I have previously written about some of our math woes here. The long and short of it is that Delightful, 11, started off math with ease and would have been considered very advanced when she first started school. Then, over time, she became more and more frustrated with our math program and now thinks she’s not good at math. I have tried different math programs to help her break through her frustration. Here is some of what we have tried and the results we have had:
Life of Fred – weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Math Mammoth – weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Strayer-Upton- weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Khan Academy- weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Math Without Borders free videos (Grandpa math)- weeping and gnashing of teeth.
After going through five programs in the past year, I finally convinced Delightful to let me try Ray’s Arithmetic with her one more time. We had used it in the past but with weeping and gnashing of teeth because the Beechick guide sold by Mott Media wasn’t compatible with our family. Thankfully, I found the Manual of Methods online and learned a whole new way of using Ray’s. The key is to use Ray’s Intellectual and Practical at the same time over multiple grades and not try to cram each book into a two-year span.
We have been using Ray’s Intellectual over the past few months for fractions and have made enormous strides with it – so much so that we have covered at least what Math Mammoth covers in grades 3-6, if not more. Delightful is understanding what to do with fractions and is able to solve crazy questions like “1 bushel of rye is worth 3/4 bushel of wheat: how much rye is worth 4/5 of a bushel of wheat?” She has also been able to pass two Life of Fred Fractions bridges without rereading the chapters – from a book that had her near tears at the beginning of the year. All this from a little old-fashioned math book that we sometimes have to read with a magnifying glass to make out the numbers clearly.
I heartily recommend Ray’s Arithmetic and wholeheartedly agree with what commenter Tibby Dunbar had to say about the program:
And any kid who learns fractions with Ray’s has learned fractions forevermore, amen.
There isn’t really anything more that I can add to this comment. With a little work with manipulatives at the beginning and carefully working through each problem at least once, Ray’s has been by far the best program we have used for learning fractions. In fact, the success is so great I am re-visiting using Ray’s for other topics as well. The only downside I have found so far is the lack of complete answers for those tough questions. That hasn’t been an insurmountable hurdle for us since we have an older relative who learned math this way that we can bounce questions off of. Even if we didn’t, though, I know we could figure out most of the questions as long as we worked carefully and studied the sample answers thoroughly.
If you are frustrated with your math program and are looking for a program that’s free, easy, and effective, I highly recommend Ray’s Arithmetic. When it comes to learning fractions, it can’t be beat.