Choosing an elementary homeschool math curriculum can feel overwhelming, since there are so many different programs out there. But it really comes down to just two steps.
- Step 1: Narrow the search to the highest-quality programs.
- Step 2: Out of those options, choose the program that best fits your family.
Only you can choose the program that best fits your family, but I’m here to help you narrow your search so you can focus on the very best math programs as you make your decision. In this article, I’ll explain what make an excellent homeschool math curriculum, the factors you should make sure to consider as you choose a program, and the 5 elementary math curricula that I recommend.
What Makes an Excellent Homeschool Math Curriculum?
Focus on Conceptual Understanding
Great programs teach kids not only how to do math but also why what they’re doing makes sense. In these programs, the parent and textbook help children understand the concepts of math and apply them. Children are actively engaged, thinking through the ideas and understanding how the skills build on each other. (Contrast this with procedural programs, in which the teacher or textbook demonstrates a procedure and then the child’s role is to imitate the procedure.)
Understanding the concepts behind the procedures has many benefits: more confidence in math, more efficient learning, and improved critical thinking skills.
Plenty of Practice to Solidify Skills
However, while learning the concepts of math is a good start, children also need to develop computational fluency. That’s just a fancy way for saying that they need to learn the basic math facts (like 5+6 or 7×8) and they need to be able to solve problems (like 426 – 341 or 124 x 78) automatically and correctly. Excellent homeschool math programs provide plenty of practice with these skills so that kids can master them thoroughly.
Teacher’s Guide that Empowers the Parent
Textbooks are helpful guides, but most elementary-age children also need a teacher in order to thrive in math. High-quality homeschool math programs also provide plenty of guidance and support to you, the parent, so that you can teach the material well. The best programs guide you step-by-step and even explain the reasoning behind the lessons so that you can even grow as a teacher while you teach.
What Makes a Math Curriculum a Good Fit for Your Family?
Even the best math curriculum will flop if it’s not a good fit for your family. Make sure to consider these questions as you go about evaluating programs:
What helps your child learn well?
You are your child’s parent and teacher, and you know your child best. Consider whether your child thrives on hands-on activities versus written work, and whether he or she does better with simple, black-and-white books or colorful, busy books. Also think about whether your child likes to puzzle things out or have them presented in a more straight-forward way.
How much does it cost?
There’s no point buying the perfect math curriculum if it means you can’t buy groceries! Good math instruction is worth the investment, but some curricula are very expensive. Fortunately, there are also more moderately-priced programs.
How much time does it take?
Make sure you’re ruthlessly realistic on this one! Math is an essential subject, but we homeschool moms have a lot to balance. It’s no use buying a curriculum if it’s going to sit on the shelf because you don’t have time to teach it.
5 Highly-Recommended Homeschool Math Programs
So, with all of that said, here are 5 elementary math programs that I recommend highly. Not all will be the right fit for every family, but all of them do an excellent job teaching children the concepts and skills of elementary math.
Click on the titles for comprehensive reviews and buying guides.
Updated April 2016