I have faithfully used Math U See for about 14 years of our 17 year homeschooling journey. I own essentially the entire program.
We started with Saxon. No one liked Saxon. I found it dry and forgive me for being dramatic, agonizing.
So much repetition, so many problems, so much work. Hours of math. Hours of tears.
Math U See was like an oasis, when I found it. Using manipulatives my children were instantly engaged. Concepts were learned more quickly, retention increased. We moved more quickly, we enjoyed math, and my children found themselves feeling successful in Arithmetic for the first time in their education.
Now I am down to my last child in homeschool. We've used MUS until now. I love it still. But something doesn't seem to be clicking for him.
I've spent this year trying to get to the bottom of our math problem. Essentially every problem seems abstract to him. Even using the blocks doesn't seem to be helping it connect with him. I advocate relentlessly in homeschooling circles for finding the right curriculum fit for your child. There I was, with something I love but for whatever reason, it wasn't meeting his needs and that is a deal breaker.
I've known about the Life of Fred series for many years. I've heard good things about it from those brave enough to step so far out of the box. I admit, as relaxed as my approach may be, I had worries about learning Math in such an nonconformist method.
But this week, I took a dive into the deep end of the pool and purchased LOF. My hunch is that my son is not connecting Math with anything he can see or reason. When I sit with him and read the problems aloud and put them in the context of a word problem, attaching real world things and meanings to the numbers he gets it but he is not working independently and it frustrates him.
I should add before continuing, my son has epilepsy and is working through learning challenges, dyslexia and dysgraphia. These may or may not be related to his seizure activity and medication but his doctors suspect they are and at a minimum they present additional challenges for my brilliant young man.
He really is brilliant. The most amazing mind, creative, critical thinking, able to absorb vast amounts of information and tell it back to you when it's knitted into his mind.
Rote memory though, memory for memory's sake, not his strong suit. Thus his frustration. Methods and facts which need memorizing, are just not sticking. We have tried more repetition. We use flash cards and we use time tests. Not sticking. Enough already. Let's do something else.
I'm excited to try some new things with him. I love the samples of Life of Fred we have worked with and I think this may be the perfect fit for him. I can't wait, and neither can he, to get our new books and get started.
Once we crack this obstacle, we may return to Math U See, or not. I have no idea. I have complete confidence in my son's intellect and his ability to learn. I have confidence in my ability to find the right fit for him and help him learn. We have all we need.
Moreover I am sitting here at my dining room table in the still quiet of my home on the verge of tears. Tears of thanksgiving. Thanking God for the gift of homeschooling. For my husband who makes it possible. I thank God that I am not afraid for his future. I have no fear about his needs being met, or giving him the best chance at success. I don't worry if his next teacher or teachers will be cooperative, supportive. We have all we need.
I read this tonight on a website I frequent regarding the health and care of my son's epilepsy as it relates to his education.
"Children who have seizures and learning difficulties often require a highly structured environment. Experience has shown that the best way to teach children with attention or memory difficulties is using direct, one-on-one instruction."
Indeed. The article went on and on about how to advocate for your child inside the system, appeals and requests. At home, no advocacy is needed. Our home is set up for his success. His instruction is one-on-one at all times, a private tutor committed to him, invested in him, who loves him. Where else can one find this but at home?
This experience could be fraught with stress and fears but it's not. What he needs, is what he has. It's not rocket science, it's just homeschooling.