how to select the perfect math curriculum

How to Select the Perfect Math Curriculum

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How do you know which math curriculum will work for you and your child and which you should avoid?


Wading through the marketed homeschool math curriculum can be a daunting task. When I began my search, I wondered through sites searching out reviews for the curricula I was interested in trying. Price, value, and quality were my top considerations as I evaluated different options. I started with Singapore Math, which felt like a good quality curriculum, but I could not help but wonder if there were more affordable options with comparable quality. After four years of homeschooling, I can tell you what I have tried and what I have concluded. 


For a list of available math curricula, look at sites such as: 

Top requirements in selecting a math curriculum:

1. Solid Scope and sequence of skills taught

A solid scope and sequence of skills insures that the math program will not miss concepts or teach skills out of order. For example, the concept of adding cannot be taught before a child has mastered basic counting skills. 

2. Sufficient practice

You can read about a concept and understand it, but to get it into your longterm memory, you need to practice it and periodically review it.

3. Curriculum fits my preparation style

I know that with several young children, I need an open and go curriculum. I do not have time for a lesson that takes 30 minutes to read through, gather materials, and any extra planning. 

Does a child’s learning style matter?


Your child’s learning style should be taken into consideration when selecting curriculum; however, do not let it be a deal breaker. You can adapt any quality curriculum to your child’s learning needs and style.  

Math Curriculum Review

 

The table below describes my opinion of elementary math curricula I have tried. 


*Disclaimer: The programs reviews below are based on my experiences and either were or were not a good fit for my family. Other homeschool parents may have had different result with the listed programs. 

Math curriculum Pros Limitations Recommendation
JUMP math Curriculum is supported through research. Workbooks are affordable. Instructor guides can be downloaded for free from the Jump Math website. Workbooks are consumable and protected by copyright. You would need to purchase new ones for each child. I do recommend JUMP math as a complete and quality math curriculum.
Life of Fred Math skills are taught through a written narrative. There is insufficient practice to use this as a full curriculum. I like Life of Fred, but would only recommend it as a supplementary curriculum.
Mammoth Math Curriculum has a solid scope and sequence of skills, there is sufficient practice for each skill, and practice problems are appropriately intense and varied for generalization of skills. You can buy downloadable books and reuse for each of your children or buy a workbook. Does not have a Kindergarten level. The worksheets have a lot on them and may be visually overwhelming for some students. I highly recommend Mammoth Math as a complete math Curriculum. I have been using the light blue series and use this as the basis for teaching my children. About few times per year you can get a 40% discount on the curriculum through homeschooler buyers co-op.
Math on the Level The curriculum is written as a mastery approach. They have a scope and sequence of skills and a way to keep track of what your child knows and how frequently to review for mastery. You write up your own practice problems (no print and go or open and go options). I like Math on the Level, but felt like Mammoth Math gives me more challenging practice problems in varied ways that I do not have the time to come up with on my own. I do love their approach for review and practice and personally use this as a supplementary program for my children.
Math-U-See Visual program that may help visual learners. Has videos to demonstrate teaching. May not be the right approach for some children. I personally did not continue using this program. One of my children absolutely refused to use this approach. It was a fail in our house.
Shiller Math
A Montessori-based approach for teaching math. Uses visuals and manipulative for instruction. I personally feel that the approach jumps around a lot. I also do not feel there is sufficient practice at each lesson to master the skill taught. I am currently using this as a supplementary math program to review and solidify skills.
Singapore Math This program has a solid scope and sequence of skills. It is appropriately challenging and seems to work well for many families. The first grade approach to learning math facts may not work for some children. I have used the Kindergarten and 1st grade books. I like the approach for Kindergarten. The first grade approach did not work for my child, and I ended up buying supplemental material to re-teach skills.
Touch Math Touch Math has a grade-level based curriculum for homeschoolers. This curriculum is aligned to common core. The font size and content amount seems appropriate for the target grade level. I felt like the common-core alignment took away from the what I love about touch math (a visual basis for computing math problems). I like touch math and used it as a special education teacher, but honestly do not like their common core aligned homeschool curriculum (I have only used the Kindergarten version). I do use their supplements for adding, subtracting and multiplying.
Additional Math Curriculum Reviews:

Which curriculum gives you the most bang for your buck?

…and the winner is:

Mammoth Math (light blue series, downloadable version)

  • Solid scope and sequence of skills taught
  • Sufficient practice problems
  • Open and go curriculum
  • Affordable

 …second place:

 Math on the Level
  • Clear scope and sequence of skills taught
  • There are a limited number of prewritten practice problems
  • Some work in creating your own worksheets/practice problems, but they will be customized to your child.
  • Affordable if you consider the number of years the curriculum covers and how may children will use the program.

…third place:

JUMP Math

  • Solid scope and sequence of skills taught
  • Sufficient practice
  • Requires preparation to teach skills before using practice workbooks
  • Teachers guides can be downloaded for free. Workbooks are under $15 each.
A high quality math curriculum will have a strong scope and sequence of skills taught, provide adequate practice, be comprehensive, and be sufficiently challenging. Even the perfect math curriculum will not work perfectly with every child. Consider using math adaptations to help the child make progress.
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