As the publishers note, it is probably the only math program on the market that uses all four arithmetic operations (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) beginning in the first half of "first grade" (Orange book). It also introduces algebraic notation, geometry, and diagram-reading in the first book.
We ourselves used Miquon as a supplement. But whether you use it as your core math or a supplement, the program is useful in tandem with any other.
Because of its unique approach, Miquon Math can be used effectively by advanced and gifted learners as well as those with learning challenges.
Learners vary in the amount of time they need to spend 1) practicing a task or concept using manipulatives; 2) talking about what they are doing and what they understand; 3) receiving assistance to remember the possibilities for solving a set of problems or to recognize what methods may be most appropriate for a given task; and, 4) reviewing different topic areas.
That which is this program's strength — its discovery-oriented approach to learning — can also be its greatest weakness for some students and parents, especially those who believe that to become educated means to memorize certain data or to master certain formulae. Miquon Math seeks, as a fundamental commitment, to train your child to look for alternative solutions, to "think outside the box," to discover what is not immediately obvious.
If you or your child are inherently predisposed against such a discovery-oriented approach to learning; i.e., if either one or both of you prefer a "just the facts"/"tell me what I need to know so I can get on with it" approach to math instruction, this series will drive you crazy. It requires curiosity, flexibility and an attitude of openness to inquiry and investigation.
Miquon Math's approach can help some children to truly understand math in a way that they wouldn't otherwise, but, as noted, it has its limitations. Besides the emotional limitation for some students (who could not care less to understand the subject), please note, too, that Miquon usually requires more time from the parent than competitive programs. The publisher recommends that parents and children work together as a team to share ideas and discoveries.
One teacher's manual (the Annotated Lab Notes) covers all six workbooks from first through third grade. Though one can usually figure out how to do something with most of the pages in the workbooks, the Lab Notes contain specific, helpful instructions, suggestions, and anecdotes for using each and every page in the workbooks. The Lab Notes' contributions go way beyond the obvious.
Overall, Miquon Math is an inspiring and inexpensive — but very profitable — program.
Due to the difficulty of starting Miquon Math in midstream, the publishers — and we — urge you, if you are just beginning the program and have a child in second or third grade, to start with the books from the grade before (see their item numbers; books beginning with "1" are generally for first grade; "2" for second grade; etc.)
Workbooks are consumable.
*For the uninitiated, Cuisenaire Rods are rectangular plastic rods that vary from one unit (a cube) to ten units in length. Each length comes in a specific color (the one-unit length is always white; the two-unit length, red; etc.). By manipulating the Rods, children are able to "see," in a neutral, physical form, what happens on the theoretical level when they add, subtract, multiply and divide. For instance, if we place the red rod (2) and the purple rod (4) end-to-end, we find they are equal in length to the dark green rod (6): we SEE that 2+4=6.