Ditching MEP… it’s not working out any more.

We’re just 2 weeks short of wrapping up our year’s work in MEP and with great reluctance, I am throwing the towel in. MEP is fantastic, but just not for my kids. I think they would even prefer Singapore Maths to MEP, and Singapore Maths is quite different. I thought the way Singapore Maths worked was it gave students a good basis in mathematical applications, but the understanding of concepts deeper may not be there. A student may be very good and quick with maths calculations and the such in Singapore Maths, but they may actually struggle with the logic questions like the sort MEP is fond of. Well I’m only speaking for myself. I gained A’s in Maths all the way up to A Levels, but I know I struggle with logic questions and the like. Unlike my kids, I thrive on discovering the answers to logic questions. I love that “Aha” moment. I enjoy it.

I wished MEP worked for my kids – it is free, it is cheap, it is fantastic (to me). And yes they did enjoy bits of it. They even enjoyed it at the beginning of the year, even when they didn’t understand something. But something happened along the way. They lost interest in it. They were starting to tire of what must seem to them a relentless stream of logic questions they often cannot figure the answers of, and they weren’t glad after I showed them the answers. They seemed deflated. And this was even more evident in the last 2 months. MEP requires a lot more abstract thinking than usual Maths curricula. Even Singapore Math doesn’t have that much abstract Pure Maths type questions as MEP does. Algebra at Year 1… writing rules in algebra… this is just an example of the stuff MEP does. For the right child, this is very stretching, very enriching. For the wrong child, this just does little for their confidence in their ability to tackle Maths.

Conquermaths is almost the best of the lot, although it is not a standalone Maths curriculum in my opinion – it does not give enough practice on word problems, logic problems, and does not teach students how to lay out their workings correctly in exams. Singapore Maths and MEP trumps this one by far, but only if they suit, and only if the price fits your budget. Conquermaths is great at teaching most things however. I would go so far as to say that if your child only did Conquermaths for Maths, and made sure they scored at least 75%  on every topic, they should be able to get a C in their Maths GCSE. My son hates  Conquermaths though. My middle daughter likes it and finishes it super fast. It’s such a great confidence booster for her. Conquermaths is definitely not a stand-alone Maths curricula, in my opinion, but as an accompaniment to actual pen(cil) and paper Maths work, it is fine.

Mathletics… well my kids tired of it pretty quickly. They don’t seem to like worksheets or workbooks on Maths. A lot of the online stuff in fact, well they don’t really hold out interest for long or they cannot suffice as stand-alones for Maths.  Just have to go back to the drawing board and find another way.

At least now after trying so many things, I know my kids prefer Maths programs which are incremental, structured, mastery-based. They like working at something and getting things all correct in the end. That gives them the confidence to carry on to the next level, etc.

I’m now quite sold on Math Mammoth, although it is not the ideal. I wanted to go with Singapore Maths at first, but I don’t like how all Singapore Maths versions are no longer available in the UK except for the new 2014 UK Singapore Math versions, which look nothing like the Singapore Maths I knew as a child. As a result, I have doubts about whether that retains the brilliance of the original Singapore Maths, or is it just watered down. I don’t even like the look of the pages to be honest, so I’m not getting that I think. I have thought of having the original Singapore Maths books (the Primary Mathematics series) shipped all the way from Singapore via SGBOX but I was really hesitant about paying the £20 shipping fee plus the £70+ for the books for 2 year groups for just one year’s worth of the syllabus. I mean is it really worth paying like £100 for a year’s worth of Maths all the way from Singapore? Maybe I am spoilt by the cheap and free MEP Maths, which is a solid Maths curriculum, but I just do not think I should be spending that much on Maths when Math Mammoth does almost the same thing – okay not really. I heard the pace is much slower (some kids don’t like that, and I have no idea what my kids will think of it), and it doesn’t cover some topics I believe. But for the price, you can’t really go wrong. I think the last time I looked, you could buy like the entire K – Grade 7 Math Mammoth complete curriculum for something like £112 at today’s conversion rates. Now that is a good price!

I’ve heard a lot about Life of Fred Maths books, but the price is high and the reviews seem to say it is not a standalone complete curriculum and a bit too itty… so not worth it for me.

Galore Park Maths… hmm… I have to say, after trying out a lot of Galore Park textbooks in various subjects last year, all that I’ve learnt is that my kids find them boring. I would prefer to stay away from those.

CGP books… too basic. Too little information. Not enough retention. Not enough practice.

Schofield & Sims are okay but I don’t like how there are so many little workbooks for just Maths alone. I hated buying like 10 workbooks for the year. It isn’t as easy as to work through each one one by one. And they do get boring after a while too, my kids will tell you. Also I find that the subject-only Maths workbooks Schofield & Sims publish for KS2 are not good for retention, from our experience.

Collins… etc. All the highstreet workbooks. Very standard. Nothing special. I don’t mind them, but I would prefer books that also teach. These highstreet workbooks are meant as supplements for schooled kids who already are taught these things at school, so the books hardly teach at all. Not really what I’m looking for.

As for the other ones like Saxon Maths, Abeka, etc. I had a look at their sample pages and I just don’t like it and don’t think it would work for us. Math U See and Right Start Math – too expensive and don’t seem right for us. Khan Academy didn’t really attract them that much. Edplace looked a bit boring to them. Etc. etc.

I guess I will be going for a combination of Conquermaths and Math Mammoth, and IXL, for now. Once again, not ideal, as I’d prefer a curriculum for Maths that is a solid, standalone, complete thing so I don’t have to go switching from one thing to the next. But it seems like for our case, that will not be possible and we have not found the ideal thing.

There seems to be no Math curricula out there that my kids will find so appealing as to love it so. I do wonder. Why are many of the stand-alone Maths resources so unappealing to kids?


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