Argh. I just don't know what to do.
I just cannot make math decisions for any of my kids. And my decision process was complicated this weekend when I was given the teacher materials for Math U See Primer, Alpha and Beta.
So here is my dilemma... my three youngest kids (kindergarten, 2nd and 5th grades) have never truly had formal math. We've dabbled with stuff, and they are all quite good with math theory. They are all weak on math facts. That, by the way, is also true for my older kids who HAVE had plenty of formal math.
So... in looking at the realistic options for my kids, I can use Math U See, Math Mammoth, Singapore Math, Scott Foresman Exploring Mathematics, or possibly Math on the Level.
Singapore Math -- I own the textbooks and home instructor guides for levels 1-6. I own workbooks for all of Earlybird, and levels 1A through 2A. So Trina would cost me nothing, Richard (who tested into 2) would cost me 1-2 workbooks (I think he'd work through 2A, 2B and 3A in a year), and Thomas would cost me 3 workbooks (we'd review the text for 3A and 3B, then 'do' 4A through 5A, I think).
Advantages: I know the program works. Richard is very much like Connor with math, and this program was fantastic for Connor. Dale likes the idea of us using this.
Disadvantages: I would have to teach, and it isn't as fun as some other options out there.
Scott Foresman Exploring Math
Colorful, inviting, worksheet based for K-2, text for 3 and up. I own it all and wouldn't have to spend anything. This goes in a more traditional scope and sequence. I worry about too much busy work, but really, a couple pages a day isn't all bad. The textbooks though, I don't know...
I own Grade 1 and 2 but would have to purchase the rest. I love that it is non-consumable. I like the way it teaches. It doesn't help me figure out what to do with Trina this year. It incorporates games, websites, all kinds of fun stuff.
I like that the page count is fairly low, and the individual worksheets are rarely intimidating. It is thorough, and I don't have to keep track of anything besides where I saved the file.
Math U See
This would be the expensive option. I need manipulatives, I'd need the student books. And those add up.
The biggest advantage would be that I could be a step removed in the teaching process. Anything that lets me "hire help" is a good thing.
What I worry about, though, is that my kids are very, very (VERY) strong on theory, and they struggle to memorize facts. My biggest hang-up is camping out while they work on truly knowing a given set of math facts and them being bored to tears. Conceptually, my 7 year old is understanding high school geometry and beginning algebra. Math facts though? He is still working on addition and is intimidated by a page of single digit addition problems.
My concern is him zoning out and hating math. Because honestly, I'm not all that worried about whether or not he has memorized his addition tables... his older brothers have all mastered them when they actually needed to (but way later than everyone says kids are "supposed to")
Could I buy the manipulatives and use the DVDs as a supplement?
Math on the Level:
I own part of the program, and I love the concept. I wish it had existed when my oldest was around 1st or 2nd grade, as I think it would have been great. Right now, though, I look at it and think "I do not have the time or patience to figure this all out."
How do I decide? The cheapest option (Scott Foresman)? The least time consuming for mom option (Math U See)? The one Dad likes best (Singapore)? The one that looks like the best mix of straight-forward and not time-consuming for the kids (Math Mammoth)?
Or do I just roll a die? We own a 10-sided one... I could give each option two numbers...