Are your kids struggling with math facts? Don’t worry: you’re not alone! Every homeschool mom I know has faced this challenge at some point. But luckily, there is an easy and fun answer to help your child learn math facts quickly – the Math-U-See AIM program! Let me tell you all about it.
We have tried various things for math facts with our kids. For the most part, I haven’t worried too much about whether they know them super well. I just give them some gentle support tools and, over time, they memorize them. However, with two of my children, their lack of math fact recall became a source of frustration for them, causing math problems to take longer and have many more errors than they would otherwise. The AIM program by Math-U-See was a great option with the hands-on feature of the blocks, so we decided to give it a try.
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(I reached out to Math-U-See to review their curriculum and they sponsored this post. All opinions are my own.)
What is AIM (Accelerated Individualized Mastery)
AIM (Accelerated Individualized Mastery) is a manipulatives-based program that teaches mastery of math facts. There is one level for addition and subtraction and another for multiplication with a bridge to division.
The goal of the Math-U-See AIM program is to help students overcome the counting habit and know their math facts cold. Doing so helps make figuring out math problems easier and faster, with fewer mistakes and frustration as a result.
When you purchase a level of the AIM program, here’s what you get:
- AIM Resource Guide (basically the teacher manual) with introduction info and lesson instruction
- Math-U-See’s signature blocks for hands-on learning
- Colored pencils to match the block colors
- Posters with visual reminders of the strategies they learn
- Flash cards used in lessons and math fact review
- Access to the AIM Digital Pack, where you can find the lesson videos, assessment sheets, and more resources and ideas.
How the Math-U-See AIM Program Works
The idea behind the Math-U-See AIM program is that it helps students learn math facts using strategies based on number relationships and reasoning. Doing so helps students cement the math facts for quicker recall. The program uses a variety of learning styles and allows students to focus on math facts work without distractions.
AIM is ideal for kids who have worked through math to some extent but did not sufficiently learn their math facts. Math-U-See says it’s for kids 8 and up who have not yet mastered their facts. If your child tends to depend on counting strategies (fingers, tally marks, etc.) and struggles to manage more complex math because they cannot quickly and confidently recall math facts, then AIM may be a perfect fit for them.
Math-U-See recommends that when you work through the AIM program with your child, you set aside other math work and focus solely on the math facts. Depending on your child, this can take as fast or as long as needed. It’s perfect for summer learning, or you can do what we did and take a break from other lessons to focus on math facts.
First, the student takes an assessment to see which math facts they already know. You use it as a tracking chart to work on the math facts they are mastering. As they learn the math facts, here is the process they use:
- Build it – use the blocks to build the math facts.
- Write it – write out the math facts on paper or a white board.
- Say it – say the math facts out loud.
- Draw it – eventually, they start drawing the math facts instead of building them, using the colored pencils to draw line representations of the manipulative blocks used in the math facts.
- Master it (3 times) – the student should be able to recall the math facts quickly three separate times to consider it mastered. The flashcards have little stars to mark on them to see where they are in this process.
- Review it – work in review to keep math facts solid.
The goal is to be able to get through all the math facts and be able to do a final assessment with all facts mastered.
Our Experience with Math-U-See’s AIM (As a Lazy User)
Now, I’m a pretty busy mama who tends to just jump into curriculum without paying much attention to teacher text. At first, I was a bit overwhelmed by the resource book / teacher guide, the digital resources, the flashcards, etc. I was worried I would become buried in details I couldn’t keep up with and abandon ship. However, it was a lot more straightforward than I thought at first. Here’s what helped me:
- Watch the intro videos and a few lesson videos first.
- Become familiar with the process I described above (build it, write it, say it, draw it, master it, review it)
- Have my student take the assessment to figure out where to start
- Work through the lessons one by one, using the process for the math facts in each lesson until mastered
- Continue review using flashcards and other review activities
That’s it! The lessons and reviews only took a few minutes each day, so it wasn’t something my kids complained about.
Other than the flashcards, we used the AIM Digital Pack most. It contained printable assessments, lesson videos, and extra ideas and resources for practicing math facts. The AIM Digital Pack also includes fun features like virtual manipulative, worksheet generators, and online drills, but I never quite remembered to use them. What we did use was sufficient and worked well! I admit I didn’t use the posters and hardly used the resource guide / teacher book at all other than skimming it at first to get a handle on the process. But I’m glad those materials were there if I needed more support.
Using AIM with Dyslexic Students
Given some of his learning challenges, my son and I hit some roadblocks along the way. I noticed that sometimes he’d completely forget ALL his math facts. Often, he’d lose at least a couple and we’d have to put them back into the to-master pile.
At first, this was discouraging to both of us. But after talking with the AMAZING Math-U-See support staff, I learned that this is just part of how my unique kiddo processes these things. They gave me great tips and encouragement to keep him positive and motivated to keep going.
Here’s what we did:
- Helped him understand how he learns – I talked with him about how he learns in a spiral rather than a straight line. Sometimes his brain will decide it’s not playing and forget all the things. That’s ok… we’ll just try again tomorrow and it will probably be back! There will also be what feel like ups and downs sometimes, but he can take heart knowing he’s going in the right direction. The photo below shows the spiral I drew when I explained this. We ended up discussing (and drawing) this many times, and it really helped him understand and not stress over it.
- Used creative and consistent review – Taking advantage of the supplemental review activities suggested by Math-U-See was helpful, such as using playing cards. We also always had a small pile of flashcards on hand for review that we would add and remove as needed. I kept it nearby, and we had a game… every time he asked for something that day he had to “give me three,” which meant do three of the review flashcards with me. He loved it. 🙂
- Re-watched lesson videos as needed – Sometimes he’d sort of lose the lesson entirely, and we’d go back and do that lesson again, going through the whole mastery process. It was nice to have the AIM Digital Pack available to make that a quick and easy task.
My son has grown in leaps and bounds with showing himself grace and being persistent in learning his math facts. Doing so helped him tremendously in his other math work because it no longer slows him down. With his learning challenges, he sometimes still “loses” some of his facts or the strategies he learned. So, while my other children who use this program may complete it and be done, for now, we’ve simply made AIM an ongoing part of his math and our review time together.
I’m thankful for a resource that is easy, efficient, and helps build my son’s confidence. He is able to tackle other math problems now with less frustration and delay. Occasionally I’ll see him reverting to the counting/tallying, and I just remind him of the strategies and math facts he learned, adding some review if needed.
Bottom Line on the Math-U-See AIM Program
The Math-U-See AIM program has worked well for us, especially for my kiddo who needed extra support. Once I got familiar with the program, and with the help of Math-U-See support when questions came up, we found it to be a very helpful addition to our homeschool curriculum!
Here are the two things I appreciate most about AIM:
- Teaches with multiple learning styles – kinesthetic (building with blocks, review games, drawing), visual (flashcards and videos), auditory (saying the facts and listening to videos)
- Provides an effective process and review system – This is the gem of the program, I think. It works! Setting aside other math work while you go through it ensures that you can really focus on it and get through it as quickly as possible. Then you can enjoy the benefits of quicker and more accurate math fact recall!
Let me know if you have any questions about how we used the Math-U-See AIM program!