Saxon Math offers a large selection of mathematics textbooks and resources for Kindergarten through 12th grade. They offer Math K – 8/7, Algebra 1/2 (Pre-Algebra), Algebra I, Algebra II, Geometry, Advanced Math (Pre-Calculus), Calculus, and Physics (science / math combo).
Home School Friendly!
In terms of home school friendly curriculums, Saxon Math is one of the best on the market. The teacher manuals and resource kits are made specifically for home school families, providing suggestions and examples for single student settings. If you have ever purchased a teacher’s manual from Alpha Omega or Abeka, you know exactly how frustrating it can be for all the teaching tips to relate to the multi-student classroom setting.
What makes Saxon Math unique is that the curriculum teaches mathematics in a cumulative manner, rather than a chapter or unit manner. We all know that the only way to learn and retain mathematical concepts is to practice, practice, practice, but most mathematics curriculum on the market today teach two or three concepts at the same time, review those concept for a few lessons, offer a unit test, and then ignore the concepts for three or four units. Saxon Math, on the other hand, introduces only one concept per lesson, then continues to offer practice problems for all previous concepts throughout the text. The daily repetition of concepts is what helps students memorize and retain them.
Not only does the curriculum provide repetition within each individual text, but it also provided repetition between books. The first ten or so lessons review the concepts from the previous text, allowing the student to ease back into mathematics at the start of a new year. (If you start a new text within days of finishing the previous one, I suggest skipping these first few lessons.)
A Few Negatives: Difficulty of Concepts and Cost
Perhaps the biggest complaint about Saxon Math concerns the difficulty of the text. Math K, Math 1, Math 2, and Math 3 are all created to be used in one grade and are of average / standard difficulty. The middle school grades, however, have two grades listed (Math 5/4, Math 6/5, Math 7/6, Math 8/7). The numbers are meant to be read as such: Math 5/4 is for an average 5th grader and an advanced 4th grader. Quite often, an average 5th grader will still struggle to complete a lesson a day in the Math 5/4 book, and children who are obsessed with the “grade” that they are in will become easily upset if a friend or sibling in a younger “grade” is working through the same text.
Nonetheless, even those students who work through the text at a slower pace retain a larger amount of information than those who work through other math curriculums at the standard rate. Ignore the “grade” if you can – your student can be one or two books behind his grade level and still score equally as well on standardized tests.
In order to help parents start their child in the correct text, Saxon Math offers three different placement exams. These placement exams are to be used in connection with your own sound judgment about the readiness of your child to begin a certain level of math. These placement exams should not be used to test the knowledge of children who have already started a Saxon Math program.
- Primary Grades – http://saxonhomeschool.hmhco.com/HA/correlations/pdf/p/primary_placement.pdf
- Middle Grades – http://saxonhomeschool.hmhco.com/HA/correlations/pdf/s/SHS_PLT_middlegrades.pdf
- High School Grades – http://saxonhomeschool.hmhco.com/HA/correlations/pdf/h/hs_upper_placement.pdf
Cost also becomes a major factor with Saxon Math. If you purchase the entire curriculum new, Saxon Math tends to be quite pricey. The Algebra I student edition runs about $70 for just the textbook; the solution manual with the step-by-step answers is about $40. (The middle school math textbooks about about $20 cheaper, but the solution manual is about the same.) Unless you have difficulties with math, the solution manual is unnecessary for the earlier books. But unless you are willing to relearn math with your child, I suggest purchasing the solution manual for Algebra I and above. All textbooks are non-consumable. You can use the same text for all of your children.
Because of the high popularity of this curriculum, a large number of used editions are always available on the market. Older editions of the text can be purchased for as little as $10, and many of these used editions are bundled with all the extras that you would typically pay extra for. These older editions are essentially the same as the newer ones, with only a few minor changes and corrections throughout. (The primary differences between the first and second edition of Saxon 5/4 were the cover art and the three corrections to the answer key.) A great place to check for older editions of this text is HEAV’s annual Used Book Sale. Stay tune for more information on this great event!