*This post contains a review of CTCMath. I was compensated for my time. All opinions are my own.
While most of the world turned upside down in March, we were headed that way last September. With crises in our immediate and extended family, worsening health in myself and one of our children, an evacuation due to near-riots, and everything else #2020, our homeschool has really suffered.
But math has been one of my main worries.
I love our curriculum’s recommended math program, but it requires more mom-time than I’m able to give right now. Some days I can teach lessons, while other days I have barely enough energy for a read-aloud.
I didn’t know of any program that would meet our needs, so we kept pushing through.
Online Math? Really?
Then I heard about CTCMath’s Homeschool Family Membership.
We’ve made so many mistakes with homeschool math curriculums that I was hesitant to even look at another program, never mind an online one.
- What if it had distracting graphics and gimmicky characters — things that really hurt my kids’ focus?
- What if it focused on algebraic thinking in the early years instead of building a strong foundation in the basics?
- But…what if this was God’s answer for us?
I signed up for CTCMath’s free trial, and then decided to take the plunge; it’s been an absolute blessing for our homeschool!
A Traditional Math Program
I was relieved to find that CTCMath is a traditional math program that teaches first things first (imagine that?!). There are still a few concepts I want to wait on, but the program lets me do that.
And it’s not gimmicky at all. There are colorful graphics, but they’re tasteful and only used when needed to teach a concept, or for the kids to work in a concrete way.
My older kids were excited to find they can manipulate equations like they would on paper, using the mouse to strike out a number when borrowing, and a number menu so they can mark the quantity they are borrowing or carrying.
CTCMath also uses base ten blocks to illustrate concepts and increase understanding. I’ve always used beads or blocks (even drawings of them!) in our math lessons. Their use in CTCMath gave us a sense of continuity between math curriculums.
Simple to Start
I wanted to make sure we didn’t end up with learning gaps from switching programs, so we spent our first two weeks doing short diagnostic tests in each child’s current math level.
The tests are organized by topic and, since they aren’t timed, even my test-averse 10 and 11 year olds looked forward to their math time!
Once we finished the tests, the kids began working on their weaker topics while continuing to review areas they’ve mastered.
How We Use CTCMath
The kids start each week with one of CTCMath’s built-in review sets. They currently do this online, but I plan to start printing the PDF versions so they can do some by hand. The program’s founder encourages this so kids can receive the benefits of paper and pencil work in math. I was very impressed by that.
For additional review, there’s a built-in Question Bank that lets me create customized practice sheets. I can drill down to the exact topics each child needs, choose the number of questions and difficulty level, and even save the sheets for future use.
We also use the CTCMath online speed drills, and their Times Table game, to keep math facts sharp and build automaticity.
The rest of the week, each child works on their new lessons. The program allows me to set a pass grade for each child, so I can see at a glance whether they can move on to the next lesson or need to continue working on the current one.
CTCMath for Kindergarten
The Homeschool Family Membership covers our entire family, so I decided to start my rising Kindergartener as well. She absolutely adores CTCMath.
Many of the questions have a speaker function so she can work mostly independently.
I do stay at-elbow so I can help her with questions that don’t have the audio function — and to keep her from clicking everything else on my computer! It works out well though; I stay more aware of her progress instead of just relying on CTCMath’s weekly reports.
She’s only 5, so if she has a bad case of the wiggles during her practice problems, I can shorten our day without losing her work; the program will pick up the next day, right where we left off!
I was hoping to use the CTCMath speed drills for fact practice, but they aren’t customizable by fact family. I then realized this is a good thing. Again, it will keep me more connected with her while we work on flashcards together.
I can also add variety with fact practice sheets from the Question Bank.
CTCMath for Struggling Learners
This has been a fantastic homeschool math curriculum for my struggling learners. Two of my sons are working 3-4 grade levels behind in math, one due to previous learning gaps and the other due to mild special needs. My 8 year old daughter is two levels back due to special needs.
Every single one of them has responded well to this program.
They’re able to revisit concepts as many times as needed and they receive immediate feedback as they work through the question sets. If they give an incorrect answer, CTCMath shows the correct answer right away, so they can look over the problem and figure out what went wrong.
This gives excellent support for kids who struggle with self-monitoring.
The Question Bank is another plus for my struggling learners. I can choose topics from any level and I can remove the grade level title from the PDF!
My rising 8th grader is one of my struggling learners, but he has really enjoyed taking charge of his progress. He no longer has to wonder if I’ll have enough energy for the day’s math lesson, and he can continue working towards his goal of starting pre-algebra in 9th grade.
What’s Next For Math
Currently, I tell the kids what topic to work on each day but I’d like to start using the CTCMath Task List. My just-turned 14 year old can receive the list via email while the others will see it when we log in.
I’ll also use some of the report options so I can reference them as I assign lessons. The Parent Quick Start videos will make it easy to use these features.
We’re definitely continuing with CTCMath for the foreseeable future. I’d like to return to our previous program at some point, but in this season CTCMath is perfect for us.
I’m glad I didn’t let my fears get in the way.
CTCMath gives homeschool families a 50% discount through their Homeschool Family Membership.