I homeschooled my two boys from elementary to middle school. They then did dual enrollment, online classes, homeschool, and a NAUMS school.
Math is my favorite subject and it has always come very easily to me. It is how my mind works. I wish my boys loved math as I do, but that has not the case. We used a good variety of math curricula throughout the years. Some of them we loved and some of them we hated. Here is the lowdown.
We started by using Abeka curriculum for all of our subjects because that was what I had been exposed to and it fit my oldest child very well. I introduced the Kindergarten Abeka math curriculum to my son at the age of 5. He had a birthday close to the cut off in our area and was not sent to kindergarten until he was almost 6 - as recommended by his preschool teacher. Academically he was more than ready but maturity wise he was very young. Since I didn’t want him to be bored, I handed him the Abeka Kindergarten math book. He flew through it in two months. I was quite surprised and pleased so I handed him the first grade book to see if he would do it. He did about 10 pages and then never touched it again. This was fine with me and very interesting. I did discover something.
- AH-HA Moment: I found that, at the early stages of learning the amount of work and the size of print makes a huge difference in how my kids can handle their work. The larger the print and less math problems per page the easier and less frustrating the work was. The smaller the print and more math problems per page the more difficult for them to do the work. I suppose, this may be very obvious to many people but it was very much an AH-HA moment for me. In order to help them with this throughout the elementary years, I had them cover up part of the page they were working on. This helped them to focus on what they were working on and they had a much easier time doing their work.
So we began our Math classes using Abeka Curricula.
Abeka Math Curricula Pros & Cons:
- Very organized and very repetitive in concepts. This is great for learning the major math facts.
- There is a daily section of oral math problems. This is great way for them to think through problems without writing them down.
I really didn’t look elsewhere for curricula until the end of their elementary years because Abeka worked so good for us.
Add-ons for Math
- Flash Cards
- Manipulative - These are great in the younger ages so your child can see how math works. They are especially helpful for fractions which can be a difficult concept for kids to learn at first. Whether you are using blocks made specifically for math or using M&M’s there are some fun games that can be played. Using M&M’s for addition and subtraction was a favorite at our house. The kids had a great time eating the M&M’s when they subtracted
- Games - We also used an allowance game that helped my boys learn money. It taught them how to add money and how to give change. Another fun game is to play store by finding a children's cash register. It makes adding money and giving change more interesting.
- Clock - we had a face clock that talked and was helpful in teaching time.
- Baking - This was another activity that was really helpful in math. Doubling a recipe or cutting it in half is a great way to practice fractions in a fun atmosphere.
I’m sure there is a lot of other math curricula that is very good as well. We just never had the need to change in the elementary years.
Middle School Math
When we reached sixth grade we tried a new curricula. We had used Abeka for a lot of our curriculum through elementary school. As the kids grew older we found that the Abeka curricula (not just the math curricula) was very fact based but was not strong in making the kids think for themselves. So we tried a math curricula that was very popular among our friends and was highly rated at a school in our area. We decided to try it.
It was Saxon Math.
We forced ourselves through this curricula for about a year and a half and couldn’t take it any longer. I don’t know what people see in the it.
The major negative aspects were:
- The curriculum jumped around a lot. It would cover one concept, then jump to a different concept, then ten sections later go back to the first concept and build on that. My kids found this very confusing.
- The lessons themselves were very unclear.
The major positive aspect was:
- The curriculum had daily timed math fact worksheets. The kids would time themselves everyday and try to complete the worksheet. This helped them a step beyond flashcards because the problems were more complicated. It reinforced the basic math facts and helped them to visually calculate larger problems efficiently.
Overall we did not like Saxon Math and I wouldn’t recommend it.
Bob Jones Math
From this point on we decided to switch to Bob Jones math curricula for middle school.
Bob Jones curricula benefits were:
- It worked on one concept at a time
- It had a review page at the end of each chapter to see if your child was ready for a test or if they needed to work on a certain concept.
- It had a few questions at the end of each section that reinforced previous concepts.
Bob Jones math curricula has:
- Student Text
- Teacher Book
- Math Test
- Math Answer Keys.
It is a very consistant curriculum all the way through High School.
Helpful Hint: One thing I would suggest doing with your child is making sure they right down all the steps of their math problems as a habit. It is hard for them to do this if they can figure out some of the problems in their head but as the problems get harder that habit will help considerably. This is a good age to teach them to do that.
High School Math
We tried a few different things for High School Math. At this point my kids started taking classes at a nearby school so we didn’t do all the Math ourselves. However, all the books we used can be purchased as homeschool books.
- Bob Jones is what we used for Algebra 1 and we liked it very much. Again, it is organized very well. There are a few review problems at the end of every section to reinforce past concepts and there is a review section at the end of every chapter to be sure your child is ready for the test.
- Intelegent Tutor is a supplemental DVD that we used for Algebra. It helped the boys review certain concepts they were having trouble with. If they didn’t get the correct answer then the DVD would show them step by step how to complete the problem. The DVD also helped the kids be more independent in their studies.
- Algebra:Structure and Method - Book 1 by McDougall Littell. I had been told how good this book was while my kids were in the school but it wasn’t used in the schools because it was more expensive. I purchased this book when I was tutoring some students and absolutely loved it. It is very organized like Bob Jones. It has oral exercises, written exercises, mixed reviews and self tests in every section very similar to Bob Jones. However, I felt the teaching and explanations were much better than Bob Jones. I have only used Book 1 which is the same as Algebra 1 but I would expect that Book 2 for Algebra 2 would be just as good. It also gives the answers to the even numbered problems in the back of the book to give the student an idea of how they are doing. This is my highest ranking curriculum.
- Jacobs Geometry: Seeing, Doing, Understanding. This was a very difficult curriculum to teach from. The basics were easy but when it came to the proofs and harder concepts it didn’t explain things very well. The tests were very different from what was taught in the chapters. We struggled through this for half the year and we decided to take some time off while my son did some Algebra review for the rest of the year. He was already ahead in his math so we had the time to do this. The following year we started where we left off using this same curriculum and some online help. He made it through geometry but it was very difficult.
- Bob Jones. As for my other son, he took geometry at a nearby school and they used the Bob Jones curriculum. He had a difficult time with it but the curriculum itself was much more straight forward and organized than Jacobs Geometry. I would recommend the Bob Jones in this case.
- Bob Jones. Both my boys took this class with different teachers at a nearby school and they both used the Bob Jones curriculum. Again very good and very organized. They both did very well with it.
- Bob Jones. Only one of my boys did pre-calculus and the Bob Jones curriculum was used again. He did very well with it.
- Bob Jones was used again for consumer Math by both my kids but their teachers only used bits and pieces of it. They didn’t feel the book was as good as it could have been. So they supplemented the curriculum on their own and created a good class for the kids.
- One of my boys only had a half year of consumer math and the other half of the year was accounting. I thought this was the perfect combination. South Western Century 21 Accounting was the curriculum used. It is an older curriculum and included a work book. It was very hands on and my son learned an awful lot from it. I have an accounting degree myself and I was pleasantly surprised how much he learned from this class. Between the consumer math and accounting class he has a great concept of the everyday finances and banking every kid should know when they get out in the real world. I think that high schools are so set on getting kids through the highest math classes for college acceptance that they don’t teach them what they really need for life.
Here is the list of math curricula we used and my ratings. I know there is so much more out there that we never tried and is very good as well.
Bob Jones - Algebra 1
Algebra Structure & Method
Bob Jones - Geometry
Bob Jones - Algebra 2
Bob Jones - Pre-Calculus
Bob Jones - Consumer Math
SW Century 21 - Accounting
© 2018 Carolyn LaCroix