that there is a very well thought out plan behind all these lessons.
I love the use of manipulatives. This was what drew me to Saxon in the first place. Math is one of those subjects that students usually either love or hate. It’s a lot harder to hate a subject when it feels like you’re playing with toys during the lessons. Manipulatives can give students a deeper and truer understanding of a concept since they can see it and touch it. The manipulatives make the lessons much more accessible to visual and kinesthetic learners. It has also been a diversion for my preschoolers more than once when I’m trying to work with my older daughter!
There’s a lot to Saxon Math. Maybe too much. If you did everything provided for each lesson, it would probably take a good hour. But we don’t have to do everything, and we’re still doing just fine. Saxon uses the spiral review method, so students can keep their skills fresh. Even though we skip some of this, I’d much rather have a curriculum that gives too much to do than one that leaves me feeling like we’re missing something.
One thing I would change about Saxon is that the skill taught in the lesson is not always immediately reinforced in that day’s worksheet. I don’t think 25 or 30 questions is appropriate, but three to five questions or problems on that lessons skill would be a very good tool to check for the student’s understanding. Most lessons do contain this built-in check, but there are definitely some inconsistencies in this area.
Saxon Math is a bit on the pricey side, but I think it is worth it. The Saxon Math Homeschool kits cost $96.50 ($63.50 for K). Additional workbooks can be purchased for additional students for $27.50 without having to buy the whole kit again. The manipulatives set costs $77.50 which is used for the K-3 curriculum (and occassionally preschool).