I have seen A LOT of discussion on the Classical Conversations forums regarding Saxon. Saxon math curriculum is what CC recommends, and because of that, frankly, that is what we chose to start with this year.
I have to be honest; we love it. Little Man has always had a knack for numbers, and then he discovered the PBS show “Odd Squad” about a year ago. Combine that with the fact he seems to prefer to learn by auditory methods, and, well…let’s just say Saxon and CC have worked wonders for us.
I began by going to Saxon’s website and glancing at their placement test. I didn’t print it out or have him take it; I knew enough about what he could do to go through it. We chose Level 1 to start with this year, and I am glad we did. The K level would have been too juvenile for him, I believe, and we are at a good pace right now.
For those of you familiar with Saxon, what I’m about to say will make perfect sense. For those of you not so familiar, I hope the explanations help!
We start our lessons with the meeting book. This is designed to replace circle or calendar time in a typical classroom. It covers the calendar, pattern recognition, money counting, seasons, the clock, and right vs. left. We have modified it for our use, but we still cover it about 95% of the time. Because Little Man could not independently read of write at the beginning of our school year, and it is designed for first grade, I did have to assist in some ways. We are moving into him working more independently with it, however.
Then we have our new lesson for the day. Saxon layers its learning concepts, and I absolutely love this. I’m sure there is actually some educational jargon that goes along with this, but what I have noticed is that a concept is introduced heavily, backed off of, and then covered again a few weeks later. In the meantime, it pops up on the daily worksheets.
We only do the first side of the worksheet. Saxon suggests you do the first side when you teach the lesson, and then have your child do the back side later in the day. I chose not to do that; instead I stuck those back into the math binder, and about twenty days into math, I pulled them out and we started doing the back pages as review – one page per day. We were doing the back pages after we did our new lesson. Now Little Man does the review page as I’m setting up the new lesson, or working on another part of our schooling (writing out word cards for reading, for example). He can almost read the instructions all alone, and he’s figured out the method enough to fake it if he can’t 🙂
The other thing about Saxon that I really like are the facts sheets. There are flashcards (that we don’t review every day, because Little Man doesn’t have trouble with them, yet) and there are “timed tests” every day that review different addition and subtraction facts. We do these in between the new lesson learning and the new lesson worksheet. However, we don’t time these tests. I haven’t seen anywhere in my teacher’s guide that I’m supposed to time these tests, yet, so we just let him do them.
I have skipped three lessons so far: an apple seed graphing lesson (I have the materials, finally, I just haven’t worked it in), a lesson that involved grinding peanuts into peanut butter (my son hates peanut butter), and a lesson involving setting up a fake grocery store (he accompanies me to the store every week; he understands how grocery stores work).
I did not purchase the Saxon manipulative kit. I had purchased used manipulatives here and there, so I did have to purchase a brand new set of geoboards and a balance. But most of our math is done with Legos, stuffed animals, and Pez dispensers.
Record-keeping is super easy with Saxon. There are built in record keeping sheets for the fact sheets/timed tests, and the assessments that occur every ten lessons. The only completed sheets I keep are the written assessments, and I will most likely throw those away at the end of our year. Once the back side of a lesson has been completed as review, I recycle it. I will keep the record keeping sheets along with our attendance record for the year.
When he is focused, on-task, and in a happy mood, math takes about 20-30 minutes. On days when Little Man is not so…happy…math can take up to an hour, but that sometimes includes time-outs for one or both of us!
I know about this time last year, I was searching for people to tell me how their curriculum worked. This is how Saxon works for us.