So earlier this year, I posted some criticism of Rod & Staff math and it possibly being too easy and repetitive after my son completed Math-U-See Primer. Was this a mistake!
Rod & Staff is kind of boring and needs to be tweaked and supplemented to make it interesting, but it is a very solid and slow building program perfect for someone my son’s age.
After being initially disappointed by Rod & Staff Level 1, I purchased the Horizon’s curriculum. While I did like it enough, I thought the program was geared towards a normal aged 1st grader (i.e. age 7, not 4 1/2). Within the first 20 lessons or so, children are already being asked to begin memorizing math facts through 20. My son was good at doing these problems on the number line, but I wasn’t about to have him start memorizing his facts through 20 before having them down through 10. I had reviewed the placement information on the Horizons website and it definitely put him at the 1st grade level, but perhaps it has to do with the age. 1st graders are usually 7 and doing a full day of school and have more time to learn, where he just did school for an hour or so 3 to 4 days a week. So I stopped the curriculum and got Mammoth Math!
Everyone raves about Mammoth Math and I definitely see the strength of the program. There were parts of it my son really enjoyed and so far we are through page 50 of Level 1 in the middle of addition fact 9. But I could see that he was starting to dread math and shut down, when he initially liked it! I think there were a few things at play. One….Mammoth Math is kind of boring in its own way: many problems on a page, little colors, not geared towards 4 year olds. Second, it seems that half of the problems were solving for the unknown. I have no idea how this concept works for other children, but my son, who seems to catch on to math well, seemed to grow fatigued by the constant having to count and count again to figure out the unknown, and switch his brain from regular addition which he is still mastering. I think by the end of it he was actually beginning to see the merit of memorizing math facts so the problems would stop being so tedious! In any case, it was mostly the near constant solving for the unknown and his dread of it, that made me say on Friday, “Phineas, you said Rod & Staff was too easy, but now you have seen a really hard program, would you like to go back to Rod & Staff and maybe go back to this one when it can be more fun?” He gave a relieved, “Yes!” The other thing I think that was a play is his young age, while he completed all of the prerequisites for the challenges of first grade math, he might not be ready maturity-wise or development-wise to charge ahead in math (he is now 4 years, 10 months) and may need more time to just stay at the level he is at with small jumps in difficultly. That is why we are going back to Rod & Staff math…and I couldn’t be more relieved!
Through the recommendation of some other homeschool moms, I am going to try supplementing with a free online curriculum called MEP that will add the conceptual and “fun” component to math that Rod & Staff is lacking.
Well, there you go…hopefully our math journey will help someone else make a curriculum decision!