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How to Teach Math-U-See Lessons

How Much Time Does a Math-U-See Lesson Take?

Because Math-U-See uses a mastery approach, the length of time for any lesson can vary depending on your student’s pace of understanding. The key is not to move on until the student has achieved mastery. Typically, students do one lesson per week and spend 10–35 minutes on the lower levels (Primer through Zeta) daily and up to 45 minutes daily on the upper levels (Pre-Algebra through Calculus). Again, since mastery is the goal, go at your own pace—these are just guidelines.

Mastery means that your student can successfully teach YOU the concept studied, using the manipulatives where warranted.  

To determine total lesson time, there are three parts to consider: instructor preparation, the daily time needed, and the time needed to master the concept.

Instructor Preparation

Generally, the instructor should prepare by reading the lesson instructions and watching the lesson video. Lesson instructions are between two and ten pages (including the example problems), and the lesson videos are between two and ten minutes. Many instructors choose to read and watch alongside their students, like in the weekly example below; however, this can be an instructor-only task.


On a daily basis, we recommend at least ten minutes of direct, explicit instruction during Steps 2 and 3 of the Four-Step Approach. In some situations, more time may be needed. Take the time to model the Build, Write, Say method for your student each time a new concept is presented in the curriculum. Instructors often discount the value of “Say” in this process, particularly with older students — this is a valuable part of the student’s understanding and allows them to sort information correctly into their long-term memory. Encourage your student to speak their way through the process of understanding.


The number of days that you work on any lesson will vary. Some students master the lesson materials in two to three days, while others need seven to ten days or longer to grasp concepts. Most students are able to complete one lesson per week.

Weekly Lesson Plan Example

Here is an example of one family’s lesson plan for working through a Math-U-See lesson in a week. You can tweak it to fit your individual family’s schedule and students’ pacing.

Monday: Concept Day
First, the instructor and student watch the video lesson together. Then, depending on the student’s age and level, the student and/or instructor read through the written lesson in the Instruction Manual. The instructor and student work through the new concept together using the example problems, making sure they are following the Build, Write, Say method. Your student may also use the Lesson Practice A worksheet. 

Tuesday: Practice
If your student hasn’t already completed Lesson Practice A, they should do so today. Then the student can move on to Lesson Practice B. Instructors will want to provide as much support as needed but encourage as much independence as possible. If the student can complete Lesson Practice B independently and confidently, it’s time to check for mastery. 

To check for mastery, see if the student can teach back the concept. Only after the student can teach back the concepts with confidence and accuracy and can solve problems without using the manipulatives should they move on. What you are looking for is for the student to be able to explain to you what they have learned about the concept.

Wednesday and Thursday: Continued Practice and Review
If the student did not demonstrate mastery, plan on continuing the week with Lesson Practice C and additional practice problems until they can work independently. If the student needs extra practice, utilize the online worksheet generator, referencing the lesson videos and sample problems again as needed.

If the student is able to teach back the concept, you can spend these two days on the Systematic Review pages for the lesson. The Systematic Review pages are essential. It’s important that your student works through at least one Systematic Review page to apply new concepts in the context of previously learned material and to keep skills sharp.

Friday: Process After Mastery
You can administer the lesson test if you want a record of your student’s achievement; you can also continue with the Application and Enrichment/Honors page to extend learning. Then it’s time to celebrate with your student on a job well done!

The Math-U-See Curriculum is designed to be adaptable to ensure students achieve mastery. Develop a schedule that works for you and your student.

Related Articles and Blog Posts

Teach Math-U-See Effectively With These Four Steps
Math Mastery vs. Spiral Math
The Case for Teaching for Mastery

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