Changing math curriculum this year was a difficult decisions for me. I’ve always been impressed with the comprehensiveness of Saxon Math, and I like the spiral approach for Bradley. I know spiral approach doesn’t work well for all students, especially those who struggle to understand mathematical concepts, but for a child like Bradley, who seems to understand math quite easily, it had been a great fit.
I had started using Saxon Math K for Bradley in pre-school, and by the 2010-2011 school year he was using Saxon Math 3. The 2010-2011 school year was a challenging one for me! I was pregnant with twins, miserably sick through the whole pregnancy, and exceedingly uncomfortable the last half of the pregnancy.
It was during this time of sickness and discomfort that I began to check out curriculum options for the following school year, not ever thinking that I would change math. But alas, I began to run into many positive reviews of Teaching Textbooks. It piqued my interested. I decided to give it a whirl. The worst that could happen was losing some money, at which point I could simply resell the curriculum. I had already purchased Saxon 4/5 used, so I could fall back on that for the 2011-2012 curriculum if need be.
We never did finish Saxon Math 3. It was my fault. I simply ran out of steam and didn’t have the physical or mental energy to get through school each day towards the end of my pregnancy.
Switching from Saxon to Teaching Textbooks
I have found, like other reviewers of the curriculum, that Teaching Textbooks isn’t as advanced as Saxon. Saxon covers more advanced topics than Teaching Textbooks in the correlating grade levels. But, who cares about the grade level? Isn’t that one of the great beauties of homeschooling? You place your child right at the level they need in the curriculum of your choice. I was able to easily check out Teaching Textbook’s table of contents online and choose the level I thought would be best for Bradley.
I settled on Math 4. The first 1/2 (or more) of the curriculum was very easy for him. But he loved the math program, especially at first when it was really easy! He would ask to do extra math lessons in his free time. In the beginning he would sometimes complete 3 or 4 lessons in a day. He slowed down as the lessons became more challenging. He’ll be finishing the school year about half way through Math 5.
What I like about Teaching Textbooks:
1. Lessons are interactive and I don’t have to teach them! The computer “teacher” speaks, has visuals on the screen, and also frequently asks students to type in answers to questions during the lesson. I love that it emphasizes several different modes of learning.
2. The program is self-grading. Currently automated grading feature available on all of their math programs up through Algebra 2. After the student completes each problem in their set, the program lets the student know whether he answered the question correctly. The program also has a grade book the parent can access showing the parent all of the questions the student answered right/wrong and if they looked at the instruction for how to complete the problem.
3. Step-by-step explanations for how to complete every problem. After the student has completed each problem in the lesson they are given the option to view the solution. This is a great feature for students who missed a question and aren’t sure what they did wrong, or even if they got it right and need some reinforcement. Bradley knows the rule: if you miss a question you must watch the solution! The parents grade book also indicates what problems the student watched the solution for.
4. Animations and sounds. Teaching textbooks, at least in Math 4 and 5, have little cartoon characters with corresponding sounds that are supposed to help the student interact with the program. Bradley loves them and thinks they are a lot of fun, but can spend an inordinate amount of time playing with them if I don’t keep an eye on him!
5. Not Consumable. I like that I’ll be able to use this program over for Cameron, Dylan, and Elliot if I so choose. It can also be set up for multiple students, which will be awfully handy since I have twins! Because it’s not consumable, you can resell the program when you’re done with it. From what I’ve seen on eBay, this curriculum holds its value and resells not much below the new cost.
6. Great customer service. I have had to deal with the Teaching Textbooks customer service a couple of times, and each time it’s been both easy to get a hold of a real person, and they’ve been exceptionally helpful. If you purchase a used version you’ll probably have to call their customer service to get a new serial code, but don’t worry: the call shouldn’t take you more than just a couple of minutes!
7. Comprehensive and spiral approach. As I stated earlier, this type of math works really well for Bradley. He seems to easily understand new math concepts that are introduced. Math 5 usually averages four practice questions to practice the new concept learned in the lesson, and is followed by approximately 22 math problems that review concepts previously studied.
. . . .
If you’re interested in looking into Teaching Textbooks, I’d recommend checking out their website. There are sample lessons online to view as well as the table of contents for each level of Teaching Textbooks. Before purchasing, I actually had Bradley complete some of the lessons online, just to see what he thought of it. If you purchase your curriculum new they also offer a 30-day money-back guarantee.
The fact that this program has promoted independence in math for Bradley and freed me up to care for my other children, all the while being a comprehensive math program that Bradley enjoys are definitely the best perks for using Teaching Textbooks!