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Talk to me about MEP Math, please


dessertbloom
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Most of the reviews I have found are pretty old.  I am wondering how it has gone for families who have used it through elementary. It's more conceptual than traditional, right?  How does it line up with the ideas in Ruth Beechick's An Easy Start in Arithmetic K-3? I hear it's similar to Singapore?  Has anyone done Reception and then switched to something else? General thoughts? Pros and cons? Looking at starting with Reception in the fall for ds who will be 4 turning 5 in December. (I understand it is/was used in the UK for ages 4/5)  Thanks! 

Edited by dessertbloom
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I used from Reception to half way through grade 2.

 

There's a big jump between Reception and the grade one level. We did about half of the K level of CSMP before we started MEP 1, then continued with both. I only used the worksheets though, not the lesson plans. They're overkill if you're using more than one program. I found, for my child, that CSMP was heavier on conceptual work than MEP, but that might just be for my kid. We used MEP for the problem solving and variety.

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I have used Reception through 6A.  I have not looked at the other programs you mention so I cannot make comparisons.

 

Reception is gentle and fun. It was perfect 4.5 and 5 year olds.  Reception only takes a few months to complete. We moved into year 1 upon completion.

 

Year 1A was a step up. The biggest hurdle was my learning how to use a program designed for a classroom with a single student.  (I do use the lesson plans.)  It took about 6 weeks for me to become comfortable using the program.   Although lessons rarely took as long as the lesson plans indicated, I often split them over two days.  Even so, both my sons completed year 1 by the end of kindergarten. 

 

Pros:

Advanced concepts are introduced early using small numbers.

Logical thinking is encouraged. 

The child is encouraged to use what he knows to solve new problems.

There is no one correct method to problem solving.  Multiple methods are introduced. The child chooses the method that works best for him.

One page of written work per lesson, many of which can be completed orally.

Review is built into the program.

 

Cons:

MEP is difficult to accelerate.

There is a steep learning curve for the teacher.

Program is designed for classroom use.  Must be adapted for a single student use.

Can be teacher intensive, especially in the early years – if used as designed, the lesson is taught interactively from the lesson plans, the worksheets are review.  (I don’t think it is any more teacher intensive than other programs designed to be taught, but if you want to hand the child a worksheet and walk away, this is not the program for you.)

Since MEP is a British program, if in the U.S., U.S. customary measurements must be taught separately.  Extra work with U.S. monetary units may also be necessary. Some terminology may need explanation.  

 

I loved reception through year 3. I think those are the best years of the program.  Years 4 and 5 solidify the concepts learned in the earlier years. 

 

Year 6 did not work for my oldest. He found it too boring and repetitive. The new and old material was so intertwined that I could not separate the two.  Plus, I did not like that calculator use was encouraged.  It was taking my son a long time to complete problem sets because I did not allow him to use a calculator.  He switched to AOPS pre-algebra. 

 

My younger son is currently working through 4B.  I plan for him to continue on to 5 next year.  I have not decided whether to have him try 6 or move to AOPS.  I may let him decide.

 

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We did year 1 through 3 before we switched.

 

Pros:
I love that it's scripted. 

The puzzles are a lot of fun

It cements most of the concepts quite well.  We skipped through year 4 and 5 to try to find something he didn't know and it was a wash.

 

Cons:
There is not as much time on calendar work in year 1 as I would have liked. 

It can make for long days.  The lessons are a set 45 minutes, with breaks built in, and that can be long for a small child.  It was better for us to do it in chunks.

 

We're switching to Beast Academy next year - not because we didn't enjoy MEP, but that he outgrew it, sadly.

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I did not look at the early years but looked over year 2-4 and used parts if it. I really like the multiple ways they teach to solve the problems, how lessons do teach place value well and how they do teach for conceptual understanding. It is a spiral conceptual program and I do feel the spiral was not too tight. I also like how there is not a lot of worksheet work for each lesson. I do feel it can use more concrete work with manipulatives at those levels and since a lot of the lesson was in the lesson plan part not the worksheet it is hard to move faster through if that was needed. The lessons were on the long side. It is written for a whole class which was not too hard to adapt except there were times where I wondered if they should work all the examples or not. I am thinking of using year 2 for my youngest next year because I feel a spiral similar to that with no more then one worksheet would work well for her but I will use rods and hundreds flats to show concepts first.

Edited by MistyMountain
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I am using Year 1 now and have gone carefully over Year 2 also. My daughter was ready for logic but not high place value numbers so Singapore and Right Start were not a good fit for her. Y1 takes us about 10 minutes a day. I only teach what needs teaching from the instructor pages and have had absolutely no issue converting it from classroom to one child. I printed all the instructor pages and ran through them with colored highlighters. New material in one color, practice material in another color, word problems in a third. I also used a pen to mark needed materials on the side of the page so I can see it coming.

 

I think Sherry in Oh gave a pretty good assessment. I'm completely enamoured with the pure math approach and the fact that MEP teaches all four operations and order of operations by the end of Y2 where most programs won't get to that until 3 and the beginning of 4th grade.

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We used year 1 and it was too difficult at the time. The focus on unknowns was really difficult conceptually for my kids at that age.

 

I continued to pull from MEP occasionally. When ds was program bouncing in 4th grade, we eventually found our way back to MEP and finished out elementary math with it, so roughly parts of year 4, then basically all of year 5 and 6.

 

I really like it. It's conceptual like Singapore... but it's presented really differently.

 

I love the variety on the pages. I like the fifth day review page. I like the tricky problems that are made to get kids thinking. I like the focus on concepts. A lot of the in class activities are very good as well.

 

I found the geometry to be odd. There were a handful of terms that were different or concepts that simply weren't covered in US elementary geometry at all. There was a whole week in grade 5 or 6 on trapeziums. That's not just another name for a trapezoid. It's a concept that doesn't exist in American geometry in the same way. Sigh. Most of the other cultural things were no big deal. I mean, pounds vs. $ - who cares - it's just decimal based money. There is a good bit more on Roman numerals than you'll find in a US book, but you can skip it easily or do it for fun. There's no standard measurement really, but I thought the metric stuff was good and it was easy to supplement on that front. There are a few notation things, especially in the early grades, that are funky, but they were mostly easy to pick up on.

 

The lesson plans are awkward for homeschool use. I would *love* to have had something much more streamlined. They're scripted for the classroom, but you're unlikely to need to use all of them. But you do - at least after the first couple of grades - need to use some of them. There are places in there to do some drill work, there are extra activities that, without which, the program is less complete. Yet they're not written in a user friendly way unless you're prepping for a bunch of classes. We also had to use them to find the answers and sometimes they were really buried, which was frustrating. But I think at this point, there are workbook keys for all the books, so that's good for you.

 

Overall, I really like MEP. I don't fully understand why so few homeschoolers are using it when it's such an excellent program.

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I'm using MEP with one student who really needs to figure things out by herself. I do less direct teaching with MEP than I did with other programs and it works really well for her. 

 

We skip the lessons that are multiples of 5 because she gets plenty of review in the normal lessons (maybe too much, but she doesn't complain and it seems to be working in that she is learning and happy).

 

We definitely do all the teacher led parts, though pieces are done orally. The most thought-provoking questions are during the whole class time. Sometimes I go through and circle the best ones and skip everything else.

Every once in a while there is a really neat question, which I like. I won't be moving my other students to MEP, though, unless they stall out on our other curriculum.

 

Emily

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I've used MEP starting with my 4th child.  My 8th child is in Year 3 this year. I will share  few quick things.

 

I love doing Miquon Orange in K and then MEP1 after that.  You get a few things in Miquon earlier than MEP will do them and I like that gentle exposure.  They are quite capable of the material and it makes a few things easier later on in MEP.

 

You can, and I have, gone from MEP 5(2/3 of the way through) to Algebra 1(this for an 8th grader) and moved from the end of MEP 5 to AoPS Pre-Algebra(for a mid 6th student).  I have a struggling math student who went from 1/3 of the way through MEP 6 to Algebra 1 in 9th.  I think my kids did miss multiplication and division of decimals this way, or they forgot it.  I haven't gone back to see which:).  I say all this to say that while MEP does take longer, but you don't have to finish the 6 years before the end of 6th grade.  There are 175 pages in each year and you can divide the pages for more than 6 years or only do 5 years of MEP.  I also began skipping some of the geometry work in 5th and 6th because all of it is covered in a high school geometry course and I knew we would be doing that.   My plan with the last 2 kids will be to figure out what we are missing by only going through MEP 5 and then teach that and then move to AoPS Pre-algebra because that has worked well with my current 7th grader.  

 

 

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I love doing Miquon Orange in K and then MEP1 after that.  You get a few things in Miquon earlier than MEP will do them and I like that gentle exposure.  They are quite capable of the material and it makes a few things easier later on in MEP.

 

 

 

^  I am currently combining these two again for child # 5.  For the last three children, I have begun with Reception in Pre-K or K, and brought in Miquon Orange part way through the year.  Then we go on to MEP Year 1 and finish Miquon Orange and keep going in Miquon Yellow. 

 

There *is* a learning curve in using MEP, especially if you (teacher) were taught with more traditional math.  Don't skip the Teacher's Notes--many of the activities listed in the Teacher's Notes are designed to help with understanding the worksheet problems. 

 

I have found that past MEP Year 3, I prefer a more standard approach to the geometry topics.  It just clicks better for me and mine.  The rest of the content is excellent.  I have found that some of mine needed more than one year to get through a year of MEP.  We've taken rabbit trails into more traditional looking math to give tired brains a break when needed. Two of mine really loved the challenge and puzzle aspect of MEP; two other children became very frustrated with it as time went on and needed to switch to a more traditional program.  I have seen real benefit to having all my children (the math lovers and the math endurers) go through MEP years 1 and 2 at a pace that works for them. I love how MEP shows relationships between numbers. 

 

  One of my older boys (13 year old)  was doing some function tables in his math, and said that it reminded him of some the stuff he did in MEP Year 1 and 2.  :)

Edited by Zoo Keeper
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