Unlocking Math: Choosing Elementary Math Curriculum

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            Many homeschooling families use annual assessments to guide you in choosing curriculum for the next year. As you begin your search for a math curriculum that works for your elementary aged child, you need to remember that there are three areas of math to cover: facts, computation and concepts. If math has already become a struggle for your child, then you will especially want to break math down into these three areas. Spread math over the course of the day with short sessions covering these areas in separate sessions.

1. Math Facts – Math facts are primarily a function of auditory memory so be sure you present this new information to your child auditorily as well visually. Whether you have a full math curriculum or find materials that cover the different parts, you must include this in your child’s day.

My Best Recommendation for Learning Math FactsRapid Recall System



2. Math Computation – At a different time of the day work on computation skills. Computation is primarily a function of visual memory so I recommend 75% visual instruction. That is you do three problems for your child as he watches. You say only a few words to identify steps as you go along. Then your child does the fourth one. Repeat for the duration of the session of say, 10 minutes. You start with simple addition and work up to long division, fractions etc. If the child doesn’t remember a math fact, tell them so that the process of computation is learned without interruption. You work on the math facts during a separate time. You can get the computation problems from any math book, but if you just want to pay for the computation problems, get a book that has only those problems in it.

My Best Recommenation for Learning Math Computation: Straight Forward Math and Keys to Fractions (Decimals, Percents, Measurement)

3. 3. Math Concepts – The first two items are the nuts and bolts of math. Concepts are how the basics are applied to real life. If you want a regular curriculum, look into Math U See, Singapore Math and Right Start Mathematics. They cover the whole spectrum of math in a fresh way, but it makes it harder to separate out the three parts and concentrate on one at a time. There are a host of math games available that apply these math concepts in an interesting way. You can spend big bucks. Perhaps a better way is a book of games that you can play as a family. My best recommendation is actually a series of books, but the original is the best overall for K-8 math games. Family Math arranges the games in sections according to the different math concepts. Each game has an objective, instructions and sometimes a page that serves as a game board. You may need to add some household items for game pieces. Each game is labeled for one or more of the three age groups within K-8.


My Best Recommendation for Learning Math Concepts: Family Math


Bonus Recommendation for Mental Math / Auditory Skills: The Verbal Math Lesson Level 1 and 2 for early learners or those who struggle. http://www.mathlesson.com/

For some learners, Life of Fred provides math instruction in a story format.


Since math skills build on each other, home educators find it helpful to use a “Scope and Sequence” for navigating through math. Downloadable lists of skills can be found on the Internet. By including math facts, computation and concepts you can prepare your children for Algebra, Geometry and beyond.


2 thoughts on “Unlocking Math: Choosing Elementary Math Curriculum

  1. Maggie, you know how much my children love math! We have finally found a program which they enjoy doing and actually ask to do — ALEKS.com. It is a self-paced, mastery approach. It begins at grade three through college level. WSU actually uses ALEKS for their math entrance exam. It took many years, and lots of trial and error, but we are finally settled! For now! 😉

    1. Susan, Yes I know you have been waiting a long time to get some offspring excitement over math. We have a teacher with Academy Northwest that uses this with ANW students and others who want a teacher to help the students when they need help. Of course, you don’t need that since math is one of your special interests and abilities. Yes, I believe that ALEKS is great for many students. I was revising an article I had written a while ago and didn’t think to add this as a recommendation. Many of the clients I work with need to have their screen time limited, but this could be a good use of limited screen time. Yes, colleges use ALEKS!

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