Mastering Mathematics

Homeschool Curriculum Review

Mastering Mathematics We used this math program through all of elementary school. It’s easy to use, no frills, small steps, effective for teaching skills and mastering math facts. Reinforcement game ideas and templates are included. It is a K/1 through 7/8th grade progam, but can easily be completed by the end of 6th grade if you have a motivated child.

I had the opportunity to meet with the author's daughter for a one on one explanation of the program. I was convinced that the "baby steps mastery" approach made it better for the teacher and the student. I wish everyone had the opportunity to hear what I did that day.

Mastering Mathematics is a mastery program, so you won’t see any addition problems once you’ve moved to multiplication. (But you do have to add when you multiply 63 X 24, so in effect, that’s a review of easier math facts.)

My daughter had just left a public school second grade class, and I gave her the skills inventory and found she needed to start with page one. I knew she was having trouble with some of her math facts, but what a letdown! We started at page one like it suggested and worked hard for the rest of the year. I could see that her confidence was building and she didn't have the math mental block she had when she left school.

There is a scope and sequence at the beginning of the teacher's manual that tells you which pages to cover if you are concerned about math skills covered on standardized tests (specifically the CAT test.) I did notice she left out of this table pages 44-55 in the Perfecting the Point book, so make sure you fit those in somewhere if you feel that skill is essential.

Two years went by and I had heard stories about all the tears that are shed over learning long division, so I was nervous as we approached that section, but to my surprise, we got there and through it with no tears!

Don't expect colorful pages or flashy graphics in Mastering Mathematics. There aren't any. Just plain black and white worksheets. This is a dream come true for parents of children who are easily distracted.

The teacher's manual is fairly thin (really thin if you consider it covers 6 years) and the majority of it is an answer key. (I have found a few errors and have e-mailed the publisher...she is working on them.) Most of the "teaching" is actually done through text on the student workbook pages. Older children with good reading skills can teach themselves for the most part.

The downside...

The way Mastering Mathematics teaches subtraction is confusing for an old timer like me. It teaches it as the reverse of addition which makes sense, but the old explanation of "If you have 3 apples and I take 2 away, how many are left?" doesn't fit this approach. Many kids already have experience with this "oldtimer" type of question in real life, so it's hard to ignore. Not a big deal though, we just touched on the one or two pages that "taught" the reverse, but didn't pursue them further.

When learning to reduce fractions, some key knowledge is assumed. For example, the directions say when reducing fractions, whatever you do to the numerator, must be done to the denominator. Well, if a child is working on their own, they may assume you can subract to reduce. They have already learned that 4/8 and 1/2 are the same, but the explanation for that came when they were using rulers (so it was entirely a visual cue.) After this, it discusses factors and prime numbers, then begins with reducing problems, but never really explains the process or the desired result clearly. I found I had to add in alot of my own explanation at the beginning of that unit about prime numbers, factors, and how to reduce.

Also, watch for mistakes in the answer key. There aren't an overabundance, but they are there. (I give my kids a reward if they find a mistake and can prove they are correct.) The publisher is working on correcting them, but I don't know when the new version will be printed.

Overall, Mastering Mathematics is an excellent value for a homeschool math curriculum. There aren't many homeschool programs out there that will cover 1st to 6th grade for the price. Even though my children have graduated from this curriculum, I always welcome the opportunity to talk about it.

If you have used Mastering Mathematics and would like to submit a review for it, please use the contact me form.

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