For elementary math I want to shake things up a bit this year. So I have been experimenting with an online free British math program called Mathematics Enhancement Programme. From the website, MEP is a resource from the Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching. “The Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching (CIMT) was established in 1986. The centre is a focus for research and curriculum development in Mathematics teaching and learning, with the aim of unifying and enhancing mathematical progress in schools and colleges.”
For the past two weeks, I have been trying out Years 5, 2, and Reception with my soon to be fifth, second and preK grade children. To get started, I first went out and bought some new printer cartridges and printed out the course pages for the first thirty lessons for each of the three levels. For Reception color ink is necessary for the Copymasters, but black ink cartridges are all that is needed for the Lesson Plans, Practice Books and Copymasters for the other levels. (Note: color ink is necessary if you print off the OHP Transparancy Collection.) I then printed off the Number, Shape, and Sign Cards, Shape Cards with Dots, and Number Lines and had them laminated. Once all of the printing was done, I then read the lesson plans the night before and get out materials that will be needed. I store the ‘not in use’ Lesson Plans in binders for each level so that they can possibly be reused at some point, and I keep the daily ‘weeks worth’ of Lesson Plans, Copymasters, and Practice Book worksheets in separate folders so that I can quickly get to them for each child.
My four-year-old has made it through the first twenty lessons of Reception. I so far have liked the focus on thinking and the fact that the lessons have only a little writing. The colorful Copymasters include conversations about a family we meet over and over throughout the advancing lessons and games that make the math more engaging for him. I do substitute some of my own manipulatives from other math curriculum I own to adapt the games at times. After two weeks of experimentation, I have decided to continue on with MEP for him and finish the next forty lessons.
My 7 year old has also made it through the first twenty lessons of Year 2. As a positive, MEP uses proper mathematical vocabulary and introduces other concepts (like Roman Numerals, less than or equal to, greater than or equal to, and combinatorics) much earlier than I have seen in other programs. It is spiral, so the concepts get revisited often, but more thinking is needed from the student when concepts are introduced compared to other spiral programs I have used. There are some problems where the student has to really think about and look for a pattern versus being told how to do it, and then being expected to just memorize what to do.
My 9 year old has completed the first ten lessons of Year 5. Each lesson at this level has a many concepts going on throughout, so I’ve found it best to only do one/at most two lessons per day with him. I have found things come up in MEP Year 5 that he has not yet seen – for example, graphing intervals on a number line including endpoints. For this reason, we are progressing at a slower pace when new concepts come up.
As with the other levels of MEP, I see the necessity for the student to think or figure out the pattern when an idea is initially introduced to be a positive. My favorite parts of this program are the consistent use of correct mathematical vocabulary and set notation from the start, the way the program encourages thinking with the presentation of concepts, and the continual application of the concept over time.
With what I have seen so far of Year 5 (the first ten lessons ;) ), I think the CWP and IP books in Singapore Primary Maths contain more challenging word problems. For this reason, I plan to continue using them alongside MEP Year 5 as we continue moving forward with this program.
Overall I have been happy with what I have observed in MEP. It is very teacher intensive, and I have found it helpful to be ready both mentally and with having any manipulatives set up for a smooth lesson. There have only been a few small errors (possibly typos) so far in the Year 5 Lesson Plans and some of the Lesson Plan problems do not line up exactly to particular problems in the Copymasters and Practice Books, but I did not consider these to be major issues. We also replace the money signs in MEP with $ signs, and I cover money in more depth with Singapore Math Standards as well.
For these reasons, I have decided that we will continue on with MEP in the fall combined with the more challenging parts of the Singapore Math Programs and the other adjustments mentioned. I am sure I will have more to say about it as we get further along.
There is also an MEP Homeschoolers Yahoo group which I have found to be helpful in getting started with tips and files which answer many questions.