(She is nine years old and is in Year 3 (Her 4th year of formal education in Victoria)).
The initials MEP stand for "Mathematics Enhancement Programme" - a maths programme (obviously) developed by the CIMT - Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching - at the University of Plymouth in the United Kingdom. It is the curriculum I've be using with Jemimah since the beginning, and today seemed an opportunistic time to touch base with you about how we are liking the course four years in.
Is it comprehensive in scope?
Firstly and importantly, it is a rigourous curriculum effectively covering most of what Jemimah would be studying at public school. Today as I write, Jemimah is tucked up in the room we currently use as a store room (you can see her above) completing examination papers. At the end of each term MEP has students complete an IPMA test - yes, the course is jargon and acronym heavy - short for International Project of Mathematical Attainment. According to the Coordinator's Manual:
The tests are designed to assess progress on key mathematical topics and concepts over a yearly period of time. Further questions are added each year to the original questions. In this way we hope that there will be sufficient new and relevant questions to assess progress, whilst having at least some questions on the test paper for children who are progressing slowly.The test covers only the key mathematical concepts covered in the previous year of study, and as such I have found it reasonable to expect Jemimah to attain 100% each year. This expectation has proved achievable each year so far - including today. Go Girl!!
(The test is only moderately useful as placement test for parents who look to use MEP in place of another curriculum choice in their homeschool, since the course itself is far more comprehensive than the test indicates. Still, it could be used as a placement test if parents give the whole test and look at the stage at which their pupils baulk at the questions. A summary of the number of questions relevant to each year level and age is included in the Coordinator's Manual.)
In addition to the IPMA tests, Jemimah is today also sitting Australia's NAPLAN tests for Years 5 and 7 (Remember, she is in Grade 3 here.).
National Assessment Program - Literacy and Numeracy (NAPLAN) testing commenced in Australian schools in 2008. Every year, students in Years 3, 5, 7 and 9 are assessed on the same days using national tests in Reading, Writing, Language Conventions (Spelling, Grammar and Punctuation) and Numeracy. Many of you, I know, use homeschooling curricula that regularly test your children's progress in major subject areas. Those of you who like me choose the Charlotte Mason method of educating and testing will be less sure where their children fit in relation to their State educated peers, especially since MEP only tests using the IPMA test once a year. There is no obligation for me to use these tests with my homeschooled daughter, but it is always encouraging to me to see that her mathematical learning level is at or above that of her peers. I chose the Year 5 and 7 levels rather than Year 3 because I am confident that she is familiar with the vast majority of the material included in both of these year levels. That gives me incredible confidence to continue using the MEP course in the future.
(As an aside, she also sat the Year 3 Language Conventions paper. Her English grammar and punctuation were perfect; her spelling was 'atroshus' - as usual. Sigh - what more can I do?)
After all that testing, this is her brain food reward of choice - Kool Mints.
Is it teacher intensive?
Those parents using lower levels of MEP will be reassured, I am sure, to learn that the level of daily parental input into the programme decreases somewhere through Year 3. During this past year I have spent only a few minutes at the commencement of each lesson covering the material contained in the Lesson Plans before Jemimah completes the Worksheet for that day. She is free to come to me for help, but often all I do is go through the sheet with her after she has completed it alone.
How long does it take?
Lessons at this level take between 20 minutes and half an hour. This is in line with Charlotte Mason's guidelines, since her students spent 30 minutes on arithmetic in Years 4-6. Do not allow procrastination!! Generally we cover all questions on all worksheets, but if a lesson is taking far longer than usual we may hold a question or two over to the next Friday's lesson. Friday's lesson is worksheet based only and takes less time. We like this at the end of a busy week.
Do you still use manipulatives?
At this level manipulatives are used far less often, but we still use counters and Cuisinaire rods occasionally. Dice and coins are used for probability at this level. Sometimes it is fun to use lollies as manipulatives. Smarties are fun. Maths is far more interesting when you can eat the answers!!
Do you print everything?
We continue to print all paperwork including all copymasters. Jemimah prefers to use the larger sized copymasters when they are available, even when they are reproduced on the worksheet. Each Year Level is divided into a and b. Each of these is further divided into three sections. We print one section at a time and put the sheets into a folder. At this level she completes most of the sheet in pencil with a rubber available to correct mistakes, but she always has a few textas to brighten up her day a little!
Do you prepare the lessons?
Aside from pre-printing the materials I do very little lesson preparation. I generally glance over the lesson plans in the morning before school starts to see if any manipulatives are required so that I can gather them together. This takes no more than a minute or two most days. (Well, unless somebody has borrowed the dice for a board game, that is.)
Does Jemimah like maths?
Maths is not Jemimah's favourite subject, but nor is it her least favourite - studied dictation takes that ticket! Generally she just gets on and does it.
Generally if she doesn't understand a new concept the first time, MEP's continual cumulative review will give her many more opportunities to master a process later on. This removes much of the stress that children can often feel with mathematics as a subject, in my experience.
MEP Maths is not an issue either way to Jemimah.
I like it though, four years in. Does that count?
Feel free to let me know if there is anthing else you want me to cover. I'd be happy to oblige! There are plenty of other posts on MEP in the archives as well. You'll find them under Mathematics in the right sidebar.
If you have had experience with MEP how did you find it? Are your experiences similar to mine?