MathUSee versus Saxon?

My son is technically in Kindergarten, but he breezed through the Primer (first) level of MathUSee so he is currently on Alpha (the second level). He understands everything just fine, but seems to have trouble focusing and really getting in to his math and seems a bit bored (he is a 5 year old boy though, so it could just be normal distraction!). I’m wondering if Saxon would be a better fit, but I don’t know enough about it to know if it’s a good idea to switch this next year. Could anyone chime in that knows what some of the differences are?

I’ve had teachers tell me that Saxon jumps around a lot. It doesn’t really fully master any one skill and it doesn’t really progress well skill to skill so you have to skip around through the books for better flow. It “dabbles” in all skills but never quite finishes them up nicely. So you get a good general knowledge but not skills mastery. The teachers switched as soon as they could. Most to Math U See.

We use Saxon for all of my boys (2 are in 6/5, 1 is in 5/4 and 1 in 2). We actually really like it. It never leaves a skill behind, it teaches new skills but always reviews old skills. To me it also has a great daily flow to it. For the older groups we do our timed test of math facts, then some mental math, then they watch their cd rom class lesson, then work on some lesson practice, then finish up with some mixed practice. For my 2nd grader in level 2, each daily plan has a lot that goes into it, calendar skills, graphs, weather, etc. That’s all before the lesson (to be honest we skip around that part a lot, hit some and leave others). Then we work through the lesson which most of the time is very hands on with the manipulative kit. My 2nd grader loves it, and even when math is over he asks to play some the games we do more, or work on more math facts. In the lesson he has is own timed facts test, and two worksheets to complete (sometimes 3). The first worksheet he does with me to make sure he’s understanding the lesson, then the second one he does later in the day on his own. I’m happy to answer any other questions you might have. Good luck, I think finding the right math is one of the more difficult things to navigate in homeschooling.

I do have a couple of questions for you! Thanks for such a great explanation of Saxon - it’s helping me to understand the program a bit better. I like the additional skills practice it gives - I think that would maybe give me son some more variety in his lessons and would help retain his attention a bit better.
1- How ‘teachable’ is Saxon? I like MUS b/c it has the DVD that does the teaching (granted my 5 year old definitely still needs the 1on1, but I’m assuming the older he gets the more capable he will be of independent work). You mentioned a CD for your older ones - is that how the lessons are taught?
2- How are your boys at learning? Are they ‘typical’ boys that can have a hard time sitting still or focusing for periods of time? My son just doesn’t seem to enthusiastic about school in general (even though we’ve kept Kinder this year to the bare minimum of reading, handwriting, and math), so I think that could be part of it, but I do think he could also use a bit more variety/excitement in his math curriculum.
3- As much as I like the variety of the lessons that it sounds like it has, does it take a lot of time? I like that right now we can take 3-4 days on a lesson and just do 20 minute chunks since that’s about all he can handle. Is that workable for Saxon?
Thanks so much for your help!

I found that Saxon (6/5 and up) didnt give enough practice on the current lesson, so they struggled for a while to completely grasp the concept.

I think it’s very teachable. I’m not good at math at all, but I can follow right along, which is great! For the younger grades I do not think it comes with a cd, but starting with 5/4 it does.

With the other boys (5th and 6 graders), yes the cd is how the lesson is taught. I do the timed facts test first, then run through some mental math problems with them (they solve it in there heads and write down the answers, while you read the questions from their book), then they watch the lesson on the dvd (which is also printed in the book if they need to reference it at any time or if they are reading learners vs. visual learners). Then they work on lesson practice, then mixed practice. For their math, it takes anywhere from 45min. to an hour start to finish, depending on how diligently they are working not so much how long the lesson is taking.

My boys have varying learning issues and are working great with this program. My oldest who has autism is whizzing through it, he loves math, because it’s very black and white, 2+2=4 that doesn’t change, so he gets the concept and runs with what ever he is learning. My second oldest, rushes, and that results in wrong answers, but it’s easy to see where the breakdown is happening and work on that area, plus they have extra practice in the back of the book on different concepts if your student is really struggling with something (again that’s the older boys). I think the time put in works for each boy, if they need a break we work that in. But most of the time it’s no issue and it really is something I only deal with with my older boys, because after their dvd lesson they have 5-10 lesson practice questions they have to do, then they have about 30 mixed practice questions they have to do. But we just break or wait till later in the day to complete those. You can do what ever works for your family because things are so easily broken up with this program. There are days we even skip mental math, just for a shorter math day, no harm, no foul. It’s easy to make it your own.

I am able to “teach” my 2nd grader perfectly fine, by just following exactly what’s in the book. Teacher print is bolded, so it’s super easy to follow and do what it says to teach and it tells you exactly what materials you need.

For my second grader, who is also a boy (I have all boys, 6 of them), is a typical 7 year old boy, it’s hard to hold on to him sometimes, but since it’s so hands on with the manipulatives he likes it, and the only “problem” we tend to have is that he doesn’t want to stop weighing things, or measuring, etc. so that we can move on to the worksheets because he loves doing the hands on parts of math. We can move through an entire lesson in a short amount of time. I’ve never really timed it or paid attention, but I know it’s maybe 30 mins or so for each lesson, not long at all. Then a five minute worksheet later in the day to complete.

I hope this helps, I’m more of a visual learner, so I hope my words help, even though I wish I could just sit down with you and walk you through a lesson! :slight_smile:

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Thanks for all the helpful information about Saxon! I’m definitely the kind of person that likes to know everything I can about something before I make a decision, so you’re thoroughness is very much appreciated! It sounds like Saxon covers a lot more, and I think my son would do really well with the variety, so we may give it a go next year.

Of Course! Let me know if you need/want anything else!

It took me forever to understand how Saxon works, since it’s an incremental spiral. I thought, “There isn’t enough practice on this lesson!” What I didn’t realize is that the next day’s lesson would have a lot of practice on those type problems. And the next day, and the next day. So that over time, they would master the concept. They just didn’t have to master the concept THAT DAY before they could move on. I really like that a lot.

We aren’t hard and fast Saxon people, even though we currently use it, but we definitely like it way better, and my students are actually understanding math (rather than just scoring well on tests) way better than when we used MUS.

We are currently using MUS and we were having the same issue with one of our kiddos seeming a little bored. He likes it, just got tired of the repetition some times. I actually chatted online with MUS, which they are great at! They actually told me that as long as he got the concept he did not have to do all the pages for that unit. That was a hard concept for me to wrap my head around as I come from a corporate background and a Franklin Planner. But the more people I talked to, the more it made sense.
Now that being said, you do need to make sure he gets the concept that is being taught. So with my kiddos, they know that if they understand a lesson they don’t have to do all the lesson pages. They can do A and then go on to do one of the review pages D or E. If they don’t do well, they go back to the other practice pages. And then they test out.
You can ask him to show you or teach you and if he gets it, then you can move on. Hope this makes sense.
As far as Saxon, I have heard great things about them too. So since you have MUS already, maybe try the not having him do all the pages if he gets it first. And if that doesn’t help, give Saxon a shot.

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Hi Leah,
We tried both, and while I know several people who like Saxon, for us it wasn’t a good fit. My guess is that your son is just young since he’s moved through Primer quickly, and moving up grades in curriculum can be tricky simply due to the maturity required. He might get the concepts, but he’s just not ready to sit and do that much work.

I will say Saxon has more worksheets per day than MUS, so if you’re looking for something that doesn’t require him to focus for so long, Saxon might not be it.

I also agree with @aleania in that MUS teaches to mastery, while Saxon seemed like a ‘jack of all trades’ approach. I felt like my kids were learning a little bit of everything, but never really understanding any one concept very well.

I also felt Saxon very frustrating to teach. It was taking me all morning to get through 3 levels of Saxon teaching and worksheets with my kids. Then we didn’t have enough time to get through our other subjects.

The MUS DVDs help me tremendously. Mr. Demme teaches the lessons while I work on something else with another student. Then I can help them through the worksheets when they’re done with the video.

Anyway, just my 2 cents :smile: But I’m guessing your son is just bored because he’s young, and not necessarily because you need to pick a new curriculum.


Thank you all so much for your input! It’s been really helpful for me to get a better grasp on what Saxon is all about, and what would work best for my son. Kelly - your advice about mastering the concept sounds like a good way to go about our MUS work. My son is starting to work on his math facts, which he understands, but as far as memorizing them he’s still got to work at it, but when it’s a concept that he understands, it would make it much easier to know we can move on. This is our first time homeschooling, so I tend to worry I’m not doing it ‘right’, so your advice really helps :o) Erica - your comments were very similar to a friend of mine who switched from Saxon to MUS, and I think it sounds like MUS may be where we need to stay for now. Saxon does sound a bit more lengthy, which would probably be a set back as far as helping my son to stay focused :o) It’s very helpful to hear from a seasoned homeschooler, and know that his age can play a big part in all of this, so thank you for your advice! Like I said, I’m a newbie at all of this, so it’s hard for me to figure out what I need to just give more time and what truly isn’t working, but I think with math it may just be more time!