I have used Math-U-See almost from the beginning. Ben (my oldest homeschooler) and I have a rocky relationship when it comes to direct math instruction. He tends to get his feelings hurt very easily and I tend to be a little harsh. (I've gotten better, really I have.) Math-U-See was perfect for us.
This is the only curriculum that I have stuck with since I started with it. I really do think it is brilliant in its simplicity.
With this program, there are manipulatives, a teacher's guide, student workbook, test booklet, and, best of all, a DVD series of short lessons. Like really short. Like, some of them are five minutes. The explanations go along directly with the teacher's manual, and then if with the video lesson and book your student still isn't getting it, you watch the lesson with them and review again.
Each workbook has around 30 lessons plus some optional lessons. Each lesson consists of five worksheets, A-G. A-C are focused on new material. D-F are new material plus a review of the older lessons. G is a bonus worksheet that may have math games or extra review, usually in a more fun way. Most of the worksheets have 20 problems on them.
The test booklet includes a test for every lesson, Unit tests and a final test at the end covering all material.
The courses follow a very linear patten. There are no grade levels. You start your student where he/she is in the math "time-line" and move up from there. There is focus on MASTERY of FACTS. The idea being that students will have an easier time in upper level math if they know their basic addition, subtraction and multiplication facts. I have used most of the General Math sections.
Alpha focuses on basic addition and subtraction facts.
Beta moves on to double-digit and up addition and subtraction.
Gamma is multiplication.
Delta is division.
Epsilon is fractions.
Zeta is decimals and percents.
Starting with Alpha, students are introduced to word problems and the idea of the "unknown." There is some but not a lot of time spent on calendars, time, and measuring, nor do the editions that I use do a lot with graphs. I'M OK WITH THAT. This is math. That is the focus.
My Sam does not like to watch the DVD. He finds it boring and gets distracted watching, so with him, I either have to sit down and watch with him or make sure he's understanding the material before he moves forward. Sam has not had an easy time in math and as a 5th grader will just be starting on Delta (division) this year. I'm okay with that. The beauty of homeschooling is that my kid doesn't have to be just like everyone else. He's still on track to complete pre-algebra during 8th grade.
Jude worked with Alpha this year as a kindergartner and did great. He almost seemed to learn his facts by osmosis. It was fun to watch. So he starts Beta this year, and we will see if carrying digits and borrowing are a little above his math skills or if he moves along swimmingly. I'm prepared for either.
It is the more expensive of the Math curriculum available, but I do feel that it is worth it. They recently did an update of their products and made some online help available as part of the instruction package. The manipulative that you see in my pictures are the older type. They have developed something a little different now.
Cost for Gamma (7/2015)
Student Pack $35
Instruction and Student Pack $77
Pack with manipulative $139