Curriculum Recommendations for Arithmetic




Before you purchase math textbooks, take some time to compare them. Take a copy of 2 or 3 textbooks that you are considering (all at the same grade level) and compare what concepts they are learning at the beginning of the book, the middle of the book, and the end of the book. You'll see that there are big differences between publishers. For example, Bob Jones math tends to go at a very slow pace in the early years. A Beka goes at a faster pace and Horizon Math (published by Alpha/Omega) proceeds faster yet.

You also need to consider learning styles. Some curriculums include a lot of hands-on manipulatives which are great for the Kinesthetic learner. Math curriculums are now available on online, on video or CDs which benefit the Visual and Auditory learner. Your Read/Write child can use just about any curriculum, but usually prefers workbooks and traditional textbooks. See Learning Styles for more information.

My own son struggled with reading, writing, and arithmetic until he was 9-1/2 years old, so I used very few textbooks from K-5th grade. (The fact that there were very few textbooks available to homeschoolers in 1980s had something to do with this also!) Once he learned his basic math facts at age 9-1/2, I put him into Saxon Math 76. (This was the earliest grade level available at the time.) He went through that book in one and one half years; then he went into Saxon Algebra 1/2. (There was no Saxon 87 at the time.) We did Algebra 1/2 in two years. Then we did a year of Saxon Algebra I; however, we did not complete the book. Because he was going into a graphic arts career, we decided he did not need the extra math, and instead, spent the time on Business math and art courses related to his career.

Most states now require that students take three or four years of math, Algebra I level or higher (Algebra I, Algebra II, Trigonometry, Calculus is the usual college-prep sequence). Moms with children struggling with math and who, like my son, do not need this advanced math, have asked me how to deal with these requirements. The key word here is “years.” You can use one Algebra book for two years, doing one-half the book per year, and that will satisfy a two-year requirement for these students. Another alternative is to use books that teach specific math skills (geometry, probability, statistics, calculus) in a simplified manner. (See Recommended Math Curriculum for 7th-12th for suggestions.) Textbooks specifically geared for students with learning disabilities are a good resource. These high-school level textbooks are written at 3rd-6th grade reading level and are much easier to understand than traditional curriculums. One source of these books is Globe Fearon. (Even though my daughter did not have a learning disability, I used Globe Fearon's Science Workshop Series to help her get a good grip on biology before she took the real thing. It really simplified it. I wish more textbooks were like that!)

Taking this slower pace or using specialized curriculum will not satisfy college entrance requirements for advanced mathematics; however, if your child does decide to go to college, he can make up the missed course(s) during his college years. This will cost him more in time and money; but, for some students, this is the best option. If you prefer to struggle through the advanced math, get a good curriculum. The ones I recommend would be Math-U-See and VideoText Algebra as these are helpful for Visual, Auditory and Kinesthetic learners. I also like ALEKS - an online Math Tutor for kids who like to learn on their own and on the computer or for parents who need extra help teaching math. It cost $19.95 month, and they offer discounts for multiple students and yearly rates.

In addition, if your child is planning on re-entering the local high school to graduate, he may also have to make up these missed courses. Be sure you take all this into consideration before deciding on the best solution for your child.

For a math curriculum based on reading biographies , check out: (

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