MCP Mathematics (1994 Ed.)
A solid, basal math program with a recognized emphasis on problem solving strategies and critical thinking skills in addition to plenty of computational practice.
The approach is basically a sequential-mastery approach, rather than spiral or incremental, with concepts presented, practiced, and expanded fully in each chapter, culminating in a test of that chapter's material. There is little review of previously learned skills, aside from a few cumulative reviews. Many children apparently learn better using a sequential method, however, in which they concentrate more fully on one particular skill at a time.
This math program has several other notable features. All grades have consumable worktexts rather than copy-and-work texts. Some children are put off by or unable to do the extra writing involved in using a non-consumable text. This is especially true if fine motor skills are lagging, or the child is ahead in math ability. I like the integration of problem solving skills in the program, as well as the inclusion of more challenging word problems and required use of critical thinking skills to solve problems. The presentation of concepts is excellent; plenty of visual modeling and examples help children to work independently. In the lower grades, more hands-on work helps young children develop experience with concepts at the concrete level before advancing to written work. The student gets plenty of practice for each new skill. This is important at the elementary levels when children must concentrate on memorization of facts and computational efficiency. Chapter tests provide assessment of the skill at hand, so you can detect deficiencies before progressing to the next level. Although I know many parents skip Teacher's Editions, especially in the lower grades, I would strongly recommend using them for this program. Even if you can do without the answer key (which pays for itself in time-savings for most of us), there are features in the Teacher's Editions that are too good to pass up. My favorite is the Mental Math exercise at the beginning of each lesson. These daily questions are very well done and, I think, an essential part of any math program. Also helpful are the Skill Review suggestions, advice on Correcting Common Errors, and Enrichment ideas. Probably a fair number of parents using another basal program use these as a supplement. They are a low cost, yet comprehensive, source of reinforcement exercises.