(Image By Galaksiafervojo via Wikimedia Commons)
While trying to make sense of the Saxon Homeschool Math sequence for my book (which should be on sale in a month, as long as I don’t keep re-writing the math section when I’m supposed to be proofreading), I realized that plenty of other people are just as confused as I am.
So, here it is, days of research, condensed into a handful of tables. (I sure couldn’t find a FAQ on the Saxon website.) I’m indebted to Art Reed’s website Homeschool with Saxon for help figuring this out, especially his October 2015 newsletter. And thanks to the many homeschool teachers of SEA Homeschoolers on Facebook who offered their thoughts and their questions.
Why no kindergarten? Saxon offers a homeschool kindergarten, but I think playing with manipulatives is the most important thing for this age. See School in a Box, Out of the Box for more on starting school gradually. If your child is desperate to begin book work, you can start out with first grade math (and take as long as needed over it).
What grade level are the books? The books with multiple numbers (5/4) and beyond can be used at either grade. In order to reach the high level math in high school that’s required for selective colleges and some science / math degrees, this usually means doing it in the lower of the two grades in the title, but doing it more slowly and doing it well may mean a child can skip one of the middle school titles, and push ahead. It’s more important that children understand math than be pushed along without comprehension.
Why are there two high school paths? The one on the right is the original Saxon program, which follows the “integrated pathway” in the words of the Common Core. There is no separate geometry class. In the original Saxon program, students who took Algebra 1 in 9th grade or later wouldn’t have finished enough geometry to do well on the PSAT and other college exams, so Houghton Mifflin Harcourt recently added the left-hand path (“traditional pathway” in the words of the Common Core), which separates out geometry into its own textbook, in order to have it all done by college testing.
Is this an endorsement of Saxon Math? No – I have no personal experience of the program. We used Singapore Math, but Saxon is one of the most popular homeschooling programs, and many families have found it meets their needs. Saxon is a “incremental” or “spiral” program, where topics are introduced gradually, and the problem sets spiral back around, with lots of review. Some children find this too drill heavy and without enough depth in each concept. “Mastery” syllabi, such as Singapore Math or Math Mammoth Light Blue cover each topic in far more depth, but have less review.