Homeschooling Update: First Grade Math

Homeschooling First Grade MathBack in December 2014 I wrote about the issues I’d had with homeschooling math in kindergarten. I didn’t realize it’d been that long since I wrote specifically about math, beyond the small updates I give occasionally. Clearly it’s past time I gave some details about what we’re doing for math in first grade.

What We’ve Been Doing

Math Mammoth 2AIn that long-ago post I mentioned that I was interested in trying Math Mammoth (MM), with the hope of eventually moving on to Beast Academy. That’s exactly what we’ve been doing. MM has worked very well for us – I like how it’s structured, it’s *much* easier to actually teach than Right Start was for me (I *loved* the idea of Right Start, the research behind it, their goals, etc, but *detested* teaching it. So not a good fit for us.)

I like how MM is laid out, and the number of problems on a page. He does two pages a day, and that has him moving through the books at a nice pace. I often pull pages from different sections, so for example, he’ll be working through a chapter on addition and one on the clock at the same time. In the introduction the author tells you which chapters you can do “out of order” that way, so it doesn’t always work to do it like that, but much of the time it does, and G prefers it.

The “Second” Math Curriculum

Mathematical Reasoning BNot necessary at all – Math Mammoth is a full curriculum – but we had been using Mathematical Reasoning (MR) from Preschool on up, and G LOVES it, so we’ve continued. It’s much easier than MM is, but provides good practice for him at doing math quickly. He also does 2 pages of it each day, and I like how that has him doing more math each day, but he thinks it’s super fun.

They blend together quite well – MM is black and white (they pdfs are in color, but I didn’t want to pay for color printing), and MR is *very* colorful. It makes for a fun mix each day.

Where They Shine

Math Mammoth is extremely affordable – keep an eye out for sales, and you can download a complete math curriculum from 1st through 7th grade for a lower fee than some curriculum charge for one year. There’s currently one right now through the end of January for 25% off the downloadable version. That’s a great deal!

MM is also completely reusable – get the downloadable version and you can print off copies for each child – that’s fantastic when you have additional students coming along in later years.

MM emphasizes mental math and the why of things, not just memorizing methods – this is incredibly important to me, as it is not how I learned math.

MM excels in giving multiple ways of tackling problems. I’d never heard of some of the methods, but I *loved* how the author does that – giving the student different approaches to take. It’s a great way to get him thinking mathematically, and I love it.

Mathematical Reasoning is lots of fun for him, and includes more puzzles, especially as he gets later in the book. It’ll have a page of math problems, and he has to solve them in order to figure out the puzzle – either a mystery phrase, the answer to a riddle, or a dot to dot, etc. He loves those pages! He also absolutely adores the “Mind Benders” that are scattered throughout the book – so much so that I bought him a book just of those for Christmas. They’re like the Logic puzzles, scaled down for that age. Super fun, and I love how they get his brain turning. The book rarely feels like work to him.

Some Things to Be Aware Of

Math Mammoth is available as a download, on CD, or a printed version. While the pages are in color, if (like me) you get the download version and print it in black & white, there are things that don’t show correctly. It’s never been impossible to figure out, but be aware of the potential issue and be ready to help your child. Using alternatives to colors would have solved this issue – varying patterns or something similar – and it’s possible at some point that the author may address this small irritation. It’s not at all something that would keep me from using the curriculum in the future or recommending it.

Mathematical Reasoning claims to be a full math curriculum, but it doesn’t seem like it would be – that it isn’t complete enough as far as practice goes. As far as I can tell (and to be clear I am *not* an expert in math education), it covers all the topics that MM and other curriculum cover for each grade, just in less detail. It definitely doesn’t provide all of the alternative ways of doing the problems that MM provides. It doesn’t really seem to do much at all in the way of teaching anything – just gives practice.

What’s Next?

Beast Academy 3AG is within about a week of finishing Mathematical Reasoning B, and I need to hurry up and order C for him – he’s specifically requested it, so of course I want to get it for him. Math Mammoth 2B is already printed for him so he’ll move into that whenever he finishes 2A – at his current pace that should be early February. For now, we’ll just continue with the 2 pages of each every day routine we’ve got going, as it’s working so well.

Looking further ahead, shortly before Christmas I bought the first book from Beast Academy (BA), and skimmed through it, trying to get an idea of when he’ll be ready for it – it’s a *very* different curriculum, and I think he’ll enjoy it. It’ll be more obvious once he finished Math Mammoth’s 2B, so I didn’t worry about making a firm decision right now.

I may decide to do MM’s 3A & 3B, and then move to BA’s 3A. Because of the way we’re pacing things, he is working “ahead” technically based on his age, so having the extra curriculum won’t matter. Plus that may have him doing the harder BA work when he’s already covered it in a way through MM. Might make it a bit easier for him?

I don’t think I’ll continue with Mathematical Reasoning with him at that point, but if he still loves it and asks for it I can probably be persuaded. It’s hard to turn down a boy asking for a math book, even if they are kind of expensive for a supplemental math program. I’m *hoping* BA gives him that fun math approach he’s enjoying from MR, but we’ll see what happens. I may end up continuing on with MM as the “main” curriculum (it is working really well) and using BA as an occasional add on – letting him work through slowly, “behind” where he’d be grade-wise.


Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: What the Kids are Reading (in January 2015)
Two years ago: Book Review: The Spirit Rebellion (The Legend of Eli Monpress #2) by Rachel Aaron
Three years ago: Book Review: Momumental by Jennifer Grant

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