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Choosing a Math Curriculum for Home Use

Considerations for Choosing a Math Curriculum for Home Use


Updated February 11, 2012

If you are homeschooling your learning disabled child, selecting a math curriculum may be an important decision, but is it the most important aspect of teaching your child math at home? Maybe not. There are many choices of math curriculum available for teaching your child at home, and unfortunately there is no easy answer as to which one is best. Perhaps more important is how you use the curriculum you choose. So before we delve into some of the resources available, let's explore what makes a good teacher for learning disabled children.

First, it is important to be aware of the child's needs and to respond to those needs as necessary and not just follow a prescribed curriculum to the letter. Second, it is important for the teacher to instill a love of math. Be excited about math, and find creative and fun ways to practice and explore math concepts. Sure, it may be a challenge to do this because many of us have little actual "fun" experience with math to draw from. Making math fun for a learning disabled child is essential to engage him in learning. Third, it is important to take time to explain math concepts in different ways. Use drawings, manipulatives, or household objects to demonstrate math concepts. Using these strategies will help you make the best of whatever math curriculum you ultimately choose.

In fact, you should probably expect that you will need to supplement whatever curriculum you choose with additional explanations, demonstrations, and materials to help your learning disabled child understand math concepts. In short, the more creative and responsive you are to your child's needs, the better your results will be, regardless of the curriculum you choose. If math is not your best subject as a homeschool teacher, consider:

  • Partnering with other homeschool parents who are stronger in math skills. They can teach your child math, and you can teach their children in subjects in which you are stronger;
  • Hiring a tutor; or
  • Choosing a good basal curriculum, and learning to teach your child as you go. Naturally, if math is not your strong point, this will seem daunting. If you choose this route, be prepared in advance to study up on math yourself and make sure you fully understand concepts before attempting to teach them to your child. And don't be afraid to bail. If teaching your own child is not working out, it is important to find another way.
All that said, it's time to start looking at a few of the more popular homeschool math curriculum programs available.
  • Saxon Math uses a step-by-step approach in a spiral model.
  • Math-U-See uses manipulatives to teach math concepts from kindergarten through grade 12. Videos are also available.
  • Horizons Math is a book-based spiral curriculum. Lessons include exercises for different concepts.
  • Switched-On Schoolhouse is a computer program produced by Alpha Omega publications.
  • Abeka Math is part of a comprehensive full curriculum. It is a spiral.
  • Singapore Math is a mastery based program that focuses on mental math and problem solving skills.
You will have noticed that some of the programs above were either mastery based or spiral. In a spiral curriculum, the emphasis is on introduction of a concept and then extensive review problems. Mastery based programs are chapter books with each chapter focusing on a few concepts. Review is practiced separately in a mastery based program.

Some questions to consider when choosing a curriculum:

  • How much preparation do lessons require. Do you have time to adequately prepare before presenting each lesson?
  • Will it be necessary for you to familiarize yourself with both the teacher's edition and the student's book to deliver the lessons.
  • What type of support materials are available to you? Will you need instructional videos to help you implement the curriculum?
  • Does the curriculum use scripting? Some curriculum programs fully script out everything the teacher is to say and do in implementing the program. This takes the guess work out of instruction.

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