Sunday, February 14, 2010

Review: Ray's Arithmetic

Several years ago, an email circulated that contained the 8th grade final exam used in Saline County, Kansas in 1895. You can find a copy here. The point was to show that the education a child received over a hundred years ago was very different than the standard education of today. While some areas of our education system have made great advances, I'm not convinced that is the case across the board.

If you have interest in how subjects were taught in the frontier years and emulating that in your homeschool, you may consider exploring Dollar Homeschool. Dollar Homeschool has compiled a full curriculum, Eclectic Education Series (EES), of the very texts and materials used in America from roughly 1865-1915. Portions of the EES series are also available individually, Ray's Arithmetic being one of them. For review, I received the full Ray's Arithmetic series in a PDF format.

Ray's Arithmetic includes 38 titles, which includes 12 core textbooks, answer keys, and teacher guides covering K-12. Also included are extracurricular and interesting math related topics, such as Survey and Navigation and Astronomy. For a full list, click here.

The approach of Ray's Arithmetic is that students first learn concepts verbally. Is not until students fully understand the concepts that they express in written form. As to be expected with this approach, there are many word problems. Students who don't understand the concepts and instead are following steps will have much difficulty solving word problems; their heavy inclusion in this program certainly is a bonus. Ray's makes sure that students know the practical application of the math they are learning.

Emphasis is placed on spending as long as needed until concepts are fully mastered. With this curriculum, a stone at a time is laid in the foundation, slowly building on each. In addition, the curriculum, used during a time when schools weren't readily available and parents didn't have spare hours to teach, is designed for students to be independent in their learning.

When I first received this product, I was a bit overwhelmed. I would recommend starting with the Method of Manuals and A Manual of Arithmetic, which will give you an overview of the curriculum and approach. The quality of the scanned pages was not an issue, with the exception of an occasional illustration. Since the scans are formatted as images, you can't jump to sections within a text from an index. Scrolling through the document is necessary, which didn't help my aversion of digital products of this magnitude. However, the titles are indexed nicely according to level of difficulty, making finding a particular text simple.

Click here for more sample pages.

The Ray's CD is designed to be a printing curriculum. The titles range in size from 100 - 400 pages and you certainly wouldn't want to print all the titles at once! Print what you need or have your child read the text from the computer.

If I were just starting out homeschooling with young children, I can see using Ray's in the early years, especially if I were on a budget. The method seems to be a solid approach resulting in full understanding of the subject rather than memorization of steps or facts. Jumping in to this program would be more difficult with an older child, though there are suggestions for proper placement in the Welcome file of the CD.

While these titles are available on public domain, finding and downloading them all may be a bit of a time investment. Dollar Homeschool provides a service by doing the work for you. The other value added feature is that they have removed the answers next to the problems commonly found in other copies for the student texts. This way your student can work directly from the text and not have the answers provided. The books with answers in them are also provided, but are referred to as the "Teacher Editions".

Ray's Arithmetic on CD costs $59. Visit Dollar Homeschool to learn more about Ray's Arithmetic and other products available. All Dollar Homeschool products come with a 30-day unconditional guarantee and a full refund if you are not 100% satisfied.

Visit the TOS Homeschool Crew's blog to read more reviews on this product and others.

Disclaimer: This review was provided as a result in my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Magazine Crew in exchange for my honest review. I strive to give a balanced overview of each product, detailing my opinion of both pros and cons and how the product worked for my family. What works for one family may not work for another. I encourage you to read reviews of other Crew members and research sufficiently to determine if any product will be a benefit to your homeschool.

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