This will be our sixth year of homeschooling, our fifth year of teaching Saxon Math. Anyone who has followed this blog for very long likely knows: I LOVE SAXON MATH!
I know it is not a highly popular opinion to those looking for something more fun for their students. But having led three students through various levels of Saxon Math successfully, I marvel at the easy methods of helping a student to make connections for herself.
I only wish I had been taught using the Saxon method in my grade school days! I have learned so much in Saxon Math every year.
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Why Prep for Saxon 6/5?
Another thing you may know about me is I love the planning and preparation portion of homeschooling! It’s my favorite! And I EVEN LOVE SAXON MATH PREP! Ahem…well, once I figured out how to prep for it, then I loved it. Those early years were touch and go for a bit.
Having solved the prep problem for the first three years of Saxon Math, then successfully preparing my student to learn Saxon Math 5/4, we are embarking on Saxon Math 6/5! Woohoo!
You may be wondering: Aren’t the levels from 5/4 and up supposed to be more independent? Aren’t we just supposed to tuck the textbook and the worksheets book into our elementary student’s hands and stand back, hand extended to receive the completed and perfect work of our star student?
Not a question.
Not a struggle.
Just lock and load and off you go.
Well, I like to set my child up for as little scrambling as possible in her schooling. I want her to have her worksheets at hand when she needs them. Last year’s journey through Saxon Math 5/4 taught me to be diligent and to be prepared for her. She tore through it!
Here are the two reasons I am prepping Saxon Math 6/5 for my 5th grader:
- To create an easy year for both of us. Gently providing her with all the materials she needs, so she can focus on learning the process of math lessons.
- To prevent the endless purchase of consumable materials for 4 students. Read: I am trying to save some money here!
How does Saxon 6/5 differ from Saxon 5/4?
Saxon 6/5 is different from Saxon 5/4 in content. Last year the student began to learn from a textbook and she will be continuing this process. The math will continue to be presented by the Saxon Math two-pronged approach of incremental development and constant meaningful review.
Yes, the parent/teacher is still close-by for advice and instruction. But the bulk of instruction is coming straight from the textbook. The parent/teacher becomes the teacher’s assistant, so to speak. As we worked through Saxon 5/4, we learned some valuable lessons and avoided some major Saxon Math traps. If you are interested in seeing what we learned, please read these articles:
These lessons learned will inform our approach to Saxon Math 6/5.
Saxon 6/5 is definitely a deeper exploration of many of the concepts learned in 5/4 and before. Since Saxon’s approach is spiral, the student will have familiarity with a concept, but will be seeing it again having gained context and review. The comparison has been made to a screw being driven into a board. The student is seeing it at a different point in her learning. It will automatically have a deeper impact on her brain because she has already encountered much of it before. But the screw is being turned slowly enough not to damage the brain.
A Word About Review
For those just finishing Saxon 5/4 and perusing the textbook for 6/5 the temptation may be to “skip the review.” I don’t know how many times I have heard this from parents who do school year-round. “Saxon is full of review, just skip ahead at least 30 lessons.”
May I caution you against this for two reasons?
- If one was to skip ahead to new material, she would skip ahead about1/3 of the way through the book. Remember that incremental approach thing? There must be some reason Saxon wanted to go this slowly through what we consider to be review.
- The point of the first third of Saxon Math 6/5 is not to teach math. Or even to review math. Based on my cursory review of the textbook, I suggest the reason for so much “review” is to teach the student to see math in every day life and prepare her to solve problems with math. I have noticed there are many more word problems in this level than in previous levels. The student will be taking her knowledge from all her previous math studies and learning how to apply it to every day problems. If you just skip all that instruction and throw your student into the midst of the book, to learn all things new, she will be struggling with not only learning the new material, but also with how to apply her math knowledge to different math problems.
Thus, the “review-heavy” nature of 6/5 is for the purpose of teaching the student how to apply math to problems using material she already knows. She shall not struggle with these simple concepts. She has mostly mastered them already in Math 5/4 and earlier. Instead, she shall have ample practice in applying math to every day life.
If you are interested in an expert’s opinions and advice, I highly recommend the resource Using John Saxon’s Math Books. I read it in about an hour last year and it has impacted my approach to teaching Saxon Math immensely. I have returned to it a number of times for reference.
What is in Saxon 6/5?
A Saxon 6/5 Homeschool Kit contains the student Textbook, a Tests and Worksheets Manual, and a Solutions Manual.
The student Textbook is the hunk of paper you will hand to your student at the beginning of the year. If you choose, the Tests and Worksheets manual might also be handed over. The Solutions Manual is yours to keep!
In essence, the Textbook and the Tests and Worksheets Manual are, consumable. The student can use these to work in and have all their math stuff in one place.
But, as I stated before, I have four students who will be treading through Saxon Math 6/5. If I were to spend money on replacing the textbook and the Tests and Worksheets Manual each time, it would get super expensive!
You will also need:
- protractor (you won’t necessarily need a compass just yet, but it is in this set)
- colored pencils (I prefer these – I buy bulk because of our large family)
- yard stick (we have one from the local hardware store)
- dot cube – aka dice
- stopwatch – my kid is going to love this!
- locker mirror
How I am Prepping Saxon 6/5
Last year, as I was preparing for Saxon 5/4, I discovered some gems I had no idea were in the back of the Tests and Worksheets Manual! These are priceless! Thankfully, they are included in every Saxon Math level from here on out.
Once I got my Saxon Math 6/5 Homeschool Kit, I looked for those hidden gems and I settled on a plan to not consume the Textbook and Tests and Worksheets Manual. I headed into my husband’s office and set to copying.
Here is a list of the items I copied, where I found them, and how many copies I will need for the year. This list is printable when you click here.
NOTE: If you are not planning on teaching Saxon 6/5 to more than one student, this list is not necessary for you. However, if I were teaching only one student, I would still create the lesson packets I created (detailed below). I also did not make ALL these copies on my first prep day. Only lessons 1-40 – a good month’s work of work – are prepped and ready to go.
Saxon 6/5 Prep
Since I am in the habit of prepping Saxon Math 1-3 on a bi-monthly basis, I considered prepping Saxon 6/5 in the same manner. But once I got started, I realized I could easily prep for the first 40 lessons one sitting. Yea! I only have to prep Saxon 6/5 3 times this year!
I created 2 folders for Saxon 6/5 – one for my student and one for me.
Into the student’s folder go the first two week’s work for the next month, along with all the extras. Into my folder go the rest of the lessons from my prep session (through lesson 40) and my “Master” copies for future lessons.
The Saxon Math 6/5 Student Folder
I created a simple file folder for my student and labeled it “Grace Math 6/5.”
Two of the gems found in the back of the TWM are Recording Forms B and C. They are Lesson Worksheets (B) and Mixed Practice Solutions (C). This provides the student space to work out the problems in each lesson and record them in a neat manner. Once the student finishes her work, it provides the teacher with a simple way to “grade” the paper quickly. All the answers are in boxes, in order.
I made copies of these two forms (B and C) and stapled sets of them together for each lesson. I stapled them in the top right corner, with the front of C facing backwards. The purpose of the odd stapling is for the student to be able to easily pull them apart and place them side by side, if necessary.
Two Week’s Work
Into the Student Folder I put a small stack of papers, ordered for the next two weeks. The stack goes like this:
- Math Facts Practice – labeled with lesson number
- Recording Form B/C (as detailed above) – labeled with lesson number
- Any extra worksheets needed.
- Repeat to ten lessons
- Test (with Recording Form E stapled to the back of it)
This stack is tucked into the Student Folder. Student Prep DONE!
The Saxon Math 6/5 Teacher Folder
I took another simple file folder and wrote “Saxon Math 6/5 weeks ahead” on the tab. On the inside front cover, I glued the Testing Schedule (trimmed to fit). The items in this folder mirror the Student Folder. The next two weeks of lessons are in the Teacher Folder (ordered, labeled, and ready to go). At the end of the first two weeks, this stack is transferred to the Student Folder.
In the back of the folder’s stack, I have all the necessary masters to make more copies when I am doing prep in future months. Teacher Prep DONE!
Last year I did not prep the investigations any further than printing the Activity Sheets in the book for my student and placing them in her folder in the proper order. I considered creating a worksheet for the Investigations, but since they do not follow the same format every time, I settled on my student using a simple grid composition book (I got them in bulk, because 4 students).
I hope this detailed account of my Saxon Math 6/5 prep has been a blessing to you. Please let me know if you have any questions.