Tired of scrolling through endless options for homeschool math curriculums?
Overwhelmed by the amount of choice, and not sure which approach will best suit your child?
If any of this sounds familiar, then don’t worry: you are not alone.
Many homeschooling parents find the process of selecting and rolling out a homeschool math curriculum a difficult one.
After all, math is a wide and varied subject. Some children take naturally to numeracy, and others find it harder to understand.
The good (and the bad) news is that there’s no right or wrong choice when you’re choosing a homeschool math curriculum. The best option for your family is largely going to on what you want to teach, and how you want to teach it.
To help you decide, this article will discuss all the questions that homeschool parents should ask themselves when they begin to explore choosing a homeschool math curriculum. And from program formats, to cost, and everything in between, there’s plenty to consider.
Then, we’ll outline exactly how to build a math curriculum yourself that works for your teaching approach, and your child’s learning style.
Hopefully, by the end, you’ll be feeling less confused and more ready to tackle homeschool math.
Understanding the different types of homeschool math curriculums
We heard a great joke recently: The majority of Americans (4 out of 10) say they hate math.
All joking aside, trying to choose a curriculum to teach can feel like an insurmountable task — especially if you’re someone who struggles with, or dislikes, math. There are so many homeschool math curriculums available for parents to choose from, and each varies in style and in practice.
How do you know which is the best one for you?
In the following section, we’ll break down everything you need to know to make choosing a homeschool math curriculum less scary and, actually, a little bit fun.
Here’s a quick run-down of the key differentiators between each program:
- Spiraling vs. mastery-based: A spiraling curriculum introduces a new concept in each lesson, but also has a daily review of previously learned concepts. The mastery-based curriculum focuses on the ‘why’ behind each lesson – to do so, it will focus on one lesson for a long period of time (weeks or months) and build upon that focus on the lesson in lessons to follow.
- Scripted vs. unscripted: Some homeschool math curriculums are completely scripted for parents, leaving little time for any ‘free’ teaching. Others are more open-ended and conceptual, offering very few, if any, teaching scripts. So are you the kind of person who likes to have everything laid out for you and read along? Or do you prefer to just go with your gut and teach from the heart? There is no right or wrong answer – only personal preference!
- Visual vs. auditory: While most homeschool math curriculums include a bit of both visual and auditory learning, most are more heavily focused on one or the other. Consider having your student take a test to figure out their preferred learning style – you may be surprised!
Now that you’ve got a better feeling for the different types of homeschool math programs, it’s time to dig a little deeper into the decision-making process.
Key questions to ask yourself when choosing a homeschool math curriculum
When narrowing down your options on a homeschool math curriculum, it’s good to be realistic about what you can afford and how much time you have to put towards it.
For example, if a certain program type seems appealing, you should ask yourself:
- How much does it cost? Homeschool math curriculums can vary pretty widely in cost and can range anywhere from $14 to over $100. Figuring out what you’re comfortable spending will help you weed out some options.
- How much prep time is required? Some homeschool math curriculums are very parent-intensive and require a good amount of preparation before each lesson. You should decide how much prep time you are willing and able to do, before purchasing any homeschool math lesson plans and resources.
Once you’ve outlined a time and cost balance you are comfortable with, it’s time to consider whether the type of content will work for you and your child. Here, you need to work out:
- Is it scripted, or not? If you’re one to freestyle, skip the scripted curriculums and do your thing!
- Is it visual, or auditory? Consider the age and learning style of your student(s), and also your preferred approach to teaching. Is there one type of curriculum that fits your needs better than another?
- Is it in color, or black and white? Some students prefer black and white in order to focus on the problems at hand, while others find color more engaging than distracting. Use past observations to decide which style will support learning in your family.
How to put together your own at-home math curriculum
Now that you’re fully up to speed with the different program types and practical considerations, you may even find that designing your own homeschool math curriculum is the best way forward.
If so, here’s how to do it:
Step 1: Choose your key topics
Before you do anything else, you need to decide which key topics, themes or concepts you’ll cover across your block of lessons. A block may run alongside public school terms — that is, from September to December, for example. Or you may choose to design your own homeschool timetable, with term dates that work better for you and your family.
Step 2: Decide how you want to teach
Once you’ve pinpointed your subjects, begin to think about how you’d like to teach them.
Go back to the spiraling vs. mastery-based differentiation: do you want your child to develop a thorough comprehension of subtraction, before moving onto multiplication? Or do you want to ‘spiral’ from basic subtraction, to basic multiplication, then back to more advanced subtraction, and so on?
The glory of creating your own curriculum is that lessons can be as long or as short as you’d like — and you can base that on on-going performance and how quickly your child grasps each concept.
Step 3: Consider how you’ll test their understanding
Many children respond badly to exam conditions. Indeed, for many parents, that’s motivation-enough to consider homeschool vs public school.
Nevertheless, you need to be sure that you’re tracking your child’s progress — which mathematical concepts are they flying through? Where do they need a little more supervision?
You can choose your own approach to assessing performance, perhaps through using math worksheets or doing pop quizzes at the end of each day.
Step 4: Cross-reference your plan against state regulations
A quick word of warning: you will still need to meet state education regulations, even when teaching from the comfort of your own home.
Each state has its own legal requirements for homeschooling, so you’ll want to familiarize yourself with the laws local to you. While some states have few or no requirements, others ask parents to complete portfolio reviews and/or use standardized testing at certain intervals.
Step 5: Be prepared to change approach if needed
If your child seems to be understanding concepts easily, answering problems correctly and generally performing well — then keep at it, you’ve found a formula that works!
But if your student is having trouble, avoid assuming that ‘math just isn’t their subject’. Try a different program method, teaching style or lesson approach and see if their response changes.
The beauty of a homeschool math curriculum is that it’s tailored to the student, so there’s no reason your child can’t absolutely flourish in math lessons, and beyond!
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