Math is a fun subject for me. I'd love to teach high school math someday, especially advanced math. Shawn is also pretty mathy himself, so it was not surprising when D-Man declared math a hobby instead of a school subject. Math is fun for him, too. After tutoring a lot of my friends while I was at the Academy, I came to the conclusion that you either get numbers or you don't. Some that I tutored got numbers and just needed a little help understanding the concepts that we were learning, no big deal. Others just didn't get it. They struggled through almost every course...it is an engineering school after all. D-Man, however, is the kind of kid that asked for addition and subtraction flashcards for Christmas when he was four and is currently trying to re-invent multiplication at the age of 5. Because I don't really think it is necessary for kids under 5 to do formal academics, I haven't worked with him to advance his math skills, but we have played lots of games and I answer any questions that he asks. Plus, he likes to pick Grandpa D's brain for new math concepts whenever he visits.
When I went to research math curriculum for this year, I had to keep five things in mind. D-Man loves to do math, he's a visual learner, I didn't want math to be overly challenging this year (we're focusing on LA), and I didn't want him to get too far ahead of his grade level, but I didn't want him to be bored. After a lot of research, there were two programs that stuck out to me: Horizons and Singapore. They are both considered to be great at teaching the concepts and challenging for the grade-level. I decided to use both with D-Man. Since he does like to do math and we school year-round, I knew that he would likely finish a math program in less than 6 months. Just going through a math program at lightning speed doesn't have the desired end results for me. Sure, I might have a 14 yo who has been through Calculus, but so what? What I would rather have is a 14yo in Geometry who really has good foundation in arithmetic. Depth rather than breadth.
The two programs are also very different in their presentation of math. Horizons is a fast spiral teaching concepts in a traditional workbook fashion. Right up D-Man's alley. He won't get bored, but will get the eye-candy he likes. Singapore specializes in mental math...really thinking about the process. The depth I'm looking for. I'm also excited about doing both of these programs with D-Man so that I can decide which one I'd like to use with C-Monster and Little-J. I don't want to push two programs on them if they don't have the desire and one program is definitely enough to provide an excellent education.
Right now, we are doing Horizons. The general consensus is that Horizons runs about 1 grade-level ahead of the norm. D-Man tested into Horizons 2 (could be considered 3rd grade math), but I didn't see any reason to start him that high. It would have been pretty challenging for him which I didn't want. I decided instead to do Horizons K and go through it as fast as he wants focusing on concepts that he hasn't been introduced to like skip counting, money, and telling time. He loves Horizons K. It does include a lot of number penmanship practice that we skip (it's just busy work), but overall, it is great. It only takes him about 5-10 mins to complete a lesson so we do at least 2/day. We are already on Lesson 85 after working on it for about 6 weeks. Looking back, I could have easily started him in Horizons 1 and it still would have been easy for him, but I'm happy where we are. Here's a sample of what he's been doing:
Once we're done with Horizons K, we'll start Singapore 1A. After that, we might go on to 1B (1A and 1B make up a full year program) or go into Horizons 1 and do 1B/2A in before Horizons 2. I'll just have to get a feel for it. Both programs go up to level 6 which I'm hoping not to finish until D-Man is at least in 5th grade. Then, we'll see about Algebra for 6th maybe pre-Algrebra. The one thing I love about homeschooling is that I can be flexible and change the plan whenever it needs to be changed.