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"By wisdom a house is built, and by understanding it is established; and by knowledge
the rooms are filled with all precious and pleasant riches." ~Proverbs 24:3-4

Saxon Math products can be ordered at a discount here.

Saxon Math

One of the duties of home educators is to provide our children with a thorough understanding of mathematics. This can be difficult for those of us who didn't learn math very well ourselves. My husband – a chemist, quality engineer, and math tutor – is the math expert at our house, so I know that if he likes the Saxon Math curriculum, it must be good. In fact, Saxon is one of the most popular and highly regarded mathematics curriculums for homeschoolers.

Saxon Math requires considerably less time to be spent on formal presentation, which is good for homeschooling families. Saxon teaches math the old-fashioned way, emphasizing drills and repetition. All new concepts are introduced with a full explanation requiring perhaps a ten-minute lecture. This is followed by practice problems and daily problem sets, so math class consists mostly of the students working independently on problems.

Each chapter’s problems incorporate work from prior chapters. In fact, the daily problem set actually focuses more on previous lessons than on what was presented in the current lesson. This is because the problem set contains only a few problems illustrating the concept introduced in that day's lesson. For example, instead of having 20 problems illustrating a new concept, there will be only 4-6 new problems out of 25 total. But the newly learned concept is further integrated into subsequent problem sets, so by the end of the book the problem sets are a review of all previously presented concepts.

This development of topics in increments provides time for each new concept to become totally familiar. Continual exposure to previously covered concepts allows assimilation to occur naturally along the way. Application of the concepts becomes easy, and the student will be sure to understand all of the concepts by the end of the book. The technique of mastering math concepts through continuous review works just as well for struggling students as it does for average and advanced students.

Someone once said "the website/company will tell you that the child should complete all of the problems, but I have yet to meet anyone who makes their child do all of them, unless they love it or really need the practice." Well, we are one family that has our child do all of the problems! It's easy to be tempted to take shortcuts, but the author put that number of problems there for a reason.

Even though our oldest son does not particularly like math, he scored in the 98-99 percentile on the math sections of the Iowa Test of Basic Skills. He also scored just as high in the math portion of the PSAT exam. And because of this course, my boys can figure out math problems in their head often faster than a calculator! I attribute this in part to doing all of those problems at the end of every chapter. (We did skip Saxon 8/7 and went straight to Algebra ½ which the author says you can do if your child has been doing well.)

Saxon texts are skill-level books rather than grade-level textbooks. In other words, there is no specific book for a particular grade level. This works well in homeschool situations, where students can move either more quickly or more slowly through the program depending on their abilities. For example, our oldest son progressed so well through Saxon Math that he was doing Algebra 2 at age 12. I'm sure that if he was in public school, he wouldn't be taking a high school level math course in 7th grade. Since progress is determined by mastery of a concept, success in one book will ensure that success is possible in the next. Placement tests are available for new students entering the program to determine which book they should start out in.

I've had a math handicap ever since fifth grade when my school experimented with what was called New Math and I never had a chance to master the basics. I'm so bad in math that my 12-year-old son was teaching me how to do fractions and percents out of his Saxon 6/5 book! The only reason why I am able to oversee my son's math lessons is because Saxon explains them so well that he can pretty much work through each chapter on his own. My husband had studied math all the way up to Differential Equations in college. Yet interestingly enough, it wasn't until Saxon came along that he finally learned how to do long division which somehow he had missed along the way. Thus, Saxon Math can help the whole family!

Saxon lessons include number facts practice (timed worksheets) and oral practice in the lower grades, mental math practice, problem solving practice, written practice (with supplemental problems when needed), and regular assessments. K-3rd grade Saxon requires the use of manipulatives (not included, but they can be purchased separately or made by hand). 4th-7th grade Saxon uses a student text, teacher's answer key, and a set of tests. Saxon also publishes textbooks for Algebra, Advanced Math, Calculus, and Physics. Although a separate Geometry text is available for those who want one, it is not really necessary because geometric principles are integrated throughout the entire series.

Our family discovered the benefits of Saxon Math when teaching 3rd grade and we have been using it ever since. We have used Saxon 3rd grade, Saxon 5/4, Saxon 6/5, Saxon 7/6, Saxon Algebra ½ (Pre algebra), Saxon Algebra 1, Saxon Algebra 2, Saxon Advanced Math, Saxon Calculus, and Saxon Physics. While our oldest son is finishing up Calculus and Physics, our middle son is going to be starting Math 76 and our youngest son is still learning elementary arithmetic. This means that we will be doing Saxon Math for a long time to come, as we have a passion for Saxon!

John Saxon, a junior college instructor, initiated the development of this excellent math series with the first algebra textbook he wrote in 1981. According to Saxon's philosophy, "mathematics is not difficult. Mathematics is just different, and long-term practice with concepts that are different turns the concepts into familiar concepts which are not troublesome but are instead friendly and helpful.” John Saxon created an effective, easy-to-use math curriculum that produces amazing results. We highly recommend Saxon Math!

See Also: for my in-depth review of Art Reed's guide to Using John Saxon’s Math Books. If you’re using Saxon Math – no matter what grade your children are in – you’ve got to have this book!

For more information, including sample lessons and downloadable placement tests, visit the Saxon website at:

Saxon Math products can be ordered at a discount here.

This article may be reproduced in its entirety by non-profit homeschool associations. Please click here for details.


These pages are a continuous work in progress.
Copyright © 2000- by Teri Ann Berg Olsen
All rights reserved.


These pages are a continuous work in progress.
Copyright © 2000- by Teri Ann Berg Olsen
All rights reserved.

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