Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Why Horizons Math isn't working for us...

A benefit of homeschooling is that you can tailor curriculum to best fit your child.  If something isn't working then it is pretty easy to switch things up (easy theoretically, not always financially!)  In our homeschool it has happened already with the math program we chose, Horizons.

I chose Horizons because it was recommended by Sonlight for first time homeschoolers.  It also had very high reviews in almost every forum I visited.  When I looked at sample pages, I liked what I saw: self-directed problems, spiral approach, colorful workbook to keep kids engaged, lots of manipulatives and it was organized well.  Actually, I really loved the fact that it taught math the way I learned it.

And that was the problem.

Although I was very strong in math in school it was not because I understood it, it was because I was good at remembering how to solve a particular type of problem.  To this day, I can not do mental math, I tediously have to count everything out.  

Initially, I thought Horizons was working very well for my daughter.  She loves doing math and often asks to do more than one lesson at a time (lessons are one page front and back).  We got up to lesson 54 when I really started noticing that when she was adding numbers on a number line, she had no clue what  addition really was, she just taught herself how to look at the problem and figure out what numbers had to be plugged in!  The apple doesn't fall far from the tree :)

Looking at the above snapshot of her math workbook is pretty impressive for a Kindergartener huh?  But, if you ask my daughter what 2 + 3 is, she would not be able to do it without counting each number out (one, two plus one, two, three is one, two, three, four, five....even if she was holding all five fingers out.)  You can see how this logic can not work for numbers above ten (unless she used her toes I guess.) 

I thought that I would love all the manipulatives. 

I don't.

In fact, they do not seem to fit in at all with the lessons.  They are awkward and don't really help solidify what has been taught.  We did use the flash cards a couple of times to learn the names of two digit numbers but besides that, we have not found a use for them at all.

Fortunately, we bought the program through Sonlight which has amazing customer service (my husband called the office and said the person he spoke to was as friendly as Michelle Duggar!)  Since we bought the program less than 6 months ago, we are eligible to return it for a full refund!  Now, I'm not sure if we will get all our money back from the workbooks since we are already on lesson 55, but I will update when I get more information on that.  You can't ask for a better guarantee than that!

We have ordered Rightstart level A to try for math.  It has a 60 day guarantee for refund.  Many of my friends use this program and love it, so I hope I will as well.  It seems more parent-involved then Horizons did, but since school seems to go by so quickly here, maybe Sofia will do well with some more one on one with mom. 

 I'm looking forward to trying this math program.  It uses an abacus to teach groupings into 5s and avoids counting strategies.  One of the beauties of homeschooling is that you literally get to learn alongside your children....who knows, maybe this will be the math program that will finally get me to stop counting on my fingers (and toes!)


  1. Yuck, I'm so sorry to hear this didn't work out. I was so nervous about buying a math program (big $$) and not having it work for us. I'm glad it sounds like you will get at least most of your money back. I went with my gut instinct on math programs for Alex (Math-U-See) and it is working out beautifully for him. Not so much with our handwriting curriculum though. Good luck with Rightstart. I hope this one fits!

  2. Good luck with the new program! How wonderful that you are able to get a refund. I hope the new one works well for your family.

    God bless,

  3. I'm so sorry the program we recommended didn't fit your family. I'm glad you were able to take advantage of the return policy. May your new program be just what your daughter needs! Understanding the ideas behind math is so important. I'm glad you were able to drop the program that wasn't helping her do that.


  4. I have been using Right Start for 3 years now and we love it. I think it's an amazing math program!!

  5. We had similar problems with Horizons... it's all about trying different things, isn't it? Your little one really is so young - you don't need to worry too much.. ;) We use Family Math for our youngest 2 and we love it! ;) I link to it on my blog... can't find the link right now... haha... xo Cassandra @ The Unplugged Family

  6. My youngest kids used Horizon, and I supplemented it with CalcuLadder, which is speed drills. That way my kids learned to do addition quickly without having to count it out. My older children switched from Saxon to Teaching Textbooks, and we LOVE Teaching Textbooks, even though it's expensive. I don't have to do any grading, and the kids can see the explanation on the computer in cartoon form. So math isn't drudgery.