Note: If you’re currently pressed for time and need something super quick, check out Math – Quick Resources List.
How in the world was I going to teach math?
And how was I going to find quality math resources for homeschooling?
My daughter was going to be starting Kindergarten in the fall and we had just made the decision to homeschool. The plan was to try it for a year and I was going to give it everything I had. Then, we would evaluate and decide if we wanted to continue homeschooling.
I was feeling excited.
But in the back of my mind, I already felt like one thing was going to take me down.
Math is my nemesis.
The Nellie Olson to my Laura Ingles.
The Ares to my Wonder Woman.
The Voldemort to my Harry Potter.
Now you may think I’m being a teeny-tiny bit over-dramatic here, but I can assure you that the thought of teaching math absolutely terrified me. It made my heart pound and my hands shake. It kept me up at night and caused me to doubt my ability to homeschool.
I then repeated this cycle, (for good measure, of course!) and then…
I FINALLY decided on a math curriculum.
And the winner was…
Drum roll, please…
I first learned about Right Start from a friend who had homeschooled her boys for two years. Not only did she really like Right Start, but once her boys went back to a traditional school, they were well ahead of their peers in math. She said it was really different from how she had learned math as a child, (in a good way!).
I was intrigued.
I decided to give Right Start a try. We ended up using it from the time my daughter started Kindergarten, through her 4th-grade year. That totals five years using a math program that I wholeheartedly endorse.
In a nutshell, here is what I love about Right Start Math:
- The program uses a variety of manipulatives which are an incredible tool during those early years of math instruction. The main manipulative used, especially in the early grades, is an abacus. This is ideal for visual and kinesthetic learners. Seriously, I had NO idea how much could be done using an abacus!
- It incorporates lots of games! For example, instead of rote memorization, card games are used to reiterate memory recall and critical skills. Basically, kids are learning without realizing it. They’re just having fun. Hooray!
- It provides excellent customer support. The handful of times I needed additional instruction on a specific teaching method, I was able to reach a real human immediately. And this real human was always super helpful!
Now, in all honesty, Right Start might not be for everyone.
It is very different from the way that most of us adults were taught as children. In my experience, this has been a good thing, as I have now seen firsthand, the benefits of the Right Start approach with both of my children.
But Right Start will likely require you to think outside of the box quite a bit. It also involves a fair amount of prep work and parent involvement.
Throughout our five years of using Right Start, I often found myself wishing that I had learned math using this approach.
It really does address all learning styles and strives to engage children in fun and interesting ways.
Now you might be wondering…
So Sarah, if you loved Right Start so much, why did you stop using it after five years?
Using Right Start for five years meant that we completed Levels A-E. Right Start is not heavy on workbook use, (which initially was a huge positive for us). My daughter, however, was transitioning from the desire to play games and use manipulatives into a stage where she was eager for the use of more workbooks.
And so my quest to find a new math curriculum began.
I had heard about Singapore Math and knew of several families who were using it with great success. Singapore uses really lovely, colorful workbooks and after looking through them, my daughter was excited to give the program a try.
I had several friends who used Singapore and loved it, so I was pretty comfortable making the switch. But I was also a bit nervous when I thought about learning a whole new approach to math.
Fortunately, a friend who had successfully transitioned from Right Start to Singapore was able to reassure me that it would be a fairly seamless switch. That was good enough for me and so we took the plunge to…
Here is what we’ve loved about Singapore:
- The teacher’s guide is very thorough and clear.
- The program includes many similarities to Right Start which made this a fairly easy transition.
- The student workbooks are visually appealing and user-friendly.
- It is a well known, reputable, worldwide program.
- I’ve had support from several homeschooling friends we have who also use the program.
We used Singapore successfully for two years when my daughter was in 5th and 6th grades, and my son was in 3rd and 4th. Towards the end of this time, both of my kids were expressing a desire to try an online math program. I was also reaching a point where I found the concept of outsourcing math to be oh-so-appealing.
So I started researching again and stumbled upon…
And I absolutely, positively feel like I struck GOLD.
Oh-my-goodness, I love, love, LOVE Live Online Math!
I discovered it through a friend who had heard about it from a friend.
Don’t you just love it when things like that happen!?! Ah, good ol’ word of mouth!
This online program was created by John Bovey and started in 2008. It offers middle and high school math. Courses currently offered are Pre-pre Algebra, (typically 5th/6th grades) through Pre-Calculus. Different course options are available depending on the preferred learning style and scheduling needs. There are live online classes where students engage with their teacher in real-time.
Also available is the option to participate in pre-recorded video instruction and to work at your own pace. This is the option we are currently using as it allows for the most flexibility. Both of my kids are currently enrolled in the Pre-Algebra program.
Here is what we love about Live Online Math:
- The kids are mostly working independently. Of course, I am always available when they need me, but the quality and clarity of instruction means that I’m not needed nearly as much as I have been in the past. So it’s been a fantastic bridge from lots of parent involvement to more independent learning.
- It provides supplements that are so helpful! One of my favorite features is a template for note-taking which is included in each lesson. Printing these out allows for students to take notes in an organized and helpful manner, making sure nothing important is left out.
- Online quizzes and tests are incorporated at regular intervals. The explanations included for all answers are so thorough. Nothing vague about this at all!
- The customer service is EXCELLENT. John Bovey himself was the one who communicated with me directly to answer my questions. He has been consistently warm, professional, helpful, and quick to respond.
I am THRILLED that we discovered Live Online Math when we did!
I anticipate using it with great success throughout middle school and probably high school as well.
While we have used Right Start, Singapore, and now Live Online Math, for our main math curriculum, we have supplemented with some really fun math resources over the years.
Below are some great additional resources:
These are imaginative and educational stories that teach math concepts through story and adventure.
Advertised for ages 8-12. However, these are picture books that are also visually engaging, so I would recommend exposing younger kids if they show an interest. And since I think teaching through story is one of the most powerful ways to learn, teenagers and adults can get a lot out of these books too.
These books are silly, creative, and fun!
Each set includes a series of chapter books with a quiz at the end of each chapter. Life of Fred begins with elementary math and goes all the way through college courses. We used Life of Fred as a fun supplement along with Right Start during our elementary years.
My kids really enjoyed Fred and the pure silliness of the stories and I wouldn’t be surprised if they want to incorporate Fred into their math studies again in the future.
We have the 10 books collection box. The books are highly entertaining and an excellent way to introduce concepts and/or review.
I originally purchased this book for my son. He enjoys business and learning about the stock market so I thought this would be a fun way for him to learn the basics.
There are three options: A bookstore, pet store, and a sports store. The goal is simple: To implement business skills to make a profit for your business.
My son chose the sports store and really enjoyed it. He thought it was very user-friendly and fun. And as an added bonus, and much to my surprise, (and delight) my daughter fell in love with it as well! I ended up ordering her the Book Store AND the Pet Store because she just couldn’t get enough. Yay!
Here is what I’ve learned about my ongoing relationship with math:
Math is no longer my nemesis!
I mean, I was terrified of teaching math when we first started out. But with research, lots of questions, support along the way, and plenty of creative supplements, I feel like we’ve been able to craft a comprehensive and fun approach to math.
Not that there have been plenty of frustrating lessons and some tears, (mostly mine!) along the way. But there is an overall sense that even when math feels complicated and overwhelming, we have the tools to break down the necessary steps and succeed.
I’ve surprised myself with the realization that I actually enjoy math so much more than I used to. Instead of being afraid, I am in complete awe of how awesome and engaging math is.
So I encourage you to discover the abundance of creative math resources out there.
Enjoy playing games?
There are TONS of games out there to engage your learners!
Immerse yourselves in the many picture books and chapter books to read.
Take your journey nice and slow. Do your best to have fun with it.
You’ll be glad you did!
Have any math-related questions for me? If you do, leave me a comment below!
And be sure to check out my other recommended resources for homeschooling:
- Language Arts Resources for Homeschooling
- Science Resources for Homeschooling
- History & Geography Resources for Homeschooling
- 10 Enchanting Poetry Books for Young Kids
- 10 Captivating Poetry Books for Middle Schoolers
- 10 Poetry Books for High Schoolers