Friday, October 24, 2014

Method To Madness-Teaching Textbooks, Abeka and Saxon

Three Maths - One Challenge
My son started the school year doing a combination of Abeka (Core Curriculum) and Teaching Textbooks.
Here's My Challenges With Both
Then the curve ball with another - SAXON Math

Speed Racer's Starting Point:
*Triage and Sharpening in the below skills are needed*
Multiplication and Division Quick Recall
Fractions (Adding or Subtracting Mixed Numbers, Multiplying, Dividing)
Decimals (Multiplying and Dividing).

Speed Racer uses this as his core Math Curriculum.

He watches the video instructor (this is his favorite class to watch) and does workbook 'seat work' with the class. Then every other day he has either a Speed Drill of old facts and 5-10 'homework' problems and homework. Truth be told I should've gotten him Math 5 since he isn't really ready for 6th grade math.

We are 50 days into these lessons and for Abeka Academy.

- He can't 'cheat' the system
- What he doesn't know is easily revealed in (1) the speed drills (2) the homework (3) the hand written quizzes and test
- He can call the video teacher or speak to a tutor provided by Abeka Academy when he gets stuck

Speed Racer uses this as his supplemental Math Curriculum.

This he does completely independent.

I check his scores everyday when I get home. He's been scoring 70s and 80s.

We are 86 days into this curriculum as he was doing it for summer.

- My kid found a way to'cheat' the system
- What he doesn't know is  not easily revealed unless I (1) disable the calculator function on the computer (2) keep a watchful eye on his scoring - which questions he got wrong or right

I'm putting this curriculum aside for Summer Learning since he isn't retaining his math facts from it. It's too easy for him to 'cheat' the program and neither one of us likes their book that much. It's not helping him to master some core concepts.

This will be Speed Racers NEW Core Math...

Saxon! Boy have I heard mixed reviews on this one. However, after realizing my Speed Racer had problems with his core math facts - memorization or knowing the answers cold, I thumbed through a friend's copy of this Math curriculum she swears by. We are using Math 6/5 which means it's for an average 6th grader and an advanced 5th grader. We got the paperback bound books so my kid who hates writing can write directly on the page the answers to the problems.

He does bulk at the number of problems he has to do:

(1) Math Drills (50 to 100 problems) timed - takes him about 5 to 10 min.
(2) Mental Math Practice - another 5-10 problems - takes about 5 min with me.
(3) New Lesson Practice where he and I read the lesson direction and he does problems in the lesson review: 25-30 problems - takes another 30 min.

It is recommended that the child complete ALL problems for the best success. This though may be the reason lots of parents and kids 'hate' it. However, this was the way I learned math when I was a kid and it worked wonders for me. Not only that, it solidifies his learning.

There is a test every 10 lessons.

We are 15 days into this curriculum and - HE IS MASTERING HIS FACTS. A great improvement. Whew!

- My kid can't cheat this system.
- He finishes it and with each lesson I see him doing it faster (although he complains) so I time him.
- I do make him finish all the questions - but we break it up during the day. He does the Drills and mental math sections in the morning, then after snack/lunch he finishes the new lesson after his favorite class - reading.


SAXON gets it done and goes all the way up to CALCULUS

ABEKA is very RIGOROUS and triage is difficult for younger grades. The upper grades in HIGH SCHOOL Algebra is VERY challenging, but on par with SAXON.

TEACHING TEXTBOOKS is a 'light' math curriculum, good as a supplement if you have plans for your kid to enter engineering or science fields - try one of the above maths (SAXON or ABEKA). The Algebra 1 and 2 is 'very' light compared to the other two curriculums. is a REALLY good option to TEACHING TEXTBOOKS as it offers SPEED DRILLS, ALL GRADES up to CALCULUS and is online with parental controls.

Or Even Changing Them.

It's easy to find places where your child is having the most challenges.

There is no 'perfect' one fits all Math Program out there. So build one of your own.

Using both has shown me the 'strength of each'.

We still use supplements like and flashcards just to mix things up.


Tiger Lilly is really cramming for her CLEP test in English COMPOSITION. I really hope she passes it. So I've been timing her on essay writing, having her take sample test, and reviewing her flashcard memorization progress.

Her other classes we cut back on since we are using a 'block schedule' it works well with moving around stuff.

Speed Racer had a mini-tantrum (pouting & tossing himself around - at 11 yrs old - really! Sigh.) while working with his sister Rose. So, he had to recite the CALM DOWN list 2 times that day and spend some time doing jumping jacks while reflecting. After that, he was back on track. His scheduled subjects have had a bit of a change around, but he adjusted fine.

Report Cards were given to the kids. Overall both are doing well, but there are areas of needed improvement (mainly for me to find what works best for them). I asked them to advise mom/dad (teachers) on how we can make them successful in some of their more challenging subjects. Speed Racer needed better direction in (Math & Spelling). Tiger Lilly wanted a more interactive Language program and wanted out of Abeka Spanish because she doesn't have a 'passion' for that language. So we updated her Japanese and added French.


Meals. Didn't do grocery shopping on Sunday or meal planning. So...did some of it on Monday while my home helper (sister Rose) ran the kiddos to their sports.Then I sent hubba to the store on Tuesday to get the things I forgot (he was happy since I took over his evening of schooling to send him on the errand). I planned plain ole meat with veggie meals for the week. One crockpot dish and rice as a side.

Cleaning. Still haven't had a chance to wash my clothes. However, the kids close are somewhat caught up (still have 4 loads). I did wash clothes during 'schooling hours' and put on the 'baby monitor' that lets me make sure the kids are still on task when I cleaned the upstairs bathrooms.
Work & Life Balance. A bit off kilter since I am working extra hours to be off early next week. So getting up at the ungodly hour of 3:45am to work a few extra hours for the week while getting off work by 2pm to start school is madness.

Lesson Planning. Had to rework courses on my excel spreadsheet for them, but that went well. I only did a week in advance though since I will be rolling off some of the online courses for the kids that end soon.

Rest. So, this I'm doing better now since my Hubba is taking his night shift with the kids back over. I get to bed at 10pm (as long as I don't get side-tracked working on my side-business). Except on Tuesday. A bedtime at 6 hours a night has been doing wonders for my complextion and disposition. Also, I do sneak in a 30 min. power nap 3 days a week while the kids are at their sports. Even so, I must not be getting all the sleep I need since I am sleeping in until 11am on Saturdays. But hey, I'm not complaining.


  1. You need a medal! I can just about school, I definitely couldn't manage school as well as work. Hats off to you for making it work!

  2. I'm glad to hear you can at least squeeze in a couple of extra hours' sleep on a Sunday morning! Glad to hear the Saxon maths is working for you, too. I know so many people who swear by it.

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