Math and Standardized Tests

Math may be my least favorite subject to teach. There are moments when one of the kids finally understands a new math concept, you know those light bulb moments, and it's exciting to watch them learn. But the day-in-day-out repetitious fact memorization and working through word problems to find solutions isn't any more enjoyable for me than it is for the kids. 

At one of our homeschool co-op days earlier this year, I shared with a mom of many boys about my then current struggle with my son and math. Plain worksheets were her first recommendation to me-- black and white problems, no drawings and no color. It was like she had been a fly on the wall in my kitchen earlier that morning. My son was working through a worksheet, and one of his complaints was not seeing the purpose to the pick spiral covering the majority of his math page. So her words fit my need and I asked for more advice. She also recommended the book Wild Things which I've been reading since then. 

A little while later, the older kids took a break and my daughter said something about the ACT test that was soon. That same mom's oldest son said he was taking it again, too, trying to improve his score. Again? He was younger than my middle child, just a little bit older than my 6th grader. So, curious, I asked how he did before, what score he was trying to beat. "31" This little boy already made a 31! I turned to his mom again then. "What math curriculum do you use?" 

Saxon was her answer. For my boy-mom friend, that is what works for her boys. We found a fee Saxon placement test online. I read that it prepares kids for standardized tests, too. My son has been using Saxon math for about two months now, and it was just the change he needed. No frills, sample problems for each new lesson, and 30 problems each day. 

The flip side, since my ultimate goal isn't just a high test score, is practical application. There have been times when my son has looked at me and asked with total sincerity "when will I ever use this." I want the kids to be able to apply the correct formulas when they need them. My daughter finished making her full size tri-loom last weekend and shared math principles that helped her determine just how much yarn she needs to complete a shawl. I don't have all the answers at all, but for now this is working.

Read through friends' posts linked below to read what works for them for math. 
Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses - Thoughts on Math and Science
Kristen @ Sunrise to Sunset  - From Counting to Calculus
Laura @ Day by Day in Our World  - How We Approach Math in This Homeschool Year
Annette @ A Net In Time - Struggling with Math, Loving Science
Annette @ A Net In Time  - Lego Pulleys and Levers
Yvie @ Gypsy Road Hands - On Math with Special Needs Learners
Chelli @ The Planted Trees  - Chemistry Using Living Books
Lisa @ GoldenGrasses  - An Appalling Lack of Curiosity
Edie @ Carter Chaos  - Our Favorite Ways to Study Numbers
Tracey @ A Learning Journey  - Robot Area and Perimeter Art Project
Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life  - Math and Standardized Tests
Jen @ Chestnut Grove Academy  - Discovering Patterns: Mathematics, Logic, and Science 
Sarah @ DeliveringGrace  - Learning Multiplication Tables 
Kylie @ Our Worldwide Classroom  - Multisensory Multiplication 
Kym @ Homeschool Coffee Break  - Science and Stuff 
Kemi Quinn @ Homemaking Organized  - Math in Our Homeschool for a Later Elementary Organized Reader
Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory  - Math and Logic - Our Steady Path 
Laura @ Four Little Penguins  - Math and Science Love


  1. Oh yes, the age-old question: "when will I ever use this?" *sigh* If I had a dollar for every time one of my kids has asked me that . . . oh, wait. That's an algebra equation, isn't it? ;-)

    1. Oh Kym, your words made me smile. I know one day he will understand the value of these problems, it just may be a long time from now.

  2. does Saxon math use a spiral or a mastery approach? I like the 30 questions a day as that's very defined for my lad.

    reading through all these math posts as I search for what will work for him best.

    Visiting through the VCF.

    1. They call it an incremental approach which is sort of between those two.


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