September 19

Saxon Math 5/4 – Easy Quick-Start Guide

This year we are using Saxon Math 5/4 for our 4th grader. This will be his first year of homeschooling, but he has used Saxon Math at school since Kindergarten. When we decided to pull him out and homeschool him, he insisted that he wanted to continue using Saxon, so we agreed.

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saxon math 5/4
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Getting Started with Saxon Math 5/4

I ordered the Saxon 5/4 Homeschool Kit. The bundle comes with the student text, tests and worksheets workbook, and a solutions manual. That is everything you need for a year of math.

The titles of the middle grades Saxon Math curriculum can get a bit confusing, but you should know that:

  • Saxon Math 5/4 is usually for 4th grade
  • Saxon Math 6/5 is for 5th grade
  • Saxon Math 7/6 is for 6th grade
  • and Saxon Math 8/7 is for 7th grade

I say “usually” because it will depend on your child. (See Saxon Math placement test section below)

Is Saxon Math Aligned with Common Core?

Saxon also has a math curriculum set that is aligned with Common Core and is considered their public school line. The common core aligned curriculum for 4th grade is called Saxon Intermediate 4. We were not interested in the Common Core alignment, so we opted for the Homeschool Saxon Math 5/4 instead.

The Saxon Math Intermediate curriculum has a slightly different format than the homeschool version. Students get a workbook that is consumable, and the problems have plenty of room for them to show their work, unlike the homeschool version which I discuss below.

The Saxon Math Placement Test

If you are new to Saxon I highly recommend taking their placement test. My son took it and it’s quick and painless. Though he tested right at the next level which is 6/5, I don’t feel like skipping will be beneficial in any way. So we decided to stick with 5/4.

There are several placement tests available. Here is a list of them so you can choose the best one for your child:

If your child is entering into the 4th or 5th grade, you should start with the Middle Grades Placement Test.

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Is Saxon Math a Good Curriculum?

Saxon Math is great in my opinion. I should mention that my son is good at math, it’s probably his strongest subject, and he enjoys it very much. I would say if your child struggles in Math, there may be better options than Saxon.

the saxon math 5/4 homeschool curriculum student workbook
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Saxon Math is rigorous but it’s such a strong curriculum. It usually takes my son about an hour to complete each lesson and we do one lesson per day. Saxon Math is a great choice for your homeschool math curriculum and it will give your child a solid math foundation.

A Less Rigorous Alternative To Saxon

If you’re looking for something a bit less rigorous or you have a child that doesn’t enjoy math, then I think it’s worth me mentioning an alternative. A program we used over the summer that gets great reviews and seems to be fun for children that don’t necessarily love math is Teaching Textbooks. We used it as summer practice just to not lose our math brain. They also have a placement test and they offer a free trial.

My son was able to complete grade 4 over the summer by doing a couple of lessons per day. He especially enjoys the bonus rounds which consist of timed math facts. We are now working on grade 5 of Teaching Textbooks and he completes one lesson here and there when he has some extra time in his day.

Support for Saxon Math

When we were forced to do distance learning last semester, my son’s teacher would send a math video every morning and then he would independently do the work. He really enjoyed this format, so I searched for something similar we could use while homeschooling. I came across multiple recommendations for a particular program in several Facebook groups, so I decided to check it out.

a child working at a computer doing saxon math 5/4 online math lessons with nicole the math lady
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Nicole the Math Lady

Nicole the Math Lady provides video instruction for every lesson in the Saxon curriculum. The program subscription is for an entire year and it’s super affordable. She now offers online grading of practice sets and tests, so if that’s something you could use, it’s a great add on. I subscribed to the Saxon Math 5/4 videos and online grading. Anything to save me some time!

nicole the math lady online saxon math video lessons homepage
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I searched lots of groups for reviews and recommendations for Nicole the Math Lady. I did not find ONE negative comment about her and her program. That’s pretty impressive. That gave me the assurance I needed to sign up.

Online Video Lessons

My son really enjoys watching the videos and then doing the work. It promotes independence and saves him a ton of time since he doesn’t need to read the lesson.

nicole the math lady online video math lessons for saxon math 5/4
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Online Grading

The online grading has also been fantastic for me! He has to input the answers into the computer and he gets immediate feedback. It is teaching him to be careful with his answers and he knows when he gets something wrong, he can immediately correct it. You get the choice of how many attempts your student gets for each problem.

nicole the math lady online grading system for saxon math
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I highly recommend adding Nicole the Math Lady if you will be using any Saxon Math level. It will save you and your child time, and it will allow them to work more independently. Win-win!

DIVE for Saxon Math

DIVE Interactive Education is another option for use with Saxon. It is the same concept of providing a video for every lesson. In my search, I found that Nicole the Math Lady got many more glowing reviews and her program seemed like a perfect fit for us.

dive interactive education lessons for saxon math
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You can check it out for yourself and decide if it would work well for your family.

How To Use Saxon Math 5/4

The Saxon curriculum is ready to use as it comes. The student text is written to the student and is supposed to be for mostly independent use. The student reads the lesson and then does the work which includes new material as well as review. Though it’s meant to be independent work, this is math, and we all know everyone needs a little help in math at least once in a while!

Daily Work

In the Saxon Math 5/4 level, there are 120 lessons, 23 tests, and 12 investigations. Each lesson is intended to be completed in one day, but you can do what works for you. Some people choose to do only even/odd problems each day.

My son does one complete lesson per day. He starts off by watching Nicole the Math Lady and then goes on to do the work independently. He also has to correct any missed problems.

a child sitting in a chair at a desk watching online video math lessons for the saxon math 5/4 homeschool curriculum on a desktop computer
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How Lessons are Laid Out

Each lesson has a warm-up section that includes math facts practice, mental math, and problem-solving. Plus, there is also a Mixed Practice section. This is on top of the new concepts being taught. It has a lot of reviewing and going back to things previously learned.

the saxon math 5/4 student workbook opened to a daily lesson practice and mixed practice page
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Tests and Worksheets

The Tests and Worksheets workbook is consumable and has all the worksheets necessary for each lesson as well as tests. In the back of the workbook, you will find several reproducible forms that will help to keep things neat and organized. These are gems and you should definitely use them.

the saxon math 5/4 tests and worksheets workbook
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These are the forms included:

  • Recording Form A – Facts Practice (for scorekeeping of facts practice)
  • Recording Form B – Lesson Worksheet (contains space for warm-up and lesson practice problems)
  • Recording Form C – Mixed Practice Solutions (space to work out mixed problems)
  • Recording Form D – Scorecard (for lesson and test scorekeeping)
  • Recording Form E – Test Solutions (space to work out test problems)
a stack of worksheets from the saxon math 5/4 tests and worksheets workbook
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Student Workbook

One thing to keep in mind is that the Saxon Math Student Text is not meant to be consumable. There is not enough room in the book to show work and complete most problems. The student is supposed to transfer the problems by hand over to another piece of paper.

the saxon math 5/4 student workbook with a mixed practice worksheet sitting on a desk
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I have seen a lot of people complain about this BUT the worksheets are provided to keep things in order, you just have to make copies of them. These are the recording forms listed above.

copies of saxon math 5/4 worksheets sitting in the tray of a copier
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Alternatively, if you don’t want to make photocopies, you can set up a notebook for your child to work in. I would use a graph paper notebook if I was doing it this way, but I chose to photocopy the forms and make use of the perfectly organized sheets.

Prepping for the Year

In an effort to make things easier for my son and help keep him organized, I set up a portable desktop file for him on his desk with everything math! I photocopied all the forms necessary for him to be able to complete all the lessons. These are the copies I made:

  • Recording Form B – 120 copies
  • Recording Form C – 120 copies
  • Recording Form E – 23 copies

You don’t have to make all the copies at once. You could make enough copies to last you a month and do that every month. That would be approximately 20 copies of Form B and C.

removing a stack of saxon math 5/4 worksheets from a folder in a desktop file organizer
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There are different ways you could store the copies. You can keep each individual form together and give them to your child daily. You could also make packets for each day and staple them. This way, you could give your child a week or a month at a time of everything he needs to complete the lessons.

My little one isn’t very organized, so I feel this desktop file system with all the worksheets in it will help him.

One final thing I did for prepping was to tear out the Test Schedule from the Tests and Worksheets workbook and I laminated it. I have a Scotch Thermal laminator and I love it! Now I have the test schedule handy with my planner, so I know exactly after which lessons my son takes his tests.

using a laminator to laminate the saxon math 5/4 test schedule
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Final Thoughts

I hope you found this post helpful if you’re considering or are already using Saxon Math 5/4. Please let me know in the comments if you have any additional questions I didn’t cover. Saxon Math 5/4 is a wonderful homeschool curriculum and prepping properly for it should allow you to make the best use of it.

Remember, if you’re ever in a homeschool pickle, you know where to go!

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  • Good information. We are moving up to Saxon Math 5/4 for my granddaughter. My 2 grandsons are moving up to Saxon Math 1 & 3 this year. SM 1 & 3 are based on 4 days of lessons each week but SM 5/4 is not. It seems to me that fitting SM 5/4 into 4 days a week is not possible. Am I correct? Looking for any suggestions that might help to keep the grandchildren on the same learning schedule.

    Steve Wojton

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