Our Homeschool Math Curriculum, 1st through 12th Grade

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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:

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.

Horizons Math

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.

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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.

This is our homeschool math curriculum(s) for grade 1 – 12 grade. This is after my older two children were the guinea pigs as we tried different curricula.

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Comments

  1. Anna says

    This is such a timely post. I have two school-agers, and the first started in Horizons and moved to Singapore for 3rd grade. By the end of 2nd grade, I was SO BORED of the review in the spiral method. We've loved Singapore.

    The first grader started in Horizon as well for K and then moved straight into Singapore for first grade.

    Now, the third grader has a good foundation and follows the mental math in Singapore with ease. The first grader has strong mental skills, but doesn't know why or how she's doing anything. She can figure out that 13-9=4, but doesn't know that she's subtracting! Truthfully, she's not. That's the beauty/curse of mental math. ;)

    So I still have Horizons 1, book 2 leftover from pre-planning to use it. Do I use it, or buy supplemental Singapore books? OTOH, I have already seen with my first that sometimes you have to wait for the brain to be ready for a concept, so it is possible that she'll just get it this fall when we pick up the books again.

    Just musing, of course. I'd love feedback, but know that I need to make the decision for this particular kid.

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  2. says

    Thanks for using Horizons! We really appreciate it. And we appreciate the feedback from your community as well and are listening to your opinions! – Ryan from AOP

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  3. says

    Ok…where is your review of Teaching Textbooks!? Mrs. 5 J !! What the heck?! You go right to the big guns and $$ with Chalkdust…did you ever do TT for pre-algebra or anything? We're at a toss up on math for 9th & 7th grade next year. Girl, you know how I love to copy you! Alas, I might have to research a bit more myself …. WAAAAA!! We did MUS for the longest time and then switched to TT simply because they corrected the answers and showed them what they missed. No more breaking pencils over children's heads for this momma!! However, TT does NOT keep things that simple for Pre-Algebra and I lost my 'oomph' for them. What to do…what to do…

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  4. Rebecca says

    ? We are starting our homeschool journal next yr with our firstborn son in first grade.. I LOVE your idea of using Singapore with horizons… ?, I have the horizons 1 workbooks, which Singapore curriculum should I get? Do you use just the text or workbook? Do you have them do work out of both books each day? Thanks for your help!

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    Joy @ Five J's Reply:

    I used just the workbooks, not the textbooks. And yes, I usually had them do most of a lesson in Horizons along with their Singapore. I would often let them skip the parts in Horizon that they had already mastered, however.

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  5. Casie says

    Thanks so much for posting about your math curriculum! It is comforting to know that you've tried several things and have been homeschooling for several years. My oldest is going into second grade in the fall and so far we've only used A Beka. I've been happy with it so far but have heard some (well A LOT of) negative things about it (mainly math) past the 3rd grade years so I've decided I'm going to change our math curriculum now so that it's easier to adjust to the methods that it uses. I'm leaning (and more strongly now after reading your blog) towards Singapore, but couldn't figure out how to or what to supplement with. Glad to know that Horizons works well with it and now I have an idea of what it would look like…thanks! Is there anything else that you've found lacking with Singapore that I would need to supplement/ add in? Thanks!

    [Reply]

    Joy @ Five J's Reply:

    If you get the home instructor's manuals and use their suggestions for manipulatives and such, you really don't need to supplement per se. The supplementation you'd want to do is basically just additional review. I purchase the Challenging Word Problem book that goes along with Singapore and there are also several other supplementary books you might want to look into (Extra Practice, Intensive Practice, etc.). We also have a FlashMaster to practice basic math facts to keep them fresh. Singapore is a very good program by itself. But you do get out of it what you put into it. Get the instructor's manual and read through it :)

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  6. Sarah says

    I am wondering if you have ever used or looked at Right Start Math and or the MEP preogram – MEP (Mathematics Enhancement Programme) from the Centre for Innovation in Mathematics Teaching. ?? Thanks for your website – very helpful1!!

    [Reply]

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