Saxon Math in the Early Years
Most homeschool parents do not have a degree in education. That's okay. The Saxon Math materials from Kindergarten to third grade are perfect for beginner teachers. The program scripts out the lessons and incorporates a simple routine that builds discipline and consistency for your young logician. You can rest easy, knowing you are establishing a firm foundation to build upon in the coming years.
What the beginner Saxon materials do well:
Incorporate many hands on investigations to keep math concepts concrete and fun.
Focus on strengthening math facts, the basics of all upper math.
Integrate life math skills through tracking weather, keeping calendars, and telling time.
Build consistency through routine and repetition.
Saxon Math in Upper Elementary
As a teacher, I felt confident after my kids reached the third grade that I could teach basic math without a script. That was a great feeling. Since I had the repetition of training through those early years with Saxon Math, I felt confident to use the same verbiage in future lessons which would further facilitate my kids' understanding.
In the upper elementary texts (5/4, 6/5, 7/6, and 8/7), the daily teacher script is replaced with pre-lesson activities and a lesson to read and practice. This format shifts the teacher-student relationship to more of a mentor-learner relationship. If your children can read confidently, they might occasionally complete a lesson or two on their own.
The goal of a homeschool parent is not to be the expert for their child, rather it is to equip their children to be self learners. Saxon does an excellent job of slowly leading parents and students to this place of independent learning.
What the upper elementary Saxon materials do well:
Continue to incorporate investigations to bring the basic concepts to life with hands-on activities.
Reference which previous lesson to return to if you're having trouble solving a problem.
Focus on mastering math facts with daily drills.
Repeat similar concepts each year with more complexity and depth each time.
Saxon Math Through High School
As your student reaches Algebra 1/2, the format of the books changes once again. At this point, it's assumed that your student has sufficiently mastered the math facts, and thus the daily drills are dropped. The beauty of Algebra 1/2 is that it is very similar to Saxon 8/7. While it might seem logical to just skip over it, the repetition of the concepts that lead up to Algebra 1 is invaluable for setting your student up for success in higher math.
Once again, there is a lesson with examples and practice to follow. If a student has used this curriculum from the fourth grade up, they will be very familiar with this model of presenting the material. At this point, your child might be confident enough to take over their own math education.
Don't be in too much of a rush to let go of your involvement in their math lessons, though. If you've been journeying through math with your children for the past seven or eight years, you're better equipped to learn the upper level maths than you were when you started. It's great to get in the trenches with them and show them how to struggle through confusing concepts.
As my son works through the Saxon Algebra II book this year, he has taken ownership of his education. Occasionally he comes to me for help with a problem. When this happens, I simply ask questions to help me understand what's being asked of him. As I probe into the problem, his mistake becomes clear to him even if it doesn't become clear to me. I know that the materials have prepared him to take on math at the college level because he can struggle and find success with his math text.
What the upper level Saxon texts do well:
Continue the pattern of presentation from the middle school years.
Capitalize on the training from the previous years.
Allow for student independence and mastery.
If you're worried about going the distance in training your child in math through high school, you should put your fears to rest. Sticking with a trusted curriculum like Saxon all the way through will prepare you alongside your kids to be the mentor they need in the later years.
About the Author
Betsy Strauss is a wife to a deep thinker and a homeschooling mom of three kids. When she stumbled into homeschooling, she thought it would just look like public school at home. Thankfully, she quickly learned that using a one-room schoolhouse model of teaching was a great way to unify the family, and enrich family life without going crazy! She shares her encouragement on Family Style Schooling Blog.