Homeschool Math Curriculum

The thought of teaching math fills many parents with anxiety. However, the right homeschool math curriculum, can make the subject simple and fun.

Mathematics instruction is an essential part of every home school. Your children will need to know math in order to perform everyday life activities like shopping, budgeting, balancing a bank account and understanding credit.

Great math skills are also necessary for higher level science and mathematics courses that students need for degrees in fields such as medicine and engineering. Here are some tips for choosing a home school math curriculum.

Spiral vs. Mastery

When evaluating a homeschool math curriculum, pay attention to whether or not it is a spiral or mastery type program.

Spiral programs introduce a variety of topics without expecting children to fully understand them. With repeated exposure and continuous review, children have numerous opportunities to learn and master all necessary concepts.

Mastery programs require children to fully understand a concept before moving to another one. For instance, a child learning addition would learn to add 4 digit numbers before moving on to subtraction. Because mastery programs require full understanding of the subject matter, children may not move through lessons as quickly and encounter very little review of previously covered material in subsequent lessons.

There are homeschoolers who have success with spiral programs and those who have success with mastery programs. When choosing between these options, focus on selecting a homeschool math curriculum that will be a good fit for your child.

Concrete vs. Abstract

There is some division in the homeschool community as to whether or not children should learn math in a concrete or abstract fashion.

Concrete mathematics deals with how to perform mathematical functions such as addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Abstract mathematics deals with the reasons why math works the way it does.

It is important to find a balanced approach as to the hows and whys of math. Supplement your homeschool math curriculum with everyday activities that demonstrate how math is used in the world around us. Help your children develop thinking skills by providing exposure to various types of word problems and showing them how to use math when answering everyday questions.

Here are some everyday ideas for homeschooling math.

Mathematics Drill

Every day math activities are helpful for understanding mathematical concepts, but it is also important to make sure your homeschool math curriculum includes enough drill.

Memorization of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts will prevent your child from struggling with complex equations he will encounter in middle school.

Consider your child's learning style and comfort level when reviewing math facts. Some children prefer using flashcards, while others like completing worksheets. Some children are intimidated by timed drills, while others find them motivating.

Don't give in to pressure to have your child complete every drill that is a part of your math program. If your child is performing well, you may want to assign half of the problems or have him complete every other problem.

In addition to using workbooks and flashcards, your child can also practice math facts using Learning Wraps, a Learning Palette, computer programs, games, and audio programs.


Manipulatives are physical objects that are used to act out mathematical concepts. Some common math manipulatives are counting bears, tangrams, geoboards, Cuisinaire rods, pattern blocks, and linking cubes.

Although you can purchase manipulatives from teacher's supply stores, you can also make own using household items. For example, you can use beans or M&Ms to teach counting and demonstrate math facts, and straws or popsicle sticks to demonstrate grouping/borrowing.

Many homeschoolers rely heavily on manipulatives when their children are younger, and move replace them with drawings and illustrations as their children develop. Let your child guide you in this area.

If you have a younger child who is ready to begin learning math in written format, but is not yet ready to write, let your child answer questions orally or use stickers or number cards. You can also provide your child with a number chart and let him or her point to the correct answers.

Choosing a Home School Math Curriculum

Consider the following when choosing a homeschool math curriculum:

  • Do you want a book that is colorful and contains illustrations or one with simple, black and white text? Will pictures serve as a distraction or make the assignments more fun?

  • Do you prefer to use a consumable workbook that your child can write in or a textbook that can be reused or sold?

  • Is your child a hands on learner who needs to act out problems or will numerous hands on activities frustrate your child?

  • Is your child an auditory or visual learner who will appreciate video demonstrations? Would you like an outside teacher to help explain concepts to your child?

  • How much time do you have to spend instructing your student? Would you prefer a program with self-explanatory lessons or one that involves detailed lesson plans?

  • Can your child learn math in a step by step, sequential manner?

Some children may struggle when using traditional math programs because they need to understand the big picture before they can learn more basic concepts. If your child fits this description, you may want to read this information about visual spatial learners.

Homeschool Math Programs

Many complete homeschool curriculum programs such as Rod and Staff, Bob Jones and A Beka come with their own home school math programs. Here are some other options for a homeschool math curriculum. Click on the link to read reviews of these programs.

Key To
Making Math Meaningful
Mastering Mathematics
Math U See
McRuffy Math
Right Start
Singapore Math
Teaching Textbooks

Math Anxiety

If you feel anxious teaching math, take care not to pass your anxiety on to your kids. In mathematics, there are right and wrong answers, but you don't have to test or grade your child.

Let your child sit with you as you review assignments, and correct wrong answers together. Ask your child how he arrived at incorrect answers. Show him where he is making mistakes.

Teach your student to work carefully and check her work to see if the answers make sense. If your child is getting tense, take a break. I have found that giving my oldest child a week or two away from math can help him process and understand concepts that he once considered difficult.

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