View Full Version : MUS Alpha question

Penny

08-16-2009, 02:38 PM

:hi:Hi,

I wanted to ask if this is normal. MUS has been wonderful for us but we have hit a snag. We got to Lesson 9 and my daughter very impressively breezed through it. She could recite all of her adding by 9 facts very swiftly. We moved on to lesson 10 which is adding by 8's and this threw her off conciderably. We have worked on this lesson(10) for about a month give or take and she was advancing. I decided to make some online worksheets that had addition by 9's again to test her to see if she really had both lessons down. Well, it was ok, not great but not bad. I decided not to move on until she really had it down. Some days I think she is ready to move on as she answers all problems quickly and easily other days she gets them all wrong.(these are the same math problems over and over again)Why is she great one day and terrible the next?

I don't know what to do as she is starting to groan whenever I pull out the MUS materials. Do I move on?

Have any of you had this problem?

Thanks in advance,

Penny

Jenny in GA

08-16-2009, 04:11 PM

I was recently starting to have doubts about MUS. My daughter was just finishing Alpha. She is in third grade, and all we've done (except for some skip counting) was add and subtract single-digits. That seemed a little weird to me (and boring to her.) It seemed like, if she were to take a test, she would score at a beginning first-grade level (if even that), just because so many things had never been introduced.

We just got Beta in the mail yesterday. I flipped through it earlier and am pleased to see that it is much more than just adding and subtracting two-digit numbers. There is money, time, measurement, perimeter, estimating and rounding, greater than/less than symbols, and graphs as well.

I am really glad to see this, because I was starting to wonder if I should find a new currculum.

Anyway, I realized I have not answered your question ...

Sometimes, when we did Alpha, I felt like we were moving too slowly. Other times I wondered if I was pushing her too fast. I like the idea of mastering something before moving on, but at the same time I'm not sure it was a good idea to keep doing basic math facts for months like that, especially since we started Alpha a little "late," when she was seven.

Now that I see the Beta book, I kind of wish we had moved on to it sooner, but MUS makes such a big deal about not moving on until you really really solidly know it.

Anyway, to finally sort of answer your question: I would move on to the next lessons, and occassionally re-vist those problems with the worksheet generator and other review.

Robin in Colorado

08-16-2009, 04:43 PM

My dc breezily zipped through MUS, all the way into Epsilon.... WITHOUT LEARNING ANY FACTS! Not multiplication or division, not even addition or subtraction.

I was having them watch the video and do the worksheets, and nothing slowed them down.

Yet.... they knew no facts nor could they tell me what operation to use when and why.

I'm pretty sure the fault is mine, for not watching more closely or something. Or perhaps this just isn't the right program for my children.

Meanwhile, I have a 6th grader and a 4th grader who can't do basic math, and I am remediating.

Jenny in GA

08-16-2009, 04:46 PM

My dc breezily zipped through MUS, all the way into Epsilon.... WITHOUT LEARNING ANY FACTS! Not multiplication or division, not even addition or subtraction.

I was having them watch the video and do the worksheets, and nothing slowed them down.

Yet.... they knew no facts nor could they tell me what operation to use when and why.

I'm pretty sure the fault is mine, for not watching more closely or something. Or perhaps this just isn't the right program for my children.

Meanwhile, I have a 6th grader and a 4th grader who can't do basic math, and I am remediating.

Oooh noooo ....

I hate hearing stories like that. It makes me wonder if we are making a big mistake ... :(

Kendall in GA

08-16-2009, 04:51 PM

I am really glad to see this, because I was starting to wonder if I should find a new currculum.

Jenny,

I'd caution you from changing curriculum if your current curriculum is working for your student.

The point of elementary math is to learn arithmetic. Your goal should be to have your dd competently know how to +, -, x, / and do fractions & decimals. There are a few other practical math skills to learn along the way (patterns, money, time, calendar, measurements etc.). It really doesn't matter if your dd learns how to do all of these things competently in 4th grade or 6th or even 7th grade. The next step after arithmetic is algebra...Period. There's nothing else in between. (Pre-algebra is really non-existent...Either its algebra or its not. It is sort of like having pre-addition...It doesn't exist.)

If MUS is working for you, stick with it! I've used MUS with much success with both of my dc. My ds is currently in Beta and my dd went through 1/2 of Epsilon (fractions). IMO, when you change curricula you are more subject to gaps. One curriculum may introduce a particular topic in 3rd grade whereas it may have been introduced in 2nd grade in the curriculum to which you just changed...It may not really matter if you are vigilant in seeing to it that your dd learns all aspects of arithmetic prior to algebra.

...Just some things to consider when thinking about changing math curricula!

Btw, FWIW (if anything), my dc have taken standardized tests and have ALWAYS done exceptionally well (over 95% percentile) on math with only having ever used MUS...They do well with computation and word problems.

Kendall in GA

08-16-2009, 04:59 PM

My dc breezily zipped through MUS, all the way into Epsilon.... WITHOUT LEARNING ANY FACTS! Not multiplication or division, not even addition or subtraction.

This is a NOT a MUS problem.

Frankly, I know that I'm in the minority around here when it comes to people moving on when their kids get stuck on math facts. I would NOT move on if my dc don't know their facts. IMO, I just don't understand how one can move on w/o knowing the facts. I don't know how one can do long division w/o knowing multiplication facts. :confused:

Also, I wouldn't move on if my dc didn't know what operation was needed to solve a problem...IMO, doing so is doing a disservice to them. What good is knowing how to multiply if you don't know when to multiply? :unsure:

If my dc were in the same boat I'd start them over at the VERY beginning as if they've never had math...The good news is that they have plenty of time to learn arithmetic before moving on to algebra. :)

DeniseR

08-17-2009, 11:38 AM

We have 10 lessons left in Alpha. If she catches on, we move on. If she struggles, I may put away the books for a week or two. But one thing we do is mental math when we are driving around. Sometimes I just ask straight questions (What is 5 plus 2). Sometimes they are in the form of word problems. (You have ten apples, You give me two. How many to do have left?). This makes her think without the use of the blocks or the pictures of the blocks. If she is struggling on something, a week or two of no book and just mental math seems to get it to click so, when we bring the book back out,she "gets it". This also reassures me that she really is learning her facts.

As for money, greater/less, time, measurements, and all of that. Real life has already brought many of those up and we just take them as they come.

Cheryl in SoCal

08-17-2009, 01:13 PM

My dc breezily zipped through MUS, all the way into Epsilon.... WITHOUT LEARNING ANY FACTS! Not multiplication or division, not even addition or subtraction.

I was having them watch the video and do the worksheets, and nothing slowed them down.

Yet.... they knew no facts nor could they tell me what operation to use when and why.

I'm pretty sure the fault is mine, for not watching more closely or something. Or perhaps this just isn't the right program for my children.

Meanwhile, I have a 6th grader and a 4th grader who can't do basic math, and I am remediating.

This is a NOT a MUS problem.

Frankly, I know that I'm in the minority around here when it comes to people moving on when their kids get stuck on math facts. I would NOT move on if my dc don't know their facts. IMO, I just don't understand how one can move on w/o knowing the facts. I don't know how one can do long division w/o knowing multiplication facts. :confused:

Also, I wouldn't move on if my dc didn't know what operation was needed to solve a problem...IMO, doing so is doing a disservice to them. What good is knowing how to multiply if you don't know when to multiply? :unsure:

If my dc were in the same boat I'd start them over at the VERY beginning as if they've never had math...The good news is that they have plenty of time to learn arithmetic before moving on to algebra. :)

Agreeing with Kendall, this is not an MUS problem. We had the same issue with Horizons and Saxon, both of which push the student along regardless of whether they have learned math facts or even understand math. When my boys were in about 5th and 6th grade I switched to MUS, starting them in Alpha and moving at their pace. Now they know their math facts, actually understand math, are working at or above "grade level" and test above grade level on their SAT's (they are now in 8th and 9th grade).

Robin in Colorado

08-17-2009, 01:22 PM

This is a NOT a MUS problem.

It's not and it is. It's not a MUS problem, and is a mom problem, because it took me so long to catch the problem. After about level Beta, they would watch the video, do the pages, bring them to me for checking. They got everything right, implying mastery, so we moved on.

It is a MUS problem because some kids need lots more repetition over a longer period of time than MUS offers. My dc learn it this week, they 'get it' this week, but by next week they've moved on to something else and forgot what they 'got' this week. It took a while for me to recognize this. At that point it became up to me to supplement the curriculum to provide much more repetition, which I am having to do extensively at this point, even for my math-oriented kiddo.

When they were coming to me with correctly answered work pages, I had no idea they didn't know their facts or which operations to use. Now that I know, we're remediating. Back to the beginning. Lots of work on addition and subtraction, and then we'll move on to the next thing.

I will say that before we started MUS, we did lots of "life math": If we have 8 errands to run today and we've run 5, how many are left? If I have 8 cookies and give each of my children the same number, how many cookies does each child get? etc. My girls were very good at that.

But they just can't seem to connect with how it is presented in MUS, and at this point I am going back and re-phrasing every thing for them.

I think MUS is a great program for some people, and not for others. Is it great for us? No, but it's still ok with a lot of supplementation, so I'll probably stick with it for the Bigs until we're finished.

For the Littles, I'll probably try something else.

If it works for you, keep it. If it doesn't, don't be afraid to change.

Cheryl in SoCal

08-17-2009, 01:28 PM

It's not and it is. It's not a MUS problem, and is a mom problem, because it took me so long to catch the problem. After about level Beta, they would watch the video, do the pages, bring them to me for checking. They got everything right, implying mastery, so we moved on.

It is a MUS problem because some kids need lots more repetition over a longer period of time than MUS offers. My dc learn it this week, they 'get it' this week, but by next week they've moved on to something else and forgot what they 'got' this week. It took a while for me to recognize this. At that point it became up to me to supplement the curriculum to provide much more repetition, which I am having to do extensively at this point, even for my math-oriented kiddo.

I think it's a great program for some people, and not for others. Is it great for us? No, but it's still ok with a lot of supplementation, so I'll stick with it for the Bigs until we're finished.

For the Littles, I'll probably try something else.

Were you doing all the Systematic Review pages (D, E & F) or just doing the Lesson Pages (A, B & C)? There is lots of review in the Systematic Review pages but someone on here (it wasn't you) was posting that MUS has no review because she wasn't using any of the Systematic Review pages (only having her children do the lesson pages) and didn't realize there was any review. Even in my children master a concept quickly I always have them do the Systematic Review pages.

Robin in Colorado

08-17-2009, 01:41 PM

Yup, pages A through F.

Honestly, for whatever reason (their mom's genes, perhaps? :lol:) They need so much repetition, and so much looping back, in the math area, and MUS doesn't provide enough.

It has been a source of frustration for me for a while now. I posted quite a while ago about trying to get the addition facts into my Big Girl's head - flash cards, songs, incorporating all sorts of big-muscle movement, worksheet after worksheet, for TWO YEARS. The minute we move onto something besides simple addition (say, subtraction, or estimating, whatever), the math facts are gone. She's a smart girl, and I just can't figure it out. She tests at or above grade level in everything but math, and she is waaay behind in math.

Not to hijack the thread or anything. I do think MUS is a great program, but on its own it just did not provide the intense repetition my two oldest needed, and I know a couple of other homeschool families that are having the same experience.

TonyaP

08-17-2009, 01:49 PM

I still have to count in my head or work back from a fact that I do know for many math facts (7s and 8s in particular). I made it through pre-calc in college, tutored a 4th grader in math and now have worked through all the facts again with DS and STILL don't have them memorized. It's just not in me. Now, I do know how to solve a problem and figure out which function to use- but sometimes it takes me awhile.

For me math is not a skill I can learn and retain, instead I have to learn the tools to figure out the answer and consistently apply those. So I can get you an answer eventually, but I won't be winning a Math Bee anytime soon.

We can't all excell in every subject area. I don't intend to allow my children to just slide by on a subject, but if I've identified that they have a real problem with something then I think my time would be better spent teaching them how to adapt to their limitations that trying to get them to achieve something that's not meant to be. KWIM? I did make it through college math and did perform OK in math on the SATs, I would just not ever plan to have a career as a mathmetician. ;)

Tricia O

08-17-2009, 01:51 PM

Robin, we had the same problem, and I've found that my girls (especially my oldest) needed more repetition and needed to work in a spiral format. It was too frustrating (and boring) for her having to stick to one concept until it was mastered.

Kendall in GA

08-17-2009, 03:24 PM

I do think MUS is a great program, but on its own it just did not provide the intense repetition my two oldest needed, and I know a couple of other homeschool families that are having the same experience.

MUS does provide ample practice ~ on-line drill, customizable worksheets and review in its texts. If its not enough then I'd explore a spiral approach. It may be just what your dc need. Mastery is not for everyone...People are hard-wired differently. :)

Kendall in GA

08-17-2009, 03:29 PM

I posted quite a while ago about trying to get the addition facts into my Big Girl's head - flash cards, songs, incorporating all sorts of big-muscle movement, worksheet after worksheet, for TWO YEARS.

Sorry, you're having to deal with this problem...I hear your frustration!

Does she understand what she's doing conceptually??? :unsure: Memorizing/learning 100 "random" addition (or subtraction) answers is quite difficult. Multiplication is a wee bit different...The concept is important; but, many of those facts are purely memorized.

Robin in Colorado

08-17-2009, 03:53 PM

.People are hard-wired differently. :)

:lol: Way. I always heard about marching to the beat of a different drummer. I had no idea there were so many drummers! :lol:

Kendall, this is part of the problem with my oldest (with #2 it's a different struggle entirely). Some days she understands the concept, and other days it's entirely new to her, like she never heard of it before.

I didn't have any 'math velcro' in my brain either, though, until I reached a certain level of physical maturity, and I'm thinking that might be what is going on with her. So, I'm simply doing lots of low-key math stuff with her for now (math line design books, math hidden pictures, etc) and waiting a while longer to see if her math velcro starts to become more sticky. I'm pretty confident it will.

Penny

08-17-2009, 05:24 PM

:hi:Boy, am I really glad I posted this thread. I am getting wonderful information. I just printed up more sheets(yet again) and added some colorful math worksheets with the same topic(adding by 9's and 8's) I will keep plugging along and see how it goes.

It just struck me funny as some days she is as sharp as a tack and others she is less than stellar.

Thanks,

Penny

Kendall in GA

08-17-2009, 07:50 PM

:hi:Boy, am I really glad I posted this thread. I am getting wonderful information. I just printed up more sheets(yet again) and added some colorful math worksheets with the same topic(adding by 9's and 8's) I will keep plugging along and see how it goes.

Does your dd skip count, forward and backward, by 2s w/o any problem??? Also, can she subtract by 1??? If so, then I suspect that she'll get her 8s and 9s in the near future ~ provided you're using the MUS approach that the 8 and 9 really want to be 10.

Kendall in GA

08-17-2009, 07:53 PM

I had no idea there were so many drummers! :lol:

:lol: Me, either! My son certainly has his own drum beat...It is sometimes hard to follow! :perplex:

Penny

08-17-2009, 08:01 PM

Does your dd skip count, forward and backward, by 2s w/o any problem??? Also, can she subtract by 1??? If so, then I suspect that she'll get her 8s and 9s in the near future ~ provided you're using the MUS approach that the 8 and 9 really want to be 10.

Hi,

She can skip count to 100 by 2's, 5's and 10's. We do use the approach that 8 and 9 want to be 10. We will just spend more time on it until she gets it.

Thanks,

Penny

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