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  1. #1

    Default Brand new to homeschooling - how much are you willing to pay for a math program?

    Hi there, I'm brand new here and also brand new to homeschooling. In fact we haven't even started yet. But after my 6 yr old daughter finishes kindergarten we will start homeschooling. I'm still researching what kind of materials to use.

    I'm getting overwhelmed with all the options. I'm stuck on what kind of math program to use. They seem to run the gamut on price and learning style.

    Just curious: what are you willing to pay for a math curriculum?

    If I go with a formal program, I can probably spend less than $100/yr on workbooks. If I go with a less formal (say Life of Fred or Murderous Math), those books will add up if she goes through them quickly.

    Thanks in advance!

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  3. #2


    This isnt trigonometry or calculus - arithmetic is not very difficult to teach or understand.
    I would start with an inexpensive option, and use it as your guide for math learning. You may need to get creative or spend some extra time on a couple tricky concepts, but that will happen no matter what product you use.
    Ive used the Singapore workbooks (two per “year” at $15 each) for both my older son (now beyond it), and my kindergartener. I could spend more on getting teacher editions and textbooks, but I never found them that helpful with my older son. (Im with a charter, I can borrow those materials at no cost... and I dont need them.)

    When you start homeschooling, there is going to be so much you learn about your kid, that choices you make beforehand arent always going to work out. Better to scrap something inexpensive!
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3


    Math is one of my favorite subjects to teach so I'm willing to spend as much as necessary but that said, I don't spend a whole lot.

    Math is one of those subjects where you will probably spend a lot of money upfront when you first start homeschooling but you will spend less and less as time goes on and you learn what works for your kids and what doesn't.

    The reason for the high up front cost is investing in manipulatives and trial and error of different teaching and learning styles. Neither of these has to be exorbitant, you can make or repurpose things around the house to use for teaching math like rekenreks (basically a mini abacus) or small stones, toys or bottle caps as counters. There are also literally thousands of free printables for math manipulatives. You can also ask around any homeschool group you come across. You might find a good deal on used manipulatives for any particular program like Math U See blocks or Cuisenaraire rods from a homeschooler whose kids have outgrown them or just didn't click with them.

    As for the trial and error, I would start with the least expensive option that is appealing to you. Lots of homeschoolers like MEP math or CSMP Math both of which are excellent programs and free for the cost of printing. Other low cost options that are quite popular are Singapore Math, Miquon Math, Math Mammoth and Ray's Arithmetic.

    The more expensive options for math like Saxon grade kits, RightStart Math and Math U See are so high priced because the early grade level kits include the manipulatives. You get every thing you need in one box but you are going to pay more upfront for that convenience. If you have the money to spend and want the convenience, there is nothing wrong with doing it that way at all. These programs often become less and less expensive each year because you don't have to keep buying new manipulatives, just the new books and any new manipulatives you don't already have. You can also buy just the books and substitute things you already have for some of the manipulatives, buy used manipulatives or just buy the manipulatives one or two at a time as you need them over the course of the year.
    Last edited by MapleHillAcademy; 03-30-2018 at 11:36 AM.

  5. #4


    Seconding much of what Maple Hill said. I'm willing to pay a lot for math, but I haven't necessarily done so most years.

    Programs that are more expensive, like Right Start, can absolutely be worth the money. Families I know that do Right Start, especially RSB for first grade, have zero regrets about the money they put out for a full scripted program with a ton of great manipulatives.

    On the other hand, I adore MEP, which is free. And my favorite first grade curriculum is Miquon, which will only run you about $50 to get some C-rods and a couple of workbooks, plus the Diary or the Annotations used.

    As for supplements... I firmly believe there's nothing you can do to really "mess up" a first grader's education, assuming you're doing something (not even a curricular something, just providing a rich environment can be enough). But I also think that a systematic program with a scope and sequence for math is by far the best thing for the vast majority of students. In other words, I don't feel comfortable winging math with random books and projects the way I do for other subjects. Math builds on itself in ways that even language, which is much more naturally holistic, just doesn't. Some families make a piecemeal approach to math work, but I think the supplements, while important, are just that - supplemental. As for spending the big bucks on them, if you have a decent library, you'll probably find that there are a lot of great math books there.

    In general, I don't like referring to curricula as "workbooks." Workbooks implies that it's practice. Workbooks can be part of a curriculum. But a good curriculum - especially in early math - will definitely include guidelines for you the teacher in actually teaching, not merely sticking a "worksheet" in front of your kid. For example, the heart of Right Start is not the pared down workbook. It's the manipulatives and the activities you do with them.
    Want to read about my homeschool?
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  6. #5


    I am willing to pay anything for a math curriculum that will work for my particular children, and it is not the same for each of my three children. But, at least in the world of homeschooling curricula, more expensive does not mean better for everybody.

    One of my kids built up great (for her age) math skills using just $30-worth Singapore workbooks. Another one got confused with Singapore jumping around too much and switched to inexpensive MathMammoth. I did buy a couple of Life of Fred books just because of the glitter-driven shopping spree, and it was a complete waste of money because none of my kids enjoyed it, or found it useful.

    You will not know what you need until you actually start teaching math to your daughter, so do not waste your money pre-buying a full-year-worth of curricula. Try it with your daughter first!
    mom to 3 girls: DD10, DD9, DD6

  7. #6


    Hmm, thanks everyone, good tips and food for thought. I hadn't heard of most of the math programs you all have mentioned, so I guess I still have some homework to do.

    Has anyone tried a monthly subscription-type program? I would think you could cancel if it wasn't working out.

    Well, I have one Life of Fred book, and spring break is next week. So I think I'll just leave the book laying around and see if she decides to get into it...

    Really appreciate all the input!

  8. #7


    I'm not into online math options (or anything else) for younger students, so we never did a subscription service. A lot of people enjoy doing Time 4 Learning when they're first starting, but I know dozens of families who used it very short term before realizing it wasn't a good fit long term and only one family who ever stuck with it for more than a year.

    We did do things like Brain Pop when my kids were little and that was fun. But it was also purely supplemental.

    If you post about what you want out of a curriculum or a math program specifically, then people can probably give you some guidance. Different people have different goals, different styles, and different definitions of "good."
    Want to read about my homeschool?
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  9. #8


    I agree, online programs as the main math curriculum for kids under 10 or 12 years old don't work as well as most people would hope. Young kids really do need someone to really interact with them to truly understand the concepts presented.

    As supplemental or fun practice outside of the main math lessons everyday, we've had some success with IXL in the past with some of my older kids (they were upper elementary and middle school age when we had it).

    We are trying out MathSeeds right now which is an online program but my 5yo son is a bit of a math nerd too and he enjoys doing math for fun so since it was free, I thought I'd let him try. I haven't decided if we will keep it after the trial but it won't be his main math curriculum, just something to do for fun on the side. Our main math curriculum right now is a mixture of Miquon Math, MEP math (I just pull a few of the more challenging problems from their worksheets once or twice a week for him to solve) and Gattegno Math which is another free math program I forgot to mention earlier. For my extremely math intuitive kid, this works and works well for him. It would have been an utter fail for my older kids who were not nearly as mathy as he is.

    Honestly, I would recommend a good kid tablet and math apps as an electronic means of supplemental, fun practice. There are lots of fun and inexpensive apps that don't require a subscription. Dragonbox apps for math are wonderful. Dragonbox Numbers, Big Numbers and Algebra 5+ are great for early elementary students.

    The Todo Math app does require a subscription to access all the app's content but the free version does let you access most it. My son likes it but he doesn't love it like he loves Dragonbox so I haven't paid for the subscription for it.

  10. #9


    Here is a list of homeschool math curricula with short descriptions and some reviews if you want to just see what is out there. It isn't exhaustive but it is fairly comprehensive.

    There is also the review list on this site

    SecularHomeschool Math Curriculum list

  11. #10


    Thanks everyone, I appreciate the help! I think I won't know my daughter's true learning style or what she'll like until we're actually doing this full time. I'm guessing she would prefer more stories and hands on manipulatives, but that's just a guess. I'm also not convinced I want to push a complete math (common core style) program on her as I know she would resist and hate it.

    I need to be realistic or else things could get expensive in trying different programs.

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Brand new to homeschooling - how much are you willing to pay for a math program?