Choosing a homeschool curriculum can be hard. Everyone has an opinion on what’s best, and not only do you have to make the decision on which one(s) to use, but you have to figure out the logistics of what to buy and how best to implement it. Yikes!
Getting started with Saxon math is no different. I’m the first to admit it can be overwhelming–that’s why I do what I do! There are so many books, videos, and other materials. But don’t worry! Here is a how-to guide to help you get started in the right direction. This post will cover all the basics of Saxon Math for homeschoolers or traditional schools.
The first thing you need to know about getting started with Saxon math is that it’s unique from many other curriculums out there. John Saxon, the man who started it, wanted to make sure students have a solid foundation in math basics so they could excel at advanced computations as they grew and matured.
You can read more about his story here but the end result is a rigorous spiral curriculum. A spiral curriculum hits the same points in small increments over time so that it stays fresh in the brain without being overwhelming. Students ultimately master each concept as they continue to revisit it throughout the books and full curriculum. You can learn more about the pros and cons of a spiral curriculum here.
Teachers and parents tend to choose Saxon because it’s a tried-and-true curriculum that produces students with solid math foundations and skills. There is an emphasis on multiple-step problem solving as well. At the younger ages Saxon offers a script for instruction and you’ll find lots of manipulatives and lessons which involve playing with math. As they grow into the later elementary years students will start to use the books more independently.
It also offers options for those who are looking for something that’s not Common Core aligned and–surprise–one that IS Common Core aligned (while the original Saxon texts came along before Common Core, there are also versions of the books that have been aligned with Common Core so that students might have the benefits of both).
So if you think it sounds like a good fit for you, what next? Saxon math offers placement tests for all levels so you can see which book would be a good fit. These are recommended for students who have never used Saxon math before. Once you have a recommendation, you can purchase the books needed for that level and begin.
Sometimes this can trip people up because a student may not place into the level you expected. Remember that Saxon math books are designed to be used by level, not grade. So while there are rough correlations, you may have to “de-program” your thinking a bit and go with the level that will allow your child to gain or re-gain the foundation they need to move on.
Time to get books! The younger grades (K-3) have a large textbook designed to be used by the teacher. They include a script to read and detailed lessons. You’ll also want the companion worksheet books that include consumables for lessons and practice. Manipulatives can also be purchased as a complete set.
The older grades will have a textbook for students to use and some version of an answer key, solutions manual, and tests.
You can find a link to purchase books here–full disclosure, it is an affiliate link that supports me in helping Saxon math families.
Time to crack the books! If you’re on this site, you know that I offer video lessons for students using Saxon math, from Saxon 3 through Advanced Math. While the books above K-3 are designed for students to use on their own, we all know that when possible, having a teacher to help you out makes learning more enjoyable. That’s my goal.
By utilizing my lessons, the written material in the Saxon books, and the various tutorials and resources I have on my site, students have so many resources for learning that most frustrations can be easily avoided.
In order to prove that, I offer a truly free 7-Day Trial (no credit card, no risk) so you can see how the videos and other resources work. I highly recommend checking it out so you can be fully informed on what’s available to you.
I have an extensive Saxon FAQ here.
If you’re looking for reviews of my lessons and what I do, I have plenty of testimonials here.
Whether you’re making the initial decision to homeschool or trying to switch to a different math curriculum, trust me, I know it can be difficult. I’ve had to make the same decisions so I understand. I hope this guide helps you in getting started with Saxon!
Still have questions? Let me hear them in the comments. And if you’re using Saxon, how did you make your decision? I’d love to know.
Talk to you soon,
Nicole the Math Lady