I'm going to let you in on a little secret. Math is the only program that I have never changed in my five years of homeschooling. It is the one subject that I am confident and consistent with. I'll admit that sometimes I get nervous about upper level mathematics, and I start asking around for programs that are teaching programs. Then when it comes to buy curriculum I always just order the same stuff I always do and believe that somehow we'll get by. And we always do. In fact, we do better than get by. We excel.
I actually use two different programs. Our main curriculum is A Beka. I love A Beka because it is drill intensive and through. If your child doesn't understand the concept the first time, don't worry. He will have hundreds of other chances to master it. I also love how the lesson plans are scripted. A nice bonus for someone who preps about 10 minutes a week for four kids. The lesson plans do involve a lot of activities for the optional "extras" in the program. These extras are usually games or cards or charts. I never buy those and we never have trouble mastering skills.
A Beka works for us, and it works well. On James' standardized test for third grade (the most recent one required by state law), he got 100% on the math section. Thank you A Beka.
Our secondary math program is called Calculadder. Calculadder is a speed drill program. A Beka has a speed drill program, but I think Calculadder is better. For one, it's tough. They get three minutes for an entire page of addition facts in first grade. By fourth grade they will have five minutes, but they will also need to complete eight or ten long division problems. The idea is that they do the same sheet until they get 100% within the time frame.
I also love the competition of Calculadder. Although my three boys are on different levels, they compete to see who finishes their level the fastest. Sometimes there are tears, but I like how the boys encourage each other through the week, "Look Isaac, you only have three left and it is only Tuesday! I bet you will complete this level before Friday."
My children may indeed be gifted in math, making a standard drill and memorize workbook program better for our family. After all, their father completed calculus four in college because it was "fun." My opinion is that if you have a program that works, stick with it as long as it works. Although I love A Beka, if it wasn't working, we'd move on fast.
I wrote this post as part of the Virtual Curriculum Fair that my friend Susan is hosting. Head on over to Homeschooling Hearts and Minds and tell her I said hi. Check back throughout the week as I add links to all the other awesome homeschooling participating in the fair:
Disclaimer: I wrote about these things because I wanted to, and I received nothing but personal satisfaction for my efforts.