This is part two of a series that seeks to identify how to choose the best homeschool math curriculum for struggling students. If you have not read part one, definitely check it out.
In that post, we discuss the 6 things every mom needs to know before purchasing homeschool math curriculum. Save yourself money, stress and time and learn how to choose the best homeschool math curriculum.
Homeschooling Struggling Learners- Ask The Experts
In today’s post, veteran homeschool moms share their opinions on the best homeschool math curriculum for struggling students. For all intents and purposes, we’re using the term “struggling students” to describe kids with ADHD, Autism, Dyscalculia, or Dyslexia. Quite frankly, this applies to kids who just plain hate math.
Mastery VS Spiral Homeschool Math Curriculum
There are two different approaches to math curricula out there: spiral-based and mastery-based. I discuss these in more detail in Part One. However, here’s a brief explanation of the two and important factors to consider when deciding which option is best for your student.
What Is Mastery Based Homeschool Math?
Mastery-based curriculum focuses on one concept at a time. The goal is for the student to master one concept before moving on to the next math skill. The benefits of a mastery-based approach is just that. It allows children to master the building-block math skills that will carry them through higher-level math.
What Is Spiral Based Homeschool Math?
Spiral-based homeschool math curriculum reviews previously learned material while consistently introducing new concepts. The benefits of a spiral based approach are multifacted. A spiral based approach allows children a variety of material which keeps things from getting boring. Additionally, the spiral approach helps trigger long-term memory and retention as math concepts are periodically reviewed.
As you’ll soon find out, both mastery and spiral approaches have their pros and cons. Again, check out this post for more info.
Top Mastery-Based Homeschool Math
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’s mastery-based and teaches math concepts without busy work. An excellent choice for those who need a refresher course.
Mastery Learning For Struggling Math Students
Additionally, 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. Fractions are explained using a dollar and then four quarters. It also focuses on learning the concept without endless worksheets.
Learn Math Fast Is A Dyscalculia Game Changer
Colleen Webster, homeschool mom of 4, (dyslexia and ADHD, dyscalcula and dysgraphia), also loves Learn Math Fast.
Dyscalculia & Dysgraphia Impact Homeschool Math
Because Colleen’s daughter has dyscalculia and has tried several math programs over the years. Learn Math Fast 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.
2. Life of Fred
Life of Fred is a mastery-based math curriculum that’s completely unconventional, but extremely effective for right-brained kids. Further, it’s a literature-based curriculum that follows the narrative of the main character, Fred. Fred is a child genius living life as a 5 year-old on a college campus. Told you it was unconventional. Ha! In the end, each book focuses on one math concept in a highly-engaging way.
Foundational Math Skills Through Story
Life of Fred series is meant to be read in order regardless of your child’s age. The storyline and concepts build upon one another to provide struggling students with a solid understanding of math. Consequently, it can be used as a supplement, or as the basis of your entire math program. I highly recommend it if you have a child who HATES math but loves story. Life Of Fred goes all the way up through college-level math including Calculus.
3. Times Tales- Multiplication Mastery
While Times Tales is not a full math curriculum, it is an excellent resource to support long-term math success. Times Tales is a multisensory homeschool math tool to support effective learning in right-brained thinkers. Using mnemonic-based videos, Time Tales creatively equips children with what they need to remember math facts for good. I cannot more highly stress the importance of laying a solid foundation in basic multiplication facts and Times Tales is a highly effective way to do so.
4. Math U See
What math curriculum does a math professor use in her homeschool? Melanie Fulton, PhD, of The Math Profs, loves 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.
Visual Discrimination Is A Huge Issue For Struggling Learners
The books and worksheets are plain–not tons of pictures or stories to distract.
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Spiral-based Homeschool Math Curricula
1. The Good and The Beautiful For Struggling Learners
Melanie loves The Good and the Beautiful for math for her ADHD-kiddo. Each math lesson different. It keeps it interesting. Honestly, I thought I wouldn’t like it at first because it’s a spiral approach, but now I LOVE it because it’s a spiral approach! Ha!
Short Lessons Open The Door To Real Learning
Like me, Melanie understands the importance of shorter lessons to allow her kids push through an entire lesson.
Lessons take 15-20 min max. We are still learning our basic facts, but we’re also learning time and money while playing games. My kids really LOVE it!
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
Spiral-Based Homeschool Math Online Option
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.
Teaching Textbooks: For Students & Homeschool Parent
Magda also 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
3. Christian Light: A Solid Homeschool Curriculum
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’s 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.
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Pivot Between Mastery & Spiral When Needed
We eventually 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-based curriculum, Developmental Math, in order to solidify very specific math concepts to prep her for Algebra. This made all the difference once she entered Algebra.
RELATED EPISODE: Homeschool Math Teaching Strategies: 11 Tips To Help!
Supplemental Homeschool Math Options
It’s always helpful to have a number of math tools in your struggling student’s tool box. Math Minutes is an excellent option. It’s a workbook designed to hit the most important math concepts in a very concise way. It’s extremely manageable for our kids who dislike math.
There are only 10 intenionally-chosen math problems laid out each day which is a huge plus for kids with ADHD. Each workbook is leveled by grade. While these were originally created to be supplemental, when used as math spine, Math Minutes can be an excellent tool. A math spine refers to a framework of sorts to guide your teaching.
Math Curriculum Or Supplement: Use As A Math Spine
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 homeschool math instruction in a non-threatening way.
Logic Puzzles To Support Math Skills
Logic is foundational to both critical thinking and scientific reasoning. Without logic, there is no computer science. There is no mathematics. And there is no structured thought. Only unrelated, disjointed facts. The best (and most enjoyable) way to build logical reasoning in young minds is through logic puzzles. It develops the tools of mathematical thinking…without actually doing mathematics! So it is seen as a fun process. A mystery-solving experience.
Struggling Students & Homeschool Math: Need Help?
Ultimately, the homeschool math curriculum that’s best for your child will be based on a number of factors. Understanding who your child is, how your child is wired, and knowing your own capacity will guide you to make the best decision.
And if you’re sick of fighting an uphill battle every day, check out Homeschooling The Distracted Child: Optimizing The ADHD Brain For Learning. In this 60 minute intensive, I teach homeschool parents how to look behind the behaviors in order to best teach struggling students. I presented this workshop at the 2020 NCHE Summit For Teaching Exceptional Children and now it’s available to you.
Be encouraged, Friend! We’re in this together!
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