When it comes to choosing curriculum for a major subject like math, using a homeschool math curriculum guide can help you navigate your way through all the choices.
Choosing a Math Curriculum
How do you possibly begin to weed through the numerous curriculums available? Start by thinking about how your child learns and whether or not it is best to take a spiral approach or a mastery approach. A spiral math program assumes that through repetition, students will better retain math because they will be practicing skills repeatedly. Concepts are introduced repeatedly and more in depth each year. Mastery math programs assume that once your child has mastered a particular concept, you shouldn't have to repeat it. Mastery curriculums tend to go over a concept in depth and not review or repeat it again.
The Homeschool Math Curriculum Guide
After you think about what type of program would suit your child's needs better, there are several options for the homeschooling family to choose. Using a homeschool math curriculum guide can help you compare and contrast each program as you're thinking about your family's needs.
Saxon is one of the most popular math curriculums on the market for homeschoolers. It is a spiral approach to math, where students will review a concept more and more in depth each time it is taught. Saxon in the early elementary years can be expensive as there are a slew of manipulatives to buy in addition to the curriculum. Starting in 4th grade, however, there are no longer manipulatives and the textbooks are written directly to the student so there is no teachers' manual. The homeschool kit does include a solutions manual.
Singapore math is a modified version of the standard national curriculum used in Singapore. Students from Singapore consistently score first on international mathematics tests. Consequently, it makes sense that so many parents would want to encourage their own children to follow the same curriculum for math mastery.
Singapore Math is a mastery-based program. Many parents like that it is colorful and engaging. There is very little teacher instruction and it does move along rather quickly, although there are additional practice workbooks available should you need them. Another benefit is that Singapore is relatively inexpensive. You simply need to buy the workbooks for your child's level.
Horizons is one math curriculum from the publishing arm of Alpha and Omega. Like Saxon, Horizons uses a spiral approach to math instruction. However, unlike Saxon, the workbooks and textbook are engaging and interesting. It also offers a teacher's guide to help parents teach the curriculum.
Teaching Textbooks doesn't start until 5th grade. The premise is that the books were designed specifically for homeschoolers and consequently offer solutions to every single problem. The idea is that a child could literally teach himself math using the textbooks and multi-media CD that is included. Teaching textbooks is pricey, running around $180 for the textbook, solutions manual and CD ROM. However, if you don't like or want to teach math, $180 is much less than what you would spend for a tutor or a college course.
The Key Curriculum is a mastery-based curriculum sold in workbooks that focus on one subject or concept at a time. Many homeschooling parents use Key Curriculum as supplemental material since each workbook covers only one subject. However, there are enough workbooks covering a range of mathematical concepts such that you could purchase each workbook separately to cover an entire elementary math curriculum.
Miquon is an early elementary curriculum that is neither mastery nor spiral in its approach. Instead it could be described as "math through investigation." It is inexpensive and can be used as either a stand-alone curriculum for the first years of school or as a supplement to a more traditional program. One drawback of Miquon is that it requires quite a bit of teacher prep.
Time4Learning is a subscription-based course that students can take online. It is touted as being a very entertaining way to learn and they offer several courses. It is also a mastery-based course and students move on as they complete and master each lesson. The site is very kid-friendly and does not require any parental involvement, which can be a real bonus.
Aleks is an interesting option for those students who could move through some topics more quickly. Aleks stands for Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces. It is a web-based curriculum that essentially takes a student through an assessment and then gives the student only those concepts that he needs to work on. It starts with kindergarten concepts and continues through to college level courses. However, it is not the easiest interface to use and so if you truly intend for your kindergartner to use it, you will have to help him navigate the site. The site offers full support and a library of resource topics and additional feedback so that as the parent you can monitor your child's progress.
Complete Curriculums that Include Math
If you are looking for a more traditional approach, then you might want to consider the math component of a complete curriculum. Most comprehensive curriculums also sell components separately. One advantage to doing this is that these math programs may be more consistent with the guidelines in your local area schools because these curriculums are in fact used by schools. There are a few different places to look:
- Switched on Schoolhouse
- BJU (Bob Jones University)
- Alpha and Omega Lifepacs
- Rod and Staff
- CLE (Christian Light Education)