Wednesday, April 25, 2012


We started homeschooling 5 years ago and used A Beka math for the first 3 years.  Angel completed A Beka 6th, 7th, and 8th grade Pre-Algebra.  At the time, I really liked A Beka because it is very traditional text book math.  Angel was pulled out of public school at the beginning of 6th grade and was taught previously with Investigations math, which is a reform math. The transition from reform to traditional math was very confusing for her.  I do attribute some of her math weakness to the reform math approach that was taught in our local public school.  Unfortunately for Angel, her grade was one of the first introduced to this new curriculum and many of the teachers weren't on board with it at that time.  In an attempt not to shame the district, I'll spare you the details.   

RileyAnn also completed A Beka Kindergarten and Arithmetic 1.  She seemed to be doing fine with A Beka.  However, as Angel was entering high school and Ruben was entering kindergarten, I felt we needed to make a switch as I didn't feel A Beka was a good fit for either of them.  After attending a convention and doing math research with The Farmer, we decided to give Math-U-See a try with Riley and Ruben.  At the time, Angel really wanted to try Teaching Textbooks, however, after a week, she despised it and begged for something else.  I happened to have Saxon Algebra 1 on my shelf, so I pulled that out.  She made an honest attempt, but we were heading for disaster.  Math-U-See was going well for the younger two, so we thought we'd try it for Angel as well.  Thankfully, a friend was able to loan us the upper levels as a trial run.  

I did have Angel complete the MUS placement tests.  As mentioned she completed pre-algebra in 8th grade, but when we switched to MUS in 9th grade I had her redo pre-algebra with no regrets.  I feel math is such an important life skill and It's easier to go back and understand than to push forward with struggles.  It helped her comprehend the MUS style of teaching and seems to be working for her.  We've finally found a program she likes, much as she can like math ;-) 

We continued with MUS this year and plan to stick with it in the future!  I like that it's a K-12 program.  We did consider RightStart math, however, I question the transition to higher level math using another program since it only covers elementary math.

There is very little teacher prep with MUS.  It's a mastery program in that your student really shouldn't move on until they've mastered the concept.  

Here's my understanding of the intended way of teaching MUS...

There is a DVD, where creator Steve Demme teaches the new concept at the beginning of the lesson to the parent, these are approx. 5 minute segments.  Then the parent teaches the lesson to their student.  Then there are 3 practice pages for the student and 3 review pages for the student.  If the student gets it, there is no need to complete all 3 practice pages, unless you have an OCD child like me who can't leave any blank workbook pages ;-)  Once the child masters the lesson and completes the review, there is a test.  Then you move on to the next lesson.  

Here's how I teach MUS....

Ruben (K-1st - Primer) - each day he completes workbook pages with my guidance.  There are no tests with Primer. 

RileyAnn (2nd - Beta) - Day 1 she and I watch the DVD together, then I watch her do a few problems to make sure she gets it 
Day 2 & 3 she completes practice pages typically on her own (she's my OCD girl and can't get enough workbooks and as her OCD mother, I figure if she's game, why not!)
Day 4-6 she completes review pages again, on her own
Day 7 she takes the test

Angel (10th - Algebra 1) - Day 1 she watches the DVD on her own and completes practice page, we correct together, if she has 1 wrong or less, she moves onto review pages, if more than 1 wrong, she completes more practice pages
     Day 5 she takes the test

So as you can see from our random schedule, MUS has given our family the flexibility to meet each child where they're at.  The lower levels have 30 lessons and the upper levels have 34 lessons and an Honors course.  

MUS is leveled since it's mastery based, the program is really not graded as in 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc.  They use the Greek alphabet for the different levels and the focus of each level is as follows...

Primer - Having fun introducing math
Alpha - Single digit addition and subtraction
Beta - Multiple digit addition and subtraction
Gamma - Single & multiple digit multiplication
Delta - Single & multiple digit division
Epsilon - Fractions
Zeta - Decimals & percents
Pre-Algebra - Prerequisite: Student should have mastered basic operations, fractions, decimals, and percents
Algebra 1 - Prerequisite: Student should have completed pre-algebra
Geometry - Prerequisite: Student should have completed algebra 1
Algebra 2 - Prerequisite: Student should have completed algebra 1
PreCalculus - Prerequisite: Student should have completed algebra 1, geometry, and algebra 2
Stewardship - A christian approach to personal finance
Honors Books - extra credit, enrichment, or challenge for Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2 (we use these as review with our older daughter)

As mentioned above, there are placement/assessment tests here for MUS...

If you have further questions, I would also check out/play around on the MUS website at  They have newsletters, a blog, worksheet generators, etc.  Last year, when Angel was struggling with a new concept, I called and she was able to speak with a MUS expert who walked her through it over the phone and helped her understand.  I've found them to be a very good and reputable company.  

In review, I appreciate the K-12 levels, customer service/support, leveled mastery based, and low teacher prep involved with MUS.  Our kids seem to be really understanding math with this program.  We plan to continue with it. 

Disclaimer: I am not being paid to endorse MUS.  I'm just a homeschool mom passing along what works for our family.  

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