I am going to explain to you all about Math-U-See (South Africa) and how it works.
I particularly say, “South Africa” because you will see that we have the South African Edition. Thanks to Steve Demme, the Author and Publisher of Math-U-See in America, who has given us the authority to print and publish Math-U-See in South Africa, and allowed us to specifically convert it to a South African edition, meaning that we are using South African colloquialism, the metric system and the currency that pertains to our country.
To give you an overview as to how the whole program works and to help you know where to start and how it works, the first place to start is to do a “Placement Test”. You will see on the site there are placements tests and the first thing to do is to do one of these for each of your children to ascertain their individual skill level in Mathematics. You are going to discover that your child might be ready to go in at the multiplication level, or the division level or where-ever the placement test has indicated.
Please don’t get stuck in their age or their grade levels. You can have a 10 year old that is very proficient in Maths and another 10 year old that is struggling, their Grade is not really relevant, what is relevant is their skill level and understanding.
You will also get familiar with the colour coding and Greek Alphabet used by Math-U-See to differentiate the levels. Alpha, Beta, Gamma and so on, so you don’t need to think about this as being Grade 2, but rather the skill level it provides. So once you have done the placement test you are going to establish what that skill is with each child.
The second question you may have will result from the fact that one book focusses very much on addition, the next on subtraction, then multiplication and division and you might ask, “What if they have come out of Grade 4 and you need to do division and they have already done division?” You now need to do the placement test and may find that they need to slot in at the subtraction because maybe their multiplication and division are not solid enough. Please don’t worry about that you have to look at the bigger picture.
If you are focussing on addition and then moving on to subtraction they will still do addition, as we know subtraction is the reverse of addition, when they get to multiplication they still have to add and subtract and so-on. So you don’t have to concern yourself in that it is a different format and different to how it was done at the school they were at, where perhaps they did little bits of everything. With Math-U-See the way Steve has designed and developed this is to get a solid grounding in each skill before moving on to the next one, so that the wheels don’t fall off somewhere down the road.
The next thing is not to concern yourself if you need to start your child a few levels below that of their age or grade, because you are helping them fill in the holes and gaps and helping them in those areas where there hasn’t been understanding. In Maths this is especially important as you can’t go on and do Calculus if there are areas, such as division, where the concept has not been fully grasped. So see it as an entire journey, the big picture, at the end of it they are going to very well educated in Maths. We have testimonies of students who have gone on to University and their professors have asked them where they learnt their maths because they are amazed at their ability to grasp concepts and move on in their learning.
You get a student book and a test book and that is for your child to use. Then there is the Instruction book and DVD which the parent might use. Fortunately for us, we have Steve Demme in our homes, thanks to these DVD’s, you can play them on your DVD player or computer and you will find that every lesson in the student workbook is presented first on the DVD by Steve himself. He is very passionate about what he does and is a God fearing man and that is also wonderful as it comes through when watching the tapes. This supports the vision and mission of Oikos.
So you would watch the DVD with the parent manual. In the parent manual there are instructions in the beginning of the book and so you would read through that, then you get to lesson 1. Now remember that Steve realises that maybe you are nervous with Maths and need some help, basically he understands the needs of a parent at home, so he has put this manual together for us, which is really helpful. So you would read through lesson 1, it is not a lot of pages, you will see similar images in the manual to what the child has in their student book and so together with the DVD you are going to guide the child in that lesson.
Now you want to know about the answers, they are all in the back of your Parent Manual, answers for the Unit Tests all the other tests, parents do worry about where they are going to get the answers from. How are you going to know that your child has completed that grade? Well ,remember we don’t talk about grades but skill levels. At the end of each book (Student) you can find a certificate that says congratulations you have finished this level and can move on to the next, you take that out and place it in their portfolio. As the parent you know if the student has understood this, you know that if they were struggling, you went back and helped them grasp that concept before moving on.
How long is it going to take? Each level is designed and written to take a school year, however you might take 2 years with your child on one level and 6 months on the next, it all depends on your child and their ability.
The student also has a test book. At the end of every lesson they are going to do a little test which gives you the parent, an indication of whether they have understood and how they have grasped that level. The Alpha test book is a Test and Activity book. From the Beta level on, the Test books are only test books and look a little different, they are stitched and not glue bound. You have the answers to these tests in your instruction manuals so you can mark the children test and see how they have done.
A parent has asked me what do you do if they don’t do very well in their test? Well, then you don’t move on, you wont carry on to the next concept if they only have 50% of the concept from the lesson before. So you will spend more time own that lesson, until the child has the understanding and ability to grasp the concepts of the lesson.
Another question we have had often recently is about the binding of the books. Math-U-See used to comb bind their books , however they have changed from comb or spiral bound to glue bound. People have asked if we please can’t provide the spiral bound books as the student has difficulty with the glue bound books not lying flat and being difficult to write in. We are terribly sorry but we do have to comply with what the developers request of us, so we must make them glue bound, but a couple of tips; you can put some books under the section that appears not to be laying flat when the book is opened. The format of the book is such that it really should not be too difficult for the child to write in the book. The cone bound books did lie flatter but we aren’t able to produce it in that way, the content is what matters and this is such a wonderful program. We have thousands of home educators using it and they are finding it incredibly invaluable, we have so many testimonies of people who have been to other curricula, even free maths, which is available, and they find that it does not offer the full value offered by Math-U-See.
I must mention that once you have bought the Alpha set you do not need to buy the instruction manual and DVD for your second or third children, as they come up through the system you will only have to get them the student Text and Test book. However if you are on child number 5 and you find the disc is worn out a little bit you might find you need to replace those later on. You can do this and we will sell it to you as a separate item, but this does need a special request as we are not permitted to sell the discs separately , but as replacement discs we do give special consideration.
What else do you need to go with each level? This can be confusing as each level shows you what you need, but Alpha shows you the Skip Counting , as does Beta and so-on, but the skip counting DVD covers multiplication and so it comes in at the multiplication level onwards. It is a music disc with a little song book to help memorise multiplication facts. Some people might like to get this earlier on (and that is why we include it in the earlier levels) as their children may have done some multiplication at school, and the parent might chose Beta and then get the skip counting while they wait for the student to get to the Gamma level.
The Fraction Overlays are now presented differently and you might have the old ones, but that is no problem. This is an exceptional tool and is broken into the different packs of fractions and they will be used in conjunction with the lesson. It is a very hands on way of learning. You clearly don’t need these at Alpha or Beta level but you do need it from Epsilon onwards. These are non consumable so you only require to buy it once, although some parents prefer to get one set for each child, but mostly only one set is required. Many of the lessons depend on these overlays so without them it will be difficult to do the examples. This is very hands on, bringing the teaching into a concrete format, combining all the senses and this is why this program is so successful.
The manipulative blocks are used right up to the higher levels. When you watch Steve giving you the lesson on the DVD he is going to show you the blocks and ask your student to take out the blocks that are required for that particular lesson. The blocks in this set are enough for all the children in the family, but some families do buy two. The blocks are essential from the start, from Epsilon onwards the Fraction overlays are essential, the Skip Counting is a useful tool from Gamma onwards, or before.
The Instruction manual and DVD set is essential for the parent and the workbook and test book set is essential for the student.
Once you have made your investment in the Math-U-See product you will obviously only have to buy the student test and text book for any children following on as mentioned earlier.
I must emphasise how much we value this South African Math-U-See program, parents have told us how wonderful this program is, how they had their children at extra maths and how it cost them a fortune, but now with Math-U-See they have found the children have really been able to grasp the concepts. We have also had adults who have bought this program, adults who did not pass their maths at school, or they struggled with it, and they have used this program to aid them in their adult life. They describe the light bulb moments that they have when understanding becomes clear, even the parents using these resources to teach their children have written in to say they can’t believe how now when teaching their child they find that they can fully grasp fractions when they found it so hard before.
Clearly this is a successful program, clearly it has made many happy and we hope it makes you happy, but of course if you have any questions you are welcome to contact us and we will help you in any way we can.