We have been using Saxon Math for Homeschools for a few years now, and it has worked very well for three of my four children, and the early grades worked well for the fourth, too.
The early grades are very structured and make frequent use of manipulatives, which give the students a good understanding of the “why” of math. There is no rote memorization of facts without knowing what addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division are. Once the child understands the “why” of each operation, they then work on memorizing their basic facts through drill sheets. This was something that was missing from the curriculum we used previously.
If you decide to use the primary grade math curriculum from Saxon, you will definitely want to purchase the manipulatives kit. You can purchase just the 1st grade kit, and then each year purchase the “expansion” kit, but it’s cheaper in the long-run to purchase the entire K-3 kit, especially if you think you’ll continue to use Saxon through the primary grades.
I skipped the kindergarten year with Josiah, because the kindergarten program is very simple and any child who knows their colors and basic shapes, and can count and recognize numbers to 10 doesn’t really need the kindergarten year. Josiah is finishing up his 1st grade year, but finished Saxon Math 2 today, and he has had no problems keeping up with the program. We may have to slow down later – and I will have no problem doing that – but so far he’s excelling at math.
The primary grades require lots of one on one instruction time with your child, unless he or she is very self-led in math. Some of my kids have required more time than others. My youngest, Josiah, is the most self-directed and the most naturally gifted in math, and I’ve skipped a lot of the manipulative instruction with him, because he just seems to “get” it.
Math for the middle grades changes, with a switch from a workbook to a textbook, and no manipulative work. The middle grade books have very little pictorial representation of concepts, and the student must copy the problems from the text book onto his or her own paper. The program continues to drill math facts, reviewing addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division each year. This starts with Saxon Math 5/4, which is the 4th grade program.
Jonathan will be entering the 4th grade in the fall, and for the first time I will be using a different math program for the 4th grade. My Jonathan is very much a tactile learner, and has a lot of focus issues. I’m sure if he was in public school, his teacher would want him medicated, but I prefer to teach him ways to focus and have chosen to fit his curriculum to his learning style. He also absolutely hates to write, so I can see the fact that he has to copy each problem down causing him to hit a major wall. I will be switching to Horizons Math, which continues with a workbook approach in the 4th grade, and is much more colorful and full of pictures. It continues at the same pace as Saxon, but is an approach that I am hoping will work better with his learning style.
All in all, Saxon Math is a comprehensive math program that is easy for a homeschooling parent to use, and that gives the student a good foundation in math concepts and lots of practice memorizing the necessary facts. It also goes beyond basic arithmetic, covering geometry, measurement, money, and time.