Teaching homeschool math is not for the faint of heart.
If there was a subject that leaves 90% of homeschooling parents feeling stressed, mathematics would likely be the one. While there are plenty of people who excel at math (much to the awe of individuals who struggle with it), math for homeschoolers is an intimidating topic for many parents. You may be wondering, if you’re not strong at math, how could you possibly teach your child?
Thankfully, you don’t have to be great at math to successfully teach your child. What you need, is a solid homeschool math curriculum to guide you and your student through the lessons. This doesn’t mean you need an online math program, but that can certainly be a helpful tool as well, especially if it’s considered among the best online math programs.
We have good news, though: there are literally innumerable homeschool math resources.
Still, we understand the anxiety associated with a personally challenging course. If you are a new homeschooler, we’d recommend you start with a homeschool math placement test. Placement tests show the student’s ideal level while also offering a good overview of their strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge can help you find a successful curriculum!
Let’s discuss strategies for success!
In this article, we will cover:
- How to Teach Homeschool Math with Hands-On Activities
- How to Teach Homeschool Math with Real-World Lessons
- Problem-Solving: “When will we ever use this math?”
- How to Choose a Homeschool Math Curriculum
- Top Resources for Homeschool Math
How to Teach Homeschool Math with Hands-On Activities
Math is one of those subjects that has been tested by time for best practices. Experts have shown success with hands-on learning for math, especially for younger students. When teaching a homeschool math curriculum, children will learn far more when their senses are engaged.
The more of the five senses engaged, the better.
A child will comprehend their schoolwork easier if the hands-on activities complement their learning style. Hands-on learning can be adapted to most learning styles, making it a popular choice with homeschoolers. Manipulatives are the most common tools for hands-on math. These are kinesthetic resources for seeing the math in action, often with blocks, cubes, or fraction strips.
With a current national focus on teaching STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math), the importance of math is increasingly evident. STEM courses often utilize hands-on projects to instill concepts. With hands-on activities, students “learn by doing.” These activities and types of project-based learning help students catch on quickly and improve their memory retention.
Hands-on math can help young children grasp foundational math basics until they are capable of thinking abstractly.
Here are a few ideas for implementing hands-on homeschool math techniques:
How to Teach Math with Real-World Lessons
Math for homeschoolers can be much easier to grasp for students when it applies to real-world issues. For example, if high school students struggle with traditional algebra lessons, they may still succeed at and enjoy a course on consumer math. Why? Consumer math covers practical topics that people are likely to encounter in daily life. As a result, the concrete reason behind the math may lead students to understand it better and even appreciate the course.
Real-world math is not only important for all homeschoolers but also helpful for teaching struggling students.
Everyone has opinions about their favorites and the best options. However, even the best homeschool math curriculum is going to miss this mark if your student doesn’t understand the practical application of the math they are studying. Additionally, it may be easier for parents intimidated by math to teach through real-world applications.
Thankfully, there are plenty of options for teaching math with real-world lessons! Here are a few ideas to incorporate into your homeschool math curriculum.
- Unit Price
- Very helpful for shopping. Regardless of the product type or retailer, you can teach your child to determine the unit price.
- By calculating the price per item, we can decide which purchase is the best value for the quantity.
- Money Math
- Every student needs to learn how to manage their money. However, money math goes beyond budgeting.
- Students learn inverse operations and quick mental addition, subtraction, and multiplication by balancing a checkbook or making change. Finally, it’s helpful to discuss how interest and credit works, both of which involve math.
- Cooking Math
- A necessary life skill for everyone. Beyond knowing how to read a recipe and understand cooking techniques, though, is the reality that cooking or baking involves math.
- With kitchen science, students can learn fractions, time versus temperature, unit conversions, serving sizes, and more.
- Cost Per Use
- Is it a better value to purchase a $1,000 laptop or a $300 laptop? Is a deal always worthwhile? Aren’t cheaper prices better? These are topics to discuss when learning about the cost per use.
- For example, if a $50 tablet lasts only 6 months, but a $250 tablet lasts four years, the more expensive tablet is a better purchase in the long run. Even though a product is more expensive, it may be a better deal overall — dependent on quality.
- It’s important to note that expensive is not always better, either. For example, generic cleaning products can work just as well as the name brand for far cheaper.
- The bottom line is smart shopping, which requires factoring in cost per use.
- Grocery Math
- How can you save money on groceries? If there is one type of math every person will depend on at some point in their life, it’s for groceries. We all need to eat, which means shopping for food.
- Thankfully, math for groceries can work in several types of math thanks to factors like sales, coupons, servings, budgets, and bulk purchases. Grocery shopping can help students learn unit prices, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, percentages, and best values.
Homeschool Math Solutions: “When Will We Ever Use This Math?”
We all know the most common complaint in response to math lessons: “I’m never going to use this in real life!” To some extent, it’s easy to see that line of thinking. Further, to be fair, it is an issue when students are taught excessively to graph an equation but they aren’t taught to manage money or how to file taxes. So, it’s understandable.
However, these classic math topics (algebra, geometry, fractions, percentages, etc.) are taught with a purpose. That purpose is often unknown or unseen by students, resulting in a complaint about unnecessary math.
Let’s teach our children the WHY behind math concepts!
Whether you are using a complete homeschool math curriculum or free homeschool math resources, you can discuss the practical reasoning behind every new concept. There is always a reason for each lesson! Some of the best online math programs are those that directly apply math to practical applications.
To get started, consider these applications for various common math topics.
- The everyday use of multiplication is fairly apparent, but struggling students may still wonder why it’s necessary.
- We use multiplication to calculate ingredients, servings, groceries, money, treats, daily schedules, and more.
- We do not always have the option to use a calculator. Examples: when we’re in line at the grocery store, paying at the doctor, or dealing with a crowd.
- As with multiplication, division is a math skill we use constantly and sometimes without realizing it.
- Division is useful for proper recipe sizes, finances, taxes, sales, gas mileage, etc.
- Fractions are used constantly in cooking, unit prices, calculating cost versus value, sale prices, budgeting, and more.
- Percentages are just another form of fractions. Most often, percentages are used instead of fractions in real-world situations.
- For example, a sweater at 10% off may still be more expensive than a different sweater at full price, but companies anticipate the sale sign will sway buyers regardless.
- There are more uses for algebra in the “real world” than most students realize. If homeschoolers expect to attend college, they will need to study more advanced algebra to succeed.
- Other subjects like computer science or medicine will draw on algebraic equations for algorithms, medication, treatments, etc.
- Quick examples: people utilize algebra for business and finance management (profit versus loss) and road trips (gas mileage, gas tank volume, miles covered, nearby gas stations, allotted money, and more)!
- Geometry has obvious practical purposes. Geometry skills come in handy for landscaping, painting, DIY projects, and games like pool or bowling!
- As with algebra, it is difficult for students to understand why they need to study calculus. While it may be rare for the general population to utilize calculus skills directly in daily life, it is an important subject to study for several fields.
- Examples: calculus is used for physics, economics, engineering, biology, medicine, teaching, vehicle production, mechanics, technology, astronomy, and far more!
How to Choose a Homeschool Math Curriculum
Finding the best math curriculum for your child can mark the difference between daily tears or successful mastery! Math for homeschoolers is oftentimes a wild success or a major fail, much like a pendulum. However, there’s a good reason!
Your child’s learning style will determine which homeschool math curriculum is the best fit.
For example, a visual learner may feel like math is impossible with traditional worksheets but find success with manipulatives. When beginning to homeschool, it’s helpful to have your student take a quick learning styles quiz. This quiz pinpoints their ideal learning style, which you can translate into a successful teaching approach. There are several learning styles, such as auditory, visual, kinesthetic, and so on. With each of these styles, students perceive and process information differently. As a result, trying new resources may be surprisingly helpful (e.g. graphs, audiobooks, videos, etc).
Keep in mind that there are varied opinions throughout the homeschool community regarding the most effective homeschool math curriculum options. Some parents swear by the best online math programs, while others think it’s important to avoid technology entirely. In our digital age, online homeschool math curriculum is a popular choice because it’s convenient and supports most learning styles. However, certain students simply don’t learn as well on the computer, even regardless of using one of the best online math programs, and that’s okay too.
Homeschooling is all about meeting the child where they are!
In the end, deciding on math for homeschoolers may require some trial and error. Sometimes, you’ll need to “try on” a few homeschool math curriculum brands before finding the right fit for your child. Thankfully, many homeschool math curricula — especially many of the best online math programs — offer free return periods, free samples, or free trials for this exact purpose!
Learning how to choose a homeschool math curriculum is a unique experience for each family and homeschooled student. In addition to aligning the curriculum with your child’s learning style, you’ll want to look into your homeschooling method. Right now, the idea of homeschool methods may be new information to you. A homeschooling method simply determines what kind of teaching and education fits best within your family dynamic. You can take this quiz to learn which method suits you!
You don’t need to change your life to fit a homeschool method. Your ideal method should complement your existing lifestyle.
Now that you need to choose a curriculum, your head might be spinning. Here are five simple steps to choosing a homeschool math curriculum!
First, take a few deep breaths. You will find the right program.
Second, keep in mind that selecting the right homeschool math curriculum for your child may take time and a few tries. This is discouraging, but normal. You know your child best. You are the most qualified person to find a successful math program for them.
Third, now that you know your child’s learning style and your homeschool method, you can identify what you need from a math curriculum.
Fourth, narrow your search. Just pick a few.
Fifth, print samples, grab the free trial or purchase with a workable return period. Give it a whirl. See how it feels, what your children think, and how it works within your schedule and budget.
Remember, you can always supplement a curriculum with free printables or videos if it needs something extra to round it out for your child. There is no perfect curriculum, so free supplemental materials are vital. (Don’t purchase two math programs! They will get overwhelming, very quickly.)
It may feel like you’re searching for a needle in a haystack, but when a curriculum finally clicks, it will feel like a diamond in the rough!
To choose a homeschool math curriculum:
- Assess the current struggles.
- Consider your child’s learning style.
- Find out your homeschool method.
- Determine what you’re looking for in a math curriculum.
- Take this curriculum quiz for quick answers.
- With our resource guide, get results aligned with your filters.
Top Resources for Homeschool Math Curriculum
When it comes to math curricula, the options are diverse. Whether you need free resources as a budget homeschooler, you’d rather invest in teacher support, or anything in-between, there’s a solution for you!
Homeschool curriculum has majorly developed over the past couple of decades. These days, parents have ample selection.
In fact, there are enough options for parents to feel overwhelmed. Thoughts are probably racing through your mind — how do you know if it’s a good curriculum when the reviewers only seem to either love it or hate it? Will spending hundreds on teacher support help your child more than teaching them yourself? Are these free curriculum options good enough to teach your child?
There are too many factors to know for sure before trying a curriculum. A math program can tick all the boxes and still leave your child struggling. Not even the best online math programs are a fail-proof option. Why? Because there is no way for curriculum writers to know exactly what your child needs. As a result, no curriculum is “perfect.”
However, some rate better than others. There are plenty of homeschool math curriculum brands praised as the best by parents. Honestly, there’s no better recommendation than word-of-mouth from fellow homeschool families. They’ve tried these programs themselves and can attest to their features!
These are our personal favorites PLUS the top voted brands by the homeschool community!
- Beestar — Beestar specializes in developing online math and reading exercises for elementary school kids. Please visit our Beestar Product Review.
- Time4Learning — Time4Learning provides a preschool to 12th-grade online homeschool curriculum using an approach that takes advantage of today’s technology and the internet. Please visit our product review of Time4Learning.com.
- Teaching Textbooks — Teaching Textbooks™ were designed specifically for independent learners, they simply have more teaching/explanation than any other math product on the market.
- Math-U-See — Math-U-See provides a firm foundation in mathematics for students of all aptitudes. The mastery-based approach allows students to move at their own pace whether they are naturally gifted in mathematics, struggle with mathematical concepts, or have special needs. Visit our product review of Math-U-See.
- Life of Fred — Thousands of homeschoolers have turned to Life of Fred Math books for a fun way to learn math. Books include the Elementary Math Series, Intermediate Math Series, Pre-Algebra Series, Financial Choices, High School Math Series, College Math Series, and more. Visit our Directory listing for Life of Fred Math.
- Time4Math Facts — What students experience as they play games to practice math facts is an immersive world of fun characters, rewards for improving their recall, and confidence-building feedback showing them their progress.
- Starfall — Free online learning lessons for kids!
- Power Homeschool — This is a program intended to aid parents in homeschooling their students. Parents may choose up to 6 courses at a time from numerous courses (grades PreK-12). Please visit our Power Homeschool Product Review.
- eTap — eTAP provides homeschool teachers & students with all primary and secondary school course of instruction, plus college entrance exams Test Prep and more. Please visit our product review of eTAP Learning Assistance Program.
- Abeka Math — Abeka produces all manner of educational products and resources to help homeschool parents teach the core academic subjects as well as music, art, foreign languages, and other electives.
- PhotoMath — Not a curriculum. PhotoMath is an app to make your life easier as a homeschool parent!