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Life of Fred vs. Singapore vs. TT vs. Saxon...

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#1 ga girl

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Posted 19 December 2008 - 08:11 AM

My 12 yo dd is doing TT Alg 1 this year and loving it. However, I don't know if I want to continue this program all the way through. It is more expensive than the other programs. She is also gifted (not so much in math, but could easily learn it if pushed). I am thinking of what to do for next year ( I am hopelessly OC and a control freak).

Should I have her repeat Saxon Alg 1 (which I already have and we both hate)? Or do Singapore? How does Singapore compare with LOF and Chalkdust and some of the other "great" maths?

Thank you!

Connie

#2 inashoe

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Posted 19 December 2008 - 08:23 AM

I would be careful about jumping around curriculum - they do not all follow the exact same order of topics covered. By their own admission, TT follows a different order to Saxon and others. After teaching Math to homeschoolers TT came up with a slightly different schedule based on when the student is ready to learn a topic.

Any program written for use in a public school has the pressure of teaching topics according to the different States' requirements - which all vary greatly. This can mean that a topic needs to be taught before the foundation is firmly in place. TT builds methodically and carefully - with no regard for requirements from the various States.

TT also assumes no teacher is present. Many curriculum out there assume that a teacher is presenting the material and providing added explanations not always given in the book, or not given clearly enough. TT's greatest strength are its clear explanations.

#3 ga girl

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Posted 19 December 2008 - 08:38 AM

I'd like to find one and stick with it. I am experiancing the guilty mother syndrome of "what if my child isn't getting enough/the right thing?". I just stumbled upon LOF and it looks wonderful. Would it be a good supplement for TT? Is there a curriculum that DOESN'T need a supplement?

Connie

#4 danielle

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Posted 19 December 2008 - 09:26 AM

Is it just because it's fun and kids like it? Do we really have to have pain to feel the kid is getting enough math? That said, do most of us ever do a program without a little supplementing?

As I've mentioned before, I cross checked dd last year after she completed LOF I with the Saxon placement test and (I think it was) TT's placement. She got better than 90% on both. She did feel a little shakey on quadratic formulae, so she spent 2 weeks reviewing with Algebra the Easy Way, but concluded she didn't need it after all, as she was sailing through their problem sets.

My dd is no math brain. If I thought I had a child who would be a math major, I wouldn't bother with any of the traditional textbooks--I'd go with the online Art of Problem Solving classes. However, LOF seems to produce excellent understanding, excellent retention, cover all the topics in the standard sequence (compare for yourself--I did with Jacobs) and produce enthusiasm and confidence. (and the price and support are good) That's more than good enough for us.FWIW
Danielle

#5 Jann in TX

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Posted 19 December 2008 - 11:46 AM

Teaching Textbooks does not need a supplement. BUT it does not cover all the material in 'Algebra 1' that other programs do--so if you switch programs and try to jump into a different Algebra 2 then you will be behind (it would be difficult). Same thing goes after Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2. Student would be about a semester BEHIND their peers (NOT ready to go into another Pre-Calc course). After TT's Pre Calc the student would have completed Algebra 2 and had an introduction to 'Pre-Calc'--not as deep or complete as a college (traditional high school) level course.

Higher math courses are difficult to 'supplement' because the student may not have learned the skills necessary to complete the 'supplement' (if this makes any sense at all...)


If your dd is gifted and you may want to switch her to a program that is more 'standard'... Foersters, Larson (Chalkdust), Lial... but with any of these (or any other public school text) she would need to spend some more time in Algebra 1 (to catch up) first. I'm not as familiar with LOF--but I do know that it covers more than TT does on each level (more standard).

I would not recommend Saxon for higher maths unless it was used in the 76/ 87 levels and the student was successful.

#6 ga girl

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Posted 19 December 2008 - 12:48 PM

So, if I am at all thinking of switching, I should do it now? What about TT alg 1 this year (for 7th grade) and then switch to LOF Beg. Algebra for 8th grade? That way, she'd be on target for Pre-Calculus before 12th grade. Thoughts?

#7 fractalgal

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Posted 19 December 2008 - 01:38 PM

Teaching Textbooks does not need a supplement. BUT it does not cover all the material in 'Algebra 1' that other programs do--so if you switch programs and try to jump into a different Algebra 2 then you will be behind (it would be difficult). Same thing goes after Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2. Student would be about a semester BEHIND their peers (NOT ready to go into another Pre-Calc course). After TT's Pre Calc the student would have completed Algebra 2 and had an introduction to 'Pre-Calc'--not as deep or complete as a college (traditional high school) level course.

Higher math courses are difficult to 'supplement' because the student may not have learned the skills necessary to complete the 'supplement' (if this makes any sense at all...)


If your dd is gifted and you may want to switch her to a program that is more 'standard'... Foersters, Larson (Chalkdust), Lial... but with any of these (or any other public school text) she would need to spend some more time in Algebra 1 (to catch up) first. I'm not as familiar with LOF--but I do know that it covers more than TT does on each level (more standard).

I would not recommend Saxon for higher maths unless it was used in the 76/ 87 levels and the student was successful.


Jann,
Would you tell me why you don't recommend Saxon Math for higher levels. I am curious. I have not yet reviewed it myself, but I am working on reviewing Pre-Algebra and above for my daughter.
Thanks.

#8 Storm Bay

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Posted 19 December 2008 - 05:27 PM

If your dd is gifted, I'd switch from TT. My gifted dd hated TT--she tought it was too easy, etc. We did switch around during Algebra 1 so that we could find what works best for her, but don't plan to switch around in higher math classes. Also, dd started Algebra at 11, so we had lots of time to do this and bought mostly used books. We don't normally do a lot of curriculum switching, but have switched on occasion in the past.

Dd likes to read to learn her math. We find Gelfand's and the older Dolciani great texts for reading and learning Algebra. Lial's is fine, but requires a teacher more of the time. We have a Foerster's, and if I was to choose a modern one, that would be the one I'd choose. If you switch, I'd start at the beginning of the new book, but zip through what doesn't need much review. TT starts of with pre-Algebra and does end behind all of the other Algebra 1 books we have tried (we still have all but Jacob's, which we sold, since I have 2 more kids coming up the ranks).

As for Singapore, they have NEM. Did you use SM before? You might wish to read some of Myrtle's posts on this, among others.

The drawbacks to Gelfand's Algebra are that there's a lot of theory (okay, we LOVE that) and no answer key, but the solutions have been kindly posted by Charon and you can find a link to them on Myrtle's blog (Drat those Greeks). As for Dolciani, it's so old it's hard to find solutions manuals and not all copies have answers in the backs, but some do have the answers to the odd ones.

#9 ga girl

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Posted 19 December 2008 - 08:32 PM

I just hit the purchase button on LOF Beginning Alg. It looks fun and she's a very literature oriented child. I think that she will enjoy this and we'll have the TT as a back up if needed!

#10 Jann in TX

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Posted 19 December 2008 - 10:49 PM

I've taught/tutored Saxon for MANY years (started with first edition).

MOST of my students did VERY WELL with the program. The others did terribly BAD with it! I really see it as either it fits or it does not. Saxon's methods and organization is UNIQUE, but I've found that a majority of students do better--and understand the "why-factor" better with a more traditional text that camps out on a particular concept then expands on it--better yet--a traditional program with cumulative reviews after every chapter or built into the lessons.

If a student is using Saxon in middle school and wants to stay with it for high school I have NO PROBLEM with the series. My students (those who did well with Saxon's methods) scored very well on college placement tests and most went on to engineering type colleges/programs.

I have serious reservations (more like hesitations) with students who jump in at the Algebra 1 level--and I would NEVER NEVER EVER recommend beginning Saxon at the Algebra 2 or higher levels---the series builds too much on itself and the 'reviews' in those texts will offer little or no explanation/examples and the 'new' student will be LOST--even with video lessons.

#11 fractalgal

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Posted 20 December 2008 - 06:42 AM

I've taught/tutored Saxon for MANY years (started with first edition).

MOST of my students did VERY WELL with the program. The others did terribly BAD with it! I really see it as either it fits or it does not. Saxon's methods and organization is UNIQUE, but I've found that a majority of students do better--and understand the "why-factor" better with a more traditional text that camps out on a particular concept then expands on it--better yet--a traditional program with cumulative reviews after every chapter or built into the lessons.

If a student is using Saxon in middle school and wants to stay with it for high school I have NO PROBLEM with the series. My students (those who did well with Saxon's methods) scored very well on college placement tests and most went on to engineering type colleges/programs.

I have serious reservations (more like hesitations) with students who jump in at the Algebra 1 level--and I would NEVER NEVER EVER recommend beginning Saxon at the Algebra 2 or higher levels---the series builds too much on itself and the 'reviews' in those texts will offer little or no explanation/examples and the 'new' student will be LOST--even with video lessons.


I understand now. Thank you, Jann.

Edited by fractalgal, 20 December 2008 - 12:20 PM.


#12 Moni

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Posted 20 December 2008 - 11:07 AM

If a student is using Saxon in middle school and wants to stay with it for high school I have NO PROBLEM with the series. My students (those who did well with Saxon's methods) scored very well on college placement tests and most went on to engineering type colleges/programs


We use Saxon from Math 54 on up.

:seeya:

#13 Storm Bay

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Posted 20 December 2008 - 01:53 PM

I've taught/tutored Saxon for MANY years (started with first edition).

MOST of my students did VERY WELL with the program. The others did terribly BAD with it! I really see it as either it fits or it does not. Saxon's methods and organization is UNIQUE, but I've found that a majority of students do better--and understand the "why-factor" better with a more traditional text that camps out on a particular concept then expands on it--better yet--a traditional program with cumulative reviews after every chapter or built into the lessons.

If a student is using Saxon in middle school and wants to stay with it for high school I have NO PROBLEM with the series. My students (those who did well with Saxon's methods) scored very well on college placement tests and most went on to engineering type colleges/programs.

I have serious reservations (more like hesitations) with students who jump in at the Algebra 1 level--and I would NEVER NEVER EVER recommend beginning Saxon at the Algebra 2 or higher levels---the series builds too much on itself and the 'reviews' in those texts will offer little or no explanation/examples and the 'new' student will be LOST--even with video lessons.


This is a great post and I agree. One of my dds used Saxon and I started Saxon with a different one. Night and day difference between the two girls and Saxon! Plus, I'm not a good fit for teaching Saxon;) as I found by experience. I would like to add two things, though. My dd used it on her own for 3 levels, but we had to modify it greatly because she has a mind like a steel trap and there was far too much review. In 76 we had her do the tests and only the lessons that contained the teaching of the problems she got wrong on the tests.

The other thing I'd like to point out is that if you were going to major in pure mathematics rather than engineering type math (apparently they're very different) you may wish to go with something other than Saxon as it's a different kind of thinking.

In the final analysis, there is no math program that does well for everyone. Some will shine in math regardless of method, and some will struggle regardless of method. Most will find some that work best for them. Nevertheless, there are some programs I think are terrible. Saxon is NOT one of them even though I don't like it. Clear as mud?

#14 fractalgal

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Posted 20 December 2008 - 04:21 PM

The other thing I'd like to point out is that if you were going to major in pure mathematics rather than engineering type math (apparently they're very different) you may wish to go with something other than Saxon as it's a different kind of thinking.


I think I follow what you are saying.

Engineering type math would include the introductory college level calculus sequence (Calc I-IV), differential equations classes and the like. It may not be a bad idea to take the Calculus sequence at the school of choice from the start to avoid "holes" in the curriculum.

Pure math would include rigorous calculus (rigorous being a math term here, not a general term) such as advanced calculus, abstract algebra, real analysis, complex analysis, topology and similar courses.

One thought I wanted to add was that the study of engineering type math does not hinder you from learning pure math. I think exposure to both is good. It is sometimes helpful to see a simpler version of something before trying to comprehend a complex version.

I really enjoyed Calculus. It was like learning about a magic trick, but the magic was in the numbers and seeing the applications of the ideas. This eventually led me to real analysis and above. It did not hurt me to see it in its simple form, but rather inspired me to want to understand it more. :)

Edited by fractalgal, 20 December 2008 - 05:39 PM.


#15 Martha

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Posted 20 December 2008 - 04:40 PM

Is it just because it's fun and kids like it? Do we really have to have pain to feel the kid is getting enough math? That said, do most of us ever do a program without a little supplementing?

As I've mentioned before, I cross checked dd last year after she completed LOF I with the Saxon placement test and (I think it was) TT's placement. She got better than 90% on both. She did feel a little shakey on quadratic formulae, so she spent 2 weeks reviewing with Algebra the Easy Way, but concluded she didn't need it after all, as she was sailing through their problem sets.

My dd is no math brain. If I thought I had a child who would be a math major, I wouldn't bother with any of the traditional textbooks--I'd go with the online Art of Problem Solving classes. However, LOF seems to produce excellent understanding, excellent retention, cover all the topics in the standard sequence (compare for yourself--I did with Jacobs) and produce enthusiasm and confidence. (and the price and support are good) That's more than good enough for us.FWIW
Danielle


:iagree:

#16 Storm Bay

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Posted 20 December 2008 - 05:45 PM

I think I follow what you are saying.

Engineering type math would include the introductory college level calculus sequence (Calc I-IV), differential equations classes and the like. It may not be a bad idea to take the Calculus sequence at the school of choice from the start to avoid "holes" in the curriculum.

Pure math would include rigorous calculus (rigorous being a math term here, not a general term) such as advanced calculus, abstract algebra, real analysis, complex analysis, topology and similar courses.

One thought I wanted to add was that the study of engineering type math does not prevent you from learning pure math. I think exposure to both is good. It is sometimes helpful to see a simpler version of something before trying to comprehend a complex version.

I really enjoyed Calculus. It was like learning about a magic trick, but the magic was in the numbers and seeing the applications of the ideas. This eventually led me to real analysis and above. It did not hurt me to see it in its simple form, but rather inspired me to want to understand it more. :)


Yes, you can make that switch. However, what I was thinking of in a high school course designed for a future math major would be one that included more theory, rigorous proofs, etc than some do. My Ph.D brother(I have 3 brothers), who teaches physics at a Canadian university and has taught college math in the past when he was at a Canadian college (aka 2 year college in the US) told me that most kids coming out of high schools lack logic and thinking skills. I've heard essentially the same thing from an American math prof.

So, with the five methods we've tried in our quest to find what we need, I would say that all manage to teach some Algebra. But the Gelfand's is tops so far in teaching the theory behind what we do and has some really good long problems. The Doliciani we have has some good proof work in it, albeit simple compared with later math, and it's more rigorous than many (how most people think of the word). But the Lial's, while good in many respects, didn't do that; you'd need a teacher to help with that part. We haven't seen the teaching DVDs so I don't know if that comes up. Jacob's was more plug in the numbers, at least the part we did. TT wasn't what we needed.

Now, as I said, my brother is a Physics Ph.D., not an engineer, and physics is a different kind of science than engineering, just as math is different. He's looking for students who don't just know how to factor in Algebra, but who can get to Calculus and see when they need to factor (that's the thinking part.) He's seen students who can factor beautifully in Algebra, but can't see when to factor when they get to Calculus because they don't know why they factor. (In Canada you take Calculus in university, not high school.) More to the point, he's looking for Physics students who know how to think & have logic skills (not just critical thinking ;)).

As for Saxon, we switched from Saxon when we got to Algebra because I don't like to teach it and thought I might have to teach Algebra to dd (turns out I don't most of the time). It's not a good fit for me, and dd was finally asking for a change. I didn't see that kind of teaching in any of the Saxon books we used (K, 1, 54, 65, 76) whereas I see some of this in Singapore, etc.

If this is disjointed, it's because I had many interruptions!

Edited by Karin, 20 December 2008 - 05:48 PM.


#17 fractalgal

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Posted 20 December 2008 - 06:32 PM


More to the point, he's looking for Physics students who know how to think & have logic skills (not just critical thinking ;)).


I understand what you are saying.

A student could develop in interest in math in a program like Saxon, and get the necessary proof building skills in college as well. There are several, like Foundations of Mathematics and Logic courses that one can take at the undergraduate level. All is not lost if it is not done in high school.

I think one way to address what your brother is talking about is to look for books written by mathematicians, like Dolciani's or Gelfand's to supplement with Saxon or Foerster's or Singapore's NEM or whichever.

Dolciani's could be done on its own, but I understand that Gelfand's does not cover all the Algebra topics of a typical Algebra course.

Another is to do an introductory logic course (one that focuses heavily on mathematics).

I will share with you that in my experience the students that struggled the most with graduate school math were the American students. That said, America has some of the best universities in the world. It would be nice if there was some sort of an outreach from the American universities to the American students. Perhaps there are.

#18 Storm Bay

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Posted 20 December 2008 - 07:43 PM

I understand what you are saying.

A student could develop in interest in math in a program like Saxon, and get the necessary proof building skills in college as well. There are several, like Foundations of Mathematics and Logic courses that one can take at the undergraduate level. All is not lost if it is not done in high school.


Absolutely, just like a friend of mine started playing rock guitar after hearing the Beatles on Ed Sullivan (he's 7 years older than me), then picked up the cello in high school and now has a Ph.D. in classical (aka art music) composition and plays classical cello, composes, etc. Generally you want to start with classical training in music and then you can branch off to virtually any other type, but he's living proof it can go the other way around.

I think one way to address what your brother is talking about is to look for books written by mathematicians, like Dolciani's or Gelfand's to supplement with Saxon or Foerster's or Singapore's NEM or whichever.

Dolciani's could be done on its own, but I understand that Gelfand's does not cover all the Algebra topics of a typical Algebra course.


Gelfand's covers a lot, but we don't do it alone, and combine it with Dolciani. You could combine Gelfand's with any course, and I think that is a great idea, since Gelfand's is not expensive and if you've already invested a lot in something else, or even if you haven't, it works well. I find it's helpful to have the variety with a hormonal 13 yo, too. We don't bother correlating the two, but go from start to finish.


Another is to do an introductory logic course (one that focuses heavily on mathematics).

I will share with you that in my experience the students that struggled the most with graduate school math were the American students. That said, America has some of the best universities in the world. It would be nice if there was some sort of an outreach from the American universities to the American students. Perhaps there are.


Yes, even when I was in Canada we'd hear about how the US has many of the world's best universities and some of the worst high schools. But the US also has mediocre colleges, too.

I agree that logic courses are also good, and general conversations with your dc with "if...then" type discussions. However, I like to put logic in as many subjects as we can, even if I don't tell my dc we're using logic. One of my chief parenting goals is to teach my dc how to think for themselves, and that involves logic, reasoning, etc. (this is also part of my personality in general, though), so I tend to go fairly heavily on this compared to many homeschoolers I know IRL.

I've been enjoying this discussion, and it's great to have a place to have one like this. I hope you've enjoyed it as well. So far I've really honed our math to my eldest and her goals, and things may go differently with my two younger dc. This is why I've hung onto all our Algebra books (including the Foerster's I picked up for a song that my 13 yo hasn't used) except Jacob's, which I sold. Plus, I think it's great to have other sources because she learns by reading, and if she gets too stumped and hates my way, she can read it somewhere else.

#19 Jane in NC

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Posted 20 December 2008 - 07:51 PM


Now, as I said, my brother is a Physics Ph.D., not an engineer, and physics is a different kind of science than engineering, just as math is different. He's looking for students who don't just know how to factor in Algebra, but who can get to Calculus and see when they need to factor (that's the thinking part.) He's seen students who can factor beautifully in Algebra, but can't see when to factor when they get to Calculus because they don't know why they factor. (In Canada you take Calculus in university, not high school.) More to the point, he's looking for Physics students who know how to think & have logic skills (not just critical thinking ;)).


I think one way to address what your brother is talking about is to look for books written by mathematicians, like Dolciani's or Gelfand's to supplement with Saxon or Foerster's or Singapore's NEM or whichever.


I'd like to toss in a couple of thoughts on this theme.

In traditional engineering programs here in the US, students often take Physics I with their Calc II course, Physics II with Calc III (multivariable). It is not until Calc III that many students work with vectors, parameterized equations, etc., unless they have had the good fortune of having that material covered in a precalculus class. Let's face it: many precalc courses only cover enough of the basic mechanics needed for Calc I. We don't expect the average student to use analytic geometry, matrix arithmetic, vector equations, etc. Now that my son is doing what I am calling "Precalculus", I can finally put my finger on what I studied in the course which followed Algebra II/Trig. We called the class "Analysis" and used the Dolciani text. Early on, students cover proofs by induction. I saw with my son that this was not only an exercise in proving something, but a demonstration in understanding notation. This is a huge issue for many students.

This is along the line of what Karin's brother was addressing. Students need to be able to do more than follow the algorithm in the example. Yeah, a student can learn what a dot product is, but if a student performs a dot product in a certain physical application, getting a scalar answer when the answer must be a vector, there is a problem. So I am really glad that I am giving my son this opportunity to hone his skills with the mathematics that will be used not only in the Calculus sequence, but also in Physics, Computer Science, as well as presenting a solid foundation for Pure Mathematics should he choose to go that route (even though I seriously doubt this!).

Of course, this post has nothing to do with Life of Fred vs. Singapore, etc. since I have not seen these books. I agree that there is no one math program that is "the answer" but I do wish that students would have heavier exposure to proof, as well as vector work, matrices, etc.

Jane the dreamer

#20 Storm Bay

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Posted 20 December 2008 - 08:03 PM

I'd like to toss in a couple of thoughts on this theme.
Jane the dreamer


Jane said this so much better than I did. And it's true, we've gone off the OPs original question. :o

#21 fractalgal

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Posted 21 December 2008 - 11:36 AM

Jane said this so much better than I did. And it's true, we've gone off the OPs original question. :o

The original post asked for a comparison of "great maths", so we are not far off topic. A great math would prepare a student for a broad range of things and this is what we seek.

I wanted to add that one of the best ways to develop the skills for mathematical proofs is too immerse yourself in them. Read books written by mathematicians as this really helps one to understand mathematical thought and notation. Think through the logic. Take the time necessary to master one proof before going on the the next.

#22 AngieW in Texas

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Posted 21 December 2008 - 10:19 PM

If you want a program that is computer-based, you might want to take a look at Kinetic Books Algebra. It's an online subscription program, but it's much cheaper than most programs of that type - just $50/year.

They have a free trial, but it's only 3 days, so don't do the trial unless you're ready to explore it right then.

The problem entry boxes are pretty easy to figure out (and they have instructions that tell you how to enter the answers). My Aspie was able to figure it out easily and she requires extremely literal instructions that don't require you to intuit anything.

There are a lot of problems that you do at the computer with immediate feedback. Many of the problems have stepped help, so that it takes you step-by-step through the problem instead of just giving you the solution.

There are problems to work with paper and pencil at the end of each unit. They only provide an answer key for the odd-numbered problems, but there are enough problems that I only assign the odds. Sometimes I even have my dd do every 2nd odd problem when there are too many.

www.kineticbooks.com


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