When it comes to teaching math, some homeschooling mamas and papas have to stifle an inner groan. Many of us had bad experiences with this subject when we were in school, and we’re reluctant to pass on that attitude to our bright-eyed kids.
This is why it’s especially important that the math curriculum we choose fits with our children’s learning styles and with our family’s educational philosophy. Of course many math skills can and should be learned through life–using recipes, balancing a checkbook, playing board games, and much more.
But if you’re on the lookout for a traditional math curriculum to use at home, here are six popular ones to consider.
Math-U-See is a manipulative-based program covering all grade levels. The program centers around a series of plastic manipulative blocks, which are color-coded to represent each number. These blocks can be used throughout the entire curriculum, even into the high school levels if necessary.
Math-U-See includes a DVD presentation of each lesson–parents can either watch it alone or with their students. This curriculum practices the spiral approach to math, continuing to review concepts taught previously. Each level comes with a student workbook, a teacher’s guide, and a test booklet.
Our family uses Math-U-See in a flexible, informal way, and it has been a good fit. I love that the accompanying DVD helps me feel as though I’m not teaching completely on my own.
Saxon math presents concepts incrementally, introducing one new idea then reviewing and adding to it continuously until mastery.
Saxon is known for being relatively easy to teach, with the goal that children will eventually be able to do most of the program independently.
3. Singapore Math
As its name suggests, Singapore Math was originally created and used by the Ministry of Education in Singapore. The goal of the program is to lay a solid foundation for mental math, enabling a child to think mathematically instead of just memorizing.
Each level comes with two textbooks as well as one or two consummable workbooks. There is an optional home instructor’s guide for some grades, which many parents use to give them tips on how to present the lessons.
Singapore Math is considered slightly more advanced in concept than the typical Western counterpart, so some homeschoolers use an earlier grade level for their children.
Photo by Jimmie
4. RightStart Math
RightStart Math uses an abacus as its foundation–a visual tool to convey and illustrate new concepts. Problem solving is encouraged, while worksheets and flashcards are minimized. Math games are often used to review material, along with a variety of manipulatives. This combination makes it an appealing choice for a visual or kinesthetic learner.
RightStart discourages children from counting, reasoning that it is slow and disregards the importance of place value. Instead the program focuses on the visualization of math concepts and facts, using the abacus as the main teaching tool.
RightStart carries curriculum for kindergarten up through middle school.
5. Teaching Textbooks
Worried that you can’t homeschool because you could never teach higher math? Well fear no more!
Teaching Textbooks, a program created specifically for homeschoolers, allows children to complete all lessons with a set of interactive CD-ROMs. Students view the lesson, do the problems, and then watch a tutor explain the ones they missed.
Each level includes a student workbook, an answer booklet, and a series of CD-ROMs that contains all lessons and solutions to problems. The computer grades each lesson automatically.
Teaching Textbooks has programs from 3rd grade all the way up to Pre-Calculus.
6. Family Math
For those looking for a more organic way to include math concepts in your life at home, Family Math is a great choice. This book, and its companion Family Math for Young Children, feature over 300 pages of practical math activities–far away from workbooks and into real life.
The activities use simple math manipulatives that are found at home to create a fun math foundation. This book can also be used alongside a traditional curriculum.
Math can be tackled and even enjoyed in a homeschooling setting–the key is to make the curriculum match your family, instead of trying to make your family match any one curriculum.
Please share your experiences with the math curriculums you’ve tried at home.