Schoolhouse Review ~ Math Essentials

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Math can be one of the really tricky subjects to teach.  How we learn and process both calculation and computation are unique to each person.

Enjoy quick and easy math lessons that work with Math Essentials. A great homeschool math program that uses both video and workbooks!

Disclosure: I received a free copy of this product for review, all opinions are 100% my own.

As I’m always looking to find the best fit for each of our children, I was excited to have the opportunity to review a product from Math Essentials.

While our family is moving into more of a “living math” approach I thought this would be helpful to fill in any gaps and provide an introduction/review of concepts.

Math Essentials is an award-winning program written by Richard Fisher, “America’s Math Teacher”. Each year approximately one-half of his students bypass the seventh-grade math program and move directly to a high-powered eighth-grade algebra program.   Program is aligned with NCTM Standards. Acclaimed by superintendents, principals, teachers, department heads, parents, and tutors as being the best text/workbook available.

  • Winner: Intel Innovations in Teaching Award
  • Winner: Glenn Hoffman Exemplary Program
  • Award: Santa Clara County, CA, Office of Education
Math Essentials book 1
Math Essentials Geometry

We received Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 1 with the DVD and Mastering Essential Math Skills Geometry. We’ve started with Book 1 but have not yet moved on to the Geometry book. Math Skills Book 1 is designed for grades 4 to 5. There is no textbook with this program, the main teaching comes from the DVD classes with follow up in brief instructions in the workbook.

Each lesson is one page in length and each page contains 4 review questions from the previous lesson, 2 drill wheels one for addition and one for multiplication. The center numbers are left blank for the teacher to choose. Then there are 10 problems focusing on the new concept taught.

The topics covered in Book 1 are:

  • Whole Numbers
  • Fractions
  • Decimals
  • Ratios, Proportions, Percent
  • Geometry
  • Number Theory and Algebra
  • Integers
  • Charts and Graphs
  • Probability and Statistics
  • Word Problems
  • Review Section

A sample of the full table of contents can be seen here and you can also view sample pages. There are also samples for the Geometry book, table of contents and sample pages.

How we have been using the program, is to have my daughter start with the review questions and drill. Then she watches the DVD lesson, they are short and only take a few minutes.

If needed we will do some practice problems on the whiteboard. After that, she does her 10 problems, then wraps the lesson up with the daily word problem.

Math Practice

Richard Fisher explains in his DVD introduction that he uses only 10 problems because he believes if a student can correctly complete 10 questions this shows they KNOW the material.

If a student fully understands the material then there is no real need for them to complete page after page of the same questions.  It’s time to move on to the next topic!

I’ve been enjoying using Mastering Essential Math and most importantly my daughter has!  We like that the lessons are kept short, 20 minutes is all they take. This fits really well with our Charlotte Mason inspired lessons.

My daughter likes the DVD lessons and finds them clear and to the point. She enjoys the worksheets because they are not overloaded with problems. Her personality is easily overwhelmed by busy pages. The one thing we have added into this program is some manipulatives.

Our children are very hands-on and visual learners. While the DVD fills the visual and audio instructions well, I’ve still added in other items to help them build problems.

There are only a few things that I didn’t like about Mastering Essential Math. First is that there is only 1 page for each lesson. While this is great if your child understands the concept on the first day, it does leave you a little stuck if they don’t.

What I ended up doing was writing extra problems on our whiteboard to solve together.  Once she was able to clearly and quickly solve the problem we moved on to the next lesson.

The other thing I think this program needs is a teacher’s guide. Yes, the DVD teaches the lesson for you and in the back of the workbook, there are answers to all of the questions.

But it doesn’t show you HOW to get to that answer. I would expect step by step directions to show a child who is having trouble how that particular question was answered. Other than these two issues, I think it is a wonderful math program.


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