Math…all roads lead to algebra

 Posted by on September 24, 2010  Add comments
Sep 242010

All roads lead to Algebra

Choosing a math curriculum seems to be a daunting task to many homeschoolers. Every homeschool mom wants to choose the curriculum that will work best for their particular child’s learning style.  There are many wonderful math curriculums available to homeschoolers. Knowing a little about the approaches they use to teach math may help in making an educated decision.

There are basically two different methods used to teach math, the spiraling approach and the mastery approach. Knowing the difference in these two may save frustration when trying to choose what works best for your child.

Spiraling usually means that in the daily lesson, more of the exercises are review problems. The lesson may consist of a few problems on the new concept, and the majority of the lesson is  review of all previously learned concepts.  Each day introduces a new concept.

Saxon, Horizons and Abeka are examples of spiraling programs.

Mastery-based programs are usually laid out with each chapter concentrating on one concept at a time. The lesson consists of the majority of the problems concentrating on one new concept and a smaller section of review at the end of the lesson.

Rod and Staff, Math-U-See and Modern Curriculum Press are examples of mastery-based


It is good to keep in mind your goal in early elementary math (K-3) is pretty much summed up in four operations. You want your child to know how to add, subtract, multiply and divide.  If doesn’t matter which curriculum you use as long as you understand that these are the basic concepts  that must be mastered before you move on to any higher level math concepts.

It seems that many math curriculums move too quickly in the early grades, expecting young children to perform upper level thinking skills, which are not developmentally appropriate.  So, if you have a younger elementary student relax give them a good solid foundation. Do not compare yourself to other homeschoolers. It does not matter if your child memorizes their multiplication tables in 2nd grade, 3rd grade, or even, heaven forbid, 4th grade.

At the end of the day, when your children arrive in eighth grade, in which grade they learned  a concept or which  method you used to teach the concept doesn’t matter. What matters is that they have now grasped it and are ready for algebra.

All roads lead to Algebra, so whether you get there by spiraling or mastery, your goal is for your child to arrive with understanding and not burn him or her out in the process.

  2 Responses to “Math…all roads lead to algebra”

  1. Your explanation revolutionized my thinking a few years ago. Thank you for being such encouragement.

  2. Amen!!! =)

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