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    • I often hear questions about choosing a homeschool math curriculum such as, "What math program do you all use?" or "What's the best math curriculum for a child who hates math?"

      I hear these questions constantly on Facebook groups and they are responded to by a hundred parents with fifty different opinions and experiences to share. Unless you are super committed to your current curriculum, it can be tempting to look elsewhere for that elusive and perfect math curriculum for your child. (Or each of your children since they're all so different!)

      So, Seasoned Homeschool Moms: How do you know you've found the right math curriculum? I'm not suggesting there's one right curriculum for a given child, but how can you lay your math-related curriculum buying angst to rest? The fear of missing out on something better is real!

    • I only have experience with elementary math so far, but I've found the following to be true, (and often money and time-saving):

      1) Almost any math curriculum will do the job if done consistently. In other words, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

      2) Sometimes all you need is a supplement on a certain topic to get a kid "unstuck." Recently this meant watching a few Khan Academy videos on multiplication for my kiddo who wasn't getting it. He needed to hear/see it explained a different way than our current curriculum but he didn't actually need to switch to something new. Sometimes just having my husband or an older sibling explain a concept has made something "click" for a child.

      3) Mastering math facts can be separate from a curriculum. If you don't feel like a certain program lingers long enough over memorizing facts, that doesn't mean it's not a good curriculum. Just give 5-10 minutes of your math time each day to something like XtraMath, timed tests, flashcards, wrap-ups, or something similar that focuses on facts.

      4) If you have a kid who "hates" math, it's often because they find it too hard, too easy, or because you not-so-secretly hate math yourself so your kids are predisposed to think it's either dry or impossible or both. Figure out *why* they hate math and go from there. Simply switching curriculum blindly isn't likely to fix the underlying problem.

      5) The "right" curriculum depends on you, not just on your child. If it's too teacher intensive or complicated to implement in your situation, then even if your child is doing fine in it, you may want to look elsewhere.

    • I teach math (and science and PE and...) and I'd sure like to know how you would customize or personalize a math curriculum to meet the needs of each child. Every day I attempt to meet the needs of individual students while at the same time recognizing my own limits with such a large group as well as fulfilling the government mandated curriculum. As teachers we regularly discuss how to 'modify' the curriculum to meet the needs of assorted student groups depending on their needs. It's an extremely challenging task unless you simply give in to the mandated curriculum and do your best to cover it.

      Nothing seems certain to me except that students inability to add or multiply quickly is certainly causing them problems in most areas of math. I think of times tables and adding as vocabulary. If you don't know the vocabulary you can't follow the conversation. You don't pick up a dictionary repeatedly while having a conversation and likewise it doesn't work to simply pick up a calculator repeatedly while having a math conversation (aka lesson). What happens is the lesson goes right over the heads of the students. Practicing math fact skills at times that makes it meaningful is helpful, but building this skill takes an enormous amount of time. Time that isn't taken in most math classes and in many households today.

    • You've shared many great insights! I'd also say that many kids just need a bit of a break from something before it's covered again. Regular review is important and breaking the learning up into numerous cycles is generally more effective than covering it once in a year and not coming back to it until the following year. Kids brains are developing quickly and sometimes just need a bit of time before they are ready for a certain concept.

    • Oh good addition. Sometimes we just circle back to a particular concept in a month or two and it comes very easily. Again, no curriculum change necessary. Their brain just needed some time to mature or mull over it in the background.

    • I agree with this and am struggling to persuade my nine year old that some/many of math "difficulties" will lessen with knowledge of "math facts." Have you found any system/ app/book to be better than others at re-enforcing these facts?

    • I’ve used this successfully with elementary and middle school students. The engagement rate is insane: in less than five minutes, children willingly do the equivalent of half a dozen worksheets worth of problems.

      Here’s a video of the program:

      And here’s more details on their success in improving retention of math facts, as well as pricing.

    • flash cards is the best bang for your buck but kids seem to vary on which programs they prefer. I think interacting and learning with other people is the most enjoyable for kids. Sorry I can't be of more help.

    • Cool. I guess kids get a reward and not just an intrinsic reward. I think I'd be more motivated too. Have to try that.

    • I consider "reinforcing facts" distinct from "learning facts" and I have different recommendations for each.

      Reinforcing or speeding up facts can be done in any number of different ways. Here are some of our favorites:

      - is free straightforward and gets it done

      - learning wrap ups are fun for in the car:

      - flashcards

      - printable timed worksheets

      I have a kiddo who just needed some consistent time on Xtramath and mastered everything just fine. However, I have another child who just couldn't seem to remember the facts from one day to the next. He'd be much faster by the end of a particular study session and then the next day it was like he'd have to learn them from scratch again.

      So I went looking for a better approach and we've loved the Math Facts that Stick series from Kate Snow. She teaches the facts in logical groups and gives the kids concrete visuals to fall back on as they're working on recall. 15 minutes a day is all it takes so it's a doable supplement to school. She has a great primer on the approach here, along with a test to see which facts are already mastered.

      The other books: Subtraction Facts that Stick, Multiplication Facts that Stick, and Division Facts that Stick all look great as well. We're halfway through subtraction and have multiplication waiting in the wings: .

    • Thanks for this -- I had not come across the Math Stick before and yes this looks great for the car and just whenever.

      Also interesting point about reinforcement as opposed to learning -- that is a distinction that I need to spend more time thinking about. The school curriculum is "You know it or do not" but there is a place other than that for the kid who thinks "outside the box."