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I hate Saxon Math right now! We have used Algebra 1 and 2 for two years, and it has been non-stop frustration. Why didn't someone warn me that this would consume our lives? Why didn't I pray more about this before taking the big step? Why wasn't I smart enough to figure out after the first year that this wasn't going to work? Enough whining. Here is the scoop:
Saxon Algebra 1 and 2 each have approximately 130 lessons with 30 problems per lesson. This works out to about 3 1/2 lessons that must be accomplished each week, or 105 problems per week, not counting the tests (which we skipped because of time constraints). Unfortunately, our teen not being a math whiz, we didn't do well with keeping up with the grueling schedule. And we worked through the summer--two of them--and are still less than halfway through Algebra 2. She spent 2-3 hours a day on this 5 days a week, I pressured her unceasingly, and she cried buckets of tears. I even reminded her every once in a while that she might be the only 5-year high school student in our acquaintance, if she didn't shape up. Sad, isn't it? This is not how successful home schooling is supposed to work, is it? Now, I realize we have some problems with efficiency, disciplined work habits, motivation, and parenting skills that Mr. Saxon isn't responsible for, but I also think the expectations, if adhered to rigidly, are unrealistic. If I had it to do over, we would have only done half the problems in each lesson, in spite of Mr. Saxon's insistence that it is absolutely necessary to do every problem.
Maybe if your children are good--and fast--at math, Saxon will work well for you. The textbook format is simple and easy to work with. The explanations of concepts are generally clear (although at times the approach is round-about, and can be explained in much fewer words), and the incremental approach (building one small concept upon another, while constantly reinforcing what has already been learned ) is solid. Some people have suggested that children who are good with math can even read the lesson, do the one or two practice problems, omit the rest of the problems, and focus on the tests, thus avoiding all the excess work. Alas, we were neither fast, nor particularly adept at the math--consistently producing "C" results.
Geometry is interspersed throughout both Algebra 1 and 2, but there is not enough to make up the equivalent of a full geometry course. I am told that by the time you have finished the Advanced Mathematics book, you will have accomplished a full basic course in geometry.
I was also disappointed with the solution manuals. Many times when we got stuck on a problem, the question we had was not answered in the solution manual. No diagram when needed. No blow-by-blow procedure, in some cases. Too much assumption that things were self-explanatory at times.
Many of the home schooling authorities out there are passionately enthusiastic about Saxon Math. I've tried to let you in on our personal experience. My advice is to talk to a lot of people who have lived with this program for awhile and see what they think, be aware of what your children can handle, realize that there are other math programs out there, and pray hard before making a decision.
(This review was written in the fall of 1998.)