*Trying to decide whether to change your homeschool math curriculum? Learn how to weigh the pros and cons and make your switch a success.*

## Reasons for Changing Homeschool Math Curriculum

Are any of these true in your homeschool?

- Math is causing tears. (Either for your child or you!)
- Math is taking more time than you have to give it.
- You’ve been using a more traditional math curriculum and would like to explore using a conceptual curriculum.
- You have already taught this math curriculum to your first several children and you just can’t handle going through the same book a fourth (or fifth…or sixth…) time.
- Your child is bored and not challenged enough.
- Your child just doesn’t seem to click with your math program, and you’re hoping another approach will make more sense to him or her.

If so, it might be time to change math program. In this article, I’ll help you **weigh the pros and cons of switching math programs** and show you **how to make your curriculum switch a success**.

## Advantages of Changing Your Homeschool Math Curriculum

When you switch programs, of course you’re hoping that the new curriculum will be a better fit for your family and more effective for your child. But there are other advantages to switching, too.

### Meeting Your Child’s Changing Needs

My third-grader Henry has already used three different math curricula: RightStart, Singapore Math, and Beast Academy. All three are excellent programs, and mixing up what I’ve used each year has **allowed me to adjust my math instruction as his needs have changed each year.**

First, RightStart gave him an excellent foundation in number concepts. Then, Singapore helped him transition from hands-on math activities to written work and reading a textbook. Now, Beast Academy provides interesting problems, builds his problem-solving perseverance, and feeds his curiosity about numbers.

### Growing as a Teacher

**Another advantage of switching math programs is how much I learn each time I use a new curriculum.** From RightStart, I learned how to use the abacus and carefully scaffold mental math development. From Singapore, I learned more about the ins and outs of complex word problems. Now, from Beast, I am learning how to let my son struggle and persevere through difficult problems. Because each program has its own distinctive emphases and teaching methods, I’ve been able to add some new techniques to my teaching repertoire every time I use a new program.

### Learning More About Your Child’s Learning Style

Finally, **switching curriculum has also helped me to learn more about how my son learns best.** As I’ve seen him approach different curricula, I’ve learned that he’s a very social learner who likes to figure things out for himself. He quickly loses steam if he has a lot of similar practice problems to do, but he’ll work doggedly on problems that challenge him. This insight has helped me make better curriculum choices not just in math but in all subjects.

## Possible Downsides of Changing Math Curriculum (and How to Overcome Them)

### Different Scope and Sequence

Each curriculum has its own scope and sequence (that is, which topics it covers, in which grades, and in which order.) If you switch midstream from one curriculum to another, **your child may miss some topics **or waste time reviewing material that she’s already mastered.

To prevent this, **make sure your child takes the placement test** for the curriculum that you are switching to. It’s quite likely that your child will place at a different “grade level” than your previous curriculum, since the scope and sequences can be significantly different. Don’t be tempted to push your child ahead just to stay at an artificial grade level—if you didn’t have tears with math before, you will now! It’s much better to build confidence and understanding by doing some brisk review than to risk frustration by floundering in a book that’s too difficult.

### Spending Time Getting to Know a New Program

**Switching curriculum has a learning curve for both the parent and child.** Both of you have to get used to a new format, layout, and lesson style. Plus, you have to learn how to teach the new curriculum and become familiar with any distinctive features of the program.

To make the transition as smooth as possible, **make sure you spend some time with the program before trying to teach your first lesson. **Read the introductory materials to become familiar with the philosophy of the program, and preview the first unit to understand the objectives and lesson formats. When you first introduce the book to your child, spend a little time looking over the book together and discussing how the book is organized. These small steps will make the changeover much easier on both of you.

### Not Finding the Root of the Problem

While there are many good reasons to change curriculum, switching shouldn’t be the automatic answer to math struggles. Before switching, make sure to pause to pinpoint what exactly isn’t working for you and your child. If you don’t stop to analyze the problem, there is a danger of using curriculum as a scapegoat any time math isn’t going well. Just because a child is struggling with math doesn’t mean that the curriculum is at fault. Make sure to consider how much time and effort you’re investing in teaching well, and how hard your child is working to understand and practice the math. Even the best curriculum isn’t effective without focused effort and good attitudes from both student and teacher. And sometimes, learning some math topics is just plain hard work that requires perseverance and struggle, no matter which curriculum you use.

## Conclusion

Just because you’ve used a certain math curriculum in the past doesn’t mean you have to stick with it forever. **You are your child’s teacher and you know your child best. So, do your research, think through your options, and trust yourself that you’re able to make a good decision.** No matter what, make sure to keep your end goal in mind: raising children who are capable and confident in math…*without* pulling all your hair out in the process.

Happy Math!

Hi, I’m considering switching from Singapore to Right Start and was wondering if Right Start is easier to teach. I spend a lot of time coming up with additional review using Singapore and I feel like I am constantly trying to evaluate my kids understanding of the material and I use the HIG and extra practice. Math is actually one of my stronger interests, but I struggle with communicating those concepts to my kids. Starting next school year I will have a 3rd, 2nd, and K, and would really like a more open and go curriculum. One that I can be confident at the end of the day knowing they are getting a great math education, and we accomplished what we needed to for that day. Do you think Right Start would be a good choice for us knowing this information?

Hi Marie,

There’s a lot that I like about Singapore, but not the HIG! RightStart is definitely much more open-and-go than Singapore. Plus, it’s scripted, so you don’t have to come up with your own words for explaining and asking questions.

However, RightStart doesn’t offer a whole lot more in terms of review or extra practice. The review is a bit more spread out than in Singapore, with “warm-up questions” at the beginning of each lesson that provide some review. There are also written assessments and some review embedded in the worksheets in the higher levels.

My biggest concern for you would be the amount of time you’d have to spend on direct instruction on math if you teach 3 levels of RightStart. You might want to check out this thread that was on the Well-Trained Mind forums recently about moms who juggle multiple levels of RightStart: http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/585170-rightstart-tips-for-juggling-multiple-levels/ Personally, I’d be reluctant to attempt it with three kids, but it depends a lot on how much time you’re comfortable spending on math instruction each day.

I hope this helps! Definitely let me know if you have any follow-up questions. 🙂

Thanks Kate! I really appreciate your advise. I think I’ll start Right Start with my 5year old to get a feel for the amount of time it takes. He’s also my hands on kids who lives games, so from your curriculum reviews I think he is a good candidate for this program. I’ll still with Singapore for my older two at this time, with plans to get my oldest into Beast Academy. He despises repetition in practice problems and said the other day, “If I just had word problems, I could do math all day.” Thanks so much for creating this page and all the time you spend writing. I greatly appreciate your wisdom and insight!

Ooh, your oldest sounds like he will love Beast Academy–and RightStart sounds like a great fit for your little guy! It’s such a great perk of homeschooling that we can adjust for our kids’ individual learning styles.

I just discovered your page and your reviews are so helpful and straightforward! I bought Right Start off a friend and it happens to be a perfect fit for my son and his personality (sociable, enjoys hands-on stuff). Do you plan to write reviews on other programs? Would love to hear your take on Miquon Math (uses cuisenaire rods). I read somewhere that it pairs well with Singapore math. And also Math U See.

Stefanie, so glad you’re finding the reviews helpful, and that RS is a good fit for your son. I’m planning to write a review of Math-U-See this spring, but I’ll consider adding on Miquon, too. It’s a program that’s always intrigued me, but I’ve never taken a close look at it. Thanks for the suggestion!

I’ve started Right Start with my five year old and it’s going really well. I’ve been using Singapore with my older two and after you posted that you don’t care for the HIG, I’ve quit using it, just using the text book and workbook. They are able to work more independently this way and seem to be understanding fine. Any other tips on using Singapore without the HIG?

Hi Marie! Glad your 5-year-old is doing well with RightStart! Just to clarify, the HIG drives me a little crazy, but I do think it has some useful info. The main thing it adds is tips on how to demonstrate the concepts with hands-on manipulatives, which of course a textbook can’t do.

That said, hands-on manipulatives are much more important at the lower levels when kids still think very concretely. Starting in third or fourth grade, I think the textbook is perfectly sufficient for most kids. My main tips are to make sure your children can explain why what they’re doing works and to check that they’re not just following rote procedures. I also recommend keeping up with the mental math exercises in the back of the HIG–these are very valuable and add a lot to the program. Happy math!

Thanks so much! I REALLY appreciate your tips! I can see the value of what you’ve mentioned, knowing to keep up with these will give me greater confidence continuing with Singapore.

Hi!

I just found your blog and YouTube channel!

I’m trying to find a math curriculum that fits our needs and wants. And I have a few questions if you have time 🙂

We have used and not liked MUS. We still use the blocks heavily and love them, but my kids were bored with all the worksheets and they like color in their work pages.

I’m considering Mcruffy Math, horizons, MM or CLE, Singapore. I know, I’m spinning from all the options!

I want a mix of both Asian inspired math, with easy scripted lessons for me(the teacher) and color worksheets.

Math is not my strong suit, but my kids love games and I want them to be strong in math! We do the Math Verbal Lesson and LOF too.

If I purchase your math book, will it walk me through how to use the program? What about manipulatives?

Sorry, I’m so all over the place, it’s just soo confusing ????

Hi Hannah! Hmm,I don’t believe a curriculum exists that fits all the criteria you’re looking for. CLE, Horizons, and McRuffy aren’t Asian-inspired, MM doesn’t offer scripted lessons, and Singapore’s worksheets are black-and-white. Of the 5 programs, I think Singapore Math Standards edition would probably fit your needs the best. The textbooks at least are in color, and the Home Instructor’s Guide is more scripted than the U.S. edition.

For my Preschool Math at Home, it walks you through exactly how to teach each activity (and also helps you understand how each one builds on the previous activity). The only manipulatives you need for it are everyday household items.

I have 2nd grade twins who have been using Rightstart B this year. One daughter flew through the lessons, she easily picked up abstract concepts and often times did not need the manipulatives (she tested in gifted program at public school prior to homschooling). Should I continue her with level C or switch to Singapore? I read on the WTM forum that you switched after some of level C was completed. I hate to purchase C only for a few lessons. By the way, my other twin who hated math …now loves it. I am shocked by her mastery of number sense and mental math. This is the one program I have not questioned or regretted as a first time homeschooling mom.

Hi Amy,

RightStart is a great program, but I did feel like C moved a little slow for my math whiz. (Bear in mind that I was using the first edition, though. Second edition is quite a bit more streamlined.) Since RightStart is working so well for both your girls, I’d suggest sticking with it through C with both of them. If you feel like it’s starting to drag for one of your daughters, you might consider switching to Singapore or Beast Academy for her after C. But certainly don’t feel like you HAVE to switch–it’s a solid, well-thought-out program all the way through.

Hello- we’re just looking to start homeschooling in the fall. I will have a 4th grader and 5th grader as well as one in pre-k. Both the older are good students and do well in public school. Although I don’t feel like they have been challenged this year at all. I’m leaning towards the Singapore math programs. When we did the online placement testing it seems like we would need to start one in 3 and one in 4 they just didn’t do well on the 4/5 tests.

Do you think this is a program we can start as first time homeschoolers and do well in? It seems to be a bit intense but I’m really wanting to challenge them and raise strong learners.

Hi Jen! You’ll be fine starting Singapore in books 3 and 4 (especially since you’ve used the placement tests to find the correct book for each child). Just make sure to buy and use the home instructors’ guides, and you’ll be good to go.

Hi Kate, I so appreciate your advice and your blog – thank you! I have a question about switching our math program. My 7 year old daughter has completed rightstart A and B. She’s older for her grade and did very well with these. I taught my 5 year old son A while teaching her B this past year and it was a lot of one on one time. I liked the program but think it would be nice to have her math be more independent since I also have a 4 year old and 2 year old. My 7 year old also loves worksheets and was always excited for the assessments. 😛 She didn’t like all the parts of right start like I did. So my question is, do you think I should do one more year of right start with her and complete level C before switching or do you think she could switch now? I am leaning toward math mammoth for the switch. Thanks!

Carrie, I think you’ll be just fine switching to Math Mammoth at this point. Just make sure to do the placement test to put your daughter in the right book. (And keep the abacus and place-value cards handy–they’re a great add-on to Math Mammoth.)

Hi Kate! I read this article, the review of RS, and all the comments under each. I was trying to answer my own question without bothering you, but alas, I need advice. My oldest is finishing up first grade and my youngest will be starting k5 next year. I have been doing Saxon math with my oldest and my younger jumps in and out when it suits her. We have only made it about half way through Math 1 because of some serious medical issues that stopped life for several months so she is not where I would like her to be by this point. But we can’t seem to make much headway with Saxon because the lessons are SO long and we are both bored to tears. I think it is time for a change and as I have been researching programs RS stuck out to me, but I am a little worried that I am going to put her WAY to far behind starting with a program that teaches so differently. I have considered buying it an starting with my kindergartener just to see if I like it but we live in a tiny home and space is limited to own two full math curriculums (also, thinking of continuing Saxon makes me want to cry). I need to research Singapore more, maybe that would be a better fit for us. So far math has honestly been the first subject we will cut in a day if we run out of time because we hate it and I don’t feel like they really understand why they are doing what they are doing (place value has not even been mentioned!) I keep telling myself that the beauty of Homeschooling is they get to be on whatever level they need to be on so I think I would rather her be behind and really grasp math then to continue to do something that is obviously not working. If you were in my situation, which curriculum would you lean towards starting?

Hi Rachel,

If you’re attracted to RightStart, I think you should go for it. Both your children could start Level A together, so you’d only have to teach one lesson per day. Even though RightStart A is generally recommended for kindergartners, it goes way beyond most other K programs, especially with its focus on mental math and place value. So, even though your older child would be technically “behind”, she wouldn’t be very far below typical grade level skills, and she’d develop a much better foundation for mastering the rest of elementary math.

Happy Math!

Kate

Kate, thank you so much for taking the time to answer my question. I think you are right. I am going to go with my gut, even if it is a lot of repetition I think that is worth it for a really strong foundation. I think I just needed a “go ahead” from another mom that I wasn’t making a completely absurd decision. 😉

Hi Kate! Thanks for this post! I’m struggling to decide whether to switch my son from Singapore (Primary Mathematics). We are just about to finish 1A and he is finishing up first grade. I can’t say he’s ever been a huge fan of it, but he especially hates the mental math sheets, and says he hates number bonds which are a significant part of how things are taught. I know part of this is learning perseverance, but I wonder if the curriculum just doesn’t click with him. Lately he has gotten very resistant because the explanations for how to solve subtraction problems like 17-9= just are not clicking with him. I’m planning on finishing an excellent math facts program called Addition Facts that Stick and also Subtraction Facts that Stick over the summer in case his weakness in the math facts is causing this (thanks for creating those by the way). Do you have any advice for me?

Hi Kari,

Math is definitely no fun when your child is resisting. I think there’s probably a few tweaks you can make to help make Singapore a better fit for your son, though, without having to switch programs.

First of all, Singapore 1A does move VERY fast through the addition facts, and the explanations and strategies that it offers are often too abstract for first graders. Singapore is a great program overall, but this is definitely one of its weaknesses. My goal with my books was to take similar kinds of mathematical thinking and make them more concrete and more understandable, so working through Addition Facts and Subtraction Facts this summer should make a huge difference.

Second, my daughter isn’t a huge fan of the mental math sheets, too. With her, I only do about a third of a page per day, we do lots of them out loud, and others we do on the whiteboard to mix things up. As long as you’re doing some mental math regularly, you should be in good shape–even if it’s not a whole sheet at a time, or even some mental math every day.

And finally, regarding the number bonds. You’re right, part-whole thinking is crucial to the program and understanding the underlying structure of addition and subtraction problems. What to do there depends on what he doesn’t like about them. The format? The difficulty level? (Too easy or too hard?) My main advice would be use them sparingly, and make sure that he’s working at the right difficulty level when he does number bond problems. But I think he’ll feel a lot better about them in general once he’s more proficient with the facts.

Happy Math!

Kate

Hello Kate,

I have referred to your website often and appreciate all you do to help with math. I’m hoping you can help me with my dilemma for this year, and I apologize ahead of time for the rather lengthy post.

I have five children, three of whom will be in home school next year. I also have a three-year old, and a baby. My oldest son did level 3 Beast Academy last year. It was a success, although he finally reached a point near the end of 3D where he was just burned out. It is just plain hard! My daughter, in first grade, did a math curriculum I had used with child 1 (Rod and Staff), but it was a disaster for her. She plodded through worksheets, rebelling and in tears all the way because she hated the monotony. I’ve got to switch her program., and am considering Math Mammoth. I am not sure that Beast Academy is a good fit for her, although she read all of older brother’s guide books for fun. Not sure how much she understood, but she loves to read! I’m not confidant that she has yet developed a strong number sense. Math doesn’t seem all that intuitive for her, and I don’t want another year of tears!

My pre-schooler (birthday in September, so will officially start kindergarten this year) was really ready for kindergarten last year, so I did Singapore Math Essentials with him. He loved it, but also didn’t like me to do too much teaching. He seemed to find great satisfaction in finishing the worksheets, but didn’t have a lot of patience for most of the suggested teaching tips at the bottom of the page. After he finished Essentials, I started him on Primary 1A, insisting on taking plenty of time and not rushing through the worksheets. He was doing really well before we stopped for a summer break. I also bought a copy of your “Addition Facts that Stick” book. I’ve used it as a supplemental resource for both child 2 and 3. I just noticed you have a subtraction version, and will have to check it out. Thanks!

With all that as background, my dilemma comes down to this: Obviously, my time is stretched pretty thinly, and I’m not sure that teaching three different math curriculums is going to work for me. For the sake of my daughter and stream-lining, I’m tempted to switch them all to Math Mammoth. Do you see any red flags with that idea? Do you have any advice for me?

Hi Sara,

No red flags at all–Math Mammoth is a great curriculum, and it will simplify your life a ton. Go for it!

A couple thoughts that might make the transition go more easily:

-Since your daughter had some struggles with math this last year, I’d anticipate that she may need more hand-holding than your other two children. I’d suggest planning a little time in your daily routine to make sure to do direct teaching with her, and to make sure you have manipulatives at hand . The MM chapter intros are a treasure trove of teaching hints that will help with this.

-Depending on your youngest child’s fine motor skills, he may have a little trouble with the small blanks on the MM 1 worksheets. Probably not a big deal, but just something to watch out for. You can always have him do some of the page orally or enlarge them.

-If your oldest son misses Beast, you might consider getting just the Guides for fun reading and for reading along with the matching MM sections.

Hope your transition goes swimmingly! Happy Math!

Kate

Hi Kate!

I am so very thankful to come across you’re blog. I was hoping you can give me your opinion on the following. I started my oldest one with Horizon (2nd grade) and while he liked it, it was difficult for me to teach because it basically did not include instructions on how to teach it. As we reach 3rd grade, it got complicated for both of us, and this was the first time, we did not finish the book (thank you by the way for the awesome article about not finishing the math book!). Last year, as we reach 4th grade, we used Rod and Staff, it gave us consistency and we completed the book; However, I became concern once we tried a few placement test for other math curriculums (Saxon, Singapore, Beast Academy), and my child tested at least two grades behind! This was a child who would always test two grades ahead!. So I am considering now switching to a more conceptual curriculum. Will Saxon math fit this criteria? I understand it is spiral which is different from the mastery style of Rod & Staff. I was actually considering using Saxon 76, Singapore and Beast Academy (as fun) but I don’t know if it’ll be too much too soon. Thank you!

Hi Gia!

Rod and Staff is a solid curriculum, so I’m a little surprised that your son tested so far behind in the placement tests. Did you look at what kinds of mistakes he made? Were they were mostly in topics that Rod and Staff hasn’t covered yet (for example, graphing or geometry)? The pattern of errors matters a lot more than the overall score, so I’d take a close look at what kinds of problems he struggled with to try to analyze what was going on.

If he’s doing well in arithmetic (adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing whole numbers and fractions) and if using the curriculum is going well, I’d be inclined to stick with it. Singapore and Beast Academy both have very unusual scope and sequences, so I’m not surprised that he might test “behind” in those two programs. Saxon is definitely not a conceptual curriculum,. If the mastery style of R&S works well for your son, switching to a curriculum that teaches in such bits and pieces may not be a good fit.

Sorry not to have more specific advice for you. The math teacher in me is very curious about those placement tests!

Happy Math!

Kate

Thank you SO much for all of the time and heart you’ve put into your reviews. So incredibly helpful! I am still researching and praying about which curriculum to use this year. So far we have used Miquon exclusively (while supplementing a bit with various math games and activities as well as Critical Thinking Mind Benders). I am NOT strong at math and I don’t want my kids to be at a disadvantage because of my own weakness there. My 4th and 5th grader are both very strong at reading and absolutely love word problems but are not at mastery with some basics (multiplication facts, place value, adding and subtracting large numbers). I feel like they would love Beast Academy because of the reading element and I want them to continue to be stretched. Do you have any thoughts on me doing Beast Academy with them while supplementing with something else to get that mastery of the basics down?

Hi there! I loved listening to your interview on The Morning Basket. Thank you for all your great ideas!!

I came here to see if I can figure out a math curriculum for my kids this year. I have used a new one each year for my 10 yr old and feel at a loss. We always start well and then peter out a few weeks or so in. She gets bored and/or frustrated. We have done Singapore, MUS (bored by videos), Christian Light. A lot of my friends do Saxon, but the length of those lessons overwhelms ME! She enjoys LOF, and we end up doing a combo of games online for review and usually a book from barnes and Noble like math in 10 minutes a Day, but I feel like she needs a better core curriculum. I was wondering if maybe Teaching Textbooks would work.

My 7 year old is easy going and picks up concepts fast, so I am not concerned about him, and I also have a 5 yr old starting K, so I would like something more open and go with them so I don’t have to spend 3 hours teaching 3 separate lessons.

Help!

Glad you enjoyed the podcast, Sarah! I wonder if Math Mammoth would be a good fit for you, perhaps with continuing to read Life of Fred as a supplement. Math Mammoth has a fair amount of self-teaching involved, and it’s a very solid, sequential program. Here’s the link to my full Math Mammoth review.

Teaching Textbooks works well for some families, but some find that their child learns to match the instructional patterns without really understanding the math. If you go that route, definitely keep a close eye on your children’s progress and level of understanding. Khan Academy is another online (and free!) option that works along the same lines. And no matter which program you use, you may have to brace yourself for some unhappiness from your ten-year-old. She’s at a point where math should take some time and focused attention each day, and she just might not like having to do the work! I truly do believe that math is full of truth and beauty, and that shouldn’t be all drudgery–but there are parts of learning it that just take some perseverance and hard work.

Happy Math!

Kate

Hi Katie,

Sounds like your 4th and 5th grader would love Beast Academy! I think mixing in some basic review with Beast Academy would work just fine, and it would probably give your boys a great mix of deep thinking and rote practice. For practicing the basics, you might check out Math Mammoth’s Blue series. They’re high-quality, inexpensive, downloadable worktexts that you can use to work through one specific topic at a time. The formatting isn’t pretty, but the content is excellent!

Happy Math!

Kate

Hi Kate,

I have a 3rd grader that has tested 99% for math ability, but distraction impacts his learning. We are homeschooling for the first time this year. He entered k loving math, doing 3rd -5th grade work. At school they used Go Math but pulled him out for many math classes. By end of 2nd grade he hated math.

We’ve started at home with math drills he’s gotten rusty with, which has brought back some confidence.

I use Beast academy 3a, which he really likes, and also Primary Mathematics 3A.

This I did because they are both so different. BA is fun, but he also needs more basic problems and working with regrouping, etc

Is it a bad idea to mix curriculum for the same year? I don’t want to have him get behind, but I don’t think he could do a full amount of both daily. We’ve been doing three days BA, 2 PM one week, and the reverse for the next.

Any thoughts on this? I want him to have a good foundation and have it be fun as well. I prefer not to buy another curriculum too! 😉

Thanks!

Sounds like a perfect mix for your kiddo, Melissa! So much of the beauty of homeschooling is the freedom to adapt curriculum to best fit your child. No worries about him getting behind, either. Both are somewhat “advanced” curriculum, and you’re giving him a fantastic foundation with the drill and practice so he can thoroughly enjoy the beauty and interesting non-routine parts of math that Beast offer him. Just don’t feel like you have to do every page in both books–you’ll likely find he can skip some of each book, and no need to make him do busy work that he’s already mastered.

Happy math!

Kate

Hi Kate,

Thank you so much for your email and support! My concern is that if we aren’t getting through either curriculum this year, that would make him fall behind.

From what I can tell, 3A Primary Mathematics is what would be covered in 2B-D Beast Academy. Though that is not out yet.

Thanks so much!

Melissa

Kate,

My daughter is in 6th grade but at about a 4th grade level in math. Since pulling her out of a waldorf program in 5th grade we have struggled with math. She liked the idea of Teaching Textbooks but quickly became unhappy with it and has since toyed around with Khan. I am looking for a program that can help fill her gaps as she still struggles with multiplication and basic math. Ideally I would like a program that can give her a strong mental math base, and confidence. That said a somewhat independent program would be best as she is head strong and fights me teaching her.

Hi SG,

Math Mammoth sounds like it might be a great fit for your daughter. It’s quite independent, and it lays a solid ground work in conceptual understanding and mental math. The other benefit of it is that the author offers it in topical units, so it’s easy to use to fill in gaps. You can read more about the full program at my review, but definitely also check out the Blue series topical books for individual units.

Happy Math!

Kate

Hi Kate,

You gave us great advice about Singapore Math, and we’ve loved it this year! There is a chance that our DD may return to a traditional school environment next year (although I’m personally hoping to continue homeschool). The school she may attend used the Bridges math curriculum. Are you familiar with it? I looked at the website, but it’s pretty generally, and basically lets me know that it’s Common Core aligned, etc. I think it’s a spiraling curriculum, rather than mastery-based. That makes me a little nervous as my DD has really thrived with the mastery approach in Singapore. Any thoughts are oh-so-welcome! Thanks!

Hi AM,

So glad that Singapore has worked well for you this year! I’m afraid I don’t know anything about Bridges, though.

Happy Math!

Kate

We will be beginning homeschool with my 5 year old son this fall and I don’t know how to tell yet which program might work best for him for math? Any tips for a great start?

Hi Amanda,

I know, all the different options can feel very overwhelming. I’d say to pick whatever program appeals to you the most and go for it. If you want lots of hands-on activities and lessons where you’re very involved, use RightStart. If you want a minimalist program with simple lessons, use Singapore Essential K. And if you’d like a very cute and colorful (but still mathematically valuable) program, try Singapore’s Early Bird program.

You’ll learn a lot from your first year of homeschooling, both about yourself as a teacher and your son as a learner. Don’t worry if you end up changing programs or realizing you need to do something differently–it’s all part of the process.

Happy Math!

Kate

I appreciate your articles on math, especially Right Start, which I’ve been using.

Do you have any experience with Right Start NOT being a good fit for actually mastering the math facts? I think we could have stood to do a LOT more games, but whatever we could have done differently in the past, here we are struggling with speed in level D with my almost-9-year-old. While he has progressed through the program with good scores, he has always been painfully slow. The ideal of 3-seconds per math fact is a long ways away. We’re at 6 seconds per fact in addition, 8.6 seconds for subtraction, and a whopping 20 seconds for multiplication. Accuracy is good, but speed has been severely lacking, which makes multi-digit multiplication (we’re close to the last quarter of Level D) quite time-consuming, even if it can be done accurately.

I guess we have the UNDERSTANDING that Right Start is so strong at promoting (and which we highly value), but we haven’t actually translated that into the facts being effectively memorized/mastered. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. My son really enjoys his lessons (as does his younger brother, who doesn’t seem to have the speed problem), but the facts/work load relative to his speed is challenging/frustrating. When a “warm up” facts practice sheet takes at least 30 minutes…it really kills the joy. 🙁

Hi Lauren,

Oof, that must make multi-digit multiplication a real pain. I’d suggest proceeding along two parallel tracks:

1. To take the tedium out of your daily lessons, allow your son to use a multiplication chart when he’s working problems that require a lot of multiplication and division. This will allow him to focus his working memory on the new skill that he’s learning without getting bogged down with figuring out the facts. It may feel like “cheating,” but it will allow him to continue to make good progress in his conceptual understanding and higher-level skills. (You can print out a completed table here.) It will also help prevent him from completely hating math. 🙂

2. At the same time, spend 5-10 minutes per day on facts practice. Use whatever technique best suits your child’s learning style–RS games, my Facts That Stick books, apps, flash cards–but give him consistent practice at recalling the facts quickly, separately from the RS lessons. Progress from easiest facts to hardest facts and from addition to subtraction to multiplication to division so that he can begins to experience success at recalling the facts quickly. (My Facts That Stick books lay out a progression for this, but RS games generally progress this way, too.)

Some kids just process information a little more slowly than others, and your son may always need 5 seconds or so for the facts. (I’d be curious as to whether he tends to be a careful, thoughtful child in other subjects as well.) Don’t worry about it too much, but just make sure to keep providing that practice and encouraging him to respond as quickly as possible. Some kids just need to get out of their slow and methodical rut, too. 🙂

Happy Math!

Kate

Hi Kate, I appreciate you helping so many parents with math. My daughters started homeschooling last year in grades 3 and 5. They just started grades 6 and 4 now. We used TT because it seemed simple to transition to from public school. My youngest claimed to love math but didn’t have a good foundation from public school, math for her seemed all over the place. She is my hands on kid. My oldest hates math and this started as early as grade 2 however she is a gifted kid in most ways but struggles with math as she is slow at it. She has done well though and is a very independant learned. Her learning styles are visual and audible and she would happily read all day. We just started TT again and although we did the textbook we didn’t use the computer much for it) I find they can do the work but it didn’t stick and they cannot tell me why they are doing what they’re doing at all. I don’t like the program as it seems they can fly through most of it just memorizing steps (esp. my oldest). I considered buying math for a living education so it gives them a bit more hands on, and explain the concepts on a way that they may stick better? Do you know anything about this program and whether it’s worth a try or not? I feel like I’ve let my kids down in this area of learning and wish I could go back in time to when they were young and make more time for their learning but here we are doing it late, better late than never but a bit lost where to start. Thanks so much!

Hi Melody,

Definitely better late than never! Some families have success with TT, but I share your concerns about kids flying through it without understanding or retaining the information. Sometimes, computer-based instruction just makes things too easy for kids, unfortunately.

I’ve only looked at Math for a Living Education somewhat, but it looks like a good program, with a nice focus on math in real-life. I do think many children will need more practice than the program includes (especially with the math facts, but also with other computations), so just be prepared to add a little more practice if you find your kids are having trouble. You might also consider Activities for the AL Abacus, or my Math Facts That Stick books, if you feel that you need to fill in some gaps in the basics before moving onto grade-level work.

Happy Math!

Kate

Hi, Kate,

Thank you so much for this wonderful Web site! We used Waldorf-inspired curriculum for Kindy and 1st grade (Lavender’s Blue and Christopherus), and my daughter did really well with that approach, including grasping “the four processes” really quickly. After the first quarter of 2nd grade though, I felt that there just wasn’t enough practice with math facts, and I decided to switch to RightStart Level B. We are about halfway through Level B now. My daughter LOVES the RightStart games, but she really misses the story aspect of Waldorf math..and she misses doing the other procedures (subtraction, multiplication, and division), because early level math facts are all taught together with Waldorf. She grasps concepts really quickly…super fast!…but it is quite difficult for her to memorize math facts, and her enthusiasm for math is waning…I think mainly because she misses the stories. I’ve paused RightStart for now, and we are just focusing on math facts and games. I just ordered your Addition Math Facts that Stick book, and I think working with a ten-frame will help her a lot. Sooo…once she gets those addition facts down, I’m thinking of switching to Beast Academy 2A. What do you think? She understands place value perfectly. She understands and can do word problems (from Singapore Primary Mathematics Challenging Word Problems workbook); it just takes her a long time, because she doesn’t have the math facts memorized. I looked at the placement test for Beast Academy 2A, and I think she will pass it easily, once she knows the addition facts. We did a free trial of BA Online, and she really liked the characters and the visual aspect. I am very good at math, so I think I will be able to utilize the RightStart games and manipulatives when needed with Beast Academy. Just wanted to ask for your thoughts and to see if there’s anything I might be overlooking in switching. Thank you so much for your time!

Hi Chris,

Sounds like a great plan to me! The characters and story do a great job of communicating the concepts, and RS games will be perfect for consolidating or reviewing key skills.

Hope your daughter loves Beast, and happy math!

Kate

Thank you so much!

Chris

Hi Kate, thanks for your advice! I switched my kids go Mfle and it’s been pretty good, but like you said, some things they need more practice. My daughter is now in grade 7 and I’m wondering what your recommendations are for pre-algebra and beyond. I’ve considered math mammoth 7, but then it ends so i’d need to find a new curriculum again. I was recommended Saxon, my daughter doesn’t like math, she is slower at it but I think she grasps concepts quickly but struggles with the “why”. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!

Hi Melody,

If you’ve liked MFLE, I’d continue on in their series. I’ve never used their middle school books personally, but I’ve looked at them at conferences, and they look great. They look very mathematical without being overwhelming, and like they’ll provide a good transition to learning math from a textbook.

Happy Math!

Kate

Thank you so much Kate!

Hi Kate, I’m wondering if you mean Principles of Mathematics? This is the series put out by master books for junior high onward starting in grade 7. Mfle goes only to grade 6. Thanks again.

Hi Melody,

Yes, those are the ones I mean. 🙂

Happy Math!

Kate

Hi Kate,

My son will finish RightStart C this year, and I have thoughts to change curriculum next year for the follow reasons (but I’m still unsure). He really doesn’t have much independence with it comes to math. I’m always right there working with him and helping him along, and I would like him to develop a little more time where he can work on his own and think and struggle without me there to always help him along (he hasn’t really developed this skill to work and think by himself). He hasn’t had much trouble with RightStart – occasionally he gets the mental math problems wrong as we begin the lesson but that is more him trying to go too fast. Anyways, if I change, I would probably try Singapore (I’m assuming I would start at level 3A?) or Beast Academy (also level 3?). But I’m wondering if there would be any gaps going from finishing RightStart C to Singapore or BA? I will have the summer to catch up so I’m wondering if I’ll need to introduce anything like division or more fractions? Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

Hi Laura,

Either of those would be a great next book after RightStart C. The best way to check for gaps to have your son take the placement test for whichever program you choose later this spring. (For Singapore, you’d want to have him take the 2B test and see how he does. For Beast Academy, you’d want to have him take the Level 3A entrance test, but definitely take those results with a grain of salt. I think the second page is overly difficult–as long as he can do the computations on the first page, he’s in good shape.)

Happy Math!

Kate