Wednesday, April 2, 2014

How I Pick Math Curriculum

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Last week I shared this post which is kind of a sneak peak into what we're planning on using next year. I've gotten a few e-mails about how I arrived at the different curriculum decisions so I figured I'd give you the run down. I'm going to start with math this week and do one subject a week until it's all wrapped up.

When we started homeschooling we were traveling in our camper and we chose to go with as our spine for our curriculum. I was taking the computer with me and figured that (plus for Peanut) would give me a good idea of what to get from the library as we needed it. Yeah, that "might" have worked if my children enjoyed either program. It was a constant battle to get them to do their lessons and do them within x amount of time so the next one could get on our only computer. Needless to say this option only lasted about three and a half months before I saw that we needed something else.

Which led me to the A Beka web site after a few days of diligent searching for not only good solid text books but for something we could afford. Since this was halfway through the school year by that point I only purchased the English and math books and then bought a few workbooks as well. For science we did nature walks and spoke a lot about everything we found. For history we did a GIANT unit on Native Americans as neither of the Cracker Jack's were 100% that they were even real! (Yeah, I didn't like that either.) Health was something we just generally talked about and physical education came in the form of tons of walks and outside time.

So, it was natural to follow through for us with A Beka books as it seemed the children enjoyed them and were actually learning. We could afford individual texts as long as I was willing to make the lesson plans and grade myself instead of purchasing answer books. Going into sixth grade for ECJ I was pretty confident of myself to be able to do this without too much headache. I had after all done some credits in college so I was sure I could handle middle school math. Well, I did but sometimes I was learning right along with him. And by now (we still have about two "official" months left of this school year) both Cracker Jack's are almost finished with their math books and ECJ is finished with his English book.

I had to find a new math curriculum for both Cracker Jack's and I knew it. They were ready for something more challenging. BUT I have to stay inside my budget. Saxon math looks so wonderful and I have been told that it is very challenging, but to purchase the whole math curriculum for both Cracker Jack's is going to take me waaaaaaay out of budget. Both kits would cost me around $80 each brand new! However, I checked out Amazon (of course) and found that I can purchase just the materials I need for much less if I purchase used (or even the kits if I find extra money in the budget). This made the decision easy for me. Considering that if I buy used, before shipping costs, I can get what I need for each child for under $15!! So, Saxon math (which I've been looking into since the very beginning) has become the definitive choice for the Cracker Jack's.

But what about Peanut? Did I want to start her right away on Saxon? Nope. Did I want to start her in A Beka for first grade next year? Nope. And why don't I want to go with either of these fine choices for Peanut? Well, you all know that Peanut is legally blind and I'm attempting to use the most visually stimulating curriculum for every subject that I can get my hands on. This led me on the rounds of Internet searches again. In the hopes of finding that "one" curriculum I "knew" would work for her. I sent off for catalogues, I lurked websites, I got any and all free examples that I could find. So, what did we finally choose (this was actually about a five month long project of mine to find the best possible choice that I could for her)? 

McRuffy Math!!! Oh, I'm so excited to be getting this program for Peanut. I've had to pinch the pennies and get creative to be able to squeeze the whole first grade kit into our budget but it's darned worth it in my opinion. The manipulative kits builds upon each other most years, which means the cost does go down considerably each year through to fifth grade. First grade for the entire curriculum for math, including all of the wonderful manipulative's, will cost me about $90. Which is more than we've paid for one child for a single subject ever. If we choose to go ala carte, as we usually do, then it will cost us around $50 or so. We believe in this instance that it will be better to go ahead and purchase the full math curriculum with manipulative's so that we can simply build upon it each year through her fifth grade year. And as this is a curriculum that we've never tried before I think it best I get the lesson plans this time.

For those of you unfamiliar with the McRuffy math products here is a site to see some of the reviews written on it (independent of McRuffy Press) reviews . The difference between A Beka and McRuffy is that A Beka is a mastery style system and McRuffy is a spiral teachings system. Saxon is also a spiral system. The mastery system has worked for us, it's just time for more challenge and some change.

Yes, the choices we've made for this year's math have increased what we usually spend on math curriculum. However, math is such an integral part of life (you really do use it for nearly everything) that we want to make sure we're giving them the best understanding of it that we can. Using Amazon strictly for the Saxon books that we need, as we're not planning on purchasing the McRuffy books through Amazon at this point, we're looking at a grand total (all three children) of around $133. This is approximately one third of our text book budget for the year.

For those of you who are curious as to if I'll post at the end of each of the posts in this series how we're doing on our text budget for next year...

Total monies towards texts so far: $133

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1 comment:

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