A Beka Math - Very Thorough!
(San Diego, CA)
Product: A Beka arithmetic 1-7
Levels Used: grades 1-7; algebra
Dates Used: 2000-2009
I started my homeschooling years using straight A Beka curriculum for my oldest child. We liked it because it was what we were used to (I used to teach in a Christian school before having children), and also because the kids I saw who used it were very advanced academically. Academics have always been important to us, so we wanted something that would ensure a good education for our children.
As we struggled through our first year, I realized that what works for a school system, does not necessarily work for a homeschool setting. My son, who loved learning, now hated school because of all the "busywork". I was making him complete the worksheets even though he was way ahead of what the curriculum was teaching. I was trying to move school to my home but was continuing to do it the way the school system does. I gradually let things go that were not working for us, but the reading and math have stayed with us throughout the years.
I love the math books for A Beka because they are so bright and colorful, and appealing to the kids. As the grades progress, the busy-work increases, but I've found that I can just cut the amount of problems they are doing if they understand the concepts. Now, I believe that the A Beka math books have some of the problem numbers in a different color to indicate review. It would be easy to tell your child to just "do" or "skip" the green ones.
I also like that A Beka math is very thorough. It covers all the basics, but also includes measurement, Roman numerals, time, shapes, and other concepts that are generally included in a math curriculum. There is also constant review of what was previously taught, which makes it very hard to forget. Also, one of my favorite thing about this math curriculum is that the kids do not need to copy down each problem on paper like they do with text books- they can right directly in their workbooks with tear-out pages. It is less intimidating for younger students to have one page in front of them than to have an entire book.
I have not used the teacher guides or curriculum for these books since I am comfortable teaching the material and I know my own children and how they learn. I do tend to add my own manipulatives for concepts like place value, or if I see my child struggling in a certain area. We also use white-boards (individual) for practice as the books get harder since working out the problems on white-boards has been more fun for my kids than doing it on paper.
As the material gets harder, I've had to spend a little more time with my kids on math. I like for my kids to be independent learners in some things, but math has not been able to be one of them. And I don't like that they each have to have their own grade level, so I have to spend a math time with four different students.
My favorite A Beka math book has been the 7th grade book which is called, "Basic Mathematics". It is a review of all material in the 1st-6th grade books, so if a student struggled with something, it will be re-introduced here. It gives a great, solid foundation of math before the high school years. The first 4 lessons are reviewing basic addition, subtraction, multiplication & division. It does move through the reviews quickly, but homeschoolers have the ability to stop and stay on a lesson that is difficult.
When my two oldest were in 6th and 8th grades (2008), my oldest needed a math review (since we tried a different math curriculum for him for a year or two and he lost much of what he had learned with A Beka) and my 6th grader was doing well in math so I chose to put them both in the 7th grade A Beka math book. I loved working with both of them at the same time, and they had a silent competition going where they didn't want the other to get a better "score" or to say their multiplication facts faster. Both of them improved that year, and I told my daughter that if they covered something she hadn't had yet (in the 6th grade book) that we would slow down for her. About half-way through the book, my daughter had too much and we trailed off for a while. We are now finishing her book this year when she is in 7th grade, while my son moved onto Algebra.
Overall, I love the A Beka math curriculum because it is thorough, colorful, and easy for the parent to use. I don't like the busy-work, but we just skip every other problem.