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One question Karen and I get asked quite often is, “What do you think about (insert name here) math curriculum?”
It’s an interesting question for two reasons: first, Charlotte Mason didn’t specify exactly how she taught all the levels of math, nor did she endorse a specific curriculum; second, we haven’t used all of the math programs out there.
So rather than try to give an opinion on each specific curriculum, Karen and I got together and brainstormed a list of what we think makes a good math curriculum. Charlotte gave some great principles to use in teaching math, so we’ve incorporated those principles in our list.
Components of a Good CM Homeschool Math Curriculum
It introduces the child to things before symbols.
The child needs to see the concepts in action before putting them on paper with mathematical formulas and equations.
The curriculum writer or teacher/parent has a strong grasp of math.
Math, of all subjects, is heavily dependent on the teacher—whether that teacher is the parent or the curriculum writer. Referring to mathematics, Charlotte said, “There is no one subject in which good teaching effects more, as there is none in which slovenly teaching has more mischievous results” (Vol. 1, p. 254). If your grasp of math is not as strong as you would like it to be, make sure the curriculum you use was written by a strong math teacher.
It is conducive to use in short lessons.
It might be written specifically that way or can be easily modified that way.
It gives you the ability to move at each child’s pace.
Use a curriculum that does not hold a child back or push a child ahead before he’s ready.
It emphasizes mastery of a concept.
Math must be learned well at each stage or the child will be lost in the next stage.
It gives lots of practice with new concepts.
The child should work with a new concept enough that he or she finds the function becoming second nature.
It should contain sufficient review.
A “sufficient” review doesn’t have to be long and drawn out. A good review could involve just enough problems to keep the child’s math skills fresh. Reviews can also let you know if the child didn’t really learn a concept the first time through and needs a refresher before moving on to the next concept. (Some moms like to use our Your Business Math series for review during the summer months. Of course, they don’t tell the children that it’s review; they just let them choose their own pet store, sports store, or book store kits and have fun!)
It should provide a comprehensive, accurate answer key.
This component is crucial for busy homeschool moms.
We hope this information will be helpful to you as you evaluate all the possibilities and make plans for your child’s math studies.