Helpful Tips for Using Math-U-See

The first year I started homeschooling I chose Math-U-See to use with my first grader. Fourteen years later and I’m still using this excellent math curriculum. I love using Math-U-See and so do my kids. I’ve used it from Primer through Calculus and in the process I’ve discovered a few helpful tips.

Some helpful tips for using Math-U-See.

(This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure here.)

No Need to Do Every Worksheet

Math-U-See is a mastery based approach which means once your child has mastered a concept they should move on to the next lesson. Some kids need extra practice as they learn a new math concept while others catch on right away. That means that some students will need to do every worksheet for a particular lesson while other students may only complete one lesson practice and one systematic review sheet.

No need to do every Math-U-See worksheet.

It can make it difficult for the parent to lesson plan far in advance when they are moving at their child’s own pace but it is a huge benefit to the child. Kids who are struggling in a lesson can slow down and take time to really learn it before moving on. Students who find the new lesson easy can move to the next one without being forced to complete worksheets just for the sake of completing all the worksheets.

Some Days You’ll Just Instruct and Review

I know it is tempting to assign a worksheet every day. It’s easy to check a completed worksheet off of our lesson plans. However, some days you won’t get to the worksheets. Instead, you will need to spend time with your child, working with the manipulatives to teach, practice or review a challenging math concept.

Tips for using Math-U-See

The success of the Math-U-See curriculum is not in completing worksheets but in helping your child see and understand various math concepts. Sometimes playing with the blocks and working along side the parent on a white board reaps more rewards than trudging through one worksheet after another.

Some days you will need to set the worksheets aside so your child can focus on seeing the math concept. That’s why it is called Math-U-See.

DVD is Meant for the Parent

My children love watching Mr. Demme on the DVD’s. They usually grasp the new concepts just by watching the videos. However, the DVD’s were meant to be an instructional example for the parent. They weren’t designed to explain in detail a new concept or provide adequate examples and practice for the student before moving onto the worksheets.

Math-U-See DVD's are meant for the teacher although the student can watch and learn as well.

Many kids do grasp the new concepts from watching the short lessons. I think that is the amazing method of Math-U-See at work. It makes math click with the child a lot sooner than it would in other programs. But, sometimes kids need more instruction and examples than what Mr. Demme provides on the DVD’s.

That’s why it is important for parents to watch the lessons. If your child is struggling after watching the video lesson then you will want to give additional instruction to your child. Lots of kids can use Math-U-See with minimal parent help but it’s good to be prepared to answer questions and offer more teaching when needed.

Practice Math Facts Outside of Math-U-See Lesson

It is best to master a new math concept before moving on but memorizing math facts is a little different, in my opinion. Your child might understand the concept of addition, subtraction, multiplication or division but struggle to memorize a particular set of facts. I think moving on to a new lesson, even when they haven’t mastered a set of facts, is fine. Just make sure you are practicing those math facts outside of the regular math lesson.

Remember to practice math facts outside of the regular Math-U-See lesson.

There are lots of ways to practice math facts. I’m sure Pinterest is full of fun games and activities to help cement those facts into young minds. Flashcards are a simple way to work on math facts. You can create your own or purchase a set. There are also apps for your mobile device with fun math fact games. Xtramath is another great way to practice drilling facts. It is free if you use it in a web browser or you can purchase it as an app for your mobile device.

Store Manipulatives in Plastic Containers

The best way, I have found, to store all those blocks is in a clear plastic container. It makes it easy for kids to dig around and find the blocks they need. Multiple sets can be stored together in one large container or divided between smaller ones.

Store Math-U-See blocks in clear plastic containers.

Frixion Pens Add Color and Interest

Sometimes those colorful math curriculums seem tempting when compared to the black and white pages of Math-U-See. If you need to add a little more interest and color to your child’s math lessons then try the Frixion erasable pens. They come in different colors and erase easily.

Make Math-U-See even more enjoyable with colorful erasable pens.

I share many of these tips in my YouTube video below. You can also read my Math-U-See curriculum review here or watch me unbox my Math-U-See curriculum for the new school year here.

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Comments

  1. Joy Scally says:

    Since you have taught multiple children with Math u See do you buy a new student workbook for each kid or do you save and copy the pages for each kid? I have a 6,5,2 and 1 year old and I was just thinking ahead. Also have you used Primer for first grade or kindergarten?

    Thanks so much!

    • Hi Joy!
      Yes, I buy a new student pack for each child. The workbooks are copyrighted which means you cannot make copies of them even for your own children. The first half of Primer is fairly easy so I use it for pre-K at a slow pace. Then I finish up Primer in Kindergarten. For some of my children, they just weren’t ready for Primer or any type of formal school work until kindergarten so we did all of Primer in Kindergarten. Hope that helps!

      • Joy Scally says:

        It does help thank you so much! It makes sense that they would be copyrighted. My oldest just about finished up with Alpha last year which was kindergarten. She seems to be having a hard time mastering some of the addition facts. She can figure them out by counting on her fingers or using the blocks but doesn’t quite know them instinctually yet. (if that makes sense) Would you recommend going back and making sure she masters those, or would you recommend pushing forward with the rest of Alpha?

        • I’d suggest taking a break from MUS for a few weeks and doing some fun activities and games to work on her math facts. The facts should click over time as she using them in future lessons but she is young and some time to slow down and work on facts might be enjoyable for her and beneficial. I’d take a positive approach to pausing the MUS lessons. Let her know that she has done such a great job in Alpha so far and you want to reward her for her great work by taking a little break and playing fun math games. This approach usually motivates kids to memorize their facts more than telling them that they have to stop moving forward in math lessons because they aren’t getting their facts. 🙂

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