Do you ever get the feeling that math programs are pretty much the same thing in different packaging? The order of concepts being taught, and the color and layout of the practice sheets might change. Some programs may throw in a video or hands-on component, but they’re really the same at the core.
What do you do if your child needs more practice on one concept but is struggling with others? If you stop and work on a concept, can you move forward in other areas. What if you need to change curriculum and your child tests all over the place across three or four levels?
Or, what if you have a child who needs to see the real-life connection with math, one who needs to know “why” for it all to make sense. Maybe you, like me, like unit studies and find that math is the one subject that has to be separate. But does it really?
These are all things I’ve struggled with or questions I’ve had when teaching math in our homeschool. I wanted to throw in the towel and design a program for my kids myself, but every time I tried to even come up with a basic list of the skills my kids needed to know, I felt overwhelmed and frustrated.
One day I remembered a program I had heard of before I even started homeschooling. It’s called Math on the Level, and it teaches kids how to do math in the context of every day life. I was very interested in this program, but the big up front ticket price and lack of information about the curriculum deterred me. I had forgotten all about it until it came up again in my recent hunt for answers.
Let me show you a peek inside Math on the Level:
0:00 Introduction and What’s Different about Math on the Level
05:58 Looking at the Physical Products
06:38 Look Inside Curriculum Resources Book
16:52 Look Inside the Combined Teaching Guide
22:29 Math On the Level Spreadsheets
24:18 5 A Day Online Component
27:57 How We Use Math On The Level In Unit Studies
Math on the Level does take more teacher prep time than an open-and-go type curriculum. I would expect spending about 10 minutes a week per child updating the spreadsheet and printing their practice pages. Depending on your personality and how far ahead you like to plan, additional planning could be minimal or more intensive. So far I’ve found that it takes me a couple hours to plan math for a unit study that lasts between 4-6 weeks. I’m still just learning things though, and I think that time will decrease as I use the program more.
I do recommend setting aside a weekend or a few hours here-and-there over the course of a week or so to become familiar with the program before you begin using it. It is so different from traditional math programs that it took me some time to wrap my brain around how everything works. It also takes time to set up the spreadsheet and to become familiar with the online component. There are excellent video tutorials provided by the company, and Carlita, the creator of Math on the Level, has offered fantastic e-mail support any time I’ve had questions.
It is recommended to spend 2-3 days a week on math lessons – introducing new concepts and firming up concepts your child is learning. Then, another 2-3 days a week using math in real life: playing games, cooking, going to the store, etc.
I really feel like this program is exactly what I was looking for and gives me the structure, bones, and resources I need to teach math to my children in a way that works for them. I also love that it lends itself so well to unit studies. Math can truly become part of whatever topic we’re learning about. It doesn’t have to be separate on it’s own island. After all, math is just another way to describe our world.
Other Resources Mentioned
Math Antics is a fantastic website that provides entertaining video-based math instruction in an easy-to-understand format. The videos are free through their website or YouTube channel. For a small yearly fee, you also have access to worksheets and extra practice problems.
Simply Good and Beautiful Math is a new updated program from The Good and the Beautiful. We tried some of the samples they recently released and my son was a big fan of the video presentations. The number one problem I had was the pacing and sequencing. My son just doesn’t learn math in the order laid out. He still hadn’t mastered some of the things for level 3, but some of the concepts in level 5 were too easy for him. He was all over the place. I considered just doing what he needed in each level and going through them slowly, but that would be so expensive, and it was still just an OK fit.
One of the awesome things about Simply Good and Beautiful math is that you can get the full program for FREE as a PDF download on their website. This is HUGE. When we need a more formal or deeper approach to teaching a lesson, I can find that one lesson from the level we need and print that off for him to work with. GAME. CHANGER!
The Sir Cumference Book Series is a fun set of picture books set in the time of kings, queens, knights, and dragons. Each story discusses a particular math concept in a fun and engaging way. Most of the books are based on geometry, but some newer books talk about charts and graphs, fractions, decimals, place value, and more.
UPDATE FEBRUARY, 2022
Over a semester in we are enjoying Math on the Level and it has truly become a staple in our homeschool. It took some getting used to and there were some fits and starts along the way, but overall it’s working really well for us.
Check out my full video review of the program: