Sunday, July 7, 2013

Choosing an Exciting Math Curriculum

Choosing a Math Curriculum
Choosing an Exciting Math Curriculum
Choosing a math curriculum is one task that never seemed to appeal to me until one day I was forced to do it, not for my own children, but as a university class requirement. That is when I began to get excited as I saw the research statistics supporting project based learning and techniques used in Waldorf, Montessori and Reggio methods. I began to see math curriculum as a tool that could help me teach. I reviewed three big name math curriculum, Abeka, Saxon and Oak Meadow: below you will find the pros and cons of each so you can make a decision on which one is right for you.
Abeka curriculum is the curriculum I grew up on in private school. It is Bible based and preferred by many homeschool moms. Abeka is dependent on formal instruction with the teacher instructing directly through lecture form. The textbook format uses a simple black and white background with little examples in the book. The number of problems can be overwhelming to both student and teacher with the curriculum stressing memorization and speed drills. While supplemental materials are highly recommended they are often underutilized and of low quality. However overwhelming this curriculum may seem, experts agree that some direct instruction of concepts is needed for information to be retained in working memory long enough to work higher order math problems. A strength of Abeka curriculum is that it facilitates fast memory recall when it is used per manufacturer’s instruction.
Saxon Math

Saxon Math is an example of a modern textbook that is designed with bright graphics and supplemented with numerous colorful, three-dimensional manipulatives. Saxon Math has become the preferred design of a textbook as well as the preferred instructional method in many public and private schools across the nation. This is not without criticism however, as many educators have questioned the depth of instruction and the ability of #Saxon curriculum to build a proper foundation for harder tasks such as Algebra. Although Saxon offers a wide range of manipulatives and supplemental materials, these are not always used, if you choose any curriculum that comes with manipulatives I cannot stress how important these manipulatives are. Manipulatives provide discovery learning, allowing the student to apply the information to their environment for a better understanding of the concept. I would say this is the one big strength of Saxon Math is that it supports discovery learning.

Oak Meadow
Oak Meadow is a Waldorf curriculum that employs both discovery learning and formal instruction methods. Waldorf educators use a unique methodology where the instructor acts as facilitator by storytelling the information. This method is evident in Oak Meadow Curriculum which employs storytelling, journaling, graph paper and self-made manipulatives and while it might not be practical in a large classroom, it is certainly a valuable technique for learning and application. Storytelling math helps children link concepts to the real world and journaling not only enhances the retention of information in long-term memory but the student’s ability to communicate math concepts and problem-solve. The strength of Oak Meadow is that research suggests that this type of storytelling math helps children link concepts to the real world as well as supporting good memory. 

My favorite, I don't know if you can tell, is Oak Meadow but whatever curriculum you choose I hope you have found this information helpful in making a decision.

You may also want to read Choosing a Homeschool Curriculum and Teaching to Your Child's Learning Style.


  1. Super helpful for so many struggling with deciding what math curriculum is best!

    Our favorite is Singapore math. We did enjoy Bob Jones as well, though.

    Thanks for linking up to TGIF! Have a great week,

  2. Thank you so much for stopping by Beth! Yes, I studied Singapore Math as well. Thank you for mentioning it, not as many homeschoolers have heard of it but it is catching on fast. Singapore Math has a very high success rating and I would say it is a great alternative to Abeka. Again, we lean more toward a Waldorf vive around here so I am partial to Oak Meadow but I love all these choices and I think the most important aspect is to teach from the curriculum you are most excited about!


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