Wednesday, August 18

Simply Good & Beautiful Math for Middle School {Review}

Now that our youngest is approaching high school, we are rethinking so many subjects. What worked best before is not necessarily the best fit now. With his special needs, we went off in search of more relaxed and gentle approaches to core subjects, including math...

Simply Good and Beautiful Math was the perfect solution!  Each of these brand-new math courses was created to provide a perfect balance of enjoyable learning along with development of a strong math foundation.  They combine fun games and activities with the highest academic standards, diversity, and connected learning, and we love the way that math is seamlessly linked to real life in engaging and meaningful ways.

I should back up and say that until this point, we have always used Saxon Math - and it is a fantastic course all on its own.  It definitely prepared my boys for higher learning, using a spiral method of mastery that included DIVE videos, and providing a great foundation for math skills.  It's an older program, but it works well.  Why reinvent the wheel?

Why indeed?  Well, because our youngest son learns quite differently, and needed something more visual.  Saxon math is a black and white program - all the way around - and it just wasn't working as well for him.  As we bridge into advanced concepts and look toward algebra, it has become very important to make sure he masters the foundational skills in a way that works for him.

The course includes a course book, Mental Math Map Mysteries, the answer key, and access to course videos.  The student has the option of reading a mini-lesson or watching the course videos, but I find he does best by doing both.  We start each lesson by watching the video, completing a couple of problems alongside the video, and then we complete the mental math together.  For the first time ever, math class is something he looks forward to!  I'm guessing that one of those reasons is because it's hard to be the baby of the family, and he knows that for ten minutes each day, the two of us will sit together, doing the mental math book as a team.

The course book features simple daily lessons, with a format including enjoyable activities and games. Advanced multiplication and division, geometry, graphing, measurement, and so much more are all taught. This book serves as both the teacher’s guide and the student book, and it guides parents and students through each engaging lesson.

The Mental Math Mysteries book is set up for you to sit face to face with your child.  He sees the side with the questions, and you see the side with the answers.  At the end of each page of four or five lesson boxes, the student is directed to place a sticker onto their included map.  At the end of the course, the student will have a completed picture of the map, and as a reward for completing the course, the child is then able to read the “You-Choose” book included in the course: Ivy and the Ice Village.

Admittedly, I wasn't keen at first to scrap the materials we already had on the shelf and purchase a new curricula.  After all, while it's common to go round and round searching for the right curriculum during your first few years of homeschooling, we've been on this train for a decade and have a system that works.  But sometimes, you just have to admit that there is a better way...

What actually swayed me?  Well, it was the visuals.  The course is so visually appealing, colorful, and engaging through multiple games and teaching methods, and this was exactly what our son was needing.  Even the answer key is beautiful!  For a kid who already strongly dislikes math, changing the format to something that at least seems like fun has already made a big difference.  We're only a week into school, but I'm usually hear complaints on day one...and haven't heard one yet!

This course also includes video lessons, which really bring the material to life in a real-world application way...exactly what he needs to answer that "why should I care?" question I'm always fielding.  But that's not to say that it's not a comprehensive, well-rounded book.  There are also graphing exercises, multiplication tables, geometric formulas, and all the things that a good math course needs.

Watch a Video Lesson  Try Sample Lessons Here!

It's a new program, so we'll let you know how it goes at the end of the school year, but so far I'm impressed!

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