Homeschool Curriculum-What Homeschool Math Program is Right for You?Aug 17th, 2009 | By Jessica Parnell | Category: Curriculum Reviews, Math and Science
- Math is a struggle for my child. I just don’t know how to find the right homeschool math curriculum that will help him or her understand.
- My child is very strong in Math–how quickly to I move him or her to an advanced homeschool math program?
- My child can do math, but he hates it. How far do I really need to take him?
If your student struggles with math, your approach will be very different than those whose child excels. Because it is a skill course, the key to remember in math is not to push through material that your child does not understand. Take the time to review, to reteach if necessary, to approach it from a different angle.
Some terrific math programs for the student who needs more repetition and review:
- ACE Math–this is by far the best mastery math homeschool program I have seen. Colorful and easy to follow, this curriculum provides step-by-step instruction followed by ample repetition and review of each new concept as well as old ones. In addition, it provides regular quizzes and tests to ensure mastery. The best way to use this program is to order the diagnostic testing (or take the on-line placement test) and order the exact units you need for your student (there are 12 different workbook units per grade level). I am not excited about grade levels 7 & 8; however, take your student through the sixth grade level and consider testing him or her with an Algebra I pretest. For some, moving on to a specific pre-algebra course will be necessary; for others going directly to Algebra I will be no problem. ACE Math includes character training (using little comic strip characters) and Bible verses throughout. To order this at a discount or to learn more about placement testing, visit Curriculum Express or call 800-685-3357.
- Saxon Math--this math is a popular choice among homeschoolers and is a good program through Algebra 1/2 (high school titles tend to be less user friendly and more difficult to understand and therefore not courses I would recommend for the struggling student). One complaint for some is that it does not provide enough practice problems immediately after introducing a new concept. Instead, it gives a few practice problems, then cycles back to provide repetition and review of prior concepts. This does mean that each concept receives ample repetition; however, if your student does not master a new concept without plenty of immediate practice, this might not be the program for you. In addition, it does not teach higher order problem solving; instead it is about mastering the skill of math; therefore, I would definitely look for a supplement (such as one from Critical Thinking Press) that will enable students to take the skills they are learning and apply them to higher order math problems. Texts are in black and white and include a teacher’s guide for the elementary grade levels, a solutions manual or answer key and all necessary tests. To order Saxon math at a discount, visit Curriculum Express or call 800-685-3357.
- Power Basics Math–this math is another popular choice among homeschoolers–specifically for those who have strugglers or students with learning disabilities. These titles are recommended for students in middle to high school and include the following homeschool math titles: Basic Math, Pre-Algebra, Algebra I, Geometry and Consumer Math. I do not recommend these for college-bound homeschoolers. However, they can be a terrific option for students seeking to take Algebra I and Geometry in an easy to understand way.
If your student is a struggler, be sure to find the right time of day for math. Not all students can start the day off with math (despite the prevailing view that the morning is the best time of day). Some will do much better if they can avoid math all day and tackle it in the evening after they’ve had a good break from school work. Others, may prefer to do it last.
Speak candidly with your child and give her the freedom to determine the best time to approach the subject.
And don’t be afraid to repeat the same course a second time (or go with the same grade level using a different homeschool math curriculum). With homeschooling, you have the ability to ensure that your children have truly mastered their material before you push on. Take advantage of that opportunity. You will find that once they do master it, you can accelerate later.
If your child excels in math, don’t be afraid to allow them to push the limits. Don’t keep purchasing courses in chronological grade level. One of the students I evaluate is 12 years old. Last year, he completed an advanced college level math textbook and moved on to the next level this year. If his mother had not encouraged him to keep progressing, he would be one very bored young man!
Some recommended courses for the student who excels in math:
- ACE Math–Although this curriculum provides strong repetition and review ideal for the struggling math student, it can also be used for the advanced homeschool math student. Because of its unit by unit placement testing, you can pinpoint exactly where to place your student. This may be in his or her current grade level or it may be in the middle of the grade level above their current homeschool year. Thus, you can take advanatage of the placement testing to find the ideal placement for your child, then eliminate some of the repetition if you find that your student has mastered a concept. To order this at a discount or to learn more about placement testing, visit Curriculum Express or call 800-685-3357.
- Singapore Math–A very conceptual homeschool math program, Singapore math is ideal for the student who demonstrates an aptitude for math. Colorful illustrations provide visual instructions while the textbook and workbook work together to provide both skill practice and analytical math. The goal of Singapore is to develop mental math skills; therefore, the problems move quickly to those that require students to think through the process in order to solve most of the problems. They are like puzzles and require mathematical thinking not just the skill of math. As a result, Singapore is my recommendation for all parents who are starting out in kindergarten-if you start them here, you will more than likely keep them here and see them develop a real aptitude for math.
Some complain that there are not enough practice problems in the core program; therefore, if you prefer more repetition and review, be sure to order the Daily Practice supplements.
In grades K-6, each course includes two textbooks and two workbooks. After sixth grade, the math moves to what is titled Elementary Math, which is an integrated math approach combining concepts for Algebra I, Geometry, Trigonometry and Calculus into each of the four levels. Therefore, if your student moves into the Elementary Math program, he or she will have the equivalent of the courses listed above by the end of 10th grade. Singapore Math also provides placement testing to help determine the correct level for your child. (for a comparison of Saxon and Singapore math, click here). To order this at a discount or to learn more about placement testing, visit Curriculum Express or call 800-685-3357.
- A Beka Math / Bob Jones Math- Although not one of my favorites as a homeschool math program (because they are written as classroom courses and are teacher intensive), many students find success with A Beka and Bob Jones math. Both are presented colorfully and make it easy to know how much to complete each day (arranged in day by day lessons). These courses can be more costly due to the expense of the teacher’s guides; however, if you plan to use them for several students and have the ability to be take a more proactive role in teaching, they are worth looking into. Bob Jones could be used for both strong math students and strugglers as it includes a lot of minipulatives and exercises designed to get to the “why” behind the math. However, I would steer away from A Beka for students who are not strong in math. We have found that upon testing students coming from the A Beka math, there are a lot of gaps and we must take students back to fill those gaps in order to ensure future success. To order ABeka, you must call the publisher directly; however, there are several vendors that carry Bob Jones so be sure to do a search for best prices.
- Horizons Math--this is a touchy one. Horizons states that it is good for all types of students; however, I would disagree. This math curriculum moves very quickly and is definitely an advanced curriculum. In addition, it jumps from concept to concept every day–giving the students a number of different activities and skills to engage in each day. This is great for the student who gets it, but can be a frustration for the struggler who needs more repetition and review in order to master a concept. It also can be tough for students who struggle with learning disabilities becuase the layout is very overwhelming with a lot to take in on each page. For the strong math student who is able to master math quickly; however, this is a terrific program. It does not require a lot of repetition immediately after introducing a concept, but does cycle back throughout the year with practice and review all year long. Very colorful, this program includes two student workbooks and a teacher’s manual each year. It is also laid out in a way that is easy to follow with one lesson to complete each day. To order Horizons math at a discount, visit Curriculum Express or call 800-685-3357.
Other notes on homeschooling and math:
Many strong math students find that they can move from sixth grade math directly to pre-algebra. Others have moved to pre-algebra after the fifth grade level. Don’t be afraid to do this, but do so with caution. Moving them forward too quickly (especially before they have truly mastered fractions and decimals) can create real frustration later.
For those who want to simply complete math requirements without struggling through more advanced courses, I recommend you take your student thorugh Algebra I, then allow them to take consumer math and/or business math.
In fact, I recommend consumer math as an elective for all of my students. Why? Because you can be whiz at calculus and trigonometry and have no idea how to balance your checkbook or put together a budget that works. Not a bad thing to learn, don’t you think?
Additional homeschooling posts:
Saxon vs. Singapore Math
Someone asked me today what the difference was between Saxon Math and Singapore Math.