Choosing the RIGHT Homeschool Math Curriculum
One of the most difficult decisions homeschool parents face is: What homeschool math curriculum is best for my child? The reason this question is so difficult is because the answer will vary—not from family to family, but from child to child. I believe that your child’s learning style will have a huge impact on their success in ANY and EVERY subject. If you select a curriculum that is designed to support your child’s specific learning style, you child will thrive and you will find much less resistance in January and February (most difficult teaching months of the year). If you choose a curriculum that opposes your child’s learning style you will both end up frustrated and probably spend a lot of days crying!
Avoid the frustration and be very careful in your initial selection. There will be sufficient friction when the learning challenges begin. Why would you make your road even more difficult? Match the learning style with the homeschool math curriculum and half your battle is won already.
So, with that said, the first piece to the curriculum puzzle has to do with the child’s learning style. For this reason, as you begin to consider what you will do for the upcoming school year, I suggest you take each child individually and consider some of the following questions:
1. With $1.00 at the Dollar Store, what would you child pick out?
a. Paint by number set
b. Play microphone
c. Hula hoop/football
2. If you offered your child the following activities, which would he choose?
a. Art lessons
b. Music lessons
c. Sports or Drama lessons
3. You’re at dinner and there is a 10 minute wait. How would your child pass the time?
a. Drawing or sketching
b. Talking your ear off
c. Digging in your purse or running around
4. How does your child (would you child) most enjoy using an iPad?
a. Looking at photos
b. Listening to music
c. Playing video game
5. When your child reads a book to herself, she:
a. Sits quietly
b. Mouths the words or asks someone else to read it to her
c. Fidgets frequently
6. When your child picks the family activity, he would more likely choose:
a. A movie
b. Audio book
If you answered mostly A’s, then your child prefers to learn by looking. Children with Autism and Aspergers are often visual (or spatial) learners. As you select a homeschool math curriculum, you will want to make sure that the books offer charts, examples, and, ideally, a DVD or internet links where your child can SEE the math working in front of them.
If you answered mostly B’s, then your child prefers to learn by listening. You are going to be an important part of this child’s learning experience. She will likely get more out of hearing your explain the instructions than reading them by herself over and over again. DVDs or internet links can also be valuable extra resources for you.
If you answered mostly C’s, then your child gets more out of active learning settings or by DOING something. When it comes to this learning style in a math setting, you must have something that your child can do with their hands while they learn the principles. For examples, Legos are a great way to teach almost any early math principle.
You can see below for some specific homeschool math curriculum suggestions for each learning style.
Another important consideration in the curriculum decision process, is how familiar are you with the principles and concepts for your child’s level and are you capable of helping them progress. While you certainly do not have to be an expert, you should be able to follow along and help your child identify what they need to do to understand each progressive principle. Math is progressive in nature and as it builds and becomes more complicated, will you be able to keep up. It is not uncommon for parents to realize that they are not equipped to keep up with their math-oriented children as they leave the more simple concepts for the advanced sections.
Don’t give in if this is you. If you and your child feel strongly about homeschool, but you do not feel like you can provide the necessary support in this subject there are other options. As you choose the curriculum, you will want to find something that is common and well-known. This will ensure that you have lots of additional resources at your disposal. It would be a colossal mistake to choose some brand new, unknown textbook. You are much less likely to find the additional support your child will need through the year.
HOMESCHOOL MATH CURRICULUM SUGGESTIONS for VISUAL LEARNERS:
Math Mammoth is exceptional when it comes to “drawing” the concepts out for your child to “see” so that that concept sticks. They are not expensive (about $15.00 for each grade level book).
Saxon Math is another curriculum that is visually oriented. This is a classic approach to the classic subject. My children use these and they do very well with them. One thing I really like about this set is they come in “HOMESCHOOL KITS” so I know that I am getting everything I need rather than discovering that there is something else that I have to go order later on. The kit is a little more expensive ($96), but we have found that it is worth EVERY CENT!
HOMESCHOOL MATH CURRICULUM SUGGESTIONS for AUDITORY LEARNERS:
HOMESCHOOL MATH CURRICULUM SUGGESTIONS for TACTILE OR ACTIVE LEARNERS:
Math-U-See is a great program for auditory learners. If your child learns by listening and you are interested in this curriculum, you will have to pay a little extra and get the DVDs for each series. The series can be expensive with the manipulative kit (which you will have to purchase if you are looking for the kinesthetic or active learner).
Saxon Math Manipulative Kit is a great add-on if your other children are visual and using this curriculum. I personally think Saxon is the best all-around curriculum for homeschool parents because it can help students in each of the three major learning styles.