When our son was ready to begin homeschool, we were excited to use the same approach, and the same books - not having to make a new purchase and learn a new approach was a huge advantage. And for the first few years, it worked pretty well, as the early levels have lots of hands-on learning, which worked well for my active young boy.
And then we hit third grade. We knew that as far as his mathematical ability went, he was ready for the level he was using, but it was a disaster. While he was able to handle the daily lessons, he was having a terrible time keeping up with the practice problems in each lesson. It is a spiral curriculum, meaning that it introduces a topic once and then practices it over and over again in subsequent lessons. We like that approach, but it makes those practice exercises super important for making sure a student masters those concepts.
A couple of other big things were going on with our son that contributed to a lot of frustration with math. First, although we didn't realize it at the time, he was having issues with tracking visually, making it hard to stay focused on a full page of print. Second, he had been dealing for a while with a condition called "palmar hyperhidrosis", or excessively sweaty palms, which made writing physically uncomfortable and sometimes caused his books and papers to get wet from the sweat. Those two factors contributed to math lessons taking way too long, causing way too much frustration, and leading to way to many tears, for both of us. We were doing all of his math together, and I was always his scribe. I was finding that we were spending so much time on math, that it was wearing both of us out for any other instruction. We tried some different apps to try to reduce the amount of writing he had to do, and we tried to do fewer problems, but we found ourselves falling further and further behind.
Now, several months into fourth grade, we are happily continuing to use Teaching Textbooks for our son's math curriculum. Here is why.
It does the teaching and grading for me.
Every lesson in Teaching Textbooks starts with an animated teaching video. The speaker is clear and easy to understand and talks the student through the new skill. This is followed by a small set of "Practice" exercises that are not graded, and then an additional set of exercises that are graded. Like Saxon and other spiral math programs, those exercises come from past lessons (it says on the screen when each skill was introduced), and if your child has trouble getting started, the program will offer a "hint" to jog his or her memory.
Grading is automatic. I have access to the gradebook and, if necessary, I can change or delete the score for a problem so my son can try again - but since each problem has a "try again" option, we usually don't need to do that. And if I get busy and don't log in to check on his grades, a report of his day's work will come to me via e-mail.
The teaching and the grading were the biggest factors for us. Having one class "outsourced" helps me immensely. I do still make myself available while my son is working on his math lessons, and it is a rare day that I don't hear him call, "Mom, I need your help" with at least one math problem, but the hands off aspect of this program has made our homeschool math time SO much more peaceful!!
It has one problem on the screen at a time.
It lets the student show work and work out problems on the screen.
It makes math fun.
Teaching Textbooks has found the balance between serious math lessons and enough bells and whistles to make it a little more interesting than average. From stickers and cartoon images to a fun "bonus round" every few lessons, my son has found Teaching Textbooks math to be something he looks forward to each day.
You can try it out for free
This really helped us decide between two different math levels for our son and it made him excited about what we were switching to!
How Teaching Textbooks works
- Download the app for your device(s).
- Choose a level for your child - either by trying a certain level via their free trials, or by using their placement tests (there is one for each level).
- Purchase access to your child's level. Prices range from $43.08 for earlier elementary courses to $67.08 for upper level high school courses. You will have access to that course for a full calendar year from the start date that you choose (which can be different from your purchase date), plus three months of "pause" time so you can turn the course "off" when you take time for the holidays or any other "time off" of school. AND they give you a 30-day money back satisfaction guarantee!