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).
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 1A and 1B, RightStart B, and Math Mammoth Grade 1 are all great preparation for Beast Academy 3A, although they’re not the only options. If your child needs more practice with the addition and subtraction facts, take a look at my Addition Facts That Stick and Subtraction Facts That Stick for games and practice pages to get the facts solid.