In our six years of homeschooling, we've used a number of different math curricula (including Saxon, Math-U-See, Teaching Textbooks, Bob Jones, and even Life of Fred). We loved some and strongly disliked others. But through all of that experimentation, we developed a general curriculum plan for math that we're very satisfied with.
In actual practice, my 8-year-old will be the only one of my children to actually use the sequence exactly as I list below simply because my older two children were the guinea pigs as we tried different curricula.
What I list below is the curriculum we have used from first grade up. For Joely in kindergarten (she's the only of my children that I homeschooled for kindergarten), we didn't use a strict curriculum. Instead we spent a lot of time with number tiles and learning some foundational math concepts.
Singapore Primary Mathematics (U.S. Edition)
Levels 1 through 6
We use the Singapore textbooks, workbooks, and Intensive Practice for levels 1 through 6. We correspond each book level with grade level. (I might be adding the Challenging Word Problems to our curriculum next year for more practice and review).
From level 3 and up, I also purchase the teacher's guide, either through Sonlight or through SingaporeMath.com. The teacher's guides generally include not only the answers to the textbook and the workbook problems, but also a detailed lesson plan that I sometimes refer to. (There is a different between the Home Instructor's Guide and the Teacher's Guide, so if you purchase one, just check to see that it has the type of information you want it to have.)
We use Singapore as our primary math curriculum in elementary especially because of its focus on the model method of solving problems and its use of number bonds. Both concepts, in my opinion, equip a child for real world mathematics extremely well.
I also appreciate that the word problems that are used in the curriculum are much more challenging and thought-provoking than many other programs of the same level. You can see an interesting comparison of some typical Saxon, Abeka, and Singapore word problems here.
More info about Singapore Math:
- Singapore Scope & Sequence
- A basic guide to using the Singapore curriculum
- Explanation of Singapore's 'Model Method'
- Placement tests for Singapore Primary Mathematics
- SingaporeMath.com's Online Bookstore
My Changes to the Singapore Curriculum
One thing I do change about Singapore is the way my kids learn to multiply and divide multi-digit numbers.
Levels 1 & 2
I purchased only the Horizons Math workbooks for levels 1 and 2 and used them alongside Singapore 1 and 2 as a convenient way for Joely to have extra practice of concepts (basic operations, skip counting, etc.). I didn't purchase the teacher's manual since we used Horizons just for the worksheets. I could have easily used online worksheets instead of Horizons for the extra drills and such, but I enjoyed the convenience of Horizons.
Key to… Series:
Fractions, Decimals, Percents, and Algebra (workbooks 1-3)
Key to Fractions (4 workbooks) : During 2nd grade, before Joely was really introduced to fractions through Singapore or Horizons, I had her do book 1 of the Key to Fractions series. This gave her an excellent understand of fractions concepts.
This year Joely was in 3rd grade, so since she had a working understanding of multiplication and division by this point (both concepts are taught in Singapore 2), I had her finish up the rest of the fractions series. She worked on the workbooks alongside Singapore since she only needed to do a few pages a day (each Key to… workbook is only about 37 pages long).
Key to Decimals (4 workbooks) : After a child completes Key to Fractions, she moves on to Key to Decimals. Again, multiplication and division needs to be understood well before moving on to decimals.
Key to Percents (3 workbooks) : I have my children complete Key to Percents in 4th or 5th grade. The Key to Fractions and Decimals series need to be completed before Key to Percents since those concepts are used to understand percents.
Key to Algebra (We use only workbooks 1-3) : Before beginning pre-algebra, I have my kids complete the Key to Algebra books 1-3. This gives them an excellent foundation in positive/negative integers, variables, algebraic terminology, and solving basic equations.
The reason I like to supplement with the Key to… series is because it teaches concepts in such a step-by-step, intuitive manner. Students discover the math concept instead of simply being told what it is. They learn the 'why' of concepts thoroughly through this valuable series. (You can see sample pages of each of the series at the links above.)
These series are also a great way to review concepts at the end of the elementary years, which is mostly how I used them with Jaden, my oldest.
Chalk Dust Math
Basic Math and above
So far we've only used Basic Math and Algebra I from Chalk Dust, but we totally love their program and plan to use it for all math through high school.
Dana Mosely, the instructor on the DVDs, is a master teacher and presents the information extremely well.
The only downside of Chalk Dust is that the programs are expensive (upwards of $400 per course). The cost was a concern for me at first, but the quality of the curriculum, the fact that no teacher prep time is required, and the ability to reuse the curriculum for multiple children makes it well-worth the investment. Plus, since it's DVD-based, I can watch and learn right along with my kids.