Standards of Evaluation for Arithmetic Books

We use Ray’s Arithmetic at our house and I love it. We started with it (except for a little trial of Saxon a year ago), so dd doesn’t know anything else. I found a review of Ray’s that summed it up a lot better than I could. Even if you don’t use Ray’s there are still helpful things to know below.

In James Rose’s A Guide to American Christian Education, James Kilkenny lists things to consider when buying math resources (P. 249-250).
1. Statement of principles and rules. Ray’s Practical Arithmetic says
Every principle is clearly explained by an analysis or solution of a simple example from which a rule is devised. The application of the rule to the solution of problems of gradually increasing difficulty completes the presentation of the subject.
The exercises have been constructed with a view to affording the mental discipline necessary to strengthen the reasoning power and to giving the pupil a mastery over the problems that are sure to present themselves in the common walks of life.
Ray’s method is to explain a principle, analyze the principles, derive a rule and assign exercises to which the principles and rules may be applied (p. 249).

2. Overall organization
The logical organization of an arithmetic course is:
I. Skills of counting
A. Oral
B. Written (notation and numeration)
C. Operations
II. Categories of Application
A. Counting individual objects or individual groups
B.Counting equal parts
C. Counting units of measure
3. Are scripture references inherent to arithmetic?
Is the Scriptural foundation and use of the subject identified, or are the Scriptural references tacked onto each chapter as a pious exercise that bears little or no relationship to the nature of the subject? The teacher should do his own study of the Scriptural origin and purpose of the subject so that he will be able to intelligently apply this standard (p. 250).

What if you have already invested in another math curriculum? Mr. Kilkenny states:
“…the teacher who understands the organization of arithmetic can pick and choose useful exercises and statements of principle from books that fail to measure up to standards one and two.”

Things I personally love about Ray’s:

  • Lots of story problems in real settings gets them used to thinkning of math in a practical way from the beginning.
  • Customizable for each child. Their are guidelines in the teacher’s manual, but you are free to go as slowly or as quickly as you like because it is not broken down by grade.
  • It is gentle. In the beginning children focus on oral math and manipulatives. The focus in early math is not to get them writing numbers, but to get them to understand the concepts.
  • Manipulatives are great in the early stages.
  • The grammar is excellent. The ecthings are beautiful. It’s a fun book to read–well, as much as a math book is fun to read.
  • It’s really afforadable. For less than $100 I have a curriculum for all kids K-8. They also offer higher math for high school. I can use buttons and other household items as manipulatives (for another post).
  • It has a track record. This curriculum has proven itself for generations. Because the principles of math do not change, I do not need the most current trend in math. Ray’s is a simple, no bells and whistles kind of program.
  • You can also get Ray’s in CD form. For $67 you can get your entire curriculum for all grades, including higher math.

Or you can get the book version from Mott Media. They also offer workbooks that follow their books for extra drills.

While FACE officially recommends another math program, they have endorsed Ray’s in the past and offer Ray’s from their site. I also recommend FACE’s Mathematics Curriculum Guide. It’s full of helpful information, suggested scope and sequence and help for discovering and applying Biblical principles.

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