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10 THINGS TO KNOW WHEN CHOOSING A MATH CURRICULUM FOR YOUR HOMESCHOOLED STUDENT

M-A-T-H! I don't know about you, but that simple word sends a shiver up my spine as memories of past math classes come back to me, filled with reminders of musty textbooks and #2 pencils. As parents, we strive to help our children learn and understand how they will one day use math in their daily lives. But how in the world am I going teach math to my child when I am not confident in my own math skills? How do we educate our children while also overcoming our hesitations and learning to enjoy math? Many homeschooling parents struggle with these same questions while trying to select the right math curriculum for their child. Here is a list of the top 10 things to remember when choosing a math curriculum for your child.
 

 
January 19, 2010
 

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1. Believe it or not, there is not a universal math curriculum that works best for every child. Not only is a curriculum's mathematical content an important part of the education equation, but the role of the teacher also plays an essential part. It's up to you as the teacher to be excited and enthusiastic about the subject matter and to teach it in a fun manner. Many homeschoolers use ALEKS (Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces) to meet their math curriculum needs. ALEKS is a research-based, online math program that provides highly-targeted, individualized assessment and learning for grades 3-12. With a robust course library, ALEKS offers the instruction and support you need to homeschool your children in mathematics. ALEKS is accessible from virtually any computer with Internet access, making it a flexible and mobile educational solution.

2. How teacher-intensive is the curriculum you are considering? Factors such as preparation, resources, time, grading, and your own knowledge should influence your choice of a math curriculum. If you find that you need assistance teaching math to your child, there are many Web-based programs available that eliminate most of the time you'll have to spend going over math problems and figuring out the answers. These programs allow you more flexibility and eliminate countless hours of building lesson plans. For example, ALEKS provides homeschooling parents with a robust Master Account that allows parents to monitor their child's progress using automated reports, and much more.


Master Account: Easily manage all student accounts, assign quizzes, and monitor student progress through automated reports.

3. Do you know what level your child is at when it comes to his or her math skills? One method to determine your child's knowledge base is to have her take an assessment. ALEKS administers a personalized, adaptive assessment that includes approximately 25 to 30 questions. This assessment quickly and accurately determines exactly what a student knows and doesn't know within a course. ALEKS then instructs the student on the topics she is most ready to learn. As a student works through a course, ALEKS periodically reassesses the student to ensure that topics learned are also retained.


Personalized Assessment: The ALEKS Initial Assessment is a personalized, adaptive assessment that will help you to determine precisely what your child knows, doesn't know, and is ready to learn within a given course.

4. Determine the type of approach you want to use when you're selecting a curriculum. Do you want to use an incremental, step-by-step approach or a mastery-based approach? In a step-by-step approach, most of the exercises are review problems. A mastery-based approach is usually laid out in chapters or sections that concentrate on a few topics, with review problems completed separately. With the mastery approach adopted by ALEKS, students are given a color-keyed pie chart which summarizes the student's current knowledge and offers topics that she is ready to learn next.


Personalized Learning Path: The ALEKS Pie summarizes a student's current knowledge and offers topics that the student is ready to learn next. The darkened portion of each pie slice represents the topics that the student has mastered and the lighter portion represents what the student has yet to learn.

5. Does the program fit your child's specific style of learning? All children learn differently, so it is important to select a medium that is appropriate for your child. For some, this includes computer-based delivery of math content, allowing technologically-inclined children to learn in a comfortable environment.

6. What is the cost? Check product and curriculum websites. Some products can be purchased and reused with other children in your homeschool. Other programs are purchased on a subscription basis. For ALEKS, an individualized student subscription can be purchased month-to-month for $19.95 per month, or $99.95 for 6 months, or $179.95 for 12 months. A family discount program is also available.

7. Read reviews from other homeschoolers before choosing your math curriculum. It's always smart to do your research before purchasing anything.

Homeschool feedback about ALEKS includes:

We have used ALEKS with my nine year-old son over the past two years. He loves math, and ALEKS has kept that love alive by letting him move ahead at his own pace. It presents the right amount of work at the right level, every time. He is thrilled to be learning concepts that he wouldn't normally see for another three years in a traditional classroom. My son is very confident in his ability to learn math; he says, "If everyone could use ALEKS, nobody would be afraid of Algebra."

Laurie Becker, Homeschooler, CA

ALEKS is a fabulous tool for identifying gaps in my students' learning. My kids really enjoy using it as a supplement to their regular math program, and I think ALEKS has really enhanced their understanding.

Laurie Joyce, Homeschooler, TX

ALEKS has saved our year! My daughter refused to study math and was almost a year behind. Now that we have ALEKS, she works eagerly and even puts in extra time. My daughter is thrilled with her progress in ALEKS, especially when she completes a pie slice. She is so much more willing to try new problems now, and views math as a healthy challenge instead of a punishment.

Nancy Loughran, Homeschooler, FL

For more ALEKS success stories, please visit: www.aleks.com/homeschool/success_stories

8. Incorporate "living math" into your program. When my son was in second grade and riding in the car with me, he announced "1/2 is the same as 2/4." I think my head spun around! He wasn't learning fractions in school, so I asked him how he knew that and he said, "From road signs!"

9. If you have been using a particular math curriculum and find it doesn't quite work the way you would like it to, remember that it doesn't have to be your final choice. Do not become a prisoner to a specific curriculum. These programs are merely a tool and there are a number of tools out there to choose from.

10. If you haven't had good luck with math curriculums in the past, or you don't know where to start, free trials are a great way to experience a curriculum before you purchase. Most companies offer a free trial, ranging from a sample lesson to a demo disk or free subscription. ALEKS offers a 1-month trial subscription for new users, which is a great way to evaluate a new curriculum.

ALEKS has been used successfully by homeschoolers, as well as by millions of students at schools and educational institutions throughout the world. Additionally, some ALEKS course products are American Council on Education (ACE) credit-recommended, meaning that your student may be eligible for college credit at participating colleges.

ALEKS is a Research-Based Online Math Program:

  • Complete Curriculum Solution for Math with Access to Full Course Library
  • No Textbook Required
  • Artificial Intelligence Targets Gaps in Student Knowledge
  • Assessment and Individualized Learning for Grades 3-12
  • Master Account Includes Quizzing and Automated Reports to Monitor Learning Progress
  • Unlimited Online Access - PC and Mac Compatible
  • QuickTables – Complimentary Math Fact Mastery Program for Multiplication, Division, Addition, and Subtraction


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