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I've been lurking on these boards and I just had to create a topic because I just can't decide.

I have a 7 year old son (Gifted+ ADHD), an almost 6 year old son (ADHD hates lots of writing) and a 2 year old girl.

My eldest was doing Singapore Prime Math at his private Catholic school and when the pandemic hit, we chose to homeschool instead of online learning. He has always excelled at math. Always at the top of his class, 100% or 98% semester average for math and just seems to get it naturally because he loves it. Well since he seemed to love it so much, I bought the 2nd book (2A/Coursebook 2 depending on where you live), everything seemed to be going ok until we hit adding/subtracting with zero. So for example 509-273 or 800-198. He kept on making lots of mistakes. He knows he should borrow and all the steps etc. But for some reason he would get it wrong. On closer inspection I realized that in 1A it only says something like "zero minus a number gives you back the number and zero plus a number gives you back the number". Plus the emphasis of counting/adding by tens kept on tripping him up in HTO regrouping.

So then I had to explain and teach him the traditional way (like how most of us were taught). Plus I asked his father to help since he's excellent at math. Long story short, I realized that while Singapore was pretty and has great word problems, it's not the math for our family. We are very academic in our household and math is important. I'm more of an allrounder but prefers Languages and Arts. 

Now, I read through these boards and watched countless YouTube reviews and have narrowed it down to BJU Press Math and Rod and Staff Math.

I just would like the opinions of experienced homeschoolers who have used both and why as well as, which do you prefer?

Additionally, one of my main concerns is that BJU is so expensive and I wonder if Rod and Staff would be boring or too much drill. I ultimately would like to find a foundational programme that could work for all my children. And yes, I do know that everyone learns differently but I need a spine. 

Also lots of people have recommended Math Mammoth but I know my boys would complain about it and I just don't like how it looks.

Someone please HELP! Thanks.

 

 

 

 

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Honestly?  I'd stick with Singapore since it's mostly worked so far, except for that one topic.  You are always going to have a topic here or there that you need to teach in a different way from the book.  Changing curriculum won't change that fact.  

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I have no experience with BJU, but I use both Singapore and R&S. We use Singapore together, with me teaching and going through lesson together, and Singapore as (mostly) independent work/review.

I love Singapore, but it does lack a bit with drill and review, so when my 4th grader drew a blank on adding unlike fractions after spending all our time multiplying them and doing other things in Singapore 5, we added R& S and that had two great benefits—constant review and different explanations and examples (for when Singapore didn’t click). If we get ahead of ourselves with Singapore and hit a wall we can slow down there and keep up R&S, and that usually gives the confidence boost we need to keep going. 
 

I now have a 5th grader in Singapore Dimensions 6A with me and finishing up R&S 5, a 3rd grader finishing up Singapore 5A with me and doing R&S 4 on his own, and a 1st grader in Singapore 2B and doing R&S 2 and multiplication from R&S 3 on his own. 
 

I use R&S as the worksheets I never actually remember to print out and extra practice/review and Singapore as our main conceptual program. Singapore actually assumes you will do drill and review, but it took me 5 books to realize that. 

Edited by gradchica
Missed a number
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I have used both. BJU is excellent and worth every penny— especially Mrs. Walker teaching Grade 2, if you use the distance learning option. (Used copies of the TM are around for about $30-$40. I have a local store I can check for you, if you choose it as teach yourself.) It has all the pluses of Singapore and traditional to me. 

R&S is strictly arithmetic. It drove my gifted kid nuts because it lacks variety and drills every concept into the ground. Amish aren’t prepping their kids for higher maths, you know. Also, be aware if you have to do State testing, your child will not do well because of the narrow scope. Memoria Press sells lesson plans for every grade through 6th.

I like what the previous poster said about using it as a review set as needed.

So all that to say if I were in your spot, I would buy BJU with distance learning and books (cheapest way to buy the texts) and call it done.

Edited by Enigma6
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3 hours ago, simplyalethia said:

So then I had to explain and teach him the traditional way (like how most of us were taught). Plus I asked his father to help since he's excellent at math. Long story short, I realized that while Singapore was pretty and has great word problems, it's not the math for our family. We are very academic in our household and math is important. I'm more of an allrounder but prefers Languages and Arts. 

Honestly? You probably shouldn't have done this. The fact that he was making more mistakes at the beginning didn't mean that Singapore was failing. He's supposed to be working on regrouping, not on memorizing algorithms. Now he has two disconnected ways to subtract in his head, instead of trying to figure out how the pieces fit together. 

The thing people don't understand about conceptual curricula like this one isn't that the goal isn't immediate proficiency. The goal is a conceptual understanding of base 10, which is how we write numbers. So the fact that he is making mistakes isn't a reason to abandon ship and jump into a traditional program. He was excelling at this program before... if he's making mistakes, figure out where the conceptual issue is, then fix it. 

Anyway, I'd stick with Singapore. It's a good program. 

 

3 hours ago, simplyalethia said:

I realized that in 1A it only says something like "zero minus a number gives you back the number and zero plus a number gives you back the number".

Zero minus a number doesn't give you back the number. It gives you the negative number. 

Edited by Not_a_Number
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7 minutes ago, Enigma6 said:

I have used both. BJU is excellent and worth every penny— especially Mrs. Walker teaching Grade 2, if you use the distance learning option. (Used copies of the TM are around for about $30-$40. I have a local store I can check for you, if you choose it as teach yourself.) It has all the pluses of Singapore and traditional to me. 

R&S is strictly arithmetic. It drove my gifted kid nuts because it lacks variety and drills every concept into the ground. Amish aren’t prepping their kids for higher maths, you know. Also, be aware if you have to do State testing, your child will not do well because of the narrow scope. Memoria Press sells lesson plans for every grade through 6th.

I like what the previous poster said about using it as a review set as needed.

So all that to say if I were in your spot, I would buy BJU with distance learning and books (cheapest way to buy the texts) and call it done.

I totally have to do testing.

I'm glad I started this topic. I didn't even really think about the testing. I was more focused on ensuring that he'll understand and won't be left behind.

And yes I really do love the look and positive feedback from most people about BJU.

So I guess the price was my only qualm.

Hmmm.

So right now, BJU is leading and I can incorporate Rod and Staff for drill, if I insist on buying it.

And I guess I'd use the rest of Singapore occasionally.

Great response. Thank you.

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14 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

 

Zero minus a number doesn't give you back the number. It gives you the negative number. 

I know. 

It's how it's worded in the book that confused him.

Where I live you have to do official year end testing. You also have to register your homeschool. Things aren't so strict at the moment because of the pandemic, so I just want to ensure that everything is great in the long term.

Singapore, BJU and Abeka are just a few that are popular here.

And you're right about conceptual math. 

Thanks for responding.

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1 minute ago, simplyalethia said:

It's how it's worded in the book that confused him.

How is it worded in the book? 

1 minute ago, simplyalethia said:

Where I live you have to do official year end testing. You also have to register your homeschool. Things aren't so strict at the moment because of the pandemic, so I just want to ensure that everything is great in the long term.

Do you think he'd do badly enough in year-end testing testing that you wouldn't be allowed to homeschool anymore? If not, then I promise that making sure he understands place value fully is the right thing in the long term. It's the thing that'll make multiplication easier. And division. And decimals. 

I've now taught quite a few kids who learned the subtraction and addition algorithms without having a CLUE why they worked. They never fully integrated the base 10 system into their understanding. It didn't serve them well, because they had to remember everything without being to refer to reasons for why it worked, and all the algorithms felt disconnected. 

Do you feel like you have a good conceptual understanding of math yourself, or more of a procedural understanding? 

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Ok, I looked at it again.

It says "When 0 is added to a number, the answer is the number itself." 

"When 0 is subtracted from a number, the answer is the number itself" 

So I just asked him and his issue was when the zero is at the end, he thought that he should apply that principle. And he was thinking of number bonds. So for example 500-195, he got 315 instead of 305.

I would say that I was taught procedural from K to grade 3 and then conceptual from 4-6.

Which math curriculum is your go to?

 

 

Edited by simplyalethia
To add number bonds
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10 minutes ago, simplyalethia said:

So I just asked him and his issue was when the zero is at the end, he thought that he should apply that principle. And he was thinking of number bonds. So for example 500-195, he got 315 instead of 305.

I might be being dense, but I don’t see why he’d be taking a zero from a number in this example. It doesn’t seem like it’s applicable? Mind explaining to me? 🙂 

 

10 minutes ago, simplyalethia said:

Which math curriculum is your go to?

I don’t use one 🙂 . I make up my own problems. I’m a mathematician and an experienced math teacher, so I like this way best, since it’s so adjustable.

Edited by Not_a_Number
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Oh that's great that you're a mathematician.

Honestly, it's hard for me to explain. I've tried my best to condense his stories and explanations.

Because of his ADHD and just his awesome (lol) brain his stories are all over the place. Plus he's easily distracted, loves to rush his work just so he can move on to the next thing. When it comes to word problems he thinks very detailed and tries to add possibilities to the already long or 2 part question. 

And he doesn't keep still.

But then, when he loves something, he'll diligently write, practice and make up his own stuff. And he'll even draw and colour his own manipulatives.

So I'm not really sure what else to say other than, I just wanted to ensure that I have a great curriculum to satisfy State and personal (his) requirements. 

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34 minutes ago, simplyalethia said:

Oh that's great that you're a mathematician.

Honestly, it's hard for me to explain. I've tried my best to condense his stories and explanations.

Because of his ADHD and just his awesome (lol) brain his stories are all over the place. Plus he's easily distracted, loves to rush his work just so he can move on to the next thing. When it comes to word problems he thinks very detailed and tries to add possibilities to the already long or 2 part question. 

And he doesn't keep still.

But then, when he loves something, he'll diligently write, practice and make up his own stuff. And he'll even draw and colour his own manipulatives.

So I'm not really sure what else to say other than, I just wanted to ensure that I have a great curriculum to satisfy State and personal (his) requirements. 

Hmm, all right. If you get him to explain, I’d be interested. Because in something like 500-195, you aren’t taking away 0 from 9, right? You’re taking away 1 hundred, 9 tens and 5 ones from 5 hundreds. So you aren’t taking away 0 from anything.

It sounds to me like he’s confused about regrouping, and I’d work on that. I’ve seen kids who just take the smaller digit from the bigger without thinking about which one they are taking away, and that usually means they ought to go back to using manipulatives or something else that reminds them about what’s going on.

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@Not_a_Number Ooohhh! I think you've cracked it. 

Ok he says he knows the expansion of hundreds tens and ones but apparently sometimes he sees the numbers separately or like spaces between?! So not 500 but 5 0 0. 

And then he treats it as five zero zero. That seems to happen when he's doing practice problems and sometimes with his word problems.

But I'm going to let him use manipulatives more and practice more.

With the Prime Mathematics book, there is heavy emphasis on word problems. Not necessarily lots of practice.

So even topics such as number patterns in sequence we had to really hone in on the relevant pattern. The book didn't dive into explanation other than numbers on the number line. But because we have charts he was able to visualize and understand. For example the number line has 6, 8, 10, 12, ___ but if there was space on the line then he'll add as many as possible instead of just 14. And I would have to remind him that he does not need to do so. And he does not need to get caught up on ALL the possible patterns.

So I'm really not sure that Singapore is going to be great long term.

 

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37 minutes ago, simplyalethia said:

Ok he says he knows the expansion of hundreds tens and ones but apparently sometimes he sees the numbers separately or like spaces between?! So not 500 but 5 0 0. 

That’s really really really common. I wouldn’t worry about it, except I’d definitely give him manipulatives and remind him what things mean.

I love using differently colored poker chips as manipulatives, by the way 🙂 .

 

39 minutes ago, simplyalethia said:

But because we have charts he was able to visualize and understand. For example the number line has 6, 8, 10, 12, ___ but if there was space on the line then he'll add as many as possible instead of just 14. And I would have to remind him that he does not need to do so. And he does not need to get caught up on ALL the possible patterns.

I’m not sure I understand 🙂 . What would he fill in instead of 14?

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1 hour ago, simplyalethia said:

@Not_a_Number He would put 14, 16, 18 and if space is allowed on the number line, he'd put 20. Lol. He knows the answer is 14 and apparently he HAS to fill out the full sequence.

Oh, I see! That doesn't seem like a reason to give up on the curriculum 😉 . Sounds like he knows what he's doing. 

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We use R&S as a base.  I definitely don't assign all problems (you're right, there are a lot) and don't really use the teacher manuals. I teach each new concept which then gives me flexibility to use whatever kind of teaching method I want. Ds is in the 4th grade book. I will definitely skip lessons if the concept is mastered and, likewise, we'll play games or do extra review of he needs help with something.  We have to take a standardized test each year and he has always done well in the math portion.  I think it's a great base math program that works well with my teaching style. (I've never used BJU)

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I used the US edition of Singapore Math, so maybe I had a different experience, but did you ever see an explanation for subtraction, using a table that looks like this?

image.png.f28537e930c2a57ea4cfed946479e162.png

This one shows addition, but I couldn't find the subtraction version on the internet, and it's just the reverse process.  

I had actual little pieces of paper, labeled "1" "10" "100" etc.  I took a "10" and replaced it with ten "1"s.  I always asked my dd's if this was a fair trade, so they could see that the number has not actually changed.  

This is key.  

Now you can remove the number of "1" disks, even though we had zero of them to start.  I had the usual algorithm going side by side with the numbered disks so my kids could always see what was happening "under the hood."  

If you truly believe "math is important" then you probably should not resort to having  your student memorizing algorithms without understanding what is going on.  

 

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6 minutes ago, daijobu said:

I had actual little pieces of paper, labeled "1" "10" "100" etc.  I took a "10" and replaced it with ten "1"s.  I always asked my dd's if this was a fair trade, so they could see that the number has not actually changed.  

This is key.  

Now you can remove the number of "1" disks, even though we had zero of them to start.  I had the usual algorithm going side by side with the numbered disks so my kids could always see what was happening "under the hood."  

Yep. Same, except we do it with poker chips, because poker chips are fun and they clink and stuff 😉 . With DD8, I didn't know about poker chips, so she drew the 10s and 1s herself. We talked a lot about fair trades, too. I think we stayed at that stage for months, if not years. But then all the other things requiring place value were really easy -- multiplication, division, decimals, other bases. 

I'm currently doing the same thing with DD4. She has basically internalized how to do add this way but not yet how to subtract. (I've found this is the standard progression in my homeschool classes.) I expect to do this for years with her, too. 

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1 minute ago, simplyalethia said:

@Not_a_Number

Yes I've added pocker chips to my manipulatives list that I started based on the feedback.

Thanks.

I do love me some poker chips, and the kids in my classes loved them, too! 

But I have to say, it's not really the manipulative that matters. I'd just pick one MAIN manipulative to show the idea of place value, and I'd stick to that manipulative to help them understand. So whether that be poker chips or picture representations or whatever... it really doesn't matter. The point is just to keep modeling the idea of trading, over and over again, and make sure they form the correct brain connections 🙂 . 

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I used Singapore with both kids through level 6 and found that it did a good job - their understanding of math is far beyond what mine was at the same grade.  There are reasons to not like the program - some don't like that there are separate text and workbooks, or that there isn't enough drill, or want more review, for instance.  But, whatever program you choose you will find odd bits that your kid does something weird with, sometimes even after getting it right in other contexts.  My older was advanced and plowed through everything easily until we got to long division.  I ended up taking a week and explaining exactly what we were doing in a somewhat unusual way and kid immediately extrapolated the concept and did a 7 digit number divided by a 3 digit number.  Other kids get hung up as you add more digits - like, they can do tens and hundreds but assume that thousands are somehow different.  My younger, now in pre-algebra, got frustrated last week because kid can do 6x-2x=4x, and also do 3.4-1.2=2.2, but was adamant that it wasn't possible to do 3.4x-1.2x...despite having no issue with similar problems 2 weeks ago.  

In your case, it sounds like your student didn't really understand place value. When I tutor elementary, it's also common that kids will always want to subtract the smaller number from the bigger number, such that in 532-125 they'll subtract 2 from 5 in the ones column instead of regrouping/borrowing.  Some kids respond well to manipulatives and others like various methods of drawing to represent what is happening.  You can switch programs, but you'll likely still need to use something to represent what is happening unless this was just a temporary glitch, which also wouldn't be unusual.  You might also check out the Sir Cumference series - there's a story about place value that might be fun for your student.  

Edited to ask - do you have the home instructor's guide?  I'll admit that I didn't use it a ton, but you mentioned that the book didn't dive into certain topics and I'm wondering if there was explanation in the home instructor's guide and it was meant to be taught with those examples rather than from the book. 

Edited by Clemsondana
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1 hour ago, Clemsondana said:

In your case, it sounds like your student didn't really understand place value. When I tutor elementary, it's also common that kids will always want to subtract the smaller number from the bigger number, such that in 532-125 they'll subtract 2 from 5 in the ones column instead of regrouping/borrowing.  Some kids respond well to manipulatives and others like various methods of drawing to represent what is happening.  You can switch programs, but you'll likely still need to use something to represent what is happening unless this was just a temporary glitch, which also wouldn't be unusual. 

Yeah, I saw this a bunch in my homeschool classes -- place value wasn't really integrated into their understanding. It does lead to this kind of mistake. 

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@simplyalethiaif you decide to continue with Singapore look for the Home Instructor's Guide.  I don't know what version of Singapore you are using, but the HIG was significantly less expensive than the teacher's manual intended for schoolteachers.  It had answers, correlating pages between the text, workbook, and supplemental books, some teaching tips, and mental math exercises if you want to use them.  I bought them every year but my kids were intuitive with math so I ended up not using them very often, but especially in the beginning it was nice to feel like I had back-up if I needed it!  

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An update:

I will be continuing with Singapore but as a supplement. I really do like the layout just not necessarily how it teaches some things.

My spine and "drill" will be Themeville math.

I bought the K5 and Grade 3 math manipulatives pack from BJU Press. I laminated them so all my children will be able to use them.

I also will be purchasing a set of Cuisinare Rods to use for bar modeling, fractions etc.

Thanks for all your input.

I will give an update in a few months about this new routine.

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 1/29/2021 at 4:53 PM, LauraClark said:

We use R&S as a base.  I definitely don't assign all problems (you're right, there are a lot) and don't really use the teacher manuals. I teach each new concept which then gives me flexibility to use whatever kind of teaching method I want. Ds is in the 4th grade book. I will definitely skip lessons if the concept is mastered and, likewise, we'll play games or do extra review of he needs help with something.  We have to take a standardized test each year and he has always done well in the math portion.  I think it's a great base math program that works well with my teaching style. (I've never used BJU)

Same here. We add games for extra practice, manipulatives, and a couple of good math apps to break up the monotony of flashcards and speed drills. We are also in the 4th grade book (we switched last year in the middle of grade 3) and are required to standardize test. R&S math starts out a bit slower/behind in the younger years due to the difference in scope and sequence but catches up I think around 5th grade if I remember correctly. R&S was nice enough to inform me so I wouldn't be caught off guard. Yes, math was his weaker area in testing, but only in concepts he hadn't been taught yet. In the areas he had learned, he clearly retained and knew the work well which is what I look for in his test results. 

Edited by Servant4Christ
Spelling errors, courtesy of autocorrect.
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