# How to Use Saxon Math Without Going Nutty! (Part 2)

(This is the second part of a blog about using Saxon. If you haven’t yet, check out the first part.)

The Math Drills

From very early on, Saxon is strong when it comes to giving kids good number sense. Part of ‘number sense’ is understanding and being able to readily recall their facts. However, my kids would find the drills tedious. So we stopped doing them.

We use math dice instead. We have all types of dice, but our dice have up to 12 sides and the kids roll them and add, subtract or multiple as appropriate. Another thing I didn’t do is time my kids on their drills. It was discouraging to them to see unanswered problems, even if the amount they left unanswered was negligible. It still bothered them and so we ditched the drills.

Can You Skip Around in Saxon Math?

No not really. You can’t do lesson 5 and then go to lesson 10 and then on to lesson 45. You’ll be missing skill building activities and key concepts that are fairly crucial to the success of the child. Consequently, Saxon does not make a good short term tutoring program.

However, what we did do with my gifted son was skip lessons in the beginning was skip problems. We determined where to start by giving him the tests first. When he finally got to a point where he didn’t understand the material–then we stopped and started doing lessons. For him, this method took him almost half way through the first grade book. My daughter usually skips the first 20 lessons as they are too much review for her.

My son’s math day looks like this:

Math dice to practice basic facts.

Mental Math Workout (which combines some elements of Saxon and some higher order critical thinking skills, chess scenarios, etc.)

Math Lesson. . .where he answers only the questions that he doesn’t understand or needs additional help with. Should he come to a page where he understands everything fairly easily, we skip most of the lesson and go onto the next one.

My daughter also skips things in this manner but she needs the reinforcement that Saxon provides.