Math In Focus (Saxon)

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bforgerson

  • Reviewed on Tuesday, May 21, 2013
  • Grades Used: K & 1
  • Dates used: 2012 - 2013
So, I've never written a review before, but I had to for this curriculum. I LOVE it! That means a lot coming from me! First of all, I am one of those people that hears about a new curriculum and always wonders if I should switch - except for Math in Focus! Also, I was a high school math teacher, so I am really picky about math. In my opinion, this curriculum has a strong emphasis on skills AND mathematical thinking - exactly what every student needs. I have only used the K and 1 levels so far, but here are some of my thoughts that might be helpful.
1) The scope and sequence is VERY similar to Singapore Math. Students would have no problem switching between the two.
2) While the MIF K level is good, it is different than the other levels, and is really more suited for teaching in the classroom than homeschooling. With my younger children, I will use Earlybird Kindergarten from Singapore Math and then switch them to Math in Focus.
3) I knew I wanted to use the Singapore Math approach, so I used MIF and Primary Mathematics side by side this year to decide between the two. Here are some of the things I noticed. The Math in Focus Teacher's Edition is wonderful! It's not that the Primary Mathematics HIG is not good - it has good information - it just isn't laid out as nice and you have to have all the books open to see what they're talking about. The student assignments in MIF are more difficult (generally) than PM. Both programs pretty much teach the same ways to do each problem in the lesson development, but MIF incorporates more step by step questions of the process in the actual assignments. Now, I will say, there were a few lessons where I thought that convoluted things, but I'd rather leave those problems out than not have them at all (because usually I thought it was great). The other con with this is that my daughter needed more of my assistance with MIF assignments. The directions change more frequently and they're more difficult. I also liked the MIF student book better. Key points and objectives are obvious, and it was easier to teach out of it without the teacher's manual open. The assessments for MIF are definitely more difficult than PM. I actually thought some of them for MIF were too hard and the ones for PM too easy. You could have a problem you've never seen before on a MIF assessment. They're good problems, but I wouldn't choose to do that to a 1st grader on a test. You obviously don't need to use the assessments or not count all the problems. All in all, I felt like the MIF assessments more accurately portrayed what the student was understanding and provided an additional learning experience for my daughter.
4) MIF is challenging all around, but it does a great job teaching the concepts. My daughter seems to have a propensity towards math, so I have at times wondered how a child that is not as mathematically inclined would do in the course. We'll see with my other children.
5) MIF is A LOT more expensive to buy new. However, I have bought everything but the workbooks used and have gotten them for the same prices as PM. You just have to keep your eyes open. The consumables for the year only cost $15 at Rainbow Resource.
Sorry so long - just had a lot to say on what I believe to be a great curriculum. I feel like my daughter has an outstanding foundation for future years! It's definitely worth your consideration.

CindyLou

  • Reviewed on Thursday, July 12, 2012
  • Grades Used: 3rd Grade
  • Dates used: July 2012 (currently using!)
I am not a math person. So much so, that while at college, my husband use to joke that the hardest class he ever took was tutoring me in math. Fast forward 30 years - here I am trying to teach basic 3rd grade level math to my daughter. I like the idea of Singapore Math. But when it came to TEACHING Singapore Primary Math, I just didn't "get it" - I couldn't match up the teacher's guide with the student guide, and we were starting to get into certain concepts that I really needed the security of a teacher's guide to make certain I was teaching it all correctly.

Needless to say, I was frustrated. My daughter was frustrated. And math was a drudgery for BOTH of us.

THEN I found Math-In-Focus. It is Saxon's version of Singapore Math. It's expensive compared to Singapore Primary Math. But worth every penny. Here's why: the TEACHER"S MANUAL!! Oh my goodness, I wish ALL of the subjects I teach had a guide like this! It spells everything out step-by-step for me, the parent, the teacher - it's actually teaching me how to teach math! There's a snapshot of the correlating child's workbook page on the bottom of the Teacher's Guide page so I never have to guess, or get confused, on whether the guide & student workbook are lining up! Singapore Math, especially Math-In-Focus, explains the concept in terms that both my daughter & I easily understand. Not only does my daughter look forward to math each day, but for the FIRST TIME IN MY LIFE - EVER! - **I** look forward to doing math, as well! I'm learning right along with her, finally understanding concepts that frustrated me back when I was in school.

If you are a non-math parent looking for a math curriculum that is easy-to-teach (not to mention fun!), then I highly recommend Math-In-Focus.