Monday, July 30, 2012

Just 20 Minutes A Day! - A New TOS Review!

I know that for a LOT of children (and even some parents) math can seem very difficult, and even scary at times. And as you all may remember, my husband is a "math guy" so that makes my life a little easier, but he does work  - which means I'm the one giving math instruction.  Thankfully we haven't hit the HARD stuff (that comes very soon), but when I had the opportunity to review a math curriculum that is based on 20 minutes a day, I just had to sign up for it. ;)
The Product:
Math Essentials was designed by Rick Fisher, America's Math Teacher, to help students understand math and even have fun and enjoy doing it! He has designed a variety of different math curriculum including his newest No-Nonsense Algebra.  We received Math Essentials 4/5 which covers 12 chapters covering:

  • whole numbers
  • fractions
  • decimals
  • percentages
  • integers geometry
  • charts and graphs
  • problem solving
  • ratio and proportion
  • probability and statistics
  • number theory and algebra
  • graphing on number lines and coordinate systems

The way the curriculum is set up is you have a review section, a skills drill section, helpful hints (to explain the concept for the days lesson), 2 sample problems (to be done along with the teacher), 10 problems and one word problem.  All of this should be completed within 20 minutes which makes math fun and not stressful.  the review is built into each lesson so your student is consistently going over skills they have learned so they won't "forget" what they knew at the beginning of the year by the end of the year.

They also come with DVD's that explain the concept for the days lesson and has your student work alongside of Mr. Fisher.  Then he encourages them to go back to the DVD if they need to even in the middle of the lesson.  You can check out samples and the Table of Contents to see a little more of what you will get.

And if you don't see dramatic improvement to math scores, you can let them know with a note and they will give you a full refund ($33.95 for the set; or individually - $15.95 for the book and $24.95 for the DVD)- so there is NO RISK!

Our Experience:
Like most children, Arianna isn't thrilled about all math.  Some of it she LOVES, but lately she's been struggling with some areas, getting lost in thought, not-focusing, etc.  So when I told her we had a new program to review, she was both happy and not happy at the same time. ;)  Since this was a math program, I also wanted Stephen to check it out and review it with her so that we could really get a better sense of the program.

We all loved that it's set up to be done in a short time frame - just 20 minutes a day!  You can do anything for 20 minutes, even math.  So that helps with students who struggle with a LOT of math problems that they may not have to do, but the book has them doing it.

Stephen said he loved that the program is so well-balanced. It works on drill every day, which not only builds confidence in your student's math abilities, but keeps them reviewing their skills daily to help them become faster at knowing their facts and times tables.  He also loved that they do the more advanced concepts and that they have a focus on word problems as a primary skill.

Arianna did struggle a little as we got a few lessons in.  I think that is because she is just completing 3rd grade and this book Math Essentials 4/5 is for 4th and 5th graders.  However, we just have been doing it a little slower then the recommended 20 minutes a day.  She has definitely increased her times table knowledge from doing the daily speed drills - which was one of our summer skills.

After watching the DVD to start the lesson (and after I reviewed the introductory lesson to the teacher) she was ready to start.  Arianna enjoys math, but sometimes gets frustrated when she doesn't "get it" fast enough.  I think the simplicity and shortness of each lesson has helped her focus and know that math doesn't have to be hard like everyone says it is.

We also were given a choice of an additional title in the Mastering Essential Math Skills which target specific skill areas.  We chose Fractions because I felt that was an area we would be needing soon.  Some of the other selections Arianna was not ready for.  You can see the Table of Contents and Samples of the Fractions book which only cost $11.95.
We have used this in conjunction with the Math Essentials 4/5 book doing about 1-2 lessons a week on just fractions.  Arianna has enjoyed the diversity of the daily lessons and it is set up similarly so she doesn't have another "type of program" to remember how to do.

My Thoughts:
I have really enjoyed this program.  Stephen and I both agree with the philosophy that you don't need to have a student drill and go over concepts for 50+ problems when they understand it in 10.  That just causes frustration.

I really LOVE the speed drills. I think that drilling your facts in a specified time limit is essential to being a good math student and will help you later in life.  I would encourage you to check out all the reviews for Math Essentials that our Crew had the opportunity to take a look at and maybe you will find the program you have been looking for too!  There is definitely something for all ages from elementary math to algebra and beyond.

And right now with any order you will also receive A+ Math Homework Kit for FREE (a $4.99 value)! So head on over and check them out as well as other reviews!

*** I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2011-2012 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of money for any of my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences with the products and services that I receive.***

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