Every morning with my first cup of coffee I review my goals, and then usually jump into a 30-minute brain warm up with Saxon Math.
It has been more than ten years since I studied math so I decided to work the Saxon Math series from the beginning. More than just learning—or re-learning—math concepts, I also want to sharpen my brain.
Saxon Math is an incremental math series that introduces new concepts in short lessons and focuses on repetition and practice problem solving. It has been employed successfully to raise math scores in schools and is a favorite choice for homeschoolers because of its linear and logical approach.
Because I’m not new to math, I can knock out two or three lessons in 30 minutes (I expect this rate to slow as I move along). I am taking advantage of this time to work on mental math (taking the time to solve every problem I can in my head).
There are three primary reasons for having Saxon Math in my daily routine:
- It’s good for my brain. Since I started this program a few months ago, I am much more focused throughout the day. Doing a few math problems in the morning is like waking up on the right side of the bed; it orients my brain to logical thinking and prepares me for solving problems. Critical thinking takes effort and focus. I notice the desire to skip some problems when I’m feeling a little lazy, but I force myself to do every one. Then when I hit a hurdle in my day my mind is already used to stepping up to the challenge.
- It’s the language of science. I have basic scientific knowledge. I know the periodic table and can ramble my way through Newton’s three laws of motion. But I want to really learn science. Understanding more about how and why nature works has immeasurable value. Math is the language of science. Newton invented calculus in order to study physics. Understanding physics, one can learn chemistry, and then biology, and so on. Learning the fundamental sciences is one of my life goals and math is the starting point.
- I want my kids to do it. I don’t have kids yet, but someday I will want them to go through the series. Teachers who have introduced it to their students have had incredible success. There’s a remarkable case in Sacramento of schools moving from the 30th to 64th percentile on the SAT-9 in four years, and another of a Seattle school that jumped from 68 to 91 percent in just three years after starting Saxon Math (see the sources at the bottom). I know of a parent that started her kid’s day with a Saxon lesson before school and grades improved in every subject. Logic is powerful.
Below are some resources if you’d like to give it a try, or learn more.
The Saxon Math Series:
There are hardcover student editions and paperback homeschool editions available (as well as tests and solution manuals if you want them). You can usually find a used hardcover copy in good condition for a reasonable price—I just bought 6/5 for under $5 (plus shipping).
- Saxon Math 5/4
- Saxon Math 6/5
- Saxon Math 7/6
- Saxon Math: 8/7 with Prealgebra
- Algebra 1/2
- Algebra 1
- Algebra 2
- Saxon Advanced Math
- Calculus with Trigonometry and Analytic Geometry
*Saxon 5/4 was the first book written. There have since been other books added as “filler” before 5/4 because the current education system is so far behind but these are not necessary.
- New-Age Math Doesn’t Add Up – An article by Bruce Ramsey from the Seattle Times, April 22, 2007
- A Quality Math Curriculum in Support of Effective Teaching For Elementary Schools – A study referenced in the article above from Educational Studies in Mathematics volume 65, no. 2 (June 2007)
- Robinson Curriculum – A popular homeschool program that employs the Saxon Math series (website is a wealth of information)
- Dr. Art Robinson discussion (video) – A must watch for anyone interested in improving the quality of education
How do you keep your brain active?