Saxon K-8 Math

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  • Reviewed on Thursday, July 25, 2013
  • Grades Used: 2-7/6
  • Dates used: 2007-2013
This math program is one of those things that so many of us have a love hate relationship with. If you use it consistently, and properly, your student will be excellent at calculations for any basic operations. You can plow through these books year after year, and your student will see similar problems and be able to apply the same algorithms they learned before, to find answers. They will be confident in math and they will say "I am good at math" and they probably will also score very high on K-12 standardized tests.

However, there's the dark side to Saxon Math. First, all that plowing and plowing and plowing through endless repetition and endless long problem solving sets, will probably make your student hate math.

Second, it's highly likely that your student will not see and understand the cohesive and amazing nature of mathematics. And, they will also struggle with application of the algorithms to read world situations and word problems. You'll need to supplement for that.

Additionally, since Saxon Math is incremental and spiral, you can never skip anything without sacrifices the thoroughness and integrity of the entire program. Only people who totally misunderstand how the system works would counsel you to skip problems. If you skip problems, your student will completely miss out.

My second child was actually having mini anxiety attacks while she worked through Saxon 5/4. The long pages of dull uninteresting problems, the slow boring pace, the fact that she had to copy so many problems and utter monotony made her sick. She worked so hard like a little trooper for two weeks, and finished all her lessons. But you know when your child is tearing up and then you find her praying to help get through something, you've done something wrong. (She loves every minute of Horizons and completes extra pages every day. It's more challenging and very colorful and fast paced, with puzzles and other fun things thrown in. And she's way ahead of Saxon now.)

Now, my son is still using Saxon Math. After a brief foray into using a good mastery based math text, I am realizing that my son, who doesn't have good rote memory, especially long term, is really struggling even with the bit of review the other program contains. He doesn't like Saxon, but he also doesn't like not being confident in math. He is resigned to going back.

The thing about Saxon is, that it does work to produce kids who can churn out arithmetic, algorithms and even do well on basic standardized tests.

And remember, that a student who uses Saxon will very very rarely see and understand any of the why behind the math. We have switched him to Key To, and hired a math tutor for enrichment and problems solving to get him ready for high school. She has a double math degree, has coached many state MOEMS winners, and her own daughter won the entire USA MOEMS championship and competed in China. She also tutors remedial struggling students and everything in between. And she said DO NOT use Saxon Math, no matter what. Find SOMETHING else.

So, there you have it. If you use Saxon you may be able "do arithmetic" but you will NOT understand math.

Hailey Ann

  • Reviewed on Thursday, April 11, 2013
  • Grades Used: first grade
  • Dates used: 2012-2013
My son started having melt downs towards the middle of the year with Saxon due to the amount of work. It really isn't that much work when you are teaching repetition. I added in more of the manipulatives offered through their K-3 kit. He started to soar. I also use to teach first grade math in a public school. This is without a doubt the best math curriuculm out there folks. I met a girl at a park who told me her mom homeschooled her with Saxon math until sixth grade. She is now an engineer. She gives all her credit to Saxon math. She did not feel like she learned much after going back to school in middle school. She was so advanced they didn't have a class to put her into. Saxon math is the way to go!!


  • Reviewed on Thursday, March 21, 2013
  • Grades Used: k and 1
  • Dates used: 2012-2013
Saxon fan! Saxon is complete and loves to review. I love the spiral learning because my son doesn't have time to forget. He's four and a half and has completed K and most of 1st in Saxon Math. They teach you the concepts in small bits with lots of repetition. He's more confident and follows directions a lot more. It takes less then an hour every day even with the interruptions from his younger brother. We started early because we saw Veritas Press review that said go for it and we are glad we did. Saxon K is for middle of 3yrs to early 4's.

Also, I had to learn with this Saxon style that it's ok that he doesn't get it the first couple of times it's introduced. By the fourth or fifth time though he will have it. It's not required for tests till the 10th time it's introduced. This is such a confidence builder in his learning ability and my teaching ability. It is VERY mom dependent till the middle of 1st grade. Then I put the parts he can do by himself together so I can get away. He doesn't need me for the fact sheet part, flash card review, and math meeting each day. I just do the lesson and talk about the worksheet, although I do listen from the other room as he counts each day. 20 min mom time average. 20 min-40 min son independent work depending on distractions.

I will use this Saxon Math for 2nd and then switch to Saxon Math 3 Intermediate because I'll have another son starting school. the intermediate is suppose to be more text book less discussion with mom, I think.


  • Reviewed on Wednesday, October 3, 2012
  • Grades Used: K-3, 54, 65, 76 - Algebra 1/2 (some)
  • Dates used: 1997-2012 intermittently
Count me in as a Saxon Math fan!

I was SO resistant to this curriculum! But I'm a believer now. I cannot find anything that I like better. I think I just had to get it out of my head that a secular (albeit moral) math program couldn't possibly be for us (a Christian family); and then I also had to just get it out of my head that if a student has a bad day or two, or week, or issues with the format -- that the math program should automatically be considered wrong for this student.

Once I realized that an old-fashioned type secular program, with a textbook explanation format could possibly be the best-developed math program possible I stopped running away from Saxon Math, and like so many others before me -- I love it!

Even when my son recently didn't "get" the new concept as presented in a lesson, there was a wonderful little mini lesson in the back of the book for that concept. He spent one day doing those extra problems and the light went on. He smiled and is back to 100% understanding, and moving forward with a lesson per day again.

There is always a way to make this math curriculum work for you, if you please. I used to count Saxon math as wrong for some of my students. I now see that when they were having trouble with the reading, I could have read the lessons aloud to them. And when they were young and hated copying and organizing their work on notebook paper, I could have scribed for awhile. Eventually, they would have come out doing their work completely independently. :) Hindsight is 20-20.

I wasn't thrilled with Saxon K-3, but only because of the way the lessons were organized -- with the meetings, that were a bit time intensive for me at that time. I think these lessons are actually probably OK now, but I just didn't like them that well.

Later I discovered that the K-3 Saxon programs were add-ons, written post the original series, so that might explain the disparagement on some reviews that "hate" Saxon (and have used it K-3) and then a consecutive review will be for the math from grade 54 on and be a "love" Saxon review. There is a reason: The original Saxon Math program started with what is now known as 54 -- with the intention for this to be a beginning level (as like for 1st grade).

There are now quite a few advocates of students using Saxon Math 54 and up independently, especially of using the older (usually 2nd edition) HC textbooks, because it just lends itself to this usage. In fact, I understand that originally the TM was identical in content to the student text.

I now really see how this can work, and am now just another one of those saying that Saxon (2nd edition HC) is worth persevering with, and if there is a will, there is a way to make this excellent math program work and work well for any student.

If I had to do it again, with my first students I would use something gentle (or even just games) for the first few grades -- such as JUMP Math at Home ... (find these worksheet workbooks at Amazon) and begin with Saxon 54 (or even 65) at age ten (and no sooner), allowing the students to use self-made addition and times tables until the facts become automatic.

Readiness is everything in mathematics (in any skill subject really) -- and the brain goes through an abstract development stage at around age ten. For more on this see the research of Harvey & Laurie Bluedorn or Raymond & Dorothy Moore at the Moore Foundation. [I personally felt that the Bluedorn's information in their book Trivium Pursuit was more helpful for my understaning.]

There are so many excellent reviews of Saxon Math and what it is actually like here, that I'm not going to attempt to explain why I love it in every way (when I thought it was just not for us at one time). I just wish to say "never say never" with Saxon math! :) I won't again!

I do wish to say briefly that I love the mental math; the concise, yet effective, size of the lessons; the explanations; systematic foundation laying; daily review problem sets; extra work in back as needed; glossary of terms; and the annotations of lesson concept was first introduced in beside each problem in the problem set;

But what has to be one of my very favorite things is something I haven't heard spoken of much and that is how they drill facts through the problems in the problem sets, in a very subtly systematic way. Even my son loves this. I like to ask him what he thinks they are working on teaching him. It is light and fun and the variety of presentations in the problems keeps students awake and challenged without being overwhelmed (or overwhelmed for long).

If I had to do it all over again, I would certainly just stick with Saxon 54 and up and make it work, and plan to from here on out. :)


Saxon Math lover :)