Homeschooling: It's not what we do, it's how we live.

Math is Scary…for Mom!

Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t do math. In fact, I say that quite frequently, “I don’t do math.” It’s true – shamefully true, when coming from a mom whose math skills are about to be exceeded by an 8-year-old. My loverly husband, on the other hand, excels in math. I’d go so far as to say he likes math, and he has passed on his superior math-loving-skills to his kids. I’m thankful for that, I truly am. But when it comes to explaining math… you’ve got me at a complete loss.

LittleBoyBlue is in 3rd grade starting in the fall – we’ve already begun 3rd grade work (or I should say, ‘are beginning’) and when I was researching curriculum, Saxon Math was the pinnacle of mathematics success. With a price tag to match, that put it out of our price rage, especially when you consider buying for two. In a sheer stroke of luck and answered wish-lists, I inherited Saxon 3 from a wonderful formerly-homeschooling mom turned body-building goddess friend of mine with boys that are more than a few years ahead of mine in the age department. Now, if you haven’t ever seen the Saxon program, it is beyond frightening at first glance. The boxes are huge when you buy it new, and even used, my friend brought in 2 thick 2-inch binders, plus a 2-inch spiral bound book and four (count ’em – FOUR) workbooks. Upon looking inside the cover, this is the picture that you see:

Let me just tell you right there that seeing that amount of ‘math’ waiting to be taught is intimidating. And that’s an understatement. Naturally, they bulk it up a bit so the pictures look impressive. In reality, I am pretty sure that is the classroom version, and it includes the manipulatives (more than one set, possibly?) and storage for a classroom full of files. As a homeschooling parent, you don’t need anywhere near that much stuff to make the Saxon program work. Once I took deep, cleansing breaths and worked my way through the paralyzing fear, I discovered that I had both the school teachers version and the homeschool version of the teacher’s manuals – I’m not teaching a class full of kids, so I can pretty much discard the two binders of info and just use the spiral. The workbooks are another matter. I have 3 of the same workbook, and one of the workbooks is mostly gone, and I don’t have any of the ‘meeting books’, so I am going to order them.

Once I started looking through the teacher’s manual, I found that it does build from where PeaGreen is at now – in 2 digit addition and graphs, so I think I can safely pull him up into 3rd on Math and just school them together instead of trying to do a whole separate curriculum for him in math. Well see. If he falls behind or isn’t getting it, we may drop back into Lesson Pathways 2nd grade math for him.

I do like how the lessons seem to be set out. Everything builds on the previous lesson and it’s paced so that we can slack or move ahead as needed. What was looking like a heart attack in a blue cover is looking, dare I say it, appealing? On the upside, teaching math skills to the boys is a good way to brush up on my own skills, especially multiplication (the times tables hate me, they really do). We have flash cards ready to go so we can start doing drills (LittleBoyBlue gets them – he’s on 3’s without even trying, the little smarty pants) and I found some neat helpers at and The challenge now will be to keep my negativity towards math from rubbing off on my kids. The advantage here though is that they truly are adept in mathematics in a way that I have never been. Trying to get them to write something is wholly different.

I don’t know anyone else who is using Saxon for math, so this is virgin territory for us. I am such a weenie when it comes to math that I thought I’d share my terror and the realization that it doesn’t look like it’s going to be that bad with you.




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