6th grade math - Singapore? Saxon?

Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2012 6:26 am

Re: math help, please

Unread post by terylee66 »

Thank you everyone. I decided to give the placement tests for singapore and not get hung up on grade level. I attended a convention this week and visited the MFW booth and bought singapore sets for both my children. We will start tomorrow! Praise the Lord!

[editor's note: see follow-up below]
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Apr 06, 2012 6:26 am

Singapore math concern

Unread post by terylee66 »

albanyaloe wrote:As we are planning to get MFW ECC asap, and trying to make our whole HS experience less stressful, I am wanting to trust MFW on their choices. I am really a bit afraid of Maths as we have had issues with other curriculum, and I'm not great at Math. I've never tried Singapore. Also, because I am not math orientated, I tend to forget to do obvious things like flash cards, if it is not scripted. I forget to tell the children to count forward and skip counting and all that. (I never even realised I was supposed to with my first child, poor boy, till second grade, when I tried to catch up)

Our current program is Rod and Staff math, I know it is not a popular choice, but I found it did the trick when we needed it and my son actually said it worked for him and co-operated. I find the mental portion has really challenged my son, and the repetition was what he needed. We don't do all the written problems, and do some orally. He is still not fast. I believe he is capable of a lot more, when I see how he grasps new concepts, faster than I do, and has no hassle with difficult concepts. But I have no idea how to teach him.

I have not done the tests but it looks like the children will both have to go way back! I read that this is normal, but I guess they will not like it.

I'd appreciate any feedback about this.
Lindy. I know where your coming from. We have a 12 yr old and a 9 year old. They both started with Rod and Staff and did okay. I wasnt good about drilling either. This year we tried Saxon, they did not do well. I would spend a minimum of an hour individually with them, and felt like we were just getting thru it, but not actually "getting it". I stopped, and did just drilling for a month, and they loved it. During this month, I did a lot of researching and knew we wanted to go with MFW for next year. So I looked into Singapore and had the kids take the placement tests, I knew they would be low, and they were. My 12 year old placed in 3A and my 9 year old 2A. At first I was crushed because in other placement tests (teaching textbooks) they placed their grade level, but I decided to not worry about and plunge ahead and praised God for showing us where we stand.

We are now in our second week of Singapore and we do more than a lesson a day. We continue to drill with flash cards as well. This has been such a positive experience thus far because I have seen their confidence level bloom, and we dont get hung up on grade level. We just learn. I am not good at math and so far I think the textbooks have been great in explaining. I would forget the expense in getting the teachers edition. Try it with out it and see how it goes. I really think you will be fine. Also, I have learned two very important things in the last few weeks. First, drilling is a must but it doesnt have to be boring. Second, a little praise during their flashcard time goes a long way. Our twelve year old went from having only her ones thru five multiplucation facts memorized to having all but her eights memorized, praise God! And our nine year old has all but six, seven, eight and twelve.

I jope this has been an encouragement to you. I know the people on this board have been helpful to me. Sorry this was so long, I now get excited when talking about math. Thank you MFW and Singapore and of course Praise God!
Julie in MN
Posts: 2910
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2004 3:44 pm
Location: Minnesota

Singapore or ?, for almost 6th grader & 4th grader?

Unread post by Julie in MN »

ForByGrace wrote:This year we're making some math changes in our homeschool. My main concerns are for my middle two children. My son will be going into 6th grade next year, hates his math this year(CLE 5) and has always struggled with math concepts. It's been quite a job to say the least to get him to understand the lessons, and to remember how to do all the various problems in each lesson. I wonder if he's just not strong enough in mental math, or if the spiral programs we've used for him just haven't allowed him to really learn and cement the concepts.

I've read many of the math archive posts here, and feel like I'm getting an understanding of Singapore, but am still a bit confused on if it would be right for him or not. We've talked with him a lot about math and what is/is not working. He'd love to do Teaching Textbooks, I think mostly because it's on the computer and it looks fun. There are things I like about it too, but in the end, worry about his overall strength in math skills. My daughter, who will be entering 4th grade is very similar to my son in mathematical understanding, although her math facts seem to come a little easier than his did/do.

The main thing is that I'm unsure of whether or not I should even think to try to switch them over to something that we may have to back way up in, in order for them to have a strong foundation in mental math skills. I also don't want to pass up the opportunity to strengthen them now, versus have problems later on understanding concepts. Is it too late to work with them using Singapore? Am I going to spend all day doing math with my children and get nothing else done? Will they be able to understand the Singapore way, if they are weak in math already? These are some of the questions that have been plaguing me lately. I need to make some solid decisions in math soon, so we can get things ready for next year, as our summer will be packed with traveling and busyness.

I have five children, so time is definitely a factor. The oldest ds12 is firmly planted using Saxon, which works for him. The next ds and dd are the ones I've described above. And there are two younger dd's that are in 1st and K, which I'll be starting out with Singapore, so I hope it will be much easier with them. Can someone help me to sort this out and help me see if Singapore will even work for my middle two? Thanks so much! ;)
I hope Amy will find time to chime in here. She has a great testimony on this. Meanwhile, here's one of her posts on switching in 5th grade, and the rest of the thread might have some good thoughts, too:
http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php ... 931#p81161

Here's a thread about thinking through whether to switch in 6th grade:

I'm glad you have one student firmly in place with Saxon, so you have that as a comparison baseline.
Julie, married 29 yrs, finding our way without Shane
Reid (21) college student; used MFW 3rd-12th grades (2004-2014)
Alexandra (29) mother; hs from 10th grade (2002+)
Travis (32) engineer; never hs
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:17 am

Re: Singapore or ?, for almost 6th grader & 4th grader?

Unread post by ForByGrace »

I've been thinking on this quite a bit, and talking it over with dh, and we've both come to the conclusion that we're going to go with Singapore. :) We will have to back way up, which brings me to my first question. . . . . .When we do the placement test, what if he places way back in 3A or even 2B? Are we really going to be able to make up for lost time, and get him caught up to where he should be during this school year? Could he take through seventh grade to accomplish this, and then use Saxon 8/7 for his eighth grade year, then moving into Algebra 1 for ninth?

Another question I have, is how feasible will it be for me to have four dc doing Singapore at the same time? I'll have both my 6th grader and 4th grader to work with to teach and get caught up (obviously, not as much for the 4th grader), as well as my rising 2nd grader (also new to the program) and my little K'er to work with. I am totally on board with doing this, but also want to keep it managable and ward off burn-out, too.

Will the MFW lesson plans and the Singapore textbook/workbook combo truly help me to understand how to teach it to them, so they can fully understand the methods? Or will I need other materials, too? Some people have strongly advised using the HIG and others say it's not necessary. I'm not sure if I should get it?

Thanks so much for helping me to figure this out! ;)
Julie in MN wrote:I know a couple of people who have posted here have described getting thru quite a few Singapore levels with an older child. You might check the link I gave you, where Amy posted. My own thoughts are that some sections of the book will go very quickly. Usually the "B" books seemed to have more topics like money and geometry that an older child might whiz through or even skip some of the workbook sections on those, if the textbook conversation showed no need for review.

As for still being in Singapore Primary in 7th grade, it's not the norm but that's what we did at our house. We did Singapore 6A/B and a LOT of fractions review and a little intro to negative numbers. My son then went directly into Algebra. Unfortunately it won't be an exact comparison for you, because I had already used another algebra program with an older dd so we stuck with that because I was happy with it, so I didn't follow the norm there. But I just wanted to say that I think your plan could work out just fine, based on my experience.

For the 4-student Singapore day, you might want to start a separate thread, or call the office where there are several families like the Hazells who taught multiple children. In the archives, I found very small helps:

Keeping track of math facts for a large family http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php ... 7454#p7454
Misc general schedules for large families http://board.mfwbooks.com/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=1011

I'm probably one you've seen saying the HIGs are not essential for Singapore. If you have to purchase 4 programs, it might be a big expense. So, you might wait until you see a need, or can borrow one to try. Another option would be to purchase one, maybe for the oldest child, since you can re-use that the most times LOL. I think for getting stuck on a particular problem or concept, this board and Singapore Math forums will help you the most. But if your brain just needs to read and read in order to have this new method sink in, then the HIGs have a lot of things poured into them that might help it all absorb through your pores :)

You have a lot to absorb for your little one-room schoolhouse, so keep asking questions if it helps,
Thanks, again, Julie for your wise counsel! ;)

I did read through all the links you gave and I even read most of the archived math threads on the board. I mostly wanted to ask some questions to make sure I wasn't too far off base with my plan for my older one (6th gr.) in particular. I think doing the Singapore math up through his 7th grade year, will work, really grounding him well in the program and like you said, adding in a few concepts to really prepare him for Saxon 8/7, then Algebra. I do have an older son who'll be paving the way in Algebra, so I'll kind of know what direction to go in with preparing my next son.

I think it will work out fine, I just needed a little reassurance! I can make the kids programs work for math if I just take it one step at a time. Thanks so much for your kind help and for the extra links and information. It's truly wonderful to have a group of people you can turn to when you get stuck or nervous about the future!

Thanks again! ;)
For 2014-2015:

AHL and EX1850
Amy C.
Posts: 200
Joined: Thu Apr 30, 2009 9:12 am

Re: Singapore or ?, for almost 6th grader & 4th grader?

Unread post by Amy C. »

Hi, Forbygrace. Amy here. Just now able to read and respond to this thread. It has been a super busy week. Julie has already linked you to one of my previous posts. As you read, my oldest ds was in the 5th grade when we switched to MFW and Singapore. He was completely burned out with school but especially math. Math time was not pretty here. :~ Ahem, anyway...

He tested in 2B. I was devastated thinking we had wasted all those years (and tears) in math just to be that far behind, but thanks to others on this board and the MFW office, I came to realize that this was common because of how Singapore is taught/learned. It is a different way of learning math from most other math programs. Testing in 2B didn't mean my child had not learned anything in math. It just meant he had not learned the Singapore method of doing math. My ds did get more than one level done that first year, but because of his total burnout and needing to reprogram his thinking/attitude toward math, in the beginning, we did not do math everyday nor for one hour a day as MFW had suggested. He finished 5B in Oct/Nov of his 7th grade year. We moved into Saxon 8/7 at that point. He is still doing Saxon 8/7 in 8th grade. Will finish at the end of April.

I was concerned when we were starting Saxon 8/7 late in his 7th grade year. I called the MFW office. Mr. Hazell called me back and was very helpful and encouraging. He told me that Saxon 8/7 was actually an 8th grade (or strong 7th grade) math program. Hence, the 8 (for 8th grade) and 7 (for strong 7th grader). He said that any time my 7th grader started Saxon 8/7 in 7th grade meant that he was ahead of grade level in math. My ds and I needed to hear this after feeling perpetually "behind" in math. After talking to Mr. Hazell, I felt so much better about things. However, as we mothers can do sometimes, throughout my ds's 7th grade year, I would sometimes fret about math and needing to get more in to get "caught up" to the MFW recommendations. Not dismissing MFW's recommendations at all. I feel that for the student who can meet those recs, its great. I took Algebra 1 in 8th grade in ps. I was on the advanced math track in HS, taking Calculus in 12th grade. So I am not against this at all. I think it is a good thing.

However, I had to come to the realization that my 8th grader just wasn't going to be able to do it. That doesn't mean that he is not strong in math. I fretted more so, I think, because my ds says he wants to be an engineer, and I knew that he needed to be strong in math and reflect that on his transcript. But one day (and I feel that it was the Lord), I woke up to the fact that he could only do so much math a day. He was working hard (sometimes to the point of mental exhaustion for the day) and I didn't feel I needed to push him any more to get "caught up". Plus, at this point, I don't know if being an engineer is God's plan for him. Not saying it isn't, but I just don't know that for sure.

I can truly say today that I feel that he is strong in math. He may not be doing Algebra in the 8th grade, but he understands what he is learning and he is good at it. We have come a long way, and I feel good about where he is in math. I feel that Singapore was a great tool to get him where he is . It really makes one think, but it also shows the why of math and not just the "how to work a problem" in math. This particular ds was helping me try to figure out one of his younger brother's math problems the other day. He is good at that, by the way, when even his mother/father get stumped. He said, "I wished my math was like this again. This is fun math." That was not always his attitude when doing it himself, but I see how much he has grown in this area, and feel that Singapore played a big part in this. It was not always easy. It was a challenge to him. It forced him to think. There were still some tears (not as many but some). But I feel that it was worth it. I have come to realize that tears do not necessarily mean something is not working. Sometimes things can challenge us to the point of tears, but actually be strengthening us, KWIM?

Anyway, I just wanted to share our story in hopes that it would encourage you somehow.

Also, I wanted to say that we have never bought the HIG. I have considered it a couple of times, but the cost is a big factor for us. Also, the ladies on here have been great helps when we come across one we can't figure out. So, I usually try to figure it out on my own. I like a challenge every now and then. ;) If I can't figure it out, I go to my dh and now my oldest ds. If we are still stumped, I ask on here. I have asked on the Singapore math forum. I find I get a quicker response here, though. But the HIG is there if you decide to buy it. I might would wait until you get to a level in which you see you need it. I am not sure you would need it for the lower levels.

Also, I wanted to add that even though I was on the advanced math track in HS, that was many years and 4 children ago. I don't feel strong in math today. Even if I did, Singapore is different from the way I learned math. I say this because I don't want you to think that that is why Singapore has worked for us. Singapore makes me think! Which is a good thing. My brain needs some exercising every now and then. ;) And as I have already said, I have had to ask for help on here a few times. But neither do I want you to think it is not doable. It is, but don't be afraid to ask on here if you get stumped. We all have been there (and some of us still are)!

Hope some of this helps!

Amy C.

Wow, I just previewed this before sending, and I have written a book. Sorry, but maybe some of it is helpful.
Posts: 7
Joined: Tue Sep 20, 2011 10:17 am

Re: Singapore or ?, for almost 6th grader & 4th grader?

Unread post by ForByGrace »

Oh, wow, Amy!!! ;)

Thank you so much for sharing your story about your son (and you!). I really appreciate you taking the time to share that with me. It really does give me hope for my son, and for our situation. He's never been very strong in math, but in the last year, we've been figuring out that we've been going about it all wrong. He doesn't learn in a traditional way, with "drill and kill" as we call it. He doesn't learn it any better if it's repeated every day, for the whole year. We've always used a spiral program with him, and it's never really given him a chance to really cement a concept, before they're throwing another new concept at him. Then in the following lessons, they expect him to know it, and be able to recall it for several problems. That just isn't how he learns.

I totally relate to how you felt. I've really felt lately like I completely failed him. He's been struggling with learning math his whole life, and just now we're making some real changes that will help him finally understand math in a deeper, more real way, that's more suited to how he learns. Math before was mostly recall and now he'll have to think! That's a good thing! ;) I don't want to feel like I failed him. I just want to move forward and be encouraging to him about this. I'm also worried that he'll be disappointed because he was looking forward to doing a computer math! Oh well, sometimes life throws 'ya curveballs! ;)

I do plan on purchasing the sets from MFW, with their plans and the textbook and workbook. I don't plan on getting the HIG. I have so many teachers manuals from various curriculum that we've used just sitting on my shelves that we've barely used, if at all. I plan on being very involved with this, and if we're learning it together, it should be that much better. It's really good to know that I have a reliable place to turn for help if I need it, though! :)

I am so relieved that this plan we're forming will work even if he's still doing his "catching up" into 7th grade. It's so good to know that this will work for him, and he'll still be on track for high school math when he gets that far. He'll probably be SO MUCH better prepared by going this route now.

Thank you SO MUCH for all the help and encouragement! This has been such a burden on my heart lately! Thank you so much for sharing you heart on this! ;)
For 2014-2015:

AHL and EX1850
Posts: 14
Joined: Wed May 16, 2012 9:19 pm

Re: Singapore or ?, for almost 6th grader & 4th grader?

Unread post by secondchance »

I found Singapore to be very time efficient for both my kids (grades 3 & 5) and for me. There were plenty of review pages built in (we did every review page there was including the ones from the textbook, which I photocopied for them to do) so that I had a "day off" teaching math often enough.

We always checked the workbook pages together and gave stickers for good work (if they made mistakes, I made them correct it before I gave a sticker for that page).

For the first time ever, math was not a burden or a chore. It was just simply math. They seemed to enjoy getting it done and checking it off their list.
If using Singapore, make sure you build in lots of drill on math facts. We used flash cards, math windows, xtramath, and educational games. It was like their reward and they looked forward to it each day.

Just my 2 cents!
Joyfully hs'ing 11yo ds, 9yo ds, and 5yo dd