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Uh-oh, now I'm nervous about MUS ...


Jenny in GA
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Wow, that "curriculum you thought was great" was an eye-opener.

 

I was dismayed to see that MUS came up several times as

"we thought they were doing really well and liked it, but learned years later that they hadn't learned much and were behind."

 

My kids are nine and seven, and MUS is the only math curriculum we've ever used. I have noticed that neither of them can tell time, even though we;ve successfully done those lessons in both Alpha and Beta, and have even done a little supplementing with this.

 

Also, sometimes I wonder is MUS is too easy, and/or leaving some things out (although I'm not sure what those things would be.)

 

What has been your experience, if you've used MUS for at least 3-4 years? How did you find out that there "were huge gaps"? What were those huge gaps?

 

And if you found supplementing was the answer, what did you use and how did you go about that?

 

Thanks!

Jenny

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I have not used MUS but all of my friends do and have since the beginning. One has a son who has already went through two years of community college (at 17) and is now transferring to a 4 year school. He's had no problems. Another has a dd who is just beginning community college, she tested into college Algebra (music major). One other friend has a dd who is now attending a private boarding school, she placed right with her class.

 

All of them have had successful MUS stories that have panned out in the upper years. If it works for your kids, I wouldn't worry. Those threads can make us all second guess what we are doing ;)

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we have used mus for five years, and first, let me put your mind at ease...there aren't HUGE gaps. there are some small ones which will quickly be repaired, such as familiarization with metric measurements, measurement in general (it's there, but i'd like more work with it), graphs and as you put it, time. but as far as operations go, we're very solid, and ultimately this is what is important at this time.

 

however, i was just seeing more of the same...operations ad nauseum without a lot of critical thinking about said operations. so i decided to "supplement" with MM. two weeks into it and we like MM so much I don't think I'm going to bother with MUS this year. even my son likes it. he says likes the challenge, and it's not boring.

 

so...don't be nervous. i do think MUS has its place and is an effective curriculum. I just think that the further on you go with it the more need there is for critical thinking, mental math and more word problems. there are several out there that emphasize this more. mus has a little bit of it, but i think there needs to be more.

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MUS works well for some. So don't get frightened off from using something because of cyber talk.

 

with that disclaimer...

My oldest (currently 9th grade) used MUS from her Kindy year until she finished Zeta in the middle of 5th grade. It worked well. She finished early. I decided that going into pre algebra book at 5th grade was not a route I was willing to consider. So.. we took a Singapore placement test. I had always been intrigued by Singapore and thought "ok. this is the time to try it." (and also I just knew that MUS wasn't right for my second child so I wanted to try something else for her regardless.)

 

At end of Zeta, my oldest tested into 4B of Singapore. That's not too bad really because she was 5th grade and Singapore is advanced. So at first I thought "ok.. mus was working." But, then my daughter struggled with normal word problems in Singapore. not advanced, not challenging... just normal stuff. I had to learn very quickly about bar diagrams and then wow! the math was math that we really could see. (friendly pun intended)

 

I found that she had gaps in thinking skills about math problems. I was disappointed that even though MUS said it was about thinking and seeing math, that well,it wasn't happening that way for us. She could do it the way MUS did it. But when she did word problems in Singapore she had no idea how to approach the problem. So, in my opinion, MUS didn't take it up a notch in word problems. And in my opinion, it felt like a plug and chug approach instead of learning to learn to solve it approach. just opinion.

 

I thought MUS lacked geometry too after seeing all that public school in my area were doing, and seeing what topics were covered on Cyber Chase and in Singapore too.

 

I thought MUS lacked more stuff with time - not reading clocks per se, but thinking about time lapse and how long ago, or other things.

 

Well, I really began to realize that I wanted to do more with my oldest when she was watching Cyber Chase. So we supplemented with playing math games and doing more thinking problems. We liked that TV show.

 

But I was very glad that she got to do Singapore 4B-6B in her 5th and 6th grade years.

 

My 2nd child is not a strong academic type, but still does well in Singapore. I was nervous about teaching this student double digit division (you know... things like 9229 divided by 29), but as she did those problems this week in Singapore 5A and did them much much easier than my "smart kid" did division in MUS, well, let's just say, I'm glad that God lead us to use Singapore and to drop MUS. My middle child never did MUS expect we kept the blocks.

 

Singapore (just the text and workbook) was doing everything that I wanted MUS to be and thought was working.

 

My middle child really benefited from the systematic approach to it all as presented in singapore. and this is my slow to average child!

 

I know MUS is very popular. Looking back over the years of using it in elementary with a strong academic and strong math child, I, well.. I'm glad I got to use something else with her. I know MUS is the answer to prayer and need for other people and the only thing that has helped their child. So, lots of good stuff out there. right? it's a blessing and a source of stress at the same time to have many good programs.

 

One of the little things that I've noticed from my experience is that I wish MUS taught multiplication and division in the same year. My oldest who did MUS struggled more with division than my average child who was taught mult/div together as related subjects.

 

Good luck finding what is the right path for yours.

 

I know I was one of them who chimed in on the other thread you read and thought maybe more of my story would help to know what I experienced. I didn't ruin my oldest by using MUS. I supplemented with thinking skills, and time and geometry and did that in less formal ways (games, fun, cyber chase). Then, she got to use Singapore (just regular text and workbook). She ended up in Algebra in 8th grade and aced it. She's in Jacobs Geometry and loves it. middle gal - Singapore and cyber chase :)

 

-crystal

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If it works for your kids, I wouldn't worry. Those threads can make us all second guess what we are doing ;)

 

:iagree::iagree:

 

Every time there is a thread on loved or hated curriculums, what is working and what is not, I find every curriculum I am using on BOTH sides of the issue. No curriculum works for everyone or there wouldn't be so many! If MUS is working for you, relax, it is probably really working.

 

As far as telling time, how many analog clocks are in your house? Just like any other skill, if you never use it you lose it. Most kids never have the opportunity to use an analog clock, so they forget. Its not a big deal. Put one up somewhere and refer to it often. It will come back and they will remember.

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MUS has a real love hate here on the Forum. Plenty who love it, plenty who don't.

 

If you're unsure if it's working, may I suggest you simply give placement tests (usually free online) from other math resources. Keep in mind the sequence will affect the results, so if you're not through division in MUS, just don't count those problems in your results.

 

A great place to supplement is Enchanted Learning. While using MUS, I simply printed worksheets from there and incorporated them into our study. In the end, since I felt like I was supplementing a lot, I simply switched our usage...i.e. MUS is now our supplement or primer (when or if needed) and we're sticking with just Singapore (which I had great success with my Elder children, save one who has only been happy with Rod and Staff and Life of Fred -- go figure:001_huh:) I actually like using MUS Pre-Alg and Alg1 as a primer for Algebra (a subject I think benefits from extensive foundational time and not to be rushed, ymmv)

 

Keep your eyes open to see if the blocks are a distraction or not. Give pop quizzes using Enchanted Learning worksheets and look for retention, especially as problems are presented differently. Add in some more challenging word problems and see if your dc is capable of handling them via application. If your dc does fine in all these areas...by all means stick with it. If not, choose to supplement or start something new.

 

Don't let those of us who chose otherwise to cause an issue for you if you don't really have one. Definitely not our intent and surely not what's best for your family.

 

Best wishes,

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I didn't post on the other thread. MUS was a disaster for my oldest dd. She used it WAY back when the levels were Introduction, Foundations, Intermediate, and Advanced. She did very well in all the lessons and rarely missed anything. She could repeat back all the explanations word-for-word. It wasn't until we were about 2/3 of the way through Foundations (supposed to be 1st-3rd grades) that we realized that something was wrong. She had finally got to a point where she was supposed to start applying what she had learned, but she couldn't. We discovered that she had memorized her way through MUS up to that point without any actual knowledge of how math worked. I tried working with a MUS rep (who told me to drill math facts), but her advice didn't help at all because my dd already knew her math facts.

 

We finally quit MUS a few months later. I found Miquon at Goodwill and tried that. My dd was SO happy. She finally felt like she understood math again. She is actually advanced in math.

 

Despite the problems with MUS, I am considering it for my youngest. My oldest memorized anything at the drop of a hat. The primary issue she had with MUS was that it was extremely possible to get through much of the program through rote memory without understanding anything. My youngest is dyslexic and has the typical dyslexic issues with memorizing. A program that makes it easy to memorize is a good thing for her. This dd gets concepts easily, but needs systematic review and MUS has that.

 

I probably will get MUS Prealgebra for her. I'd rather move on to something else for Algebra I, but there aren't a whole lot of options for Prealgebra that have black print on white paper, NO color, plenty of whitespace, and aren't visually distracting.

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Another thing to keep in mind; is the WTM forum is a small portion of homeschoolers. It seems big but it's a corner on the web :001_smile:. Also, you don't know how others are using MUS. Are they doing all the worksheets? Using the blocks? It would be nice if we could be like a fly on a wall and see.

 

I'm not a WTM homeschooler (but still like hanging out here;)) I use textbooks a big no, no but it works for us :D I'm using a non conceptional math program with my dc. Things like Math Mammoth (which I LOVE) confuses my son :blink:.

Edited by Homeschooling6
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We are in our 6th year of using MUS, after a brief (miserable) stint of trying Saxon. My daughter scored in the 98% of her standardized testing in math and has shown great progress with MUS. My husband is a certified middle & upper grades math teacher and he feels that MUS is covering everything that it needs to. My daughter is now doing MUS Algebra I as an 8th grader. Sometimes we finish our MUS books with an extra month or two to go in the school year; when this happens, we sometimes supplement with Life of Fred or math drills.

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I have only used MUS for 2 years but I will tell you that if it weren't for MUS my dd11 would be way behind in math. When she was in ps 4th grade she was failing math. Now she is back on track and actually is to a point where she doesn't cry every time she is faced with math problems. She is halfway through Epsilon and tells me its fun. :D

 

I did placements with Singapore, Saxon, Horizons and MM and the only minor gaps I found were in the critical thinking and real life application areas. I don't count telling time, counting money, or measurement as gaps in a math program because I have always looked at those as living skills that I teach when they are younger, kind of like teaching them to tie their shoes. The gaps in critical thinking and real life application are easy enough to add in with supplements. I use Life of Fred and a critical thinking word problem workbook that I picked up at a teacher store with my oldest two and I supplement my younger dc with MEP. The dc actually like having the supplements now because it gives them a little break from the repetition. I feel I have a completely well rounded math program now.

 

I had considered a while back switching to a curriculum that incorporated the things I am supplementing but I just couldn't give up on the fact that my dc really like the mastery approach. They hated ps math because they were constantly switching from one concept to another and felt they were never given a chance to really "get it". Also, I believe you are going to find gaps in any math program that you don't use long term.

 

So, that's my .02.

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Well, we switched to MUS from Saxon for my now 12 yo. It wasn't enough, but there are may great things about it. What we did was to add Singapore math & she did both for a few years. The combination was great for her. My dd is mathy and is above average in math (she's doing Algebra 1 at 12; she's not a math genius, just strong in math.)

 

Some dc are going to come through some excellent math programs and still struggle with some or all math concepts, even some mathy dc. I would like to add, however, that my dd is highly vs. There were some things I had to reteach her a number of times. These things were mulitiplying & dividing fractions and weights & measures. She had done mulitiplying and dividing fractions in the key to series. She understood it when she did it, but would forget in between times (and, yes, she'd apparently mastered MUS epsilon and was scoring very high marks). In addition, she had trouble with the linguistic aspects of math because she could see so much of the actual math in her head (especially geometry.) The bar diagrams in SM were excellent at helping her handle word problems. In addition, we took an entire year after SM 6 to work on the linguistic aspects of math and to really nail fractions before she moved on; she still needs to check on weights and measures, particularly US ones.

 

We don't do MUS once it gets to pre-Algebra, but do have a used pre-Ald DVD for any questions. Dd used it once for one thing in pre-Alg & Mr. Demme's way worked better for her.

 

Curriculum hopping has its pros and cons, but there is nothing wrong with switching if something isnt working or in doing 2 programs. It can help to do a placement test or to go back a bit and quickly go through an earlier book to get things you've missed. Of course, I'm a strong advocator of doing 2 programs since there is no perfect math program out there IMO. We did quite a bit of jumping with my eldest during Algebra 1, but she started young. In the end, it was worth it. I also have my dc do Algebra 1 twice, but thats another topic.

Edited by Karin
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My oldest started when it was Foundations and Intermediate.

 

He and the rest have used the newer Alpha, Beta, etc.

 

Oldest is now in 11th grade and in Algebra II. He used MUS through pre-algebra and was very pleased with the preparation he had. We did not think the high school levels were sufficient and haven't used those.

 

My next is now in 9th grade and used MUS through zeta. She loved it and said that "I really learned stuff" from it.

 

The younger two are just starting and finishing up Delta.

 

The newer levels have LOTS of word problems. I don't consider them highly challenging, but they are applied math. I don't see a ton of geometry, but my two high schoolers thoroughly understand area, volume, and perimeter AND see the connection of both to multiplication! None of them read analog clocks well. Should of supplemented that.

 

Not every math program works with every kid. And we HAVE had to stop, go back, and repeat certain parts of MUS (multiple digit multiplication, for example) until someone "got it".

 

BUT, the best advice I ever got was to find a decent math program and stick with it until the end to avoid "gaps" in learning.

 

MUS has worked well for us and neither high schooler has found a serious gap. When bar graphs pop up on standardized exams, they've figured them out. Their ability to do multiplication and addition in their heads is far above their peers. They aren't reliant on calculators.

 

So, I'll pass along the advice. Unless your math program is a total disaster (meaning material is poorly presented, child isn't learning anything but isn't delayed in math, too many problems in book, too few problem in book), I'd try to stick with it until the end of the series. My kids have had a few math meltdowns, but such events are random and don't reflect on the curriculum so much as "attitude" in the kids.

 

I still recommend MUS to people and it is the only curriculum that we started with and still use.

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We switched from Horizons Math to MUS last Fall because although my kids were able to complete the worksheets in Horizons, I felt they didn't have a true understanding.

 

 

I mix MUS with regular workbooks/Singapore so they get both methods, but dd "gets" MUS almost instantly. Sometimes she gets confused in the regular workbooks (like 7+1=71, right?) and then I pull out the blocks and show her & she instantly gets it again (oh, 7+1=8 the moment I put the blocks together--no counting, just remembering which math process she's pulling from).

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I am not sure what I think of MUS now. When I watched the demo, I was highly sold on it. However, after Primer my kids found the work very boring. They didn't want to use the blocks all the time, and the worksheets are very repetitious. I think that if you switch curriculum mid-sequence, you would find "gaps" because the MUS sequence is different. However, I don't think that is an inherent flaw in the program, as at the end of the Greek letter sequence you'd be back on track. The bigger problem to me is that things only seem to be presented one way and are then drilled. The different topics don't seem to be approached from different angles, nor are they applied well at all. It may very build good understanding of rote math problems, but I didn't feel that it was good at building mathematical thinking, especially creative mathematical thinking. We are much happier with MM.

 

I don't think it is a horrible curriculum, though. Like I said, I do think it builds good understanding, even if that understanding is only approached in one way. If your kids like it, I think they will have a good math foundation at the end of the elementary levels.

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LOL, I didn't even open that thread! There are always going to be things that work for some people and not for others--that's why there are so many different curricula out there. There are thousands for whom it does work--so I wouldn't worry about it unless it's not working for *your* kids and *your* family. I think it's good to be aware of possible downfalls of a curriculum, but you also have to know that every curriculum--if there was one "perfect" or always best curriculum, no one would need to develop anything else.

 

Merry :-)

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After having gone through 4 math programs in 4 years and daily math meltdowns, MUS has been THE program that finally made sense to math-struggling DS and has truly "stuck" for him. We have used it since grade 5 and have done the old MUS Intermediate, then levels Delta, Gamma, Zeta, Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, and Geometry, and are currently doing Algebra 2. We have had no problem with the sequence of topics and standardized testing -- DS did very surprisingly well on IOWA testing.

 

I will also add, we have always used other math resources or another math program to supplement all along the way, as it is very helpful for kids to see math from more than one point of view. We used Miquon and "The Complete Book of Math" (the gr. 1-2 book and the gr. 3-4 book) in early elementary years, plus booklets to practice specific topics (such as telling time and money), and booklets to work with manipulatives (such as Discovering Fractions with Pattern Blocks; perimeter and area with Cuisenaire rods, etc.). In the later elementary/middle school years, we used Singapore 4A/B, 5A/B and 6A/B as supplement and to teach mathematical thinking. We also some of the Keys to... workbooks.

 

MUS is simple enough (even for our math-struggler) that it has not been difficult to add supplement.

 

 

BTW, we used supplement all along for older math-minded DS, too, who used Singapore Primary, some Singapore NEM, Jacobs Algebra, Jacobs Geometry, and Foerster Algebra 2. (We used the same sorts of supplements in elementary for him as above, and then in upper elementary/middle school supplemented with Saxon, plus he likes watching the MUS DVD lessons along with younger brother.)

 

 

My suggestion: use the math that connects best for your DS as your math spine, and add supplement from a different point of view for practice, story problems solving, etc. BEST of luck in your math journey! Warmest regards, Lori D.

Edited by Lori D.
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We've used MUS from the beginning through half of Zeta with my 12 year old, and my 10 year old is now in Epsilon.

 

Twelve year old is in PS 6th grade this year in PreAP math, and has a high A average.

 

It's but a single data point, but I hope it helps.

 

FWIW, we did use Life of Fred to supplement for fractions and decimals, and I did plan to change to a more rigorous program for Pre-Algebra and beyond. (And I intend to do the same with DD10.)

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I am not sure what I think of MUS now. When I watched the demo, I was highly sold on it. However, after Primer my kids found the work very boring. They didn't want to use the blocks all the time, and the worksheets are very repetitious. I think that if you switch curriculum mid-sequence, you would find "gaps" because the MUS sequence is different. However, I don't think that is an inherent flaw in the program, as at the end of the Greek letter sequence you'd be back on track. The bigger problem to me is that things only seem to be presented one way and are then drilled. The different topics don't seem to be approached from different angles, nor are they applied well at all. It may very build good understanding of rote math problems, but I didn't feel that it was good at building mathematical thinking, especially creative mathematical thinking. We are much happier with MM.

 

I don't think it is a horrible curriculum, though. Like I said, I do think it builds good understanding, even if that understanding is only approached in one way. If your kids like it, I think they will have a good math foundation at the end of the elementary levels.

 

 

We don't do all of the sheets, so both my dc wrote in the same workbooks. There is some thinking, but it is weak heuristically and in the level of the word problems, so we do two. However, some of what he does makes more sense to my dc, particularly my middle one who is no longer doing MUS as she finished Zeta in 2008 or 2009. For more creative mathematical thinking, there are stronger programs.

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we have used mus for five years, and first, let me put your mind at ease...there aren't HUGE gaps. there are some small ones which will quickly be repaired, such as familiarization with metric measurements, measurement in general (it's there, but i'd like more work with it), graphs and as you put it, time. but as far as operations go, we're very solid, and ultimately this is what is important at this time.

 

however, i was just seeing more of the same...operations ad nauseum without a lot of critical thinking about said operations. so i decided to "supplement" with MM. two weeks into it and we like MM so much I don't think I'm going to bother with MUS this year. even my son likes it. he says likes the challenge, and it's not boring.

 

so...don't be nervous. i do think MUS has its place and is an effective curriculum. I just think that the further on you go with it the more need there is for critical thinking, mental math and more word problems. there are several out there that emphasize this more. mus has a little bit of it, but i think there needs to be more.

:iagree::iagree::iagree: This is what I would write.... exactly my thoughts/experience.

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