Math Curriculum Review

Which math curriculum path will you choose? This is the one subject that has many moms awake at night pondering the right path.   I am blessed to have a friend, Brenda Barnett, who understands math.  She has steered me in the right direction, and I wanted to share her summary of some of the main math curriculum reviews.


   Math Curriculum Thoughts

By Brenda Barnett

Mathematics curriculum is an important decision. There are many factors to consider and tremendous amounts of material to look through.  This list is not by any means exhaustive, but it will help you as you begin to consider types of math education.
These are admittedly my own opinions.  I have a math degree, education certification and 7 years public school experience.  However, there are any number of people who have differing opinions. Use these thoughts as a base for your research. Don’t take my word for it – “Google” reviews for each curriculum, look at the author’s goals, consider your student’s learning style, and make a choice that works for you!

K -12

Video programs, such as A Beka and Bob Jones, are very well done. Teachers are polished, curriculum is well written. Some families are very successful staying with the schedule; some are not.  Some students have their questions answered by watching the video; some spend a large amount of time confused – and have no one to answer their questions.  Successful completion of these programs will prepare your student for college level mathematics.
Saxon Math is a popular home school curriculum. The program is good for students who are extremely consistent and mathematically inclined. The DIVE cd’s can be purchased for instructional support. Saxon is a controversial curriculum, and many math educators do not care for it.  Read about it, learn about the pros and cons, and consider whether or not your student will be successful using Saxon. Successful completion of this program will prepare your student for college level mathematics.
Math U See is a “light” math curriculum that, in my opinion, is best suited for students who are not planning to pursue a math-oriented college degree.
Teaching Textbooks (grades 3 through 12) is a video-based curriculum. It is also considered to be rather “light”, and is best suited for students who are not planning to pursue a math-oriented college degree.

K-Middle School:

Horizons Math is a traditional math curriculum, K through Algebra I (8th grade.) It would be a very comfortable curriculum, likely very similar to how you were taught. This curriculum would feel like a “safe” choice and would be solid instruction.
Singapore Math is a workbook curriculum, K through 6, consisting of three parts:  Workbook, Intensive Practice, and Challenging Word Problems.  It is a challenging curriculum that focuses on thinking skills and mental math.  By the end of this curriculum the student is ready for pre-algebra. The word problems in this series are my personal favorites.  Singapore Math teaches students to think mathematically instead of encouraging rote memorization of mathematical algorithms. It is my personal favorite.
Right Start Math is a relatively new math program. I am impressed with its methods and its scope and sequence. It is a curriculum that requires much parental involvement. If you want to teach math concepts using a very hands-on curriculum, consider this one.
 (Right Start builds a solid math foundation beginning at Kindergarten – you might want to consider using early on and possibly switching later to Singapore – to build more independence)   Comment from Tami
Life of Fred is a non-traditional math program that works on comprehension more than rote memory. I have not been around students who have completed this program, so I can’t speak to its success, but if you are looking for something that is “different” than everything else, this one might be for you! Very intriguing.

Upper level math:

By the high school years, students need excellent curriculum and instruction to prepare them for the challenges of college level math. I believe that it is worth an investment to find a person (video, in person or online) to teach your child. Give them the gift of a solid background in math!
Chalkdust is a video-based high school math curriculum.  Challenging, excellent preparation for a math-oriented college degree plan.
Co-ops/live classes can be an excellent way to receive math instruction. However, some co-ops meet only once a week and that is not enough math instruction time to adequately teach the concepts.
High School Math Live and Middle Math Live – full disclosure, this is a company that I started to service home school families. We teach live classes online. Upper level course teachers have math degrees and education certification.  The convenience of being able to attend class from home, the personal touch of having a live instructor to answer your questions, and the accountability of a syllabus and weekly quizzes/tests make for an excellent model for math education.


Here is Brenda’s Choice:

When I began homeschooling in 2001, I chose to use the Primary Math series from Singapore Math Inc®. With my degree in mathematics and secondary education certification, I felt confident in my ability to teach my children the basic principals of mathematics.

I now realize, after completing the curriculum four times during the last 14 years, that my math background taught me to “DO” math well, but not to “THINK” mathematically.  Students who use Singapore Math® books learn to be mathematical thinkers and are extremely well prepared for upper level coursework.  I started Singapore Math® Live in order to help other families give their children a strong mathematics foundation. Singapore Math® Live is the only company licensed by Singapore Math Inc.® for the support of homeschooling families.

If your own mathematics background does not give you confidence in your ability to choose a rigorous program, if you do not have the time required to use Singapore Math® curriculum without support, or if you just need to know that help is available when you need it, Singapore Math® Live is for you!  Visit for more information or to try the first three weeks for free!   


Testimonial:  My son and I  have understood so many more math concepts than we would have on our own.

(Tami White)

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