To our knowledge, there is no officially reformed math curriculum. However, we have benefited from the following programs in our homeschool:
Ray’s Arithmetic — this is a teacher-intensive program based on texts used in the 1800′s. In the early books, a lot of attention is paid to mental math. The questions can be quite challenging and go beyond what we’ve seen in many modern curricula. We use this program mainly with our younger children to give us guidance on what to focus on. Right now, we are working on learning numbers and counting to 100. We will likely use Ray’s for guidance with teaching the basic math facts also.
Math-U-See — this is a mastery-oriented program that turned our daughter from a C student to an A+ student in math in one course. We did not use the program as recommended because our children preferred to skip the teacher instruction component and learn their lessons directly from the DVD’s. We used this program for levels Epsilon to Pre-Algebra. At that point, we chose to change programs for two reasons: first, Math-U-See is a little costly; and second, we wanted to challenge our children further with their mathematical abilities. Even in Math-U-See’s Honors program, our children were whizzing through the courses with scores of 98% or higher. We would recommend this program for the average or non-reading-loving math student, however.
Life of Fred — this is our current math favorite. Life of Fred is a rigorous, mastery-oriented program that challenges students to thoroughly use their brains. It is a literature-based program that incorporates aspects of other subjects such as vocabulary, poetry, economics, etc. into it. Our children have really enjoyed these texts and have truly stretched their thinking skills while using them. As a comparison, at age 12 Spunky scored 90% in Life of Fred’s Beginning Algebra course. We then gave her Math-U-See’s final exam for its Algebra I course and she scored 100% on that exam without ever looking at any of Math-U-See’s materials. Another positive of Life of Fred is its low cost compared to other programs. The texts are non-consumable so they can last through an entire family’s educational journey.
One final plus of Life of Fred is that it fits with our family’s educational philosophy. Here is a quote from one of the Life of Fred textbooks that illustrates this point. We call it “wisdom from Stanley F. Schmidt”:
From page 7 of Life of Fred: Pre-Algebra II with Economics (2010, Polka Dot Publishing) by Stanley F. Schmidt, Ph.D.:
Small Note to Parents: The Life of Fred Series is intended to be self-teaching. Learning how to learn by reading is an essential skill.
Your kids are old enough now. If you teach/tutor/help your kids, two things happen:
- They love it since they don’t have to work so hard.
- They will not do as well in college because they won’t have the practice of learning by reading.
This philosophy, the challenging programs, and the low cost of Life of Fred make it our family’s number one favorite math curriculum to use.