Earlybird Kindergarten Math Standards Edition
This is a 2-year preschool/kindergarten program that emphasizes concepts over drill. Like most early learning programs, a great deal of work is done linking sets of concrete objects to the numbers they represent. Although not developed by Singapore's Ministry of Education, this program was written by an educator with 28 years experience writing preschool and primary school materials.
This program introduces the basics of color, shape, size, numbers to 100 (but focusing on 1-10), length, weight, volume, time, money, picture graphs, and single-digit addition and subtraction. Topics like place value, addition, and subtraction are not covered until the second year. Some changes from the former US Edition to this one include some rearrangement of topics which results in less repetition and a better sequence of concepts. There is now a review at the end of each unit. Textbooks include a simple glossary, an index, and some "Math at Home" pages. Pages have been added covering solid shapes, patterns, and time. Pages were added to the chapters on addition and subtraction to provide additional material on different interpretations (e.g. number bonds, part-whole, counting on, counting back). Numbers past 30 and to 100 and money topics are not part of the CA standards and were moved to the last two units.
Numerous illustrations are used not only to facilitate learning, but also to hold a child's interest. The author's philosophy seems to be "quality before quantity." She presents a few well-illustrated problems rather than simply listing 10-15 practice problems. Brief teacher's instructions on how to use the workbook are located at the bottom of each page. Suggestions on how to approach a topic and reminders about specific vocabulary to introduce are often provided. The amount of material to cover in one day is up to the teacher. The teacher is also responsible for planning suggested pre-workbook activities, drawing the student into mathematical discussions, and when necessary, guiding the student through workbook exercises. Teachers who prefer more detailed lesson plans, like those provided in Saxon's Math K Teacher's Manual, might have difficulty with Earlybird's brief instructions. Answer keys are unavailable, and generally unnecessary, for this level.
The Activity Books follow the teaching sequence in the textbook and are designed to be used with the K Math Readers, although neither is required. The readers are based on well-known children's rhymes and stories; each of the readers accompanies two textbook units. There are suggestions for extra materials most of which are simple items from around the house. The list of suggested manipulatives, however, would be useful to have on hand.
Compared to other programs, Earlybird Math does have certain disadvantages. Some prefer workbooks that contain more practice exercises, like Horizons K. Horizons also moves at a quicker pace and covers addition and subtraction to a more advanced level. Nonetheless, Earlybird Math does a thorough job of teaching the basics. It will probably appeal most to children who are visual learners and parents who feel comfortable explaining math concepts, appreciate some instructional guidance, but don't mind planning their own lessons.