*Start here for my full review of Beast Academy.*

**When is a child ready to start Beast Academy?**

I usually recommend that you start with a placement test. But for Beast Academy, I don’t find the placement test very helpful. Perhaps it’s a little bold of me to disagree with the publisher’s own recommendation, but I find their placement test unnecessarily difficult.

Once your child has mastered addition and subtraction (including quick recall of facts, good mental math skills, and fluent computation on paper, with or without regrouping) and is able to persevere with challenging word problems, he or she is ready to tackle 3A.

### Where should my child start with Beast Academy?

Although Beast Academy texts have grade-level labels, it’s difficult to categorize them because each book contains problems with such varied difficulty. For example, chapter two of 3A begins with a very easy section on skip-counting…but then ends with questions like, “What is the largest number of grams that cannot be balanced with only 4-gram and 9-gram weights?” (23, if you’re interested.) Nearly all sections contain material that would challenge any upper-elementary child–and most adults, for that matter.

All this is to say is that if you have a fourth- or fifth-grader who you feel would enjoy Beast Academy’s approach to math, your child will still likely be challenged by the work in 3A, and I’d recommend starting there. Fly through the easy pages at the beginning of each section (or even let your child skip them) and then settle in to do some of the good problem-solving in the middle and end of each section. The series is designed so that children who finish level 5 in fifth-grade will be well-prepared for a rigorous pre-algebra course in sixth-grade. This is an entire year earlier than most children take pre-algebra. So, even if it takes your older student a couple of years to work through the whole series, he or she will still be on track for pre-algebra in seventh grade.

**Is Beast Academy a complete curriculum?**

Perhaps because the Beast Academy books are so cute and playful, people seem to often wonder whether it is truly a complete curriculum. Can serious math really be this light-hearted? Can children really learn math from a comic book? **My answer is an emphatic “Yes!” Beast Academy covers all of the typical topics for each grade level, but goes more deeply into each topic and covers it in a more substantive way.**

That said, I do add a little bit of multiplication and division practice to make sure those skills don’t get rusty when my son is working on other topics in the books.

### How do you plan Beast Academy lessons?

Beast Academy does not provide a suggested lesson schedule or pacing suggestions, so you have to decide for yourself how much to accomplish in a day. My approach is just to open up the book each morning, look at the difficulty of the next few pages, and assign a reasonable number of problems. At the beginning of each section, it’s not unusual for my son to fly through four pages of easy problems in 20 minutes. But by the end of each section, he often solves only two or three challenge problems per day (or even just one).

### When will the rest of the Beast Academy books be published?

According to their FAQ, here’s the production schedule for the rest of the books:

- 5B: Currently at the printers, available soon
- 5C: September 2016
- 5D: February 2017
- 2A: Summer 2017
- 2B: Fall 2017
- 2C: Spring 2018
- 2D: Fall 2018

### What’s the best way to prepare my child for Beast Academy?

Good number sense and mental math skills are truly essential for success with Beast Academy. If kids have to devote too much mental energy to adding and subtracting, it uses so much of their working memory that it becomes difficult to solve more complex problems. Singapore 2A and 2B, RightStart C, and Math Mammoth Grade 2 are all great preparation for Beast Academy 3A, although they’re not the only options. If your child needs more practice with the addition facts, take a look at my Addition Facts That Stick for games and practice pages to get the facts solid.

Erin says

I think your date for release of 5D is off. According to my calculations it should be November of 2016 not 2017.

Kate says

Thanks so much for catching that, Erin! You’re correct–that was a typo I had missed. I’ve updated it now.

kj Levin says

I’m afraid 5A is now coming in October 2015, and presumably the other books’ publication dates will slip by a similar amount of time.

When I took my bright (but bored) 3rd grader out of school, I hesitated a bit to buy a “3rd grade” math curriculum for his 4th grade year, but I was so smitten by Beast Academy on paper that I took the risk. It’s been great! Waiting for the books we need to be released has been the only down side.

Even the Russian grandfather who did 5th grade math (level 4 BA books) with my son really likes this approach, though he was initially put off by the cartoon design. After flipping ahead through the book (and now working from it with my son for a year,) he’s impressed by the thoroughness and says maybe “Russian math” isn’t the only way for kids to learn deeply and well. BA is certainly more fun than the after school Russian math school many of our friends’ send their kids to. We are a math/science family. I’m an engineer by training, my husband is a scientist/professor, and my father-in-law is a retired programmer who now teaches at the college level part time to keep himself busy in his golden years.

We also used an iPad app to practice math skills up through the end of 4th grade. Basically, until his accuracy was 100% and his speed scores tied or beat those of family adults who took the test to provide a “competence baseline.” 🙂

Kate says

Saying that Beast Academy is comparable to Russian math school is quite a compliment! Glad you weren’t put off the third-grade label–it’s certainly some meaty math.

Thanks for the update on the publication date for 5A. I’ll add that to the post.

amanda says

I’m really interested in starting BA this fall, but not sure where to start. I have a 3rd and 4th grader who finished Singapore 2 and 3 respectively. I am sure they would both be fine in BA 3a but due to personalities and competitiveness, I’m a little hesitant to put them together. My older one is bright and breezes through more drill type math. I’m wondering if she would do OK in 4a. What are your thoughts?

Kate says

Hi Amanda, I’ve never seen “family dynamics” on a list of things to consider when you buy homeschool curriculum, but it ought to! Your older child would probably be fine in 4A, but I’d actually recommend starting her in 3D. Beast Academy introduces fractions as points on the number line in 3D, and then they continue to use that representation throughout the rest of the series. Since Singapore Math doesn’t use the number line representation as heavily, it would probably be helpful for your older to do that chapter in 3D. The rest of 3D is also excellent (estimation and area), and it would probably be a good way to ramp up to the new content in Level 4 and get used to the problem-solving approach.

Mindy says

Hi! Thank you so much for posting about BA. I homeschooled my daughter last year and had her doing Singapore Math 1 (She was 5/6 years old). Because of several unexpected events, we decided to enroll her in public school this year but have 100% decided to homeschool next year again. She has good number sense and is competent with addition/subtraction. I’m wondering if I should take a chance waiting for BA 2a to come out in August or if I should start on another program before beginning BA. I really love what I’ve read about BA and feel like it would be a good fit for my daughter but I’m a little nervous about waiting until last minute to buy curriculum only to find out she’s not quite ready for it. Thoughts?

Kate says

Hi Mindy, If you think it will be a good fit for your daughter, I’d go ahead and plan on doing 2A. Buying just one level will give you a chance to test it out and see if it’s a good fit for her–and if it proves to be a bust, you’re only out $27 and you can always go back to Singapore. If she did well with Singapore 1 a full academic year ago, I would expect that 2A will be a perfect introduction to Beast’s light, puzzle-y style (and she may even be ready to move into the Level 3 series after that 2A intro. Which is good, because she may move faster than they’re able to publish the Level 2 books.)

Christie says

Thanks for these great posts about BA. I discovered this last year, though we haven’t used it yet, and finally decided to try this with our son, who’s going into 3rd grade (was debating between this and Making Math Meaningful). We have mainly been working through My Father’s World 1st grade math and doing basic math stuff in everyday life. I feel like I may have not done enough, though, and am having a hard time deciding where I should put him. I’ve pondered using the 2A, but I’m not sure if that would be too young for him or not. He has a good grasp of math concepts, but his recall of math facts isn’t great. That being said, we are working on math facts using this – https://store.littlegiantsteps.com/products/rapid-recall-system-choose-operation. Perhaps I will do that as his only math for the first part of the year and then do BA for the second part??

Ack! I sure know how to overcomplicate things. 😉 Do you have any thoughts on where might be a good place to begin with him? I have a 1st grader coming up as well and think I will start her on 2A in 2nd grade. I have really enjoyed perusing your blog and taking notes. Thanks for the valuable resource!

Kate says

Hi Christie! Glad you’ve found the Beast Academy posts helpful. Since your son is still working on fluency with addition and subtraction, I suspect 2A would actually be a great place to start–both for polishing up those skills and for helping him get used to working on challenging, non-standard problems. Perhaps you could try 2A while he works on the facts this fall, and then decide whether to move him into 3A in the new year?

Here’s what the authors of BA have said about 2A on their facebook page, in case that helps clarify whether it’s a good fit for your son:

“The focus in the 2-series is fluency with addition and subtraction, and introducing problem solving strategies. Students beginning 2A are expected to be able to count by 1’s, 5’s, and 10’s to 100 and beyond. Students should be able to find sums and differences of small numbers (for example, 17+6, and 15-9), have all of the 1-digit + 1-digit sums memorized, and recognize pairs of numbers that sum to 10 (3+7, 8+2, etc.) and 20 (16+4, or 11+9).

Below is a current draft of our chapter titles. Nothing after 2A is set in stone yet, but it should give you a sense for what we will be doing in Grade 2.

2A

Place Value

Comparing

Addition

2B

Subtraction

Expressions and Equations

Problem Solving Strategies

2C

Measurement

Addition and Subtraction Strategies

Odds and Evens

2D

Big Numbers

Algorithms (+/-)

Problem Solving Strategies”

The Rapid Recall system looks interesting. I hope it works well for your son–but if it doesn’t , I can’t help but recommend my own Addition Facts That Stick and Subtraction Facts That Stick books. Just in case. 🙂

Happy Math!

Kate

Christie says

Oh, thanks so much! I hadn’t seen this on their FB page.

I just listened to the podcast with you and Pam Barnhill – great ideas. I love what you said when you compared math and literature. 🙂