Selecting a math curriculum is a huge decision for homeschoolers. After all, math is one of the “Three R’s,” full of essential skills your student needs to master, now and for their entire life. Talk about pressure! So you do your research, and you weigh all the options (Wow…So. Many. Options…) and, with probably a little trepidation, you make your choice.
And now you’re second-guessing.
Whether you’re new to homeschooling or have previously used the same curriculum with multiple students with great success, it’s not uncommon to reach a point where you question your choice of math program. Flexibility is one of the many benefits of homeschooling, so if it’s not working, it could be time for a change.
How can you know if it’s really not working? Here are six clear signs:
1. It’s Too Hard
This curriculum is making your student hate math. Your student is struggling every day to maintain the small gains you’ve made. Maybe it’s moving too fast and your student can’t keep up, or maybe they’re spending an inordinate proportion of their school hours doing math. Maybe your student relies mostly on procedures and rote memorization to work out problems and you’re concerned that they may not be developing the deeper conceptual understanding necessary to progress. You’ve tried everything but standing on your head – you’re willing to give that a shot if you thought it would help – and you’re both feeling discouraged.
2. It’s Too Easy
This might seem like a good thing compared to being too hard, but being bored is another great way to encourage your student to hate math. We want our students to love learning, not be frustrated or bored by it. Have you consistently seen that your student zips through problems (especially word problems) and doesn’t have to take the time to think about breaking them down into smaller parts, approaching them from different angles, or try using different methods to solve them? Students who find their math program too easy might not be developing the problem-solving and critical thinking skills they will need as they progress to more challenging material.
3. It Doesn’t Equip Parents with Tools for Teaching
The curriculum presents concepts in one way and one way only – and that way doesn’t make sense to your student. And it’s different from the way you learned it, and the curriculum doesn’t explain it in a way you can confidently present to your student. You contact customer support at the publisher for advice. They repeat the same method you’ve already tried, and don’t have other suggestions on how to overcome this obstacle. Now what?
4. There’s Too Much Material
Again, this might seem like a good thing. But it’s easy to be overwhelmed, as an instructor or a student, if there’s too much to take in. We, as parents, want to get our money’s worth, so we may feel like we should use all of the materials provided – even if they don’t add value or even confuse things. It’s also important to have access to practice materials, but there’s no benefit to busywork if your student has mastered the concept.
5. There’s Too Much Teacher Prep Time
While we expect to put in some effort to teach our children, most of us want a curriculum where a lot of the leg work has been done for us. If we have to spend a lot of time creating or modifying lessons, making materials for activities, or practicing the concepts ourselves, it can drain us and take time and energy away from more enjoyable activities. Which leads us to…
6. Nobody Is Having Any Fun!
Math lessons might not be a laugh a minute, but they should provide a balance of challenge and enjoyment. If you or your student dread math every day, trust your gut: something isn’t right.
If you find yourself nodding in agreement to one or more of these points, it could be time to make a move. Our experts can give advice on how Math-U-See might solve your math problem. (Get it? “Solve your math problem?” We crack us up!) And if we’re not right for you, we’ll tell you that, too. Let us help with a no-strings-attached consultation.
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If you have questions about teaching math, we are here to help!