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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?”

If you have not read part one, definitely check it out.

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:

  1. ADHD
  2. Autism
  3. Dyscalculia
  4. Dyslexia
  5. Any other learning difference
  6. 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.  

  • Mastery-based 
  • Spiral-based 

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.

On the other hand, 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.  

So let’s go ahead and check in with the veteran homeschool moms to see what has worked with each of their uniquely-wired students.  

Mastery-Based Homeschool Math Curricula

1. Learn Math Fast

Beckye Barnes, of Beckye Barnes Consulting, recommends 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.

Learn Math Fast was a game changer for my daughter with dysgraphia.  LMF breaks the lessons down to make it easier to understand, and they keep it simple.

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

Homeschool Math Planning

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.  Have review built in. 

Visually Clutter-Free

She continues to point out the simplicity in the 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 does want to point out that MUS lacks a lot of word problems.  However, this may be a plus for kids who struggle with reading comprehension.  She says it is easy to supplement word problems in her home.

We make up for that because we do lots of real math problems around here!  She and her family live on a farm and do lots of math problems with eggs.  

Melanie Fulton, Math-loving mama who homeschools her 4 children and often employs the aid of chicken, dairy goat, cat, and dog math tutors.  There are math problems EVERYWHERE. (www.themathprofs.com)    

2 More Votes for Math U See

My older kids did very well with Math U See. Using the mastery approach made it easier for them to focus on what they were learning. 

While Colleen found success with Learn Math Fast, she also likes how Math U See allowed her kids could move at their own pace.  

They were able to move quickly through a lesson if they grasped it right away.  On the other hand, they were able to take longer if they needed more practice.  

Colleen Webster, homeschool mom of 4, dyslexia and ADHD, dyscalcula and dysgraphia

Janelle Burke also likes MUS for her son who has ADHD.  

One of my sons does Math U See and likes it because it is a mastery approach.   He is a kinesthetic learner and can SEE it and BUILD it using Math U See number block system.   This is key!

Janelle, homeschool mom of 3, ADHD-infused homeschool life

Homeschool Math curriculum

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.

She points out that even though her kids have a variety of learning differences and styles, that homeschooling brings out her kids’ best selves.  With MUS, 

A student masters a math concept before they move to the next one. I have seen my child struggle in the fall with MUS, but by spring, the fall math is “easy” and we can both see their progress.

 For the kids who struggle more, Math U See is very logical.  It also lends to student independence with the videos and instruction manual. 

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

1. The Good and The Beautiful

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!  

Melanie talks about the multisensory teaching of TGTB.

It’s hands-on and they incorporate games for review and learning.  They include short and sweet worksheets, a simple review each week.  TGTB uses songs, colorful workbooks,and bonus activities for extra practice if you wish. 

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!  

Melanie tells us that she is now anxiously waiting for them to release level 3 so she can do it with her oldest!!

Spiral-Based Homeschool Math For Struggling Learners

2. Teaching Textbooks

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 tells us that she has transitioned her kids to their new online platform.  

We started with the CDs and now use the online version. Lessons are taught via the online course.  So my role is more support and encouragement in this subject and not the direct teacher.

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.

Magda also likes using the physical books and CD option.

We have the CDs and the physical books as I find mine tend to do better when they write things down as well as view and hear them.

Ma Miller, homeschool mom of 2 rockstar kids, suspected ADHD, ASD 

homeschool math for struggling students

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.  

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. 

Secondly, CL is thorough and on the advanced side.  This is great for your math-minded kids.  

Student-led Set Up

All of Christian Light materials are designed to be student-led.  As such are visually appealing and broken up into smaller chunks.  They are clean and easy to follow without being overwhelming.

The best part?  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.

Homeschool Math Curriculum For Your Struggling Student

Ultimately, what homeschool math curriculum is best for your uniquely-wired child will be based on a number of factors.

The responses from the veteran homeschool moms in A Heart For All Students homeschool mom community, tell us one thing. 

Regardless of diagnosis, every student is different. 

What constitutes as the best homeschool math curriculum will be what works best for you and your family.

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 your fall homeschool plans, grab a copy of the homeschool 101 planning guide that I’ve created for you.

In it you will find some prompts to help you identify the critical information that will help you make the best homeschool decisions. 

Uh.. I mean… make the best homeschool decisions…

  1. for your uniquely-wired student
  2. in this specific season.

And don’t even get me started about choosing the best homeschool language arts curriculum.  

When asked my opinion about what is the best homeschool language arts curriculum, I always end up answering with a question.

How does your child learn and how is she wired?  

The answer to this question is probably the most important variable that I consider when working with a new homeschool coaching client. 

So before I ever discuss curriculum, I walk them through a series of questions designed to help us identify their child’s wiring and learning style.

Continue reading to find out the best language arts curriculum for your child.