## Review

Math-U-See is a mastery-oriented homeschool math curriculum that uses a unique set of manipulatives to help children understand math concepts.

I recommend it highly for children who struggle in math or have math anxiety. It’s a great **confidence-building program** for these kids, because it breaks each concept into smaller parts and focuses on one small chunk at a time until it’s fully mastered. Read on for a full review and buying guide.

*(Note that Math-U-See offers math curriculum for grades K through 12. In this review, I focus on their Primary math series, which covers K through 6 ^{th} grade. I requested and received a free copy of the Gamma level to review. This review is my honest opinion: I was not paid for the review, and I do not make any money from any purchase you make.)*

### Overview

Math-U-See assigns each book a level rather than a grade. **Each level focuses on one main topic**, with a few subtopics (like money, time, or measurement) mixed in:

- Primer (kindergarten): numbers and counting
- Alpha (1
^{st}grade): single-digit adding and subtracting - Beta (2
^{nd}grade): multi-digit adding and subtracting - Gamma (3
^{rd}grade): multiplication - Delta (4
^{th}grade): division - Epsilon (5
^{th}grade): fractions - Zeta (6
^{th}grade): decimals and percentages

This intense focus on one topic at a time ensures that the topic is fully mastered by the end of the level, but some kids (and moms!) may find it tedious to spend an entire year on one topic.

### Components and Lesson Structure

Math-U-See has four components:

- Instruction Manual
- Student Workbook
- Instruction DVD
- Manipulative Kit

Each level is divided into 30 lessons. Most lessons will take about a week, but the author suggests spending as much time as is needed for children to master each lesson before moving on.

Each lesson consists of a short demonstration lesson (on video), notes for the parent on how to teach the concept, lesson practice pages, and systematic review pages. The student book consists of **simple, straight-forward problems** in black-and-white on clear, uncluttered pages.

### Manipulative Kit

Math-U-See’s manipulative kits are essential to the program. For levels Alpha, Beta, Gamma, and Delta, you’ll need the Integer Block Kit. The Integer Kit features snap-together plastic blocks in different colors, with each color used for a particular number. For example, the 2-block is orange, the 5-block is light-blue, and so on. These blocks are used frequently throughout the program to model everything from early counting to long division.

The Epsilon and Zeta levels use fraction overlays and an algebra/decimal kit instead.

The blocks provide a **helpful visual** for children as they first encounter the concepts, and they help to unify concepts across the years of the curriculum. But they have a couple of downsides, too. First, there’s the boredom factor. The blocks are the only manipulative that Math-U-See uses, and kids who thrive on variety may find it monotonous to use the same blocks day in and day out.

Second, children who use Math-U-See see **only one way to represent each concept**. For example, in Gamma, children learn multiplication almost entirely through rectangular arrays of the blocks. In Epsilon, fractions are always represented through divisions of a square with the fractions overlays.

Both are excellent visuals, but over-relying on one particular model can make it hard for kids to take what they’ve learned and apply it to real-life problems.

### Difficulty Level

Because it is so sequential and incremental, Math-U-See is a **relatively easy** math program when compared with other elementary programs. The clear explanations and manipulatives make it easy for children to grasp the concepts, and the problems in the Student Workbook are straight-forward. The lengthy systematic review pages give children lots of opportunities to practice and review previously-learned skills.

**Math-U-See’s lack of challenge can be either a strength or a weakness, depending on your child.** For children who struggle with math or have trouble thinking abstractly, Math-U-See can help them feel successful at math and confident in their understanding of math concepts. But if you have an average to above-average math learner, Math-U-See may not provide enough challenge to keep your child engaged. It is especially weak in developing kids’ critical thinking and problem-solving skills, although enrichment pages at the end of each lesson help with this somewhat.

### How much time does Math-U-See take?

Math-U-See requires a **fairly low amount of direct teaching by parents**. The author suggests parents use a 4-step method for teaching Math-U-See:

- Prepare for teaching the lesson by watching the model lesson on the DVD and reading the Instruction manual.
- Teach the lesson to your child using the blocks in the Manipulative Kit.
- Your child practices the lesson by solving problems in the Student Workbook.
- Your child reviews previous material with Systematic Review sheets in the workbook.

In reality, many parents simply have their child watch the video independently and then complete the worksheets. This works fine for older students who are used to thinking actively as they watch the videos, but younger or more easily-distracted children need a parent sitting at their side and making sure they follow along with the lesson.

### What type of learner thrives with Math-U-See?

**Math-U-See is a great choice for kids who struggle with math or have math anxiety.** The focused sequence of concepts, hands-on manipulatives, simple problems, and comprehensive review pages build kids’ confidence and give them lots of practice with basic math concepts and skills.

### How much does Math-U-See cost?

Each level of Math-U-See costs about $90 for the Instruction Manual, Instruction DVD, and Student Workbook. You’ll also need to invest $80 in the Integer Block Kit (used for most of the elementary levels) and then add the $50 Fraction Overlay Kit for the Epsilon level (5^{th} grade) and the $25 Algebra/Decimal Inserts for Zeta (6^{th} grade). The manipulative kit can be reused from year to year.

## Math-U-See Buying Guide

The only tricky part of buying Math-U-See is placing your child in the correct level. If you have a kindergartner, simply start with the Primer level.

But if you are moving an older child to Math-U-See, sit down with your child and have him or her take the computer-based Placement Test. Because Math-U-See is mastery-oriented, it’s important that your child has fully mastered the material in the lower levels before going on to the higher levels. If your child has struggled with other math programs, you may need to go back to a lower level and reinforce those skills before moving onward.

Once you’ve found your child’s correct level, simply purchase the corresponding Universal Set to get started.

**If Math-U-See isn’t what you’re looking for, don’t worry!** There are many excellent homeschool math programs out there. Check out my **curriculum page **for reviews of my other favorite programs to help you find one that’s a good fit for your family.

*Updated May 2020. This is my honest opinion of the program; other than a free review copy of the Delta level, I was not paid or compensated in any way for the review.*

*Some of the links in this post may be affiliate links. If you buy an item through an affiliate link, I may receive a commission, at no additional cost to you.*

*Please note that comments are closed on this article. If you have a question, you can contact me here. *

Thank you so much for this!

Which math program do you recommend the most, after all your reviews (aside from the reality that not every program may be just right for every child)? Maybe because I am on a mobile device, I am unable to search for this. Thank you!

I wish there was an easy answer to that question, Teal! If I had to pick one program as a blanket recommendation, I’d go with Singapore…but of course, it’s not going to be a perfect fit for every kid or family.

Does Singapore mat go through 12th grade? I thought I read somewhere that it just goes to 8 th grade. I don’t want to start it because my child will be in the 7th grade if it doesn’t go all the way through.

Hi Kim, That’s correct that the Singapore Math materials only go through 8th grade, so it’s probably not a great choice for a 7th grader.

I googled homeschooling math help and came to your site. We are finishing math u see alpha next week as we head into 2nd and 3rd grade at home. My 2nd grader gets it and it doing well. He is also great at visual memory which helps with math facts. My 3rd grader hates math, is a little lazy and is struggling. I invested in this program because i thought it would be better for him, yet we are still struggling. And i may lose my mind in this process. 🙂 more because of the negative attitude, not because he’s missing the concepts. But I’m just not sure where to go now with him.

Hugs, Melodie. Constant battles are no fun at all, and definitely not what any of us dreamed of when we started homeschooling. Writing was an ongoing struggle for a long time in my house, so I’m with you.

Could you share a little more about what exactly is going on with your 3rd grader? For example, what types of material has he struggled with in Alpha? Does he struggle in other subjects as well? Is his negative attitude only in math, or in other subjects as well?

Kate,

My turned 7 yo son is finishing alpha and is so demotivated doing math. He used to like it. We went from right start math to mus because it was too teacher intensive. (I am a full time RN).But as my husband says mus has mastered boredom. He didn’t memorize the facts and if I had to make him, it’d bore both of us and we’d be at the beginning. I seems like he can’t think beyond the blocks. Even for simple things like 5+3 that I know he knows he will attempt to ge the blocks. Anyways, I am looking at singapore math, which originally is what we were going I go with. The colorful variety will be welcome here and I think will help get he critical thinking and concepts to” come out of the paper”. I like it is not too much writing like horizons and not too distracting. My daughter also started on primer she is 5 and does not like it. I think I’ll start early bird with her instead too.

I think my kids actually like math. The oldest one for sure. I’m not super strong because in school things moved quicker than I could digest, but I’m considering the us edition. Any thoughts? I have all materials of RSM still. And then finally, I’m hoping not to be switching around much. What would be a good fit after Singapore? We will probably start with 1b at least, as he is finishing 1st grade or do a placement test. Any other thoughts to make this hopefully a successful and final switch?

Hi Lizzie, It definitely sounds like a switch is in order! Singapore will be a great fit for your family, for all the reasons you mention. Additionally, because it’s not quite so manipulative-heavy, it should hopefully help your son wean himself from always using the blocks. US edition should work well, and just make sure to get the Home Instructor’s Guide along with it to help you get the most out of the curriculum. Once you do the placement test, you should be good to go. 🙂

P.S. I’m a big fan of RightStart, too, but Singapore will be less teacher-intensive.

Hi Kate!

We have worked through Right Start A through most of Right Start D. We encountered the “Right Start C” problem I have read about in blogs across the web and even on Right Start’s own site — that it could simply take too long. So I had my son take the placement test for Right Start D, and he was ready for it. (I believe this was due to the part-spiral nature of the program.) However, while working through D, I felt that I wasn’t quite sure if he was truly mastering multiplicaton facts, so I picked up some Math-U-See Gamma materials to supplement and assure mastery. (I chose that option because of the base-ten emphasis, and because MUS is often available for cheap through people from our co-op.) BUT now my son loves the Gamma workbook and has asked not to switch as we move on to Delta and finish Right Start D. After trying to talk with him about, I believe he simply prefers the larger font and more white space of MUS. I am considering continuing how I am going — using Right Start as my main curriculum and using MUS as a supplement (almost like a Kumon book on steroids that aligns in scope and sequence better). HOWEVER, I am worried that this will be too labor-intensive for me (which generally translates into getting through the curriculum slowly). So I am wondering . . . what would you think about the level of (good) challenge for my son if I just went with MUS with Singapore Challenging Word Problems? I don’t want to underserve him, as math has always been a great strength for him. I feel like if I do MUS with Singapore CWP, he may not miss out conceptual understanding or his ability to do word problems, but on actually learning the math concept initially through logic and discovery. I have thought that Right Start excelled at this. But then I keep thinking that I am going to have to leave Right Start eventually as we are almost done with it . . .. sigh. Any helpful thoughts?? Thanks!

I should add that his math acument is one of the reasons we homeschooled in the first place, and that my tentative plan after completing the Right Start series would be to move on to AoPS with MUS supplement (if I could get that to work).

I think I am going to answer my own question. 😉 I’ve concluded I’ll really only need a supplement to make sure we master multiplication and division facts, so I am going to try to stick to the RightStart/AoPS track. Yay!

Hi Katrina! It’s amazing how much easier it is to make a decision once we’ve tried to explain it to someone else. 🙂 I think you’ve made an excellent decision. Much as your son might like the white space, MUS usually isn’t a great fit for a high-achieving, math-y, kid. If for some reason you find that RightStart isn’t quite working, definitely take a look at Beast Academy (the AOPS elementary curriculum).

Regarding multiplication and division facts, I’ll have a multiplication facts book out sometime this coming year, but no publication date yet. If you don’t want to wait, you might try Math Mammoth Blue Series Multiplication or Kumon Grade 3 Multiplication.

Happy Math!

Kate

Yes, I guess thinking “out loud” helps! Thanks for your response and your encouragement. I actually wrote out a few Right Start problems today on a small whiteboard, and it worked wonders. (I was really clued-in by your point about not getting to the root of the problem in your article about potential detriments to switching curricula. I really think this white space/too small of font was the root problem. He is working a level ahead for his age, so there is some of that developmental stuff I have to consider!) I will look for your forthcoming facts books! Thanks for the heads up, and, again for your response here! So helpful!

Woohoo! That’s awesome , Katrina. So glad you were able to get to the bottom of it, and I hope using the whiteboard continues to make a big difference.

I in particular was looking at MUS for my mathy 10th grader because it’s being taught at a co-op. He did great with Harold Jacob’s Algebra 1 and Geometry. I am considering Algebra 2 Chicago Math or doing at the co-op (MUS). Now I’m thinking about going w/ Chicago . Any thoughts on the higher MUS courses?

Hi Kay, MUS definitely looks a little lighter than the Chicago program. It covers a lot of the same topics, but not quite as in depth and with not quite the same level of challenge. It has quite a bit of overlap with what your son has already studied in Jacobs, too. If you son did well with Jacobs and likes math, he may find the MUS Algebra II easy (and possibly boring). However, if it makes your year go more smoothly (or you’re looking for him to have a classroom math experience), it would probably be fine.

Happy Math!

Kate

Hello, Kate!

I’m from Brasil, and I’d like to the books from here. Is there any easy way you know?

Thank you so much for sharing!

Sorry,

To buy!

Hi Fabricia! I’m not sure about buying options from Brazil, but the Math-U-See customer service is usually excellent. Send them an email at the “contact” link on their website, and I’m sure they’ll get right back to you.

Happy math!

Kate

Would you please review Life of Fred and Math Lessons for a Living Education by Angela O’dell? Thank You.

Hi Jules, They’re both on my list, but it’ll be a while before I have time to do an in-depth review of them.

Should I be concerned that the placement tests have my 8th grader doing – Delta (4th grade) . Were brand new homeschool parents and what to make sure we do the right thing. I don’t mind spending the money if the program is what he needs. Thanks.

Hi Bill,

It’s hard to say without diving more deeply into the placement test results. Math U See always places kids into the lowest topic that they have trouble with. If your son truly doesn’t have any math knowledge beyond Delta, I’d definitely be concerned, since Delta is roughly fourth grade level. But it’s quite possible that your son actually knows a good chunk of the content in the levels beyond Delta, but couldn’t remember how to do long division, and so the placement test put him all the way back in Delta.

You might want to contact Math U See’s customer service and walk through the placement test with them to see if they can help point you in a good direction. But , honestly, I probably wouldn’t choose Math U See for an eighth grader who has some gaps to fill. It’s a slow-moving program, and it’s hard to accelerate, so it may not get your son to where you want him to be before the end of high school. If he were my child, I’d probably give him the Math Mammoth end-of-grade-7 test and use that to figure out where I need to remediate. Then, I’d use either the Math Mammoth blue topic texts, Learn Math Fast, or the Key to… series to fill in those gaps and prepare him to start algebra in 9th grade, if possible.

Happy Math!

Kate

My kids 8 and 10 I just pulled from a public school that was doing Singapore math in focus. They both are lost. My 8 yr old and 10 yr old are great with all of the math facts. My daughter is struggling with fractions. I want to use MUS with my son and possible daughter. And start with alpha to solidify math facts. We will probably get through it fast. I wanted to use Singapore but I am not a math minded person and the teachers manual confused me. My kids hate that math now. I thought about Saxon but it’s so dry. I like how MUS stays with a topic for mastery. I may supplement with some kumon or math mammoth books. Does this sound good?

Dear Lana,

MUS is a good program, but I don’t think you’ll need to start all the way back from Alpha. (On this page, you can see what children need to know before beginning each level. I’d guess your kids are at least ready for Beta, if not higher. The placement tests on the page will help you figure out exactly where to start them.)

If you’d like to reinforce the facts quickly without spending the time and money to do a whole level of MUS, you might also consider my addition facts and subtraction facts books. I’d guess that once your kids did a review of the addition and subtraction facts they’d be ready to move on to Gamma.

Happy Math!

Kate

Hi, I am concerned about the fact there are only 30 lessons in each. My son is starting Kindergarten with Primer. Will that last us an entire school year? Thank you 🙂

Hi Kristin,

Each lesson is meant to last a week. If you take a look at their pdf student book samples, you’ll see how they spread each concept out over about 10 or so worksheets to be completed over the course of the week. It will indeed last you most of the year if you do it that way.

Happy Math!

Kate

Hi Kate,

We’ve been using MUS Beta, along with your Addition and Subtraction books this year. My son has had math anxiety in the past, and his confidence has definitely improved this year. My concern is that MUS uses traditional methods for problem solving, compared to the newer methods taught in programs such as Math Mammoth or Singapore. Will this be a concern when he needs to take standardized tests in the future? The ACT or SAT? College courses?

Dear Angie,

That’s wonderful that MUS has improved your son’s confidence! If he’s thriving with MUS, I’d say to continue on with it.

As you mention, MUS doesn’t provide quite as much challenge as other programs, especially in the area of problem-solving. However, getting a solid foundation with the basics is also very important. If switching away from MUS were to cause him to feel more anxious in math (or keep him from mastering the essentials), the net effect would likely be negative.

Once you get finish elementary arithmetic (Level Zeta), you might consider other options, or supplementing MUS with problem-solving or test prep books. But for now, I’d say to just carry on! 🙂

Happy Math!

Kate

I am currently using ACE Paces with my 11-year-old for Math. We have tried Rightstart (too parent-intensive), Saxon, and Calvert prior to ACE. Everything was going along fine until we hit double-digit multiplication and now she is totally lost and just making up answers… She has learning disabilities/ADD and reads at about a 2-3rd grade level… I am at a loss. I’ve tried working the problems with her but this doesn’t seem to be helping. Graph paper isn’t the answer either- ACE has lines under each problem. MUS seems like it might help but I hate to spend another $160 to get us over this hump… but I will if it would work.

Hi Louise,

Glad you’ve found a curriculum that works well overall for your daughter! All those steps in double-digit multiplication can make it a tough process to master. I’d suggest first making sure that she knows the math facts up to 9×9 automatically so that she’s not using a lot of her brainpower to find those answers. When kids are having to take a lot of time to figure out the one-digit multiplications within the larger problems, they lose track of what they’re doing very quickly.

I agree: MUS might be helpful, but it’s an awful lot to spend for one concept. A much cheaper option to consider would be Multi-Digit Multiplication (from Maria Miller, the author of Math Mammoth). It provides visual models and a deep conceptual understanding that will help your daughter master the process. Warning: the pages are very busy, so you may need to do some of the problems on a whiteboard or cover parts of the pages to keep your daughter from feeling overwhelmed. But the mathematical teaching is very incremental and well-done, with practice problems to cement each step.

Happy Math!

Kate

Yikes, I found it on Teachers Pay Teachers and got it for free with points! It looks great! I will give it a shot. I will probably have to read a lot of it to her due to her dyslexia/learning disabilities but it just might do the trick! Thanks for your advice!

Hi Kate!

I am struggling to find a math curriculum for my gifted son who hates math (his words), and hates writing out problems. The only thing that I’ve found that he likes is the Prodigy math game. On top of all of this, I am not gifted with numbers myself. I excelled in all subjects except math. I really need a curriculum that can support and guide me. Thanks so much!

Hi Leigh,

If your son is in second through fifth grade, I think he might like Beast Academy. Little busy work, lots of interesting problems, and a graphic novel format make it a lot of fun. They also offer the full program online.

Happy math!

Kate

I agree with another poster’s comment – you should do a review on Math Lessons for a living Education 😉

I love your reviews by the way! We have decided to go with Singapore PM SE 1 for first grade.

Glad you’ve found the reviews helpful, Linsey! I’ll see what I can do about Math Lessons for a Living Education. 🙂

I have been homeschooling my son since kindergarten using Abeka. This has worked for several years but I feel it is becoming boring and also pushing him to fast. Math has become a spot of contention. He is very bright. Wondering if something different would be better for 6th grade. He’s one of those boys who rushes through work to get it done but I have to slow him down and make him redo it. Once I get him to focus he does awesome. Not sure if math is he’s not grasping it or just a matter of impatience.

I did a placement test for MUS and they put him at Epsilon. I’m wondering if he will be bored where we’ve went through fractions but I’m not sure. Plus I feel like we’d be starting over 5th grade.

Not sure what other Math curriculums would fit a boy who wants to concur the world. Want to add some joy back into our homeschool day. Also concerned if I do MUS he will feel frustrating testing this year where Abeka is spiral and MUS is mastery based. Thoughts? Advice would be appreciated.

Hi Tiffany,

I wouldn’t recommend switching to MUS from Abeka, especially with a child with the personality you’re describing. I think you’re right-on that he’d likely be bored with focusing on just one topic per year, especially if he already knows some of the material.

Sixth grade is a little bit of an awkward place to switch programs, since your son will likely be ready for pre-algebra in 7th (which is an easier place to make a switch). Instead, I’d suggest continuing with Abeka in 6th grade and supplementing with something totally different, like Life of Fred or Beast Academy. They’ll add some pizzazz and fun, but still keep him on track with his basic skills. If he’s doing well with Abeka, you can also reduce the number of problems he does. It’s a bit of a paradox, but bright, impatient kids often have better focus if they know they only have to do a few problems correctly instead of slogging through a ton.

Happy Math!

Kate

Hi Kate,

Thank you so much for your time and all of the energy you commit to this site and your books!!

My almost 8yo daughter is struggling with math concepts beyond basic adding and subtracting. I’m worried that it’s unwise to move on before she has a better base. We’ve use some Singapore and she’s worked her way through 1A/1B Standards Edition but truly doesn’t seem to retain the information and strategies and needs me to help work out problems that aren’t straightforward. We’re using your facts books to support those skills but I see her struggling with critical thinking and problem solving, and more specifically with the language of math and understanding the ‘why’. I’ve looked at Math U See as well as Singapore Dimensions and I’m stuck. I should add that she’s undiagnosed ADHD and is SO distracted by everything. She can also be quite reluctant to work hard at things. *sigh* An evaluation through our public school ruled out any specific learning disabilities. My son who is 5.5 is really only a bit behind her and I think he’ll do well with Dimensions. Any thoughts?? Thank you!

Hi Laura T,

Singapore is sometimes just not a great fit for kids who don’t have a natural inclination to think abstractly or who enjoy puzzling things out. It sounds like that might be the case for your daughter. Dimensions would have the same issues, I’m afraid.

MUS would give her a more straight-forward path through math, and so it might help her make more progress. However, one potential problem is that it is so straight-forward and unexciting that she find it very hard to focus on MUS, and it won’t do a ton to help her develop the problem-solving skills that you’re noticing she’s missing. Honestly, she sounds more like a good fit for RightStart, since it provides a lot of variety in each lesson to help her keep focused, and it provides some structured questions that lead kids through more abstract thinking. (It’s super-pricey, so make sure you take a close look at the samples and whether it would be good for her before taking that leap.)

One other option that might work for her is Math Lessons for a Living Education. It has a story format that might help keep her engaged and interested. But, in my opinion, it has way too little practice, so you’d need to add in either worksheets or games to help her really master the skills.

Happy Math!

Kate

Hi, Thank you for your post. From reading above, it seems like you’re so kind to offer advice to others so I thought I’d ask a question. My son is in 1st grade and finishing up Alpha of MUS, but as another commenter said…I’m not sure he is getting the concepts without the blocks. He seems BORED out of his mind every time he does math and says “he’s just not good at math”. I know that’s not true, but this is new to both of us and I want to find something that helps him to really thrive. I like the hands on approach to MUS and I have enjoyed it, especially because of the videos! 🙂 I have been curious about adding in something like Singapore or Math Mammoth and using one of those in conjunction with MUS. Is that too much? I wonder if it might give him a more comprehensive understanding. Would you recommend this? If so, which one is less teacher intensive? I’m concerned Singapore might be more challenging for me to teach, but I’m just getting started in learning about it. Perhaps, I am wrong. If I decide to switch fully over for my older child, I’d prefer to use MUS for my younger son for Kindergarten because it’s familiar and I’ve enjoyed it. Is it a bad idea to start with MUS and then switch though? I’m sorry for all of my questions! Brand new homeschooler and feel overwhelmed with the weight of all of the choices. Thank you!

Hi Laura,

Kids often benefit from seeing math presented two different ways. But, from a practical standpoint, I don’t recommend using two programs, as I’ve found it often takes so much time to figure out how to combine that programs that there’s not enough time or energy left for actually teaching well. (If you decide to look at Singapore, you might want to check out my free class at the Well-Trained Mind Academy to help you get familiar with the Singapore approach.)

If you do decide to switch your older child, it would be no problem at all for your younger child to use MUS in kindergarten. Most k programs are quite similar, and children typically don’t have any trouble switching programs between k and first grade.

Happy Math!

Kate

Hi Kate,

Thank you for these math curriculum reviews. I’ve been using MUS Gamma with my 3rd grader, and I was on lesson 24 when I realized that he only knew about 50% of his multiplication facts. This was my fault because I blew through them thinking that if he answered them once or twice correct, he must know them. Oops! First time teaching multiplication mistake. Thankfully, we are remedying this. But once he’s got these facts memorized, I’d really like to switch to a new curriculum because I don’t think either of us are crazy about MUS. Is there a curriculum that you would recommend that translates well from MUS? Is it a good time for us to switch or should we finish Gamma? My son is smart, but unmotivated when it comes to math. I have 3 other small children, and I need to get him slightly more independent. My next child is very math-y and is about to start 1st grade so I’d like to keep that in mind if I make any curriculum purchases.

Thanks!

KC

Hi KC,

I know, it can be so tempting to assume that kids have mastered skills once they’ve gotten the answers right a few times! As adults, it’s very easy to forget how much review and practice kids need to really master new concepts. Good for you for noticing and taking action. 🙂

I’d suggest taking a look at Singapore Math (any of the versions, including Dimensions) for a more-independent book that works well for math-minded kids. It’s always best to take a look at the placement tests when switching, but I think you’d likely be fine to jump ship now from MUS and start with 3A.

Happy Math!

Kate

Kate,

Help! My 5th grade son is very good in math and really enjoys it. We started homeschooling in January and he has already finished Beast Academy 4D (for review), 5A, and is working on 5B. He will finish 5B and be partly through 5C by summer break. We plan to continue with BA through the summer, meaning he will finish 5D before the school year begins. He breezes through the books and rarely needs my help with the problems. My problem is that they skip up to pre-algebra online for 6th grade, we only do workbooks and books for math. He does not do well in online classes and I fear he will lose interest in math. Are there any programs similar to Beast Academy for 6th grade? What would you recommend? We thought about MUS, but I think he will be very bored.

Thank you,

Amy

Hi Amy,

You definitely don’t want MUS for a kid with this learning profile! Take a look at Art of Problem Solving’s Pre-Algebra for your next step. They’re the same folks who write Beast Academy, so it has the same challenging and problem-solving approach to math. They offer online courses, but you can also just buy the books and use them on their own.

Happy Math!

Kate

Thank you! I didn’t realize they offered the materials without the online class. Now that I was able to look at the book and the supplemental alcumus online, I think he will enjoy it. We are going to try this out for next year.

Amy

Hi Kate

Thanks for the review and sharing your knowledge and experience.

I have a 3rd grader who is currently struggling with Maths. He doesnt want to memorise times tables and relies on rapid addition which leads to mistakes. He knows all operations but makes silly mistakes mostly in subtractions with regrouping (he would make one borrow one and write it 10 instead of 11). Or he would make mistakes in place value as he will start counting from left instead of right. He understands all concepts of word problems to choose the right operator though. I’m very worried as he will be soon going to grade 4. Please advise any curriculum or strategies you think would help. Thabks

Hi, I was able to home school my own children for only a couple of years due to ‘other issues’. But I now find myself homeschooling my 7 yo grandson who has several learning delays (fine motor, speech, toileting, ADD, to name a few). This past year we have worked on the missing skills of kindergarten and first grade. He has learned cursive writing and loves music (he has learned the names of the states in ABC order song), he can get frustrated easily and his focus ‘squirrels’ a lot, however he tries whatever I present to him. We have been using the Logic of English for his writing and language arts but haven’t had an organized math program, just printing worksheets for addition, subtraction, time, measurements, place value etc. off the internet. But now I wondering which math program would best fit him and what you would recommend.

Hi Colleen,

I would look at either Math-U-See or RightStart. MUS is often a good program for kids with learning delays because it moves very incrementally and clearly through the content. If you went that route, you might need to scribe for him if the fine motor requirements are too much. However, it’s a little boring, so it might not hold his attention very well. RightStart has very little writing, and it builds deep number sense with a variety of concrete materials. It also includes a lot of games, which can be helpful for kids who have trouble attending to a worksheet for long.

Happy Math!

Kate

Hi Ashi,

It’s pretty normal for kids to still be making a lot of silly mistakes at that age, so don’t be alarmed. (Even though it can be frustrating for the parents!) Based on what you say about his multiplication skills and word problems, it sounds like he’s developing deep conceptual understanding of the key grade-level topics.

I do agree that it would be helpful for him to master the multiplication tables, though. Repeated adding is a good stepping-stone to memorization, but knowing them by heart is very important. Take a look at my Multiplication Facts That Stick book–it would be a way to help him get faster and transition to fully mastering the tables.

Happy Math!

Kate

Thanks Kate, this is helpful. What gets me worried is that he is still making addition and subtraction errors and he is about to go to grade 4.

Would you also recommend any curriculum seeing our current challenges.

Hi Kate! We have used MUS Alpha for one year with my 7yo son, only making it through addition. He seems to intuitively “get” math concepts and enjoys real life application. However, he has had a very hard time mastering memorization of the facts. We will be starting off with your Addition Math Facts that Stick this year before moving back to MUS. I am wondering if you have any suggestions of other supplemental resources for us that will help maintain a sense of fun and interest with math? I hesitate to hop to a new curriculum entirely, but definitely want to address the “boring” factor. Thank you!

Hi Missy,

I’d suggest adding the RightStart Math Card Game set, so that you have card games to add more fun and interest to the concepts that you’ll cover in MUS. It covers everything from place-value up to long division, so it would keep you covered for several years. My kids also enjoy reading Life of Fred alongside their regular math curriculum as a fun and interesting supplement.

Happy Math!

Kate

Hi Kate,

Thank you for your reply regarding my 7 year old, I loved your suggestions for breaking up the reviews in Singapore and doing some daily. That sounds like the best of both worlds!

Now I need some advice regarding my oldest 2. We have done Rod & Staff from 6th & 5th grade when we began homeschooling. We switched mid-year to MUS last year in the hopes of filling some gaps so they could do pre-algebra (I also did this with my 7yr old). However, now I feel it created more gaps than it filled because it’s just not meaty enough.

My oldest is 16 (boy), in 10th grade. With R&S, he averaged a 80-85% in daily work and 70-75% on tests. If we worked through things orally or on the white board, he did MUCH better. He does make a lot of silly mistakes (he will look at an incorrect problem and say “why did I write 690 when the answer is 960, or 790? that sort of thing). He loved MUS and he was doing 90% + in both daily work and tests, consistently. However, I am worried about those gaps! Based on this, do you think it’s best to keep him where he feels comfortable, or switch him because it’s just not thorough enough? His father is an engineer who was in “dummy math” class in public school because they thought he had a learning disability. I see this in my son and wonder if he truly does know this stuff, or if he’s simply not mathy. We’ve been recommended Teaching Textbooks and Saxon with the DIVE DVD’s, and I’m looking at CLE.

Now my daughter, 14, is very good at math. She loved R&S and it was not unusual for her to miss maybe one problem out of 30 or more in her daily work. She seemed to freeze during tests and score 85-90% avg. I feel MUS is holding her back. She loves story problems and will do them ALL, even if not assigned, for the fun of it. We’ve been recommended Life of Fred, however, that just looks like a lot of extra reading, and I don’t like that the answers are right there. Too much temptation. Again, looking at Saxon with DIVE DVD’s for her as that was highly recommended for her, and I like the look of CLE because I think it would challenge her.

I know you haven’t reviewed these extensively, but can you give me some guidance here as to what type of programs these two need? Thank you so much for your time.

Hello, Kate

I am from South Africa and started homeschooling my 11 (grade 5) and 14 year (grade 8) old last year October. We are using MUS (Delta and Pre Algebra) currently. I like the fact that someone else is explaining the lessons via the DVD’s. But I am worried that it is not challenging enough and not giving mind math excersizes. What would you suggest I use to supplement these aspects?

Hi Mireille,

That’s a good idea to supplement a little to make sure your kids develop strong problem-solving skills. I’d suggest looking at the Singapore Mental Math books and Evan-Moor Daily Word Problems books for your younger child.

For your older child, I’d suggest buying an inexpensive used pre-algebra textbook (some thing like this) and having your child do related practice problems from it as he or she gets to each topic. (For example, when you get to graphing in MUS, pick a few of the word problems from the matching section in the textbook.) That way, your child will get practice with more challenging word problems than MUS provides, and you’ll know that he or she can translate the learning to other contexts.

Happy Math!

Kate

Kate – Hello from Minneapolis! First time homeschooler and excited to use Math U See with my daughter. She will be starting at the Gamma level and I am wondering if you feel it is necessary/helpful to buy the manipulative for this level?

Hi Tiffany,

Yes! The MUS method really depends on the manipulative kit, so definitely buy it.

Happy Math!

Kate

Kate,

I homeschool my 8th grader who has been diagnosed with ADHD and dyscalculia. He is very behind in math due to these issues despite our intense efforts. The learning issues led to severe math anxiety. Many days he cannot retrieve how to do previously learned algorithms and cannot retrieve math facts (we spent 5 years drilling math facts using every thing out there – even working with math specialists across the country- all to no avail). We finally have successfully dealt with the anxiety by allowing him to use a chart or calculator to retrieve facts and using “cheat sheets” that remind him of the steps to an algorithm if it is one of the days that he can’t retrieve previously learned info.

MUS works well regarding his anxiety,but he is only in Epsilon this year. Part of me hopes that higher level math will click more for him than arithmetic,but part of me is concerned that his learning disabilities may make higher level math impossible (we will cross that bridge when we get there!). If you were me would you continue MUS Epsilon for 8th grade or would you try something else to see if we can “catch up” a little to get him to pre-algebra for 9th? thanks so much

Hi Stephanie,

That’s wonderful that you’re making inroads on your son’s math anxiety! Charts and calculators are such a helpful modification for kids who struggle in this way. Since MUS is working well for him, I definitely wouldn’t switch programs. Instead, I’d try to do both Epsilon and Zeta this year so that he’s ready for Pre-Algebra in 9th, by skipping some of the worksheets, making sure to do a solid hour of math 5 days per week, and perhaps working through the summer.

Happy Math!

Kate

Hi Kate, thank you for your very helpful insights in these previous comments.

My 9 and 8 yr old have both been using MUS since the beginning. I love the mastery concept and it has worked well with them. 9yr old is near the middle of Gamma and 8yr old is finishing Delta. They seem to be losing interest. My 9yr old is slower at grasping the concepts so mus has always seemed a good choice for her. Even though she’s still young, she really wants to become a doctor and knows math is important. She gets bored easily, has difficulty focusing. I’m also thinking about supplementing for geometry and problem solving so i wonder if switching to Singapore would be a good option.

My 8yr old is good at math. Almost doesn’t need my help (which i love) and so i wonder if he needs to be challenged there…

I’m a bit reluctant to change programs in general so your input would be greatly appreciated.

Also, Are all Singapore programs equivalent?

Thanks again,

Hi Rina,

All the Singapore programs are roughly equivalent. They each have a slightly different flavor, but they all use the same overall approach.

Honestly, I think you could go either way on switching. Your 8yo sounds like he could definitely use more of a challenge, and Singapore would likely provide that. And while it’s not super-thrilling, it’s definitely more interesting and requires more thinking and problem-solving than MUS. But I hate to tell you to switch (especially for your 9yo), when what you’re doing sounds like it’s working. If it ain’t broke, no need to fix it!

It’s really a matter of what you think is best for you and your kids. Here’s an article I wrote on switching programs to consider, too.

Happy Math!

Kate

My daughter 23 yrs is helping a special needs child with times tables and was thinking this program may help him to grasp it easier. Do you know where she might find a 2nd hand set somewhere.

Thanks for reviewing Math U See. My daughter is 4 years 10 months old but has fairly high needs and severe delays. (She functions more like a 2 year old.) She also has fairly poor fine motor skills and hasn’t been a fan of puzzles or other tabletop activities. I am trying to research the best math curriculum for her though I know it’s hard to know/predict. Math U See is a curriculum that I saw other parents have mentioned. Another one that came to mind is called TouchMath? Do you have any thoughts on what may work best? Thanks.

Hi Tiffany,

It really depends on where your daughter is at when you’re ready to begin a formal program. The biggest difference between the programs is the level of understanding that they expect kids to have. Math-U-See is highly kinesthetic, but it asks children to understand conceptually what they’re doing with the blocks and translate the blocks into abstract symbols. TouchMath is also kinesthetic, but in a different way. It’s all about memorizing procedures in order to simply get by in the world, without much focus on any real understanding.

Once your daughter is ready for math, I’d suggest starting with Math U See and see how it goes. If it’s too much for her, you can always switch to TouchMath. I’d also suggest using my Preschool Math at Home book now, to give her a hands-on way to start learning about numbers without needing to do any writing or fine-motor work.

Wishing you all the best! Happy Math!

Kate

Hi Cynthia,

Math-U-See sets tend to hold their value, so she likely won’t be able to find a set particularly cheap. You might check if your local community has a homeschool Facebook group, as people often post used curriculum there. Your daughter might also be interested in my book, Multiplication Facts That Stick. It uses a similar array model to teach the multiplication tables, but without requiring any expensive extras.

Kate