Frequently Asked Questions

The following questions are often asked about Mastering Mathematics:

  1. What is the major difference between Mastering Mathematics and a graded curriculum?

  2. Why do children work on one skill at a time in Mastering Mathematics?

  3. Does my child need to complete an entire workbook before beginning the next?  Can he learn two skills at the same time?

  4. How long should math class be?

  5. How should I use the pretests?

  6. How will I know that my child is on grade level?

  7. What are some ways Mastering Mathematics works with different learning styles?

  8. You say Mastering Mathematics is economical?

  9. How much preparation time will Mastering Mathematics require from me, the teacher?

  10. When is a child ready for Mastering Mathematics?

  11. Is this program for everyone?

  12. Why are there no color pictures in this program? And why are the workbooks made with single sided printed pages and a comb binding?

  13. What is missing from Mastering Mathematics that keeps it from being a 1-8th grade curriculum?

  14. Where do we go after Mastering Mathematics?

1. What is the major difference between Mastering Mathematics and a graded curriculum?

A child using Mastering Mathematics focuses on a skill and learns it well; graded curriculums teach skills in pieces. In Mastering Mathematics, the child moves at his pace. Graded curriculums skip to a new skill every 6 weeks, whether the student is ready or not.

As an example, let's examine the "telling time" sequence of a graded curriculum. First graders learn "o'clock" and "thirty" (half past); second graders learn "quarter after" and "quarter till"; third graders learn the five minute increments ("five after", "ten after", etc.). All together, it takes them nearly 3 years to learn 12 hand positions on the clock. That means they only have 48 to go as they learn to "read a clock" to the minute. Doesn't that sound a bit foolish to you?

In Mastering Mathematics, they would be taught how to read a clock, following the prescribed order in the Parent's Manual, until they have mastered it. If your child has problems learning "till", that's ok - postpone that part for 3 months and come back to it when he's ready. That is more logical than spreading out a concept for 3 years, when in most cases it can be learned in less than 6 weeks.

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2. Why do children work on one skill at a time in Mastering Mathematics?

Some children have difficulty handling more than one concept at a time. Consider yourself. If you had to memorize 2 verses of scripture, would you memorize them one at a time or work on both at the same time? Math follows the same principle. Trying to show a child that subtraction is the opposite of addition (when he hasn't learned addition yet) will be frustrating for both of you. They won't get bored with concentrating on a single skill. Instead, they will have confidence when they have mastered it.

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3. Does my child need to complete an entire workbook before beginning the next?  Can he learn two skills at the same time?

To answer this question, I would have to know your child personally. My recommendation is to read the section in the Parent’s Manual entitled Things to Consider About Your Child  and see if that doesn’t answer your question.  Always complete the main skill/fact memorization section before moving on to the next workbook.  Things to Consider  tells you when this section is completed (usually about 40 or so pages into the workbook) and when you are entering skills that can be taught any time.  When in doubt, teach one skill at a time.  You can always combine them later, but you may not be able to eliminate confusion if two skills are taught simultaneously.

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4. How long should math class be?

That depends on the student.  Most students finish a page each day.  Children with more learning problems may only complete a half page. The length of time required depends on the student’s pace, whether you have shortened the assignment, etc.  Also, some parents break math into two classes - one for work sheets in the morning and a time for non-computational material (appendix sheets covering time, money, measurement, etc.) and games in the afternoon.  After the child has passed his daily fact check, about 20-30 min. per sitting is adequate. Math isn't a marathon.

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5. How should I use the pretests?

If the child has experience in a skill, he shouldn't need to do busy work on what he has already learned. Pretesting encourages accurate advanced placement. By comparing the results of Test A (fact recall) and Test B (skill application), you will find out where your child needs to be placed in Mastering Mathematics. In this way, you won't miss a fact or skill that needs reteaching, but won't waste time on what has already been mastered.

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6. How will I know that my child is on grade level?

The Parent's Manual contains a page entitled Grade-Page Scope & Sequence. This chart lists which pages should be taught in each grade level. By utilizing the pretests for advanced placement, you may find your child only needs to learn skills on a couple of dozen pages before he is up to grade level. Use the Grade-Page Scope & Sequence as a guide for the minimum you should cover during your school year. If your child is very successful in a skill area and wants to continue beyond their grade level - let them. This flexibility would would be non-existent in a graded curriculum.

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7. What are some ways Mastering Mathematics works with different learning styles?

Mastering Mathematics has flexible approach. There is a suggested progression through the work books. Sometimes a child experiences difficulty with a skill (say long division). He can be moved into addition of decimals or simple fraction work, to wait for a little maturity to take place. Then he can come back to the division later. In this way, he really misses nothing, just changes the sequence of learning to suit his needs.

Younger children (1st-3rd graders) can do work sheets 3 days per week (M, W, F). On Tuesdays and Thursdays practice a fact game and teach an additional skill. This skill is chosen by you to meet your child's needs. If you need to work on counting change, follow the unit in the Parent's Manual. Maybe reading thermometers is a problem. Just follow the unit on thermometers and enjoy discussing the science of weather, appropriate clothing, etc.

Starred work pages are also included. These optional pages are scattered throughout the workbooks for additional reinforcement. If the child is making 90% or better on his assignment preceding a starred page, he does not have to complete this optional page. If he is scoring less and needs a bit more work, you have just the sheet for him. Being able to skip work is a tremendous incentive for doing your best.

Manipulatives are also included with Mastering Mathematics. They aren't made of expensive, "pretty plastic", but of inexpensive, durable cardstock. Why? Because not every child needs an exhaustive exposure to manipulatives. If your child needs them, they are included. If not, you haven't spent a fortune on something that will choke the baby and your budget. These may be covered with clear Contac paper, for added durability. (In 13 years of business, we have never had a request to replace a set because it was worn out :-)

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8. You say Mastering Mathematics is economical?

Where else can you buy such a comprehensive curriculum (nearly 8 grades of math) for such a reasonable price (less than $20 per grade level)? The consumable workbooks are reproducible for your immediate family. (If you do not wish to take the effort to reproduce workbooks, you may buy extras very reasonably, either singly or in a complete 6 extra workbook set.)

To keep your costs low, we also have included a free page protector to be used with an erasable overhead transparency marker (like Vis-A-Vis). The work pages can then be used over and over. Just remember that once the page protector is erased, the record of your child's work is gone. Therefore, we suggest only copying pages which have new directions on them and using the page protector for the rest. In this way, you will have some dated work samples for your records.

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9. How much preparation time will Mastering Mathematics require from me?

Essentially, none. Once the manipulatives have been cut and the cubes and fact wheels assembled, your major work is done (this task can be given to the child or an older sibling to do :-). If your child is reading on a high 2nd-3rd grade level, he can do most of the work himself. Allow older siblings to read to him. If he did page 32 yesterday, he does page 33 today. You might consider playing an occasional game and personally listening to fact checks. Otherwise, you have no planning or preparation to do. There is a page in the Parent's Manual which lists responsibilities for both teacher and child - his responsibilities far outweigh yours.

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10. When is a child ready for Mastering Mathematics?

It is assumed that he has completed the readiness skills of a kindergartner prior to entering this program. He should be able to count to 100, understand the concepts of more and less, know what number comes after 57 or before 43, etc. He should also be about 6-6 1/2 years old when the developmental ability to reverse facts occurs. Before memorizing facts, he should be able to see that 2+3 is the same as 3+2. In this way, he will memorize 55 pair of facts instead of 110 separate facts.

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11. Is this program for everyone?

Does any curriculum meet everyone's needs? No. People who like to enjoy their children, play games, enjoy a little flexibility in decision making (ie: decide whether the child will learn to "tell time" or count change first), and spur children on to independent work will enjoy this program. People who feel a need to be on the 44th page on the 22nd day, like everything regimented and totally "text bookish" will not like this program.

Do we have people who take us up on our 30 day money back guarantee? Once in a while. Last year, we had 2 - and one was because the parent decided not to home school after all. What does that tell you about our customer satisfaction rate? It is excellent!

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12. Why are there no color pictures in this program? And why are the workbooks made with single sided printed pages and a comb binding?

Two reasons for no color pictures exist. Color pictures may visually distract some students. They spend all of their time trying to decide what the picture has to do with their work instead of doing their work. Secondly, color adds to the production cost and would increase your price. This isn't an art program, it is math. A colored picture of 3 apples on a tree will not make any difference to your child's learning "2+1=3". A black-and-white domino picture will serve just fine.

Children who are visually distractable have a hard time focusing on the correct page of problems when 2 pages of numbers are in front of them. If there are no problems on the left page, they know to solve the problems on the right  page. This blank left page can be used for writing additional word problems, reworking errors, or solving problems where there isn't enough work space for your child's handwriting size. All work then stays neatly bound together.

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13. What is missing from Mastering Mathematics that keeps it from being a 1-8th grade curriculum?

Essentially one thing: negative integers. Since negative integers are seldom needed in real life, they were only minimally included in Mastering Mathematics (in temperatures and graphing, but not in computations.)

    For example: You have a $3 negative balance in your checkbook. If you remove this negative balance, you will have a zero balance. Yet, if you subtract a negative number in algebra, you get a positive number [ie: - (-3) = +3]. Removing a $3 deficit will not give you $3 in the bank. It takes a $6 deposit to do that.

Negative integers can be learned from any good pre-algebra textbook after a good mathematical foundation is received from Mastering Mathematics.

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14. Where do we go after Mastering Mathematics?

Theres are many math products available for your child after they have completed Mastering Mathematics. Some of the more popular include Saxon (for children who need a spiral approach with it's review), Math-U-See (for children who need more hands-on), Keys to..., video programs, and computer programs. Personally, we have tried both textbooks and computer programs. Both have been good teaching experiences.

Be sure to look at your child's learning style (visual, auditory, kinethetic) and preferred method of teaching (computer, textbook, workbook, etc.). These will make all the difference in whether your choice is successful.

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