Nothing can be so utterly frustrating as finding a math curriculum that works, and everyone can agree upon. Last year, my math fight was with my middle son. This year it is with my 14-yr-old daughter, granted we really are not fighting, because she is so laid back. We started out with Saxon 8/7, then we switched to A+ Tutor Soft for awhile. We are now back to Saxon, and may supplement a little with Learn Math Fast, so we don't have to drag the big Saxon kit with on our holiday journeys. Yes, we do a little school over the holidays, especially math. Math is something I like to stay on top of. So I am going to break down what I like and dislike about each program.
We both like SAXONMath, different reasons of course. Saxon is a spiral math program. If you aren't familiar with the term "spiral", it means it is constantly reinforcing old concepts as well as new. With SAXON, you get a Lesson Warm-up (mental math), then there is the Lesson itself, which is very thorough. After the lesson is the Lesson Practice, which consists of only problems pertaining to the lesson. After that is the Mixed Practice, which consists of problems from the current lesson and problems randomly thrown in from previous lessons.
I love the Mixed Practice, it allows me to see which concepts she is struggling with. From there I can review and reinforce that single lesson. Under each problem, the lesson it corresponds to is in parentheses. See image below.
One more thing to mention about SAXON, we also have the Teacher DVD, which is also awesome. It will go over only certain problems. If your child only gets 3 answers wrong, she/he can pop in the DVD and watch a detailed explanation of how to solve only those problems. The DVD is great for those times when we as parents get frustrated trying to explain something, and are obviously speaking in a foreign language. The DVD teacher does not get frustrated, she remains always calm.
A+ TUTOR SOFT
We both liked A+ Tutor Soft at first. It seemed simple and straight forward. The thing I love about A+ is the fact that it grades everything and keeps track of it all. We got a free year subscription for the Math Curriculum Online - Worksheets and Tests. We did not get the videos included. We chose Pre-Algebra. At first it was nice, because you can print out the pdf files for each lesson, or if you are strict about being paper free, they can view them all online. All the assignments and tests can also be done online. You can also custom create assignments and tests.
For us, A+ ended up not working, the more advanced it got, the lessons were not thorough enough, for her. One of the pdf files had nothing to do with the assignment, which was frustrating. Maybe the plan with the videos, would have made a difference. The lesson plans for us were just not thorough enough. A+ also as far as I could see, is not spiral, it doesn't review and reinforce concepts already learned.
My favorite thing about A+ Tutor Soft was the automatic grading. That for me was a huge time saver, but since she was having issues with it, we went back to SAXON. That is not saying it won't work for someone else. If it works for your child, you have it made as far as grading goes.