Recommended Math Programs

Figuring out which math curriculum to use has probably given me the most problems over the course of our 10 years of homeschooling. Personally, I was never really good at it when I was in school, so teaching my children math promised to be a daunting task.

After many years of worrying about math, I’ve finally found what works for each of my children, which ultimately will end up what you will need to figure out. But that is the whole point of homeschooling – catering to the exact needs of your child, as opposed to being at the mercy of the public school’s singular method of teaching. Using trial and error, we’ve used several programs over the years, so I’ll go through what we’ve used and give a pros and cons list of each.


Math U See

Math U See was the first math program I used with my children. I LOVED it. Unfortunately, “my”  kids didn’t. We used the Alpha through Delta programs.

Pros

  • It comes with it’s own video math teacher – Steve Demme is fabulous, and he makes math easy to understand.
  • The manipulatives are really fun to play with, and they help cement the concepts being taught.
  • MUS is a Mastery program, so you focus on one concept until you’ve learned it before moving on to a new one.

Cons

  • My twins are very good at math and found MUS boring. There are no pictures, just a full page of problems to work through.
  • Because it’s a mastery program, a child who is quick to understand a concept may get bored quickly. There also isn’t a lot of review.

Math Mammoth

We used Math Mammoth for a few years – using the 3-6th grade full curriculum materials.

Pros

  • Very inexpensive – you can get a full year of math for under $40!
  • There is plenty of practice and review of concepts.
  • The books are a bit more colorful and “fun” looking.
  • There is a full year curriculum series, but she also writes a concept based series, so if your child needs help on a specific concept, you can purchase these for fairly cheap and spend time focusing on trouble areas.

Cons

  • There is not teacher’s manual. The program is written to the student and ideally, it is a self-taught program. Unfortunately, this only works with a certain type of child. If your child isn’t already good at math, they may get quickly frustrated.
  • Because there is no teacher’s manual, the answer key only contains the answers – without the explanation of how to get the answer.
  • While the program is very inexpensive, it does require you to print it out – this can raise the price quite a bit.

Teaching Texbooks

Teaching Textbooks is the program we are currently using, and it’s most likely the one we’re going to stick with.

Pros

  • Teaching Textbooks is almost completely hands-off for mom – it can be done independently.
  • The program acts as a computer based, interactive tutor – he guides you through the concept, then through each problem to help you understand why you got it wrong.
  • It’s on the computer – my kids LOVE getting to do school work on the computer.
  • It keeps a grade book so you can keep track of their progress – this can be especially helpful if you need to keep records.
  • If you use only the CDs, the program is non-consumable.
  • Company allows the CDs to be resold (and they are always in demand), so it’s pretty easy to resell.

Cons

  • Teaching Textbooks is quite expensive. In the early years, you can purchase only the CDs and do everything on the computer, or only the workbooks (though with the workbook only, you lose the best feature of the program – the computer aided teaching. They do, however, write out the full explanations in the book.)
  • There is not a lot of review problems, so you may find that you need to supplement with either Khan Academy online, or Math Mammoth concept books once in a while.
  • I’ve heard it said that TT seems to be about a grade level behind. But again, that will be dtermined by your child’s aptitude in mathematics. My twins are very good at math and they breeze through the lessons, while my daughter who struggles with math can take up to an hour to work through a lesson at times.

Unfortunately, there is not a one-size-fits-all math program. You will have to evaluate which program you feel will best fit your child’s learning style, and then try it out. You may end up switching every so often, or your child may fall in love with on particular program and use it throughout their schooling. Remember, if it wasn’t a consumable workbook,  to may want save your previously purchased math programs if you have other children. One may work perfectly well for one child, but not so well for another – as was the case for mine.

Please feel free to ask any additional questions and I’ll see if I can point you in the right direction.

If you have experience with some of the other popular math programs, or if you know of an unusual one, please share in the comments!


Emily Cook is the author and creator of the secular homeschool curriculum Build Your Library, a literature-based K-10 program infused with the teachings of Charlotte Mason. She writes full year lesson plans as well as shorter topical unit studies. Emily has been homeschooling her four children in Southern NH for 14 years. She is passionate about reading aloud to children of all ages and loves to share her love of literature with others. She and her family also makes incredibly dorky videos about homeschooling, books and more on Youtube at ARRRGH! Schooling. You can follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
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7 Responses to Recommended Math Programs

  1. Vanessa says:

    Life of Fred! My boys love the story of Fred, and I actually use Life of Fred to supplement Teaching Textbooks. My 2nd/3rd grader will do TT on the computer, then we read the Fred chapter for the day, and he writes out the problems from that in his spiral. Doing this gets him practice in written problems since he only does TT on the computer. I love Teaching Textbooks as well, and it’s an excellent stand-alone program, you can get written practice by using the massive workbook that comes with TT, but my kids love Fred too much for us to part with it. I also think Fred is excellent as a stand alone program, but I know I’m not good enough to teach high level math, which is why I have the boys use Teaching Textbooks as well.

  2. Jennifer Ott says:

    My son does fairly well with math; he doesn’t like it, but he gets through pretty quickly and rarely gets a problem incorrect. My older daughter is very good at math and breezes through. We’ve been using Horizons, and I think it is a solid program, but we are thinking of switching to TT for next year (I have 3 in Horizons, and grading 3 workbooks was just too much every day. I’d rather read aloud with that time!) My son, who was in Grade 2 in Horizons, placed into TT 5, but I think we will do 4 just to be sure. He is excited!

  3. Tiffany P says:

    I am curious to find anyone who has used Beast Academy. I know they only have one grade level out currently (3rd grade, I believe). The concept is fascinating with the comic book style. Where might one find the TT used?

    • admin says:

      If you go to the Well Trained Mind forums, there are a lot of discussions about Beast Academy. I personally have no experience with it though. As far as finding TT used, many homeschool message boards have a buy/sell board where you can buy and sell curriculum. I’ve seen TT for sale quite often at Well Trained Mind. I think the Secular Homeschool Community has a buy/sell board as does the Homeschool Library message boards.

  4. Laurie says:

    I am using Beast Academy with my 3rd grader and we love it. It is very challenging – definitely written for kids who are good in math and need a challenge. My daughter is very independent with it – I would say she self-teaches about 80 percent of it, reading the guidebook and then working on the practice problems. When she gets stuck, she asks me or her dad for help. At the end of each chapter, she or I go back and check her work and then she works through the problems she missed again. Another thing I love is that there are both hints for extra challenging problems and complete solutions for every problem in the back of the practice book. If she gets stuck, we work on it together and there is the complete answer – sometimes with 2 different methods explained.
    That being said, I would be cautious about recommending this for a student who is struggling with math. It is really written for high ability math students – and that shows. It is much deeper than the standard elementary program – for example, the chapter on square roots had them computing the square roots of 3 and 4 digit numbers – much more than any other program I have seen. Because of the depth, I am planning to stick with it through the 5th grade level, even though that means with their current publication schedule my daughter will finish the 5th grade books sometime during 6th grade. If you have more questions, I’d be happy to try to answer them. We love Beast Academy!

  5. Jackie says:

    I just wanted throw a suggestion in about Math Mammoth. I bought an app for my iPad called GoodReader and it allows you to upload PDFs onto the GoodReader app and then write on it. They have a number of options like just writing (a stylus is helpful) or you can type in the answers as well. It’s not hard to use and easy to figure out. I believe the app was close to $10 but now I can have all three of my kids math on the iPad and I don’t have to print off all that paper! We don’t usually use all of the practice problems that Math Mammoth offers so it also saves time by not having to pick and choose which pages to print off. 🙂

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