I switched from Singapore to Saxon to Rod and Staff. I plan on staying. R&S Math seems to have all the things I liked in Singapore and Saxon without all the drawbacks. For example, Singapore does a wonderful job with concrete to abstract teaching. R&S does this too, but instead of using base 10 blocks for the concrete, they simply use real life examples. I also liked Singapore’s mental math, R&S Math has that built into the teacher’s manual, a bit more slowly, but it does get taught. They also have the drill and review that Singapore is missing.
I liked the review in Saxon, but realized my kids did better with a mastery approach. They need the big picture in order to memorize the details, and Saxon never seemed to give the big picture. Instead of breezing through the Saxon review section in order to over learn, my kids were re-learning every concept every day. Rod and Staff builds on one concept at a time in a logical sequence till my kids really get it. Then they continue to review the concept, but at that point it really is just easy review.
At first, I was concerned about R&S Math’s slower scope and sequence, but my children have been easily completing the texts a year ahead of schedule, and I plan on following advice to simply skip 7th grade. Eighth grade has pre-algebra integrated, so my kids will still be ready for Algebra in 8th grade. I was concerned about test scores until I read Highland’s Latin School (makers of Memoria Press) uses Rod and Staff and they score in the top 2% of the nation.
Other things I like, Rod and Staff has lots of story problems and real life math such as finding interest rates, etc…They also do the best job at teaching fractions I’ve seen. Saxon was taking my kids almost and hour and a half everyday, Rod and Staff takes about 45 minutes. After my children had been using Rod and Staff for a few months I began to see a difference in their attitude toward math. Of course, they would still rather play out side than do math, but they have started integrating math into their play. At the grocery store they will calculate prices for fun, because it has become so easy for them.
Things I change: I plan on adding a little more pre-algebra with the last book with Kahn’s Academy (free online). And I only have my kids do the odd problems after the 3rd grade book. This is a lot less tweaking than I’ve had to do with other programs.