We used Math-U-See from about 3rd grade all the way through to high school. Math-U-See Calculus came out just in time for us. We were greatly relieved, as this meant we didn’t have to switch from Math-U-See to another curriculum.
We LIKE Math-U-See a lot!
Math-U-See is based on the mastery learning model, as opposed to the spiral curriculum model. The spiral curriculum model is nearly ubiquitous in institutional education, where the school’s performance is judged by aggregate test scores. In the spiral learning model the teachers and students spiral through the mathematics topics repeatedly, lightly and briefly covering each topic before moving on, regardless of whether each student or even any student has mastered what was supposed to be learned that day. This method optimizes the aggregate standardized test scores of the entire student body, but does not allow many individual students to become competent in mathematics.
The mastery learning model goes at the pace of the individual student. When the student “gets it,” you move along together quite briskly. When your student runs into trouble, programs like Math-U-See are designed to allow plenty of extra practice and multiple methods of teaching and re-teaching the material.
Since mastery of core subjects for our two children was a major goal for our homeschool, and we cared not one wit about aggregate test scores of entire populations of students, we chose Math-U-See and stuck with it.
We have been well-rewarded, in that both children are engineering students in college. Their courses of study are math-intensive, but they are very comfortable with that. In large measure we credit Math-U-See’s mastery learning model for giving the kids the college preparation they needed.
Like all Math-U-See curriculum, Math-U-See Calculus is designed to lead to mastery. The Instruction pack consists of the teacher’s manual and the instruction video. The teacher’s manual and instruction video explain the material in very simple terms. The teacher’s manual also contains the answers to all exercises and tests, fully worked out so the teacher and student can see exactly where they may have gone wrong.
The student pack consists of the exercise workbook and test booklet. My children never mark in their workbooks or test booklets, but instead write out all their problems on inexpensive graph paper composition books. This is the stage in mathematics when many parents buy their students expensive graphing calculators. This is not a bad idea, since calculus is generally taken in the senior year and the students are able to become very familiar with the graphing calculator before taking it to college with them. My kids did just fine with an ordinary scientific calculator.
Math-U-See Calculus Suited our Homeschooling Style
Our weekly routine consisted of going over the Unit lesson in the Teacher’s Manual and watching the video together at the beginning of the week. This was a fun review for me, and got the week off to a proper start. Even though most homeschool kids who are studying calculus are quite comfortable doing this all by themselves, I really liked knowing my calculus student was getting what she needed each Monday. For the remainder of the week she did the exercises in her workbook and checked her answers in the back of the Teacher’s Manual. This worked very well for us, because she was able to verify that she’d done a problem correctly immediately after she had finished it. This is THE MOST EFFECTIVE way to check your work in mathematics – instant feedback.
My kids came to me and asked to take the test when they felt ready. Then, and only then, did I take control of the Teacher’s Manual. I always corrected their tests for them the minute they finished. It was my policy to give half credit for any problem they got wrong on the test but subsequently went back and answered correctly – providing they showed their work! The unit tests are multiple choice questions, and I didn’t want to give any credit for a “2nd guess,” I wanted my child to show me she really understood the solution.
Math-U-See Calculus really worked out well for our family. We keep the materials on our bookshelves, because they really come in handy when we’re tutoring people in Calculus. I highly recommend this curriculum.
As I write this post the instruction Pack costs 90 dollars and the student pack costs 41 dollars. This is the cost directly from the Math-U-See website. I consider this to be a bargain. Obviously, you can use the Instruction Pack over and over again. Exceptionally frugal families do not allow their students to mark in their workbooks or test booklets. While the Student Pack is meant to be a consumable, you can keep it in pristine condition, use it for your student’s younger siblings and sell the entire set on the second-hand market when you are done.
It has been my experience that the best place for resale is a site called Homeschool Classifieds. This is also an excellent place to buy used curriculum, including Math-U-See materials. I have used this site to buy and sell curriculum many, many times. The people who do business there have been unfailingly courteous and honest.
As always, I wish you good fortune in your homeschooling endeavors. Please reach out to me in the comments, I love to read about your triumphs and concerns. I always want to know what you want me to write about next!
All the best,
Math-U-See curriculum was designed with the homeschool family in mind. It is easily adapted for use by the Independent learner, as long as the honor system works for the particular student. Several Units directly address practical applications in the sciences, statistics and probability. The organization of the material is readily conducive to a multidisciplinary approach. Math-U-See works well for several different learning styles. The presentation of the units is well-suited to cooperatives. The curriculum cost is very modest, and a frugal family can find ways to save even more on this investment.