Math can be a bear for so many reasons, for so many people. Because of this, it's really nice to be able to take some of the pressure off of Mom and hand some of the "Teaching" over. With Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 (20 Minutes a Day to Success) book and DVD, you can welcome Veteran 6th grade teacher Richard W. Fischer into your home to teach the fundamentals of math, preparing the way for Pre-Algebra and Algebra. Perfect to try out with my Middlest child who is 11 years old.
As a student who is actually pretty good at math when he is on, but frustrated by the fact that his attention will wander when the math just takes too long(which in turn means silly mistakes and missed problems), Math Essentials certainly offers a thing of beauty to my cant-wait-to-get-outside-and-do-something 11 year-old: The promise of only about 20 minutes/day spent on math, as long as he can get one page of math 80% correct (My determination, not the curriculum's).
The lessons really are short, so much so, that if one is used to assigning pages of math problems per day, one might be inclined to think that this program isn't enough. The lessons include:
- two speed drills
- review exercises (4 problems)
- a helpful hints section
- the new material with 2 sample problems to be worked with the teacher (Mom or Dad, NOT Mr. Fischer), and 10 problems to worked alone
- a daily word problem
"But what about the teaching?" you ask... "Didn't you mention Mr. Fischer handling some of that ?"
Well, yes, I did! Mastering Essential Math Skills comes in 2 levels, 4th/5th grade(Book 1), and Middle/High School(Book 2). These books come with a complete tutorial DVD, where Mr. Fischer becomes your child's personal "Tutor," explaining each topic covered in the book (download the Table of Contents, if you like, as well as some sample pages).
The videos are nicely done, without a huge amount of repetition, and I have the feeling that watching/listening to Mr. Fischer is kind of like listening to my dad teach... just that sort of guy! :) He explains things in a no-nonsense sort of way, without any real bells and whistles (That we could see), but clearly, and fairly concisely, which is a big deal to my kids. Almost every lesson has an accompanying presentation on the DVD, so marking those lessons in the TOC with a little "V" is a helpful reminder to check out the video. ;)
Notes at the beginning of the book suggest how to implement the course, and there is an answer key in the back of the book to make correcting quick and easy.
The separate book on Problem Solving that we received does NOT include a DVD. It focuses on one specific fundamental (ie: Problem Solving~ other books are available that focus on Decimals/Fractions, Whole Numbers, etc...), and is a good "Go-to" to help hone those specific skills. I like to intersperse the pages from Problem Solving with the pages from Mastering Essential Math Skills, using the Problem Solving pages 2 x / week and Mastering Essential Math Skills the other 3 days.
Now, I have to be honest and say that I don't feel that our review period was quite long enough for me to have a real sense of progress, as we are mostly reviewing skills Middlest was taught this year at this juncture. However, I do feel that I can say that once he finishes Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 I will be fairly confident that I can reasonably start him in a Pre-Algebra or Algebra course sometime this year. Not bad progress for a young 7th grader! :)
Company: Math Essentials
Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2 ($33.95 for book and DVD, $15.95 book only)
Mastering Essential Math Skills: Problem Solving ($11.95)
Age: Middle School(remedial High School)
As always, I hope that this review is helpful to you as you choose where to best spend your homeschool budget. Be sure to click on the banner below to read more reviews on these books as well as other Mastering Essential Math Skills books and No-Nonsense Algebra, all put out by "America's Math Teacher" Richard W. Fischer.