Ten Things To Consider When Choosing A Math Curriculum

Math is not my strong suit. 

I was a teacher and have a masters degree in education, but I was woefully unprepared to teach math to my own children.

I remember my dad saying "How are you going to teach them math?".   I was offended by his statement.  But you know what, I should have done better research in the beginning - I WAS unprepared to teach my children in this area! 

Over the summer I have THOROUGHLY researched many math curricula available to the homeschool market.   We have also had experience with two different math programs in our homeschool.   

I was spurred to this research because I don't feel my children had a complete understanding of the WHY behind math.  They certainly could get correct answers and understood the HOW.

Just because your favorite homeschool blogger is using a math program and promoting it DOES NOT mean it will be the right fit for your children.  In fact, I'm not even going to tell you what program we are using (you'll just have to stick around for Curriculum Week to find out!) 

Just because you visited a snazzy { I love the word snazzy, by the way} booth at a homeschool convention and came home with a lot of freebies DOES NOT mean it will be the right fit for your children.

 Do your research and choose wisely!

Here are my Top Ten Things to Consider when Choosing a Math Curriculum:

1.  What is your educational philosophy?

 This MATTERS.   I always considered myself eclectic (and I still am on certain subjects), but I had to finally decide that the method I am most at home with is Classical.   So, I read the best books on Classical education and researched their math suggestions.   I also enjoy living books (Charlotte Mason) and unit studies.  I read what Simply Charlotte Mason  had to say about math.  

2.  Is the program a spiral approach or mastery based? 

 Do your research on what "spiral approach" and "mastery based" mean.   This video will help:


3.  How do your children best learn?

 Do you have a child that responds well to computer based learning?   Or, do you have a child that really enjoys drills and worksheets (I have a child like this!).   Do you have a literature based child, that learns best through a story?    

4. How much prep work are you (the teacher) able to accomplish for each lesson?

 Do you need a math curriculum that is scripted - maybe even uses a teacher on DVD?    Do you enjoy planning a detailed math lesson and teaching it to your child?    Do not skimp on planning for math!  If you don't thoroughly understand what you are teaching your child will sense that immediately.

5.  Look years ahead and know the goals for your children! 

Maybe you have a child that has a true inclination towards math and science.  Will the math program you choose prepare them for upper level courses in high school?   Or, is your goal just to give your child a basic understanding of real world math because you know their strengths lie elsewhere?  

I found it very helpful to talk to a woman in our homeschool group that is a former high school counselor and now does the transcripting for our group.   I also spoke with friends who had older children to find out where my children would need to be with math in just a few years.    

6.  Is the program full of pictures and "kid stuff" or is it just black and white?  

 I am coming to find that LESS IS MORE when it comes to math.   The gimmicks and colorful pictures didn't work for my children, but again -- this is a personal decision.  You know your child best.   

7.  What is the cost of the program?  

 Unfortunately, cost is a major factor sometimes.   And, more expensive doesn't always mean BETTER.   Are you able to find the program used or discounted?   Are you willing to pay extra if it is a course on CD Rom?   These are all things to consider.  

8.  What do math experts have to say about the curriculum?  

 This was a key part of my research.  {And by math experts, I don't mean the people who work for the math company!!} I talked to a math tutor I knew and respected.  I also solicited advice from our local homeschool group.  My experience with this is minimal, so I went to people that had years and years of math experience.   I was even fortunate enough to talk with a mom whose child is now an engineering major in college and found out what homeschool math she had used.   

9.  How much supplementing will you have to do?

 Does the curriculum come with plenty of drill and practice, or will you be searching for practice sheets on the internet?    

10.  Pray.

 I should have put this as #1, right?   

We had a rough math year last year and I just talked to God and asked him to guide my decision in this area.  I believe that He gave me the correct questions to ask and placed the perfect people in my path to help with research.   


I'm looking forward to a much more smooth ride in math this year.  

What about you?

 *I'm happily linking today with Angie at Many Little Blessings for Top Ten Tuesday!

 Top Ten Tuesday at Many Little Blessings