Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Simplifying Saxon

We switched from Rightstart to Saxon this year. Partly because Grace (11) was getting to the end of the RS levels available and partly because there weren't enough explanations included for me to feel comfortable teaching the lessons, especially the geometry concepts!

I must say though, that we have mixed feelings about Saxon. Well, I have mixed feeling about Saxon. Christopher loves it. Grace, well....she pretty much hates it.

 I was googling around the other night...terms like "Kids hate Saxon" and "Saxon is so boring"....isn't it funny the things you google? Anyway, I came across two helpful websites. One is Homeschool With Saxon, and this guy wrote a whole book about how to teach Saxon math successfully in a homeschool setting.  I don't own the book, but there is a newsletter link on the site that has lots of helpful info. The other site is Connect the Thoughts, which has a short, but very helpful page on using Saxon.

From this reading, I have come up with how we are going to try to change our approach to Saxon.

1. We are not going to just blindly do every lesson. I have been having Grace do the tests, which cover 5 lessons apiece. If she gets the test all correct we skip all the lessons leading up to the test. We are on our second week of doing this and she has been taking about three tests per week. In this way we have skipped our way up to the 45th lesson!

2.  If there is an issue with the test, which there was last week with short division, I have her reread just the relevant lesson and do the practice problems. If she can get all those right, we continue with the tests the following day.  Eventually we are going to hit a point where she gets more than just a couple wrong on a test and we will begin to work through the lessons at that point. 

3.  When we do get to the point of working through the lessons I am going to skip the math practice sheets. Saxon 65 includes a page of 100 multiplication or division problems with each lesson. The problems are easy, but this still gets tedious. Instead, Grace will do online facts practice. We will skip the mental math section, which according to my reading was really developed to get the kids in a public math classroom settled and in a math frame of mind. So online math practice only, then she will read the lesson. If she understands it okay, she will skip the practice problems and just do the mixed practice. The mixed practice seems to be the most important part of the Saxon lesson and includes review from other lessons and problems related to the current lesson.

4. When we finish Saxon through the Grade 6 level, I will give her a choice of continuing with it or going with Life of Fred pre-algebra. Pretty sure she'll choose LOF:)

5.  I'm doing something similar with Christopher (9) in Saxon 3. We are skimming the lessons for things he isn't familiar with and focusing on those. He has been doing online facts practice rather than written sheets. When we reach a written assessment (test) he does that and as long as he gets it all right, we keep skimming on. I also plan to have him continue with Saxon until he is ready for LOF pre-algebra. In the meantime, he is enjoying the LOF elementary books as a supplement.

I hope this approach will work and keep our math sessions shorter and happier-or is happier too much to ask?? I hope not. Anyway, I have seen already that our new approach is decreasing the math drudgery that was occuring around here! I'll post an update after we've experimented with this for awhile longer.


  1. That is about how we used Saxon before switching to our current LOF/Math Mammoth combo. I think Saxon is very good, and very thorough, but a little too much!

  2. Wishing you and yours a Happy Halloween! Hope all is well in your corner of the world.


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