Think Hard about Math-u-see.

by Peta Baird
(Castle Hill, Sydney)

We have used the curriculum for 7 years now and I am in the process of changing to Teaching Textbooks. I don't want to be seen as trouble maker but, Math-u-see has it good points but many bad ones also. My children have grown very tired of the repetitive nature of the work and found the concentration on math principles to be difficult.

There is not variety like other programs with the math principles. My children have taken a long time to a complete books because of the nature of the program. This in itself frustrates them as they feel they are getting no where quickly.

I think if you were to use it with other curricula, it is great as you learn solid math concepts. I have used the keys to fractions decimals and soon to use percents along with it to get my children up to scratch with where they should be to enter into teaching textbooks.

Before changing to Math-u-see I very much compel you to think lengthy about the decision as using other programs hand in hand with can become quite expensive but the up side is you will have a complete math system teaching topics in depth. I for one am not sticking it out any longer as my children are tiring greatly of math.

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Mar 12, 2014
We love it so far
by: Anonymous

I switched to Math U See this year because my 3rd grader was just not memorizing her facts. She was counting everything and struggling with subtraction. I opted to start with Alpha so we could ensure that if she had missed any concepts previously, they would be learned. I started my 1st and 3rd grader together. At some point my 3rd grader "got" all the missing pieces from what she had learned before and flew ahead of my 1st grader. She is now solid on her facts.

For those that say it is too repetitive, I think the program is what you make it. We have spent over a week on lessons and we have flown through several lessons in a sitting. It just depends on the child, the lesson, and how quickly they grasp the concept. If they are getting it, there is no need to beat a dead horse. Steve Demme even says that you don't need to do each workbook page. The workbook is a tool as much as the blocks are.

Right now my 1st grader is struggling with solving the unknown. We have spent weeks on it and she totally "gets" the concept when we do word problems but has trouble seeing it when it is just numbers on paper. She was beginning to dread math and whine when it was time to do it. The other day as she was complaining I said "We are just going to play with the blocks today." She brightened and we spent about 30 minutes just "playing." Ofcourse she had no idea that all of our games were solving for the unknown. until after we finished "playing." Then she was so thrilled that she had been solving the problems so easily.

Math U See is a great tool. We love to watch the DVD together and my girls think that Mr. Demme is so funny. I love the mastery aspect of the program. Even in Alpha I have learned things that I either didn't remember or didn't know from my years in school. I could do problems but didn't necessarily know why I could do them. Ofcourse no program is perfect for everyone but so far Math U See is working great for our family!

Jan 21, 2014
Math U See is a perfect Math Curriculum for us.
by: Anonymous

In our home we have been using MUS for over ten years.

The fact that Math U See is repetitive and less visually stimulating are two of the very reasons we love this Math curriculum so much.

It's important to me that math concepts are firmly understood before moving on and that I can count on MUS to cover all the concepts in a sequential manner. After all, isn't that our goal?

We have five boys and I find that in today's modern world our books have a tendency to over-stimulate us. The simple, black and white, no frills layout is a breath of fresh air for me. It helps to put my boys brains in the math "zone" and I think acts as a way to help calm and focus them on the problem at hand. For us, the last thing I need is their minds wandering off into yet another day dream while they are suppose to be working on math about a tree houses and dragons all because they saw a colorful little picture of a house next to their word problem.

Aug 26, 2013
We love Math U See
by: Mel

Math U See has been a GREAT change to my family. Math is done so much better. It's challenging but doesn't throw them in the deep end. My eldest doesn't function well with maths if she is smothered by concepts she doesn't fully understand.

Math U See makes sure that all concepts are understood. This is important. My middle child is quite mathematical and needs to run ahead. MUS let's us do that. It's important that you work with the child and their individual needs. No one can say that MUS is 'bad'. What they can say that MUS didn't work for their family. It works us and many others.

I recommend Math U See :)

Apr 03, 2013
Actually have a question about MUS
by: Anonymous

I have twin 5-year-old boys (just turned 5 April 1, so young 5). I plan to start them on Primer in the fall or perhaps the summer. Can I get away with just one student text? Thanks!

Oct 29, 2012
Very Solid Results from MUS with my Learning Different Students
by: Anonymous

I have heard numerous friends in my homeschool world speak negatively about Math U See. This article also ranked highly on a Google search for Math U See so I wanted to comment in its defense. I find it hard to comprehend the most common complaint of it being boring and repetitious. Compared to Saxon math and other pulic school curriculums, the amount of repetition in work (as in 20 problems max per worksheet)is dramatically less than others that typically boast 50 problems or more.

What I like about the program is that it is completely sequential and does not jump around with math concepts, enabling my children to develop an overall schema for math beginning with the very foundational understanding of place value and its role in math overall. My learning different kids have responded very well to the uncluttered pages and reasonable number of problems. The curriculum urges users to check for mastery and then move on.

If MUS (Math U See) could do anything for improvement, I think it would be to allow more space between problems so that students could neatly solve each problem in the same area where they are asked to provide the answers (my children have to show their work in the upper level classes on separate pages).

I like MUS for keeping the focus to just the operations at hand and ensuring that the students understand the meaning of what they are doing, which also seems to make it much easier to translate that information into real world problem-solving.

I chose MUS purposely for my PDD-NOS son who has a severe language delay. He can see what's happening very clearly. But we only actually use the blocks if they are not understanding a concept. We supplemented with Addition the Fun Way and Times Tables the Fun Way by City Creek Press to provide the kids with a visual, story-based means of memorizing their actual facts. This may be one of the major problems kids would have with MUS early on: if the blocks don't work for fact-learning - which they did not in our special needs case- kids have to find a way to memorize their addition/multiplication facts. Using City Creek, my kids learned their facts in just a few short weeks and we would work a few pages per section of MUS to confirm that knowledge.

My 13yo started at the Gamma level and is now in Pre-Algebra. She does most of the work on her own, with only the occassional need for us to review or supplement a concept. She is able to take what she has learned and apply to physics and other science classes with no problem. Having a strong math background in our family, we can see that the MUS program is foundationally solid.

Mr. Demme's techniques, in many cases, are far more eloquent and efficient than the methods I was taught at those same levels of schooling. I have heard great things about Life of Fred and other math programs. Perhaps at some point we might like entertaining supplements but I have no desire to switch from Math U See's core curriculum at this time.

May 21, 2012
Worksheet use
by: Christine

Keep in mind that with MathUSee, you don't have to do all the worksheets in each lesson. It's recommended that students do at least one Lesson Practice and one Systematic Review. The idea is test the students understanding and know that they've mastered the concept for that lesson. Keep moving at the student's pace.

May 18, 2012
Enhancing Your Use with MUS
by: Anonymous

The Student manual has a grid sheet. You want to print that on pretty paper/card stock. It's their report card, progress report, and record for later review. I put it in a plastic page protector to keep it safe inside their slim/hard back Math Binder with a pocket. I do not let them have their entire student book at once for more than one reason. I tear out 6 weeks at a time and put the pages in page protectors in their student binder.

When they complete 6 weeks, I give them a week off (if they want it). I call it "The Sabbath Week." It is designed so that we do not get burned out! I keep the big student book in my room for the next 6 weeks. Maybe on the "Week Off" you just review the things they missed (not from careless errors BUT concepts they had a hard time with).

When they miss something, I record the problem number in the little tiny square on the grid for that assignment. This is how I can look back at their entire year at a glance, all on one page, and know how to prepare them for that FINAL. I used to put the number of problems missed (like -4) in each little tiny squares but now I do not go back and review careless errors; I only put the actual problem numbers missed. This also lets me know if MUS is working for us because as we go back and review each quarter, they usually have picked this up and its just automatic for them now.

On the back of the grid sheet, I record Test # and the few they miss -the careless errored ones (it only takes a second). About mid year, we get bored looking at thesame design on the page, so I recopy their grid sheet onto pretty paper again. It can get tattered. I used to have them use dry erase markers ON the plastic page protector and save trees :) but this is not good when you can't grade the paper right away because their hard work can get erased/wiped off>:(...Hope this enhances someone's use of Math U See

Mar 29, 2012
LOVE MATH U SEE
by: Anonymous

We've tried other programs that my daughter was absolutely in tears while using. We started over using Math U See and have had sucess with it.

We tried switching over to video text when she started algebra..but she didn't understand it. So we switched back to Math U See.

I really can't understand the "repetitiveness" or "bored" comments. Perhaps as a parent you need to go back and read how to do Math U See. The blocks aren't meant to be used forever. I DO KNOW that I personally had to relearn math because of the way I was taught in public school is different in how Math U See teaches...thus the blocks.

The parents I personally know who struggled with Math U See hadn't taken the time themselves to watch the videos and learn how to do the math so they could sit with their child and help him master the concepts. This isn't a memorize and regurgitate it for the test type of curriculum.

It is expensive but worth the money in the long run, especially if you have more than one child.

Feb 21, 2012
Pre Algebra Math U See
by: Melanie

I have two 8th graders in Pre Algebra Math U See and one 6th grader in Zeta. I have learned more from Mr. Demme than I learned in high school just memorizing formulas. I have had college algebra but I only memorized and drilled the "rules."

I believe Math U See is a great program for many but it isn't for everyone. Some brainiacs need to supplement. The black and white pages are getting boring because we aren't using our colored blocks AND we aren't on schedule so we are burning ourselves out by doing the two pages a day everyday.

Public schools are increasing exposure of algebra and other maths earlier than before. This can cause a panic. I do not see graphing in 8th grade with Mr. Demme and they are teaching it in 8th grade. This is a strong consideration for those not positive they are going to homeschool permanently.

Just like those fancy science labs that public schools rarely use, they don't spend a lot of time developing UNDERSTANDING--just exposure and get the answer right on the test/rules drill. MUS is not perfect but it is very good. It will be hard to get me to switch.

Jan 23, 2012
Math U See
by: Christine

I'm curious where you're at now? We used Saxon -hated it - fell in love with MUS, got bored switched to TT and eventually fell back to MUS because it explained concepts best...But I find it a drag to use and my girls aren't into the blocks...

Dec 19, 2011
Math U See
by: Anonymous

I have been homeschooling our 7 yr old daughter since she was in preschool. Last year I had used the typical "school style" ways of learning math. Cute little books, Flash cards etc. You name it, it was worksheets being done but she couldn't do them on her own without help.

She started with Alpha Math U See, which has some review of what she had already learned. I wanted her to "Get it" before moving on and later finding out she had missed an important concept.

She loves it. She will ask to watch the video several times. Then we do a worksheet together and the next day 2 then if she still needs to review we do more. Mainly as a practice. If she does seem to do well without any help we do our test. I don't let her continue without mastery.

She so far has done all her tests with no mistakes. Bottom line is if they are getting bored mix it up, don't do it every day. We don't. Add another worksheet or game to test their skills. They love to find out they really do get math and understand it using another curriculum and not just math u see.

As far as standardized testing goes I don't really understand why as homeschool parent you would be worried other than if you think your child might end up in traditional school or curiousity. If it is important to you please understand that Math U See does not go by grade level but by subject mastery levels.

If you are concerned about standardized testing see what they are requiring and match your curriculum choice to the test. I am not familiar with the upper grades but have heard nothing but good results. This is our first year using and so far we have had great results. I like to hear other opinions and hope this helps someone considering it as a math option.

Feb 06, 2011
Fun to jump around
by: Anonymous

We seem to hit a wall with each math curriculum, but have had good success jumping around. I've used MUS, Horizons, Singapore, Miquon, Rightstart. I like MUS and Rightstart the most and we move back and forth between them as they present math concepts in such completely different ways. I feel my kids are developing a great confidence with math due to the multipLe curriculums and approaches that we use. I also print worksheets off math-drills.com for them to do for warm-up. This also helps them a lot and they get use to the extra drill work. I agree that MUS can get boring, but we're loving it right now after working with Rightstart for the past 6 or so months. With burnout try something new.

Jan 07, 2011
Math-u-see is flexible and can be used as it suits
by: Anonymous

Great to see everyone offering detailed comments!

When we first transferred to Math-u-see from another program, we only watched the lesson video and then did the test. 12yoboy had done the work before in another curriculum but it became obvious as he moved through, that the other had not taught him what he needed to know. So we went back again and only did the Systematic review pages. This was enough for him.

on the other hand, 9yoboy had to redo the whole book to fill his gaps.

6yoboy has trouble with his writing, and yet I have found just watching the videos have been great for him. He's currently using math skills of a gr3 in every day life, from just watching the videos. Likewise, 4yogirl is coming up with math sums etc just from watching the videos. Sure one day they'll have to write, but just now, I'm just pleased that they are all enjoying math! Perhaps if they want to graduate to the next video, I'll get them to do the test book only, like I did with the first child.

Jul 04, 2010
wouldn't change a thing
by: Anonymous

This was our first year of homeschooling. My son was going into the 10th grade and having asked since 4th grade and 3 moves later we gave it a shot. Our chaplains wife recommended math u see. Other friends children were using teaching textbooks and saxon but experiencing difficulty.
I went with math u see and my son loves it.

Feb 22, 2010
Math u see is a keeper
by: Anonymous

Math u see was recommended by so many home schooling mums when I first started homeschooling I just had to try it. Now my children adore math and love the teaching style. I understand that if a pro-gramme is not working for you change, but the fact that we are learning the principles and the children are really understanding every concept they learn makes math u see a keeper for us and so many of my friends too.

Oct 08, 2009
To each his own...
by: Anonymous

I believe that every child has their own learning styles, likes and dislikes - that is why we homeschool! We are able to change things as we see fit.

If your children appear bored with MUS, then change. I know some parents don't give curriculums a fair shake and quit far too soon or change curriculum much too often.

Having said that, my 4th grade daughter came home from public school this year after struggling in math for 3 years. The school curriculum (which changed concepts much too often and quickly for her) had frustrated and confused her. So we went back to the Beta book to solidfy those foundations. She is halfway through Beta now and loves math! The blocks build her understanding and confidence to where she doesn't use them on concepts that she has mastered - why would she?

We also have not done every page in the book because I fear that once they have proved mastery, they very well may become bored.

BTW, my 7yo son and 5yo son are also using MUS and loving it! They were so far ahead that I announced we would take a day off from math and all 3 children opposed my decision - who am I to fight if they love math?

Sep 22, 2009
Your telling on yourself.
by: Math Tutor @ Home

One thing is obvious in your report on Math-U-See, you set your standard for what your children were required to do and apparently never read what Mr. Demme allowed you for leeway to prevent all the problems you claim the curriculum presented. It was not Math-U-See as a curriculum that was your problem. It has been shown to be #1 by vote of the parents every year. That alone told me what I needed to know to use it. My children do not do every page. In the advanced levels, they only use the blocks to show me how they can prove their wrong answers right and thus have become self-correcting. I would never switch to a program where I "stop teaching" and someone on a DVD does it for me. When they get lost, I trust you remember when you were teaching them and could understand what they knew and how to help them know and prove their answers.

May 15, 2009
We like MUS, so far
by: Sue

My son left 3rd grade with a 98 average in the Texas math program, and made a 99 percentile on his standardized test. I tried to start mid-way through the Gamma book (based upon his previous spiral curriculum) and the child couldn't multiply!! Anything! OK, maybe the lower numbers, but we started on chapter one and went through very quickly and by the end of 4th grade, he's finished Delta and can actually divide! Anything!

The first video tells you to go as fast as your child is able and if s/he doesn't need to do all the pages, or all the review, don't do them, just move on. We've done them all, but I'm after complete mastery. I will watch for boredom, but I'm not sure any child really LIKES math, do they? I didn't, but then they used the mastery method back then and didn't slow down for anybody...

Thanks for the input on other programs, and things to watch for in the future! I'm always happy to hear of other people's experiences.


Apr 07, 2009
Switching from Math U See to Teaching Text Books
by: Karen from Alabama

I have been using Math U See for 7 years and as my daughter is now entering 8th grade, I want her to work more independently. Teaching Textbooks seems like the right answer according to all the reviews from fellow homeschool moms. Upon careful observation of Teaching Textbook Pre-algebra I discovered that 75% of the book would be a review for my daughter. Changing to TT from MUS would set her back a year!

I find MathUSee is more advanced!

You master a concept before moving on to the next which allows you to move at your own pace.It has given a great foundation for her in math. My daugter can tackle advanced math problems given the skills she has learned with MUS.

Math U See does not reflect high grades on standardized tests, that is true. But if you consider most standard tests are based on Iowa curriculum then unless you use Iowa curriculum you are not going to do as well on a national scale.

Bottom line...I know my daugther is getting a wonderful Math education! We are not switching!

Dec 23, 2008
Glad to hear that I am not the only one....
by: Teacher

I am a special education teacher whose school has mandated the math-u-see program (for special education only). I've taught it at alpha, beta and gamma level to special education students. From what I can tell, the alpha level seems fine, beta is alright, but by gamma the students are sick of the blocks. They don't like the program. I've discussed using the blocks less with the rep, who has said that with out the blocks, the program is nothing. As a teacher, I question the validity of continually requiring the use of manipulatives, rather than just providing them as an option.

I also am familiar with the state tests in our state and do not feel that math-u-see aligns as well with those standards as the regular education programs.

I know this is a homeschool site, but I'm not sure that this program is comparable to programs being used by regular education teachers. This would bother me as a parent. I would not use this program with my own children.

I love the advice to think very carefully about what your goals are for your child. This might teach a few concepts clearly, but it certainly does not advocate abstract concepts or higher order thinking. If your child needs the manipulatives and has math as a particular area of weakness, maybe MUS will still be great.

I'm so glad that people are looking at other options!

Dec 09, 2008
We love Life of Fred
by: Caroline

I actually supplement LOF with the older program of MUS that I got for about $15. Fred is very engaging and focuses on word problems which (by MUS's admission) is the whole goal of math, ultimately. Fred utilizes all kinds of operations in each problem and quickly works to multi-step problems. When this gets too fast I slow down and do a lesson with MUS that explains it slowly.

If your child can imagine things well then Fred is WONDERFUL. If they have to touch something, then MUS would be great too.

We are going to continue through the end of Fred and supplement as needed, but really Fred explains things extremely well.

Oct 03, 2008
Add a review
by: Anonymous

I'd love to hear a review on Life of Fred. You can add it to the Life of Fred page here: Life of Fred

Oct 02, 2008
Math-U-See is out for us too
by: Anonymous

We have used this program for several years as well, and have found the same thing, my son was starting to hate Math. The repetitiveness just got to be too much, and he was never mastering it. We found numerous errors in the problems and answers and although the website encourages you to report them, we were called by a Canadian Rep and treated rudely each time. Even when ordering she was not nice. We stopped reporting the errors and now have stopped the program.
We switched to 'Life of Fred' and my son loves it and can't wait to do his math. What a joy to see the love of math return to him.

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