Monday, November 8, 2010

Saxon versus Teaching Textbooks: the saga continues

Many of us started homeschooling with Saxon math.  Then as time went on some of us were enticed to try different math curricula.  The main complaint I've heard about Saxon is that it's too hard- either it takes too long to complete an assignment, or the child sheds tears, or the parent sheds tears, or some combination of the three.  We decided to make the switch to Teaching Textbooks for Algebra I this year.  Monk (11) has liked it and has done well.  It takes him an hour and a half to do each day, so it's not exactly easy for him, but he's making A's, so he seems to be getting it.  Twinkle Toes (9), not wanting to be left out, begged to also make the switch this year to Teaching Textbooks.  She completed Saxon 5/4 last year, missed a couple of questions on the TT placement exam for grade 6, so we decided she belonged in TT 5 this year. 

When the books came and she actually started with her math, I was disappointed.  It was taking her 10 minutes or so per day and she was getting them all right.  It seemed too easy.  So she started doing two lessons per day.  By the way, she was using the computer for her math and loved it.  I didn't love it, though.  The program gives a second chance to get the right answer.  That would be fine if it were after assigning a grade, but the second chance comes before the assignment is graded.  Anyway, I finally decided to test the effectiveness of TT by giving my daughter an assignment from Saxon 6/5 today (we have all the books since Monk used them).  Guess what?  It's taking her FOREVER and she's had to ask for help twice.  In other words, now I remember what we do AND don't like about Saxon. 

What have we decided?  To run back to Saxon, immediately.  It served Monk well.  I know it's hard, but it also works.  I'm happy with TT for Algebra I, but not for grade 5.  I don't understand how TT 5 is so easy, but the TT Algebra I seems more in line with what we've come to expect from Saxon.  I'm sorry Twinkle Toe's days of easy math are over, but I feel much better now.  She'll finish up Saxon 6/5 this year and then complete Saxon 7/6 next year just like her brother did last year.  Then she can go back to TT for Algebra I.  At least, that's the plan for now.  This experience has also convinced me to keep Measle (7) in Saxon.  She's about half way through Saxon 2, but we've been supplementing with Singapore workbooks up until now (she loves the pictures).  From now on Measle will work exclusively in Saxon 2 until she's ready to promote to Saxon 3.  My kids may not like Saxon.  In fact, they may hate it.  At the end of the day I'd rather they be good at math than enjoy learning their math.  We all have to do things in life we don't enjoy at one time or another.  I want math to be fun for my kids because they love a good challenge, or because one can always find the right answer in math, not because it's easy.

How about you?  Are you happy with your math?  Have you compared your child's progress in one math curriculum to another?  How do you know your child is really getting it and not just whizzing through an easy math program?  Do you prefer one math curriculum for primary grades and another one for more advanced mathematics?   


  1. We have used Saxon for all of our homeschooling lives, except one semester last year when we used Abeka and HATED it. It has too many holes and not enough repetition, in my opinion.

    We love Saxon because it gives you reference points for all of the questions in parenthesis for added support. It is hard, but I feel as a homeschooling mom that is it worth the extra time!


  2. I am a product of homeschooling, so this is coming from someone who is after the fact. We used Saxon Math from 7th through 9th grade. I attended a small private school from 10th through 12th that was college prepatory. I had no problem in math and I attribute a great deal of that to Saxon. I loved using Saxon and felt like it was very similar to what we used in my college prepatory high school.

  3. I have never tried Saxon. Last year was our first year, and we used several names we didn't like that everyone else raves about. This year we started our lower 2 in one thing, and then switched to Horizons. We really like it for 1st and 2nd. We have been using TT for 5th and 7th, since our 8th grader was not ready for Pre-Algebra. (He was left behind in Math in public school because he read so well.) We like both programs, and will likely stick with TT for higher grades, but am not sure if we will do Horizons for 6th or do TT again.

  4. We love Singapore Math. We don't move on until the kids can get 80% on the placement/exit exam, so we usually end up doing quite a few extra problems once we finish the workbook, but they get it. We plan to start Algebra after 6B will probably use a houghton mifflin textbook that the public school uses. I'll look into TT.

  5. We have used in the past Horizons, Making Math Meaningful and Life of Fred. Really couldn't decide this year what we wanted to use for 6th grade so I made my own. Next year for 7th grade we will use TT.

  6. We have tried.....A Beka, Saxon, Math U See, AND Switched on Schoolhouse for Math. So far we have found (shockingly) pro's and con's for all ! ;)
    So far though I would have to say we like Math U See the best. Makes things clear cut. I would love to have them doing the hardest math there is so they would be GREAT at math on graduation day, but in the end I have enough battles to deal with, Math is not one I want to volunteer for. So I guess for now we are going to do the one they "get", and then maybe switch to harder ones later.

  7. Celee, I'm glad to see you writing about this. I am struggling with the very same question for my oldest. He is in 5th grade and we are doing Saxon 7/6 right now. Math is NOT his favorite subject right now. Saxon is hard, but I think it will be worth it in the long run.

    Did you go straight from 7/6 to Algebra I? I am trying to figure out if we should do 8/7 or Algebra 1/2 or go straight to Algebra I. Veritas Press (whom we use for much of our curriculum) recommends Elementary Algebra by Harold Jacobs, so we may go that route.

  8. Crissy- Monk (11) completed Saxon 7/6 last year for 5th grade. He finished up early so I started giving him tests from 8/7 to see where we should start. The only new concept I discovered in 8/7 was the use of a protractor. So we skipped 8/7 and went straight to Algebra I. He is progressing nicely. I would say if your son is making A's in 7/6 you can go straight to Algebra I.




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I'm an on-the-run mom to 6 kids who studied and taught exercise science in a previous life. I love all things running, nutrition, and health-related. I usually run at zero dark thirty in the morning and am often quite hungry before, during, and after my run, but I live a rich, full, blessed life with my children, family, and friends. My faith in God is my anchor, and looking to Him and His promises allows me to live fully even when life circumstances are difficult. While running gives me an appetite, my desire is to hunger and thirst for righteousness more than for physical food.