Best homeschool math curriculum for struggling students
This is part two of a two part series answering the question,
“How to choose the best homeschool math curriculum for struggling students?”
In it we discuss the 5 Tips every mom needs to know before purchasing homeschool math curriculum. Save yourself money, stress and time and read that here.
In today’s post, some veteran homeschool moms share their opinions on the best homeschool math curriculum for struggling students. For all intents and purposes, we are using the term “struggling students” to describe:
- Any other learning difference
- Kids who just hate math
If your child tends to struggle with math, regardless of the reason, this post is for you.
Mastery Vs Spiral Based Homeschool Math
There are two different approaches to math curricula out there: spiral-based and mastery-based. I discuss these in more detail in Part One.
Here is a brief explanation of the two and important factors to consider when deciding which will be best for your student.
Mastery-based curriculum focuses on one concept at a time. The goal is for the student to master the concept before moving on to the next math skill.
Spiral-based homeschool math curriculum reviews previously learned material while learning new concepts. Both mastery and spiral approaches have their pros and cons. Again, check out this post for more info.
Mastery-Based Homeschool Math Curricula
1. Learn Math Fast
We have enjoyed Learn Math Fast. It works for all ages and it starts with the basics. You only move forward once you master the concepts. It is mastery-based and teachers the concepts without busy work. An excellent choice for those who need a refresher course.
Beckye points to the importance of solidifying foundational math skills.
They also focus on foundational skills in a real world way. Basic addition and subtraction is taught using pennies. I think fractions is explained using a dollar then four quarters. It also focuses on learning the concept without endless worksheets.
Beckye Barnes, homeschool mom, Autism, PTSD, ADHD, dyslexia & dysgraphia. She just graduated a student with a 4.868 GPA who is entering college as a freshman with 30 college credits.
Colleen Webster, homeschool mom of 4, also loves Learn Math Fast. Her daugheter has dyscalculia, and has tried several math curriculum options. LMF was the first that explained certain concepts in a way she understands.
My daughter felt like she could follow along better with the shorter explanations they gave. She benefited from the break down of each equation into bite size pieces.
Colleen Webster, homeschool mom of 4, dyslexia and ADHD, dyscalcula and dysgraphia
2. Life of Fred
Life of Fred is a mastery-based math curriculum that is completely unconventional, but is extremely effective for our right-brained kids.
The Life of Fred series is a literature-based math curriculum that follows the narrative of the main character, Fred. Fred is a child genius living life as a 5 year-old child on a college campus. Told you it was unconventional. Ha!
Each book focuses on one math concept and, through story, teaches the concepts in a way that is highly engaging and clever. Like Learn Math Fast and other mastery-based programs, this series is meant to be read in order regardless of your child’s age. The storyline and concepts build upon one another to provide the student with a solid understanding of math.
This series is an excellent series to supplement your child’s understanding of math or some use it as the basis of their entire math program.
I highly recommend it if you have a child who HATES math but loves story. This program goes all the way up through college-level math including Calculus.
2. Math U See
What math does a math professor use in her homeschool? Melanie Fulton of, The Math Profs,
For math we do Math-U-See, but we add a lot of supplemental math with it. When you have two math parents in the house EVERYTHING can become a math problem.
Melanie, received her PhD in math from Virginia Tech University, she explains more about the benefits of Math U See.
MUS works for us. The lessons aren’t too long–and sometimes we don’t even do a whole lesson in 1 day.
She also points out the clutter-free layout of the pages which is helpful for kids who struggle with visual discrimination.
The books and worksheets are plain–not tons of pictures or stories to distract. There is a video included so that my children don’t have to have mom or dad teach it. And there are manipulatives to see what is going on.
Melanie Fulton, Math-loving mama who homeschools her 4 children and often employs the aid of chicken, dairy goat, cat, and dog math tutors. (www.themathprofs.com)
The Love Just Keeps Pouring Out: Math U See for Struggling Students
Katherine, homeschool mom of 4 different learners, tells us that despite a whole host of learning differences,
Math U See works for us because it is very sequential. This is essential for struggling learners. The program helps with retaining math skills by focusing on one math concept at a time.
We have always used MUS, because my bookends definitely need the mastery-based curriculum.
My middle 2 could probably handle spiral, but they are doing great, so there hasn’t been a need to change.
Katherine Fain, homeschooling for 7 years, Autism, Auditory processing disorder, Dysgraphia and probably more
Spiral-based Homeschool Math Curricula
Melanie loves The Good and the Beautiful for math.
I have loved The Good and the Beautiful Math for my ADHD-kiddo. Each math lesson is a different activity. I thought I didn’t like it at first because it’s a spiral approach, but now I LOVE it because it’s a spiral approach! Ha!
Like me, Melanie understands the importance of shorter lessons to allow her kids push through an entire lesson. She also raves about the shorter lessons.
Lessons take 15-20 min max. We are still learning our basic facts, but we are also learning time and money while playing games. My kids really LOVE it!
Spiral-Based Homeschool Math For Struggling Learners
We love Teaching Textbooks. We’ve been homeschooling for about 8 years. One kid who just doesn’t like math, one with special needs, and one who finds math easy. Teaching Textbooks has worked well for all of them.
Krista, 10 years homeschooling, 3 kids, Girl 17, ADHD, Boy, 15 ASD, G 12 Diva
Magda Miller has been homeschooling her two kids for going on 8 years.
I second Teaching Textbooks. I have a very self-motivated, math-minded older child who started TT when he was 5. It just clicked. I thought his less math inclined younger sister might not do as well with the system, but I was pleasantly proved wrong.
Like so many homeschool moms, she points out how nicely Teaching Textbooks supports moms.
Teaching Textbooks does the teaching and the grading. I am more involved with my younger child’s movement through the program, but it still allows for her to be very independent in her learning and it sticks. She is learning and retaining.
Ma Miller, homeschool mom of 2 rockstar kids, suspected ADHD, ASD
What Spiral-Based Math Worked in My Own Homeschool?
3. Christian Light
Within my own homeschool, we have used a variety of math materials for our ADHD and math-minded family. One of our favorite spiral-based math curricula is Christian Light Math. I like Christian Light for several reasons.
1. Christian Light is broken up into ten worktexts for each grade level.
This, in and of itself, is highly motivating to our kids who like to check things off their lists. Every finished worktext feels like an accomplishment.
2. It thorough and on the advanced side. This is great for your math-minded kids.
3. The program is student-led. All of Christian Light materials are designed to be student-led. As such are visually appealing and broken up into smaller chunks. Each workbook is easy to follow without being overwhelming.
4. The price! Christian Light materials are very affordable.
Pivoting Between Mastery & Spiral When Needed
Despite loving this math curriculum, eventually we hit a wall with it. We moved away from Christian Light as math concepts increased in complexity.
As we neared Algebra, my oldest needed to focus on one concept at a time in order to best process, retain and develop mastery. We shifted to a mastery, topic based curriculum, Developmental Math, in order to solidify very specific math concepts to prep her for Algebra. Being willing to temporarily pivot when we hit that wall, made all the difference in the world for her as she entered Algebra.
Another Homeschool Math Resource I Love
When the traditional approach doesn’t work, whether it be for an entire subject or a particular math concept, I am always open to pivot.
Having a number of homeschool math tools in your tool box is always a good idea. I’ve found this math program to be super helpful.
Math Minutes is a simple math workbook designed to hit the most important math concepts. The workbook series is very concise and is extremely manageable for our kids who dislike math. There are only 10 math problems each day which is a huge plus for kids with ADHD. However, the math problems are intentionally chosen to support foundational math skills.
Each workbook is focused on a general grade level. I believe these were originally created as a supplement for traditional grade-level math. However, when used as math spine, this can be an excellent tool. A math spine refers to a framework of sorts to guide your teaching.
Please note that there is no teaching in this workbook. However, this is a great tool that can help you easily assess where your child may need additional support.
When my daughter used Math Minutes, any problems she struggled with were the concepts that we could go over together. This preserved her limited capacity for math to be used on the concepts that she needed to focus on.
Math Minutes is a great tool to support math in a non-threatening way. Don’t buy into the hype that your child has to do endless amounts of math problems in order to learn. This is simply not the case. When teaching the struggling student, work with the grain and think “less is more.”
Homeschool Math Curriculum For Your Struggling Student
Ultimately, what homeschool math curriculum is best for your child will be based on a number of factors. Understanding who your child is, how your child is wired and your own capacity, will guide you to make the best decision.
As you make curriculum buying decisions, grab a copy of the homeschool 101 planning guide that I’ve created for you. It includes prompts to help you identify the most important information that’ll help you choose the best math curriculum. The best choice for your uniquely-wired student in this specific season.
Ready For Homeschool Language Arts?
If you are looking for help choosing the right homeschool language arts curriculum, you’re in luck.
Before ever looking at curriculum options with my homeschool clients, I walk them through a series of questions. I’m always looking to identify their child’s wiring and learning style in order to best support learning. Continue reading to find out the best language arts curriculum for your child.
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