Monday, September 15, 2014

Alpha Omega and 2nd Grade Math

I have to be honest with you from the start- I have used the same math for 16 years with my children.  It was only a few years ago that I added in a second math for the older kids.  It was hard.  But as I eyed our current 2nd grade math choice for this school year all I could think about was UGH.  Then I flipped through the table of contents and sighed a second ugh.  Patterns he knows.  Simple math facts he knows.  Teddy bear counters I am tired of.

And then the opportunity to choose and review any program for Alpha Omega Homeschool Publications came and I did a happy dance.  I love God's timing and wisdom!

Alpha Omega Publications (AOP) is a Christian, curriculum company that has been around for a while and is known for their strong curriculum choices.  Actually, I had the privilege of using two of their electives several years ago with much success.  Alpha Omega offers a full line of curriculum for grades Pre-K through 12th grade in four distinct formats.  Their well known Switched-On Schoolhouse is a computer based curriculum offered for grades 3-12.   If you have a visual learner or an auditory learner who loves the computer you should check this out.  Lifepacs are a series of booklet type workbooks that are self directed in their teaching approach.  Monarch is an online based, automatically graded curriculum offering 5 core subjects and over 35 electives.  It is offered for grades 3-12.

Horizons is a brightly illustrated, teacher directed program for ages Pre-K through 12th grade.  Because of my need to expand our own horizons last minute in math, I choose to review Horizons 2nd grade math.

Included in the second grade math set are two student workbooks and a pretty intensive teacher's manual.     The teacher's manual has a 29 page introduction that I highly recommend you read.  It includes the whos, whats and hows of the program.  It then has a two page lesson plan or summary of how to teach for each corresponding lesson in the student activity book.  It also contains the answer keys for each worksheet as well as additional student worksheets to copy and use.

Because I have been doing the same math FOREVER, it has been a long time since I actually read a teacher manual for math, so this one overwhelmed me at first.  Luckily, that did not last long.  Each day is well organized and written out.  Objectives and teaching tips are listed as well as what worksheets will be used and any additional materials, supplies or equipment you may need.  Then each step of teaching for that day is listed with a clear explanation of what to do.  While it is not really scripted, there is an occasion further explanation of how you would word something to better explain it. Once a concept is taught, you are directed to which small section of the workbook your child is to complete.  Once they complete that section you will move on to the next one.

Because Alpha Omega uses the circular teaching approach, once a new concept is taught over a three to five day span.  Then for the next two months it is repeated every two weeks for continual review and practice.  A four week break is then followed again by a three to five day review and then cycle continues.

How did we make this work for us?
Well, I am a rule sort of gal and so while I have heard lots of mommas say they do not always use the teacher's guide, for now I am!  To help me streamline, I read through each day and highlight the main points to be taught and hints on how to teach them for a week at a time.  This just helps me know what we are doing with a quick glance rather than have to stop and figure it out while my son waits.  We then work through the Student Activities one section at a time.  So far for us, each "day" typically lasts us about 30 minutes, give or take.

Likes and dislikes?
Mostly likes, honestly!  Up until now, my son, age 7, has been using one-colored worksheets with very little visual stimulation or interest.  One of the things that drew me to Horizons was the more engaging workbook style.  I realize that might not be everyone elses' bent, but I have found that my guy likes bright and colorful things and he tends to engage more with worksheets.  The other things I have found I really like is how AOP breaks down each student activity into sections.  Rather than just teaching something and then setting him loose with a worksheet on his own, we work together with a give and take.  For a fidgety boy who is easily distracted, this has allowed me to hold his attention more easily.  For students who get tired of writing, this also allows them a break every few minutes while you explain the next section.

The only thing I have found that I do not care for is the current lack of a manipulative set offered by AOP.  In the manual there is a comprehensive list of each thing you will need, from flash cards to counting chips, and which lesson you will need them for, but this busy momma admits to liking having the work done for me. I would love to see them add a basic math manipulative kit to their products!

Bottom line-
We have been very pleased with AOP Horizon Math!  It continues to stretch CJ by teaching new concepts and fits his learning style well.  We look forward to a successful year of math and a ton of learning!

A quick shout out to all of our fellow military homeschoolers.  Alpha Omega graciously offers a 30% discount for military families.  Call their customer support number to ask how to make that happen!

Don't forget you can enter to win your choice of curriculum from Alpha Omega in this incredible giveaway!


1 comment:

Thanks for commenting. I love hearing from you!