We’ve been relaxed homeschoolers for most of Caroline’s elementary years. We’ve done some math with worksheets, workbooks, and play websites, but it has been more “living math” in terms of doing math when it matters in real life. That said, I knew there were holes in Caroline’s math education to this point in terms of traditionally where a child her age “should be” in math. I also knew that she wouldn’t understand some terminology used in standardized tests or, for example, when we had her gifted testing done. There would be terms and ideas very familiar to kids who did formal math work that would be completely foreign to her.
I admit I’ve always felt a bit conflicted about this. On the one hand, I believed she’d eventually get to the math when she was ready and had a real reason to learn it. On the other hand, I’m not going to lie. I want her to be able to function well with math the way it is taught and done in formal education situations. The older she’s gotten, the less willing I’ve been to continue to be relaxed about math. Since she doesn’t like math, I felt I needed to find SOMETHING that worked well for her so she could make a leap forward in this area.
So I’ve continued to look for the magic bullet that we needed for math. When I was introduced to CTCMath I thought it was an interesting option for us to explore and that might be “it.”
I received a free subscription to CTCMath and am being compensated for my time to write this post. All opinions are my own and I was not required to provide a positive review.
CTCMath Online Math Program
CTCMath is a full online math curriculum created by Australian math teacher and homeschool parent Pat Murray. It is all-inclusive for K-8 and then supplemental for high school. There were a number of things that made me willing to try it.
First, it has a great selection of lessons, diagnostic tests, etc. that enable me to really see where we need to focus. I’m not going to waste Caroline’s time and energy on things she can demonstrate mastery of.
Two, I can assign Caroline tasks to do via the dashboard and she can just sign in and do them. It’s a very independent math program which is something we needed.
Third, it has excellent information for the parent in terms of what the child has done, how she scored, how many attempts it took to pass a certain task or test, etc. This feedback makes it easy for me to determine where to go next. For parents who have always taken a systematic approach to math starting in kindergarten, this might be less of an issue. But for a relaxed homeschooler who wants to move in a more structured direction and suspects her child has holes in her learning, this is a great feature.
I’ve been using CTCMath to first find the holes to determine where to jump in to use it as our regular math program. I’ve assigned a variety of diagnostic tests to discover what Caroline knows and what she doesn’t. In some cases, there were tests she didn’t “pass” only because she had never been formally exposed to the terminology or idea. I had her watch a lesson, do some practice questions, and she passed them with flying colors.
There are three levels of diagnostic tests – Short (20), Standard (30), and Comprehensive (40). I started off doing the Short to keep it, um, short and to the point. But I realized that Standard is the best option for us, especially if I’m checking to see if she already has understanding. With Short, if she made a boneheaded mistake (which she has a few times and immediately knew she did), it sinks her pretty quickly below the passing grade I’ve established. If I use the Standard I get both a fuller look at what she can do (or not do) and it gives her a bit more leeway for making a few mistakes but still demonstrating competence. (I am not requiring 100% to show competence.)
The Very Best Part of CTCMath
The biggest difference with CTCMath and others we’ve tried is that it isn’t visually overwhelming. (Insert angels singing, trumpets blowing, and mom dancing!) This has consistently been a problem with most online math (and reading) programs we’ve tried. That isn’t to say this program is poorly designed. It is professionally done. But the lessons are clear and simple. They aren’t on an overwhelming screen. They aren’t filled with music and antics. They are simple, clear, and work.
***Caroline said of all the programs and websites we’ve tried that this is the best one by far.***
So CTCMath is a good fit for us. It allows me to assign her specific diagnostic tests and lessons so we can pinpoint where she needs help. She can watch the lessons and practice the new concept on her computer. I can see what she is doing, how long it takes her to do it, how many attempts it takes her to pass, etc.
CTCMath works best for us because it makes us both happier. LOL!
Good News for My Readers!
So if you are ready to check it out, I have some good news for you.
There is a free, no-obligation, no credit card required trial. The free trial gives everyone a FREE 4 week trial to the program. (I signed up for the free trial before even agreeing to take on this post.) If you are struggling with math in your home, it is definitely worth it to click over and sign up for a free trial. You can poke around the parent section, try out the student lessons, etc. and see for yourself.
As I said before, I received a year for free for the purpose of writing this post. But I am pretty confident we’ll continue to use CTCMath for some time to come, even after that year expires. And this is great news for this mama!