It All Adds Up: Choosing the Best Math Options for Your Homeschool
May 18, 2022
Mercy Every Minute
Deborah Wuehler, TOS Senior Editor
An Eclectic Approach to Math
God is an orderly God, and numbers and order are important to Him. Math is not just a necessity for life, but also a means of better understanding God’s creation and character. And through math we see His absolute brilliance!
“He tells the number of the stars; he calls them all by their names. Great is our Lord, and of great power: His understanding is infinite” (Psalm 147:4,5).
This has been my very eclectic approach when it comes to math resources. Though there are myriads of excellent math products out there, I have settled with the below. I have stuck to this plan for well over twenty-five years for all eight children, but changed it up according to their abilities:
PreK – Kindergarten
Christ Centered Curriculum: Math (3. Math Archives – Christ Centered Curriculum)
First – Third Grades
Horizons Math 1, 2, and 3 (placement tests and products here: Horizons Math Homeschool Curriculum – Christianbook.com)
Calculadders for addition mastery (School Made Simple™ – CalcuLadder Math Drills),
and Times Tales (https://www.timestales.com/) for multiplication
Saxon 54 if ready (placement test can be found here: SXHS_PLT.indd (christianbook.com)
Horizons Math 4
Teaching Textbooks 7th grade (TT placement tests found here: https://www.teachingtextbooks.com/placement )
Developmental Math (placement tests found here: https://www.rainbowresource.com/product/037736/Developmental-Math-Test-Pack.html)
Saxon Algebra ½ (with D.I.V.E. CDs)
Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra (with CDs)
Saxon Algebra 1
Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1
Saxon, Teaching Textbooks
or CTC Math Geometry
or dual enrollment in college math based on college assessment test
Saxon or Teaching Textbooks Algebra 2
or Consumer/Business Math
or dual enrollment in college math
Note: If a child is decidedly a block learner (can only learn one concept at a time until mastery) and cannot do the spiral learning of a program like Saxon (learning new concepts while reintroducing old concepts each lesson), you may want to try a program like Developmental Math which covers one subject at a time for mastery. CTCMath is also an option. CTCMath and Teaching Textbooks also provide audio explanations of main topics and/or math problems.
Whenever a child needs more help, I switch them to one of these above, or direct them to www.virtualnerd.com for a particular problem/concept. We also keep them learning through summer or when on the road with Spectrum Math workbooks.
One day at a time, one year at a time, your child will make math progress. If tears are flowing (from either you or your child!) it may be time to take a little math break, re-evaluate your math choices, and pray for wisdom. Through prayer and practical help, you can do this one more day!
A World Without Math?
Look at your hand. Wiggle your fingers. God gave us fingers for holding, grasping, touching—and counting! As a number-teaching tool for toddlers, those two sets of five digits are hard to beat. You can see them, feel them, move them, and take them with you everywhere you go.
Our world would be very different today if no one had ever advanced beyond finger counting. Civilization is built on math. Everything from flipping on a light switch to navigating with GPS to making a phone call is made possible by math.
Columbus, Magellan, and other explorers could not have navigated the oceans without math. Neil Armstrong would never have stepped onto the moon without math. (He wouldn’t have made it back home either.)
Our students might complain about the hard work of learning math, reasoning, “Why do I need math? I’ll never work for NASA and help send someone to space.”
That may be true, but it is also true that using math helps us function well as adults with adult responsibilities. Whether on the job or at home, we use math in buying, selling, investing, building, planning, and more.
Math is a gift from God, and the ability to understand and apply it to our lives is His gift too.
Christian Light Sunrise Math for Grades 1-9 relates math to everyday life and makes it practical . . . and doable. Concepts are introduced in small incremental steps and reviewed continuously. New concepts are taught through the student’s daily work to enable independent learning, especially after Grade 2.
Visit www.christianlight.org/homeschool to request your free catalog or to view sample pages from workbooks and teacher’s guides.
Choose YOUR Kind of Math
I’m not a math guy. Whenever I see a bunch of numbers all lined up, my vision clouds, and my tongue swells. Now that doesn’t mean I’m totally inept. I can count pretty high and get by with your basic math skills. But don’t ask me to do algebra or anything that involves the Pythagorean Theorem. I can’t do it! And I still have flashbacks to my sophomore year in high school, looking up into the depressed face of my battle-weary algebra teacher as I explained why I did what I did to a certain story problem.
So here’s my theory on math: people who can do math can do math. People who can’t . . . can’t. Now don’t send me mean, nasty, math-loving letters. I just don’t believe that most kids will use the higher math that we assume we have to teach them (and a lot of other stuff for that matter).
Children who love math may end up doing something math-related, but those who don’t probably won’t, and that’s okay.
Now the issue comes up, what if you’re a math-hater but need to teach your children math? What are you to do? My answer: just do the best you can (or involve your husband or a program that teaches it for you) and then don’t sweat what you can’t do. Teach them the basics; remember your goals; and see if any math-lovers arise in your students. Then let them go. If they’ve been created to do math . . . they will do math.
Now to all you math lovers, you have no idea what I’m talking about. You love math, after all. But remember this, not all your children will love math. Don’t try to make a math-hater into a math-lover; it probably won’t work. You’ll only frustrate yourself . . . and your child.
So with all that said, enjoy the gifts God has given you; accept the fact that he hasn’t given you others; and love your children.
About the author
Todd Wilson is a husband, dad, grandpa, writer, homeschool conference speaker, and former pastor. Todd’s humor and down to earth realness have made him a favorite speaker all across the country and a guest on Focus on the Family. As founder of The Familyman and The Smiling Homeschooler, his passion and mission are to remind moms and dads of what’s most important through weekly emails, podcasts, seminars, and books that encourage parents. Todd, and his wife Debbie, homeschool four of their eight children (the other four are homeschool graduates) in northern Indiana and travel America in the Familyman Mobile. You can read more at www.familymanweb.com.
Four Tips for Teaching Math
Math is hard. Any parent can get to a point of panic. Whether its pre-algebra or calculus, our inability to teach math is often a reflection of our own failed education. Vow to do better by your own students.
How do you make that happen? Homeschoolers successfully teach math all the time! There are no short cuts. There is no online program that provides effortless learning. “Alexa, teach math” doesn’t work.
In over my head after geometry, I realized four things are needed to successfully teach math.
- I needed my children to learn without me teaching. Watching a short video lesson got them started each day, but math is learned through practice problems. My students were allowed to use the solution manual in their day-to-day work, so they could get guidance if they were confused and I was unable to help.
- I needed a solution manual. An answer key will only give the answer, but a solution manual will give step-by-step directions for how to find the answer. As my children advanced, I didn’t understand the symbols in the book. Their answer was only correct if it looked exactly like the solution manual.
- I needed to trust the company. A public school curriculum assumes the teacher knows the subject. That won’t work if you don’t understand the math lesson yourself. A homeschool curriculum understands that mom doesn’t necessarily know the subject. It provides instruction that doesn’t require the parent. I also realized that answer keys could be wrong, so it’s important to have a trustworthy source that will provide an update to their answer key.
- I needed to be consistent. I had to overcome my fear and dive in. Math is a cornerstone of basic literacy, and beneficial for every career. It’s an opportunity for every student to be challenged and learn something they do not already know. It teaches a strong work ethic in every student. Consistent daily math practice allows students to learn how to learn.
Learn more about teaching High School Math at Home, or get the book, High School Math The Easy Way: Simple Strategies for Homeschool Parents In Over Their Heads.
About the author
Lee Binz, The HomeScholar, is a speaker and author of more than 30 books about homeschooling high school. An expert on homeschool transcripts and getting scholarships, Lee’s mission is to encourage and equip parents to homeschool through high school. Grab some of the complimentary homeschool resources from Lee and connect with her on Facebook and Instagram.
Pillar of Hope
Jodi Riddle – Finding an Answer
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear.” The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 3:15 that we should be ready always to give an answer for the hope that is in us. Hope is a certain expectation of something obtainable. We can know the outcome for sure. It’s crystal clear.
Math problems are also something in this life that will always have an answer. There can sometimes be more than one way to achieve that answer, but there will only be one correct answer. We can be certain that answers in math will not change.
Other things are not so certain. Choosing options for your homeschooling needs can be one of them. Consider the needs of your student. What kind of learner are they? Do they need many practice problems or just a few? How is their attention span? Consider this when choosing what is right for them. Don’t feel that you have to follow a certain curriculum or stay with the same thing once you’ve started if your child is struggling. Hoping you choose the correct curriculum is not always as certain as the actual math problem, but you can find an answer for your needs.
About the author
Jodi started her journey with TOS in April 2016 and serves as the Operations Manager. She and her husband, Duane, have been married over 30 years and have spent over 20 years in the ministry. Along with being a pastor’s wife, she homeschooled her 3 (now grown) sons for 18 years and also taught in the private and public-school settings. Jodi enjoys teaching, playing the piano, and making cards. Her heart’s desire is to serve others and use her gifts to glorify the Lord.
Want to be sure you finish strong as your school year winds down? The “Reading, Writing and Grammar” Resource Guide in the Spring 2022 issue of The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine can help. From free reading bundles to educational videos and games, we have everything you need to improve your children’s literacy.
Look What’s Happening in Virginia:
May 24, 2022
Home Educators of Rainbow Forest (HERF) Used Curriculum Sale & Elective EXPO
Join Heather Vogler of The Old Schoolhouse® and network about educational, recreational, artistic, and vocational service providers in the Greater Roanoke Valley. Shop the used curriculum sale for teaching, learning, and reading materials from other homeschooling families.
Look What’s Happening in Virginia:
June 9–11, 2022
39th Annual Virginia Homeschool Convention
Greater Richmond Convention Center
Join Heather Vogler of The Old Schoolhouse® in Virginia this June. Currently homeschooling five children ranging in age from four to fifteen, Heather has over a decade of homeschooling experience, in addition to teaching in a preschool and running a church preschool program. She’ll share the secret to keeping little ones busy as bees while they gain an exceptional education. Heather will also share how you can successfully work from home, whether you only have a few hours to spare or are looking for a steady income. Come and learn a wide range of successful options perfect for the homeschooling parent, including what has worked for her as a homeschooling mom of five.
- Everything You Need to Know about Homeschooling Preschoolers
- Work from Home and Homeschool? Yes, You Can!
Let’s Write, Partner!
Get published with The Canadian Schoolhouse by entering a creative writing piece for the Creative Writing Roundup. The theme is Animal Adventures, and we’ll be sharing tips and resources along the way. Submissions are being accepted through the month of May. So let’s get writing!
Homeschooling families around the world thrive on the flexibility that a SchoolhouseTeachers.com membership offers. With no textbooks to buy, students are able to access the online materials from any compatible device. “It’s like having someone do all the hard work for you and is well worth the monthly subscription fee.” –Nicolene Derbyshire, UK. Use code: SPRING22 or MONTHLY22 when checking out at SchoolhouseTeachers.com during the spring sale.
Did you know?
Every class is INCLUDED for ultimate members!
Looking for a great math supplement? Try Algebra for Kids from SchoolhouseTeachers.com! This short worksheet-based course teaches students the skip-counting method, which will help with multiplication and division functions. Use it with your existing math program, and you will see the benefits for years to come!
Read this article
in the spring issue of
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine.
The homeschool planner for smart mamas is here! Start planning your 2022–2023 school year now with the Schoolhouse SmartMamaTM Planner, brought to you by The Old Schoolhouse®. Customizable and unique, this planner is smart—like you. Cast light on your vision for a bright year of homeschooling with an inspiring lighthouse theme. Yours to download or print for $29 until May 31.
The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine is now available for FREE online!
Click the graphic to read it cover to cover!
Spring is a great time to explore new curriculum options and purchase interesting and engaging products for your family. Look for the offers available in the Homeschool Helps for Moms arriving in your inbox this coming Monday. Don’t miss these spring shopping specials!
Congratulations to Taylor Courmier and Stevie Arledge, both from Texas, who won our March giveaway!
for the month of May
See It and Say It Flip Flop Spanish (Level 1)
Flip n Flop Learning, LLC
When we received our box in the mail, it was great to see that all components we needed for the program were already included in the small box. First, there was a complete printout of the 45-lesson curriculum on double-sided, hole-punched, sturdy paper. Also included is a USB flash drive with four CDs worth of MP3 audio lessons narrated by Sra. Gose. The flash drive goes through all four semesters of learning. The box set includes 135 flashcards to complement the paper curriculum and audio learning. The flashcards give hands-on learners something tactile to use to form sentences and learn vocabulary. There were even a few card-holder pages to hold flashcards in place when building sentences. Lastly, there was a dry erase paddle and marker to use for practicing writing in Spanish.
We used this program one to two times per week. One lesson includes three sessions that are about 15 minutes each. As the homeschool teacher, I prepared the lesson by selecting the flashcards and setting up the CD tracks. We would play through each MP3 audio lesson two times as we followed along with narration by Sra. Gose. The third time, I would read the lessons aloud from the printed curriculum with my daughters to ensure they followed along. My daughters are in middle school so we used the text side of the flashcards primarily, but there is a picture side, as well, for younger learners.
Sra. Gose gives students her email and encourages them to interact and send her sentences and work if they have questions. At the end of the two-year curriculum, you and your students will be exposed to about 350-500 Spanish words and be familiar with present tense and many grammar topics.
Read the whole review on our site with much more information.
Go to the contest page of our site where you can ENTER TO WIN the whole 2-year program of See It and Say It Flip Flop Spanish (Level 1).
EdAlive Online Learning
Massive collection of FREE resources including over 17,000 Interactive Playable Activities covering math, reading and word skills, Printable Math Worksheets for Pre-K to Grade 10, Typing Tip Posters to help your children master the skill of touch typing, and Handwriting Wall Charts. EdAlive is honored to be able to support the education of children from all over the world. These high-quality resources are suitable for school classrooms, homeschoolers, and families. These FREE resources have been drawn from EdAlive’s suite of Online Learning Websites. No signup needed, just click and play!
This free product and more are found in our 2022 Freebie Directory: TOS Freebie Directory – The Old Schoolhouse®
Does your homeschool or your spiritual home need a little “home improvement”? Isn’t it always worth the effort in the end? Read about the application of home improvement in your physical home, homeschool, and spiritual home.
Find more freebies at The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Store: Freebies Archives – The Old Schoolhouse®
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