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Many home-schooling parents will tell you that math is the one subject they stress about the most, because their children claim that math is their least favorite subject. However, children who claim to hate math often change their opinion of the subject once they begin using a curriculum that suits their individual tastes and learning style. For this reason, it's important that parents take some time to research options and find just the right math curriculum.
Before choosing a math curriculum, think about your child's personality, likes and dislikes. It's also important to think about how much time you wish to spend on math every day, and your short-term and long-term goals. For example, if you are planning on sending your child to public or private school in the future, you'll want to choose a program that closely resembles the intended school's scope and sequence in math. All good home school math curricula will teach your child everything he needs to know, but many do not teach in the same sequence as typical classroom-style programs. If you have many children or work out of the home, then you may opt for a program that allows your child to work independently, perhaps completing lessons online, or by viewing DVDs.
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Types of Math Curricula
To effectively choose a math curriculum for your child, you need to know that there are two methods for teaching math- mastery and spiral. Mastery programs teach one concept at a time. The child is required to master each concept before moving onto the next level. Spiral programs teach a concept a little at a time, reviewing it several times throughout the school year. Both programs are beneficial, but most children learn best using one or the other. The key is knowing your own child and figuring out which method will work best with him. Children who need lots of review to maintain their skills may do better with a spiral math curriculum, while children for whom math concepts just seem to "click" may learn best using a mastery math curriculum.
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If your child is home-schooling for the first time, it's important to give your child a placement test for your chosen curriculum to determine what grade level to purchase. Do not take for granted that just because a child has completed a certain grade in public school that he or she will automatically be able to do the math work in that grade level in your chosen math program. Also, since many home school programs differ in scope and sequence, switching from one math curriculum to another may involve moving up or down a level, if only temporarily. Most home school curriculum companies offer free placement tests on their websites.
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Top-Rated Math Curricula
Several home school math curricula have been recommended by home-schooling expert, Cathy Duffy, in her book The Top 100 Picks for Homeschooling Curriculum. These are also some of the most popular among home-schooling parents and children. Total cost per school year or grade level is given. If you are working within a budget, it may be worthwhile to search eBay, Amazon, and other used book sources for second hand copies of non consumable books and manipulatives to save money.
- Miquon Math, $9 per grade level. Teacher's manual costs about $10 and can be used for grades 1 through 6.
- Math U See, $100 per level.
- Horizons Math, $27 per grade level for student books and $40 per year for teacher's manual.
- Saxon Math, $80 to $100 per grade level kit.
- Singapore Math, $9 per grade level student workbook and $17 per home instructor's manual.
- Teaching Textbooks, $119 per grade level kit.
- Moving with Math, $150 for each level, which may span over 2 years depending on the child's progress.
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Taking the time to consider your child's learning style, educational goals and your teaching style will assist you in choosing the best home school math curriculum for your family. Be sure to give your child a placement test to ensure that he isn't bored with material he's already learned or frustrated by trying to work on concepts that are too advanced. One of the most important aspects of home schooling is that you can customize the learning environment to fit your child, so if you find that the curriculum you choose is not working well after a reasonable period of time, you can always switch to another program or use supplemental resources.