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  1. #1

    Default Curriculum Help for 5th grader!

    Hello, all! Brand new to this site- but have been browsing a bit before I joined.

    I'm in need of advice and suggestions on curriculum choices for my soon to be 5th grader. He is advanced in reading and spelling, but struggles a lot with math. He is definitely behind at least one grade level with math. He hates it, and we haven't found any approach that works with him.

    I am looking at, and contemplating, several options- Beast Academy, Math Mammoth, Horizons, Khan Academy, Teaching Textbooks. I'm unsure if I should use one of those alone, or multiple combined. Would love input from those who have used them!

    Also, I'm contemplating our science and history curriculum choices. For science, I am looking at - Pearson Interactive Science, Building Blocks of Science, or REAL Science Odyssey. And for history, I am looking at- primarily either Story of the World in conjunction with AGS United States History, or History Odyssey.

    Any thoughts, suggestions, or advice would be greatly appreciated! I've been researching so much, but just cannot make up my mind.

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  3. #2


    Math - Beast Academy is a very advanced program, would not be a good fit for someone who is struggling or hates math. Math Mammoth is pretty slow and gentle, good for filling in gaps since it has a separate set of books that go by topic (in addition to the books that go by grade). Singapore Math is another solid option, but I would start a few grades back if he is struggling.

    REAL Science Odyssey is a great option for science.

    History Odyssey is a bit too intense and work-heavy (IMHO). Would work for a child who really loves history, but will be an overload otherwise. I personally prefer teaching history through books, movies, and documentaries and going children-led, not sequentially.
    mom to 3 girls: DD10, DD9, DD6

  4. #3


    Thank you so much!
    I had no idea Beast Academy was advanced. Bummer, because I know he'd love the graphic novel look of it. Would it be bad to do it if we started a grade or two behind?
    It sounds like Math Mammoth would be something to use in conjunction with something else, potentially?
    I did look into Singapore, but was hesitant because of the cost. It looks like it would be around $200 for the whole grade?
    Do you know much about Khan, Teaching Textbooks, or Horizons?

    The REAL Science Odyssey is what I'm leaning towards, so I'm glad to hear it's recommended.

    As for history- he likes history, but I wouldn't say he loves it. Science and reading/spelling are his favorites. I don't want anything too intense for history, that will overwhelm him. You wouldn't recommend any formal history curriculum at this point?

  5. #4


    Wow, Singapore should run you about $15 for each of two workbooks.
    However, all the awesome things about Singapore K-5 are gone in Singapore 6, which is only “inspired” by the earlier series. Ive seen kids using a number ahead or the same number as their grade, so it is possible that you can use 5.
    Did the $200 include manuals and teacher editions? All you need is the workbook.

    ETA: heres the site, looks like $16.80 for the workbook
    Singapore Math
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  6. #5


    Oh! I was including the textbooks and teacher's guides. Those aren't needed? We won't be completely lost without them?

    Are the workbooks enough on their own, or should we use it along with something else?

  7. #6


    We had no problem using just the workbooks. This is arithmatic, not calculus. I borrowed the Singapore teachers manual a few years ago, and didnt find it helpful. The workbook and textbook are both essentially the same thing. We worked out some problems on a whiteboard, and did the practice exercises. It worked fine, and DS scored really well on the state standardized test that we took in May.
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  8. #7


    Good point! I'm just nervous approaching math this year, where it has been so difficult up until this point. Do you think Singapore is a good fit for kids who don't like math and are struggling with it?

  9. #8


    Hmmm. Singapore made perfect sense to me, and to my son. But I was always mathy, and my oldest is mathy. What I appreciated most about Singapore was how they went from concrete to abstract for each concept, and explained where and how to use different strategies.

    Maybe a program that is skills based, to work at improving whatever your son needs work with? I think that might be Math Mammoth, but Im not sure. One of the commonly cited elementary math programs here has it organized that way.

    But it is just arithmatic - if he has trouble, is it because he doesnt have a firm foundation, he doesnt know his times tables or how to navigate fractions? Is complex multiplication or division a mystery to him, so he gets anxious because he sort of knows, but doesnt really?

    Also, when you are teaching math, it takes some creativity to reimagine how to present the concept so that it is understood - this could be despite having the worlds most perfect curriculum. If something doesnt make sense, stop, go back to where it is making sense, and work your way forward, with a different path, perhaps. I guess not having the teachers guide means you are on your own for coming up with the ideas.

    If you go with Singapore, you dont need both the workbook and the textbook. (Neither hold long explanations.) You might get the homeschool parent guide (22.50), but you dont need tests.

    Good luck!
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  10. #9


    Thank you! 😊

    He has done pretty well with fractions, but hasn't memorized his times tables. He struggles big time with multiplication and division. And he gets very bored, and very frustrated, and kind-of shuts down. It's hard for me, because I always loved math and excelled at it.

    He doesn't do well with memorization, or maybe it's just the way we've been doing it (repetitive writing of the times tables as well as flashcards). His interest in math just isn't there to begin with. So, I'm really hoping to find something that will spark an interest - at least enough that it won't bore him so much & frustrate him like it has been.

  11. #10


    My daughter had really weak basic skills/facts when she left public school halfway through her third year. I found the blog and resources from Kate's Homeschool Math Help really useful for sorting out what she did and did not know of her addition, subtraction, and multiplication facts, and how to start filling in the gaps. If you look under the Articles section, there are links to free tests for all the facts, and games and strategies for teaching/learning them.

    I found my daughter just really did not get a lot of math, and the whole thing underlying that was her lack of firm knowledge and rapid recall of these basic sets of facts. She was spending so much effort and time on figuring out basic things that she would just come up blank with everything else and get really frustrated and angry. She has been much better once we sorted out her basic facts.

    We went with Beast Academy from the start. My daughter has tested as gifted, but I would have never classed her as gifted at math (reading is more her thing). She said she hated math, was not good at it, and I could just see she was not really understanding what she was doing in school even when she got a lot of it correct. So even though she was not an advanced, math-loving child, we went with Beast Academy. I made that choice because of the comic book presentation since she loves to read. She saw the sample I printed off, and it was math she wanted to do because of the presentation. In addition, the placement tests were short and the only ones she could cope with at the time with her level of frustration with math. We are using grade 4 currently and she is year 5 in the NZ system, but I find it hard to compare US/NZ year levels (she is either at her correct level or slightly behind).

    I would try out samples, there are lots of free ones to print online, and try out placement tests. See what your son likes, and what levels he places at. If he likes Beast Academy, I don't see any harm in doing it. It has certainly taught my daughter how to face challenge and that getting stuff wrong is not the end of the world, it is just part of the journey of figuring out a problem. Overall it has been really good for her. Her math is much stronger now and she says she likes it.
    NZ homeschoolers (school year runs start Feb to mid Dec).
    DD 12 (year 7) and DD 7 (year 2).
    Fourth year homeschooling.
    Part-time freelance science copyeditor.

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Curriculum Help for 5th grader!