I love good stuff, and there is an abundance of good stuff out there in homeschool-land; I thought I'd share a peek into the things in my closet and describe a little about what they are and how they work.
We just started with Math U See this school year, after using a traditional, spiral, textbook curriculum (Abeka) which was very good and thorough...but frankly, it is designed for classroom use- and the price for all the different books needed for each grade, and the time needed for teaching each grade was overwhelming me.
Math U See is not "traditional" in the er... traditional textbook way- it reminds me very much of a Montessori approach, very hands on- using manipulatives to "build" your problem and then "teaching" it back to prove mastery. Math U See is also not "traditional" in the sequence and bundling of math skills covered in each book. For example, one of the books we are using this year is Gamma- and it covers multiplication...and pretty much only multiplication. A parent might get uneasy that division is not being covered in the same time as would be traditional. However, once the student moves on to the next level and subject, I think the subject will be very thoroughly mastered. We do yearly testing in our charter school, I am a little worried about long division skills being forgotten, so I am using a daily exercise book for the student's grade level for practice.
I switched to Math U See mainly to use the Dvd's that come with each level. I watch the dvd with the child each day (sometimes not, if I am familiar with the concept and teaching style) the lesson is maybe 10 minutes long and then the child works on the practice pages which include the "building and saying" part of the program. Also included in the practice page are word problems and review problems using a few skills taught in an earlier book or lesson. After the student has completed enough pages to show understanding, they complete a test page to show mastery and then you move on to the next lesson.
I really love not teaching the main lesson anymore. And it is a huge time saver for me, I can ideally watch my 2 older girl's lesson the night before- they are not long, and then let them run the lessons by themselves the next day as I work with the youngers. I do make a point to watch the younger kid's lessons because it is a new way of teaching for me.
The Math U see webpage does a very good job of describing the program and subjects covered in each level, and they offer placement tests to help place the student in the right level. I thought the books affordable, and I loved that the teacher book had the answer key incorporated into the book...I did not have to spend more money for the key. All the separate books I had to purchase for our other program made my head swim.
My kids don't grumble about math anymore (wow!) and I can see that Meg understands fractions now in a way she didn't before using the other program.