The Best Homeschool Math Curriculum You Don’t Know About
Welcome to my homeschool math curriculum review!
I have found probably the most underrated homeschool math curriculum in the homeschooling world: Christian Light Publication.
I switched over from Math-U-See to this program when my 11 year old was in Kindergarten. I had one in high school and one in junior high, too. We’ve been using it for the past 7 years and I cannot see myself going back to anything else. This homeschool math curriculum is really that fantastic!
When I made the switch to Christian Light Publication, I was frustrated with math. It seemed that there was nothing out there for my kids and myself who struggle with math. We were not doing well in this area.
Needless to say, I was apprehensive when I stumbled across CLP but have been happily using it ever since.
Here is my thorough review of this homeschool math curriculum.
I try to give reviews of what I want to see, like the inside of the books, how the curriculum is laid out and a good pros and cons list. I try to deliver all of that to you in these reviews. If you’re interested in my other reviews, I have some more right here:
How it's laid out
This homeschool math curriculum is a bit different than most other programs.
There are a total of 10 books in each grade or level.
In each book, there are about 16 lessons.
It takes about one month to go through a book and about one school year, or 10 months, to go through all 10 books.
When you finish the entire set, you move on to the next grade.
The first book in each grade is almost entirely review from the previous grade. I tend to skip those first books because we school year round and don’t ever have a large gap in school, as you would if you take the whole summer off.
As with everything in homeschooling, you can modify things to fit your own family and children’s needs.
Each lesson begins with a new math concept. The lessons are short and to the point.
After the child learns and works with the new concept for a few problems, usually around 5 of them, they move on to review.
There are about 2-3 pages of review. Each concept being reviewed has anywhere from 1-10 problems to work on.
Let’s look at my daughter’s 6th grade math book for an example.
These pictures show a typical lesson. This lesson is about exponents. There is a short explanation of the new concept (exponents) and then 4 or 5 problems to solve. In this case, there is a chart with 4 problems.
Usually that is all there is to a lesson, however in this example, there is a second part of this lesson, “Reading and Writing Numbers with Exponents.”
Again, you can see an explanation of the concept and a few problems, these ones are oral (bottom of the page in the second picture).
That’s it! No more pages and pages of problems, quick simple lessons that can be taught in minutes.
Also notice how much is left OUT of exponents. Only one tiny part of the new concept is taught and will be built on in later lessons.
In this example, you see the top part of the first page is some more exponent problems, which is the new concept learned in this lesson.
The “We Remember” section, is the review.
All of these problems and the ones in the “Mastery Drill” section on the second page, are review. Some of these problems we have been working on for years. The division problems we’ve been seeing since 3rd grade. The circumference has been around since 4th or 5th grade.
Notice how there’s only a few problems for each concept: one circumference problem, 4 division problems, 2 fraction to decimal problems.
The reason I tend to really like the short lessons and having only a few math problems to solve for each concept, is that it keeps math from being daunting.
My children are not math lovers and staring down a page of 30 math problems over exponents is scary, overwhelming and causes frustration. Of course, not all kids are like this, but this has been my experience.
If your children are like mine, they may benefit from this type of math approach. It’s nice that they can only solve a few problems, especially if they’re struggling. They can learn the concept and be done instead of wading through a never ending list of math problems.
But since they are reviewed daily/weekly/monthly and yearly, the concepts do get mastered, but in a more gentle way.
There are also speed drills, quizzes and a test in each book. There are charts and graphs for reward systems, as well. These are in the back of each book and the lessons tell you when to use them.
Spiral vs Mastery
This homeschool math curriculum is a spiral program.
What that means, is that there is a lot of review built in.
The opposite of this style is a mastery program.
Mastery means that you master the topic before you move onto the next topic.
As math builds on itself, a mastery approach makes sense and in theory works great. If you master your addition facts, then you should be able to move onto your subtraction and other facts.
If a topic or concept is truly mastered, the child knows it inside and out and will not struggle with remembering the addition facts as she’s working on multiplication.
This is the theory.
I have my opinions on this, but we all have to do what is best for our own children. For the sake of this review, Christian Light is a spiral math program, meaning a lot of review is built in.
Other things i love
Probably my favorite thing about this curriculum is how they combined gentleness with rigor.
When I had my other daughter in public school, she was a grade ahead of my youngest daughter, who I was homeschooling. Her math was the same in 5th grade as what my 4th grader was doing at home! She was an entire grade ahead of the public schools, and understanding it!
This was very validating, as often we wonder if our kids are learning enough.
Each new concept is broken down into very tiny parts and the child works with that part for weeks before another part is added.
For example, with variables, they were introduced in about 3rd grade. Now we are in 6th grade and she is just now learning how to simplify expressions with variables, such as 6+n=n+6 or 5 x n + 3. They just added 2 variables to the mix, as well.
A lot of times children won’t even see a letter in their math until they get to simplifying expressions and all at once they have to learn about letters in math and how to solve these problems.
But with CLP, letters in math was not a new concept for her, so she could confidently see more complex problems and not shut down or get scared of them.
I love that about this homeschool math curriculum!
It slowly builds on each concept, without overwhelming the child, but the concepts they are learning are rigorous.
It’s the perfect recipe for successful math!
Each book has a different theme or story. Usually it involves missionaries or other homeschooling families. One missionary family might be living in Peru, so that book will be all about Peru, it’s culture, surroundings, life, and so on.
All of the story problems will have this theme in them. The story itself is introduced at the beginning of each book. It’s one page long and I always read it to my kids so they know what’s going on with the story problems throughout the book. And it is educational and fun to see how others are living.
The 6th grade books are about math in history, so there are some Greek references, math in the creation, and so on.
This an example of the story problems and how they go with the theme of what each book is about, using cultural references and ideas pertaining to that book’s theme.
The next thing I love about this curriculum is the price. Because they are no frills, they are able to offer a great curriculum for a very inexpensive price.
Each book costs about $3, bringing the entire year’s total to about $30!
$30 per year for a fantastic math curriculum!
Other programs can cost hundreds of dollars per year, so this one is a steal!
Also, you can purchase just one book for $3, spend a month with it and if you don’t like it, you’re only out $3! No other curriculum offers that type of value.
There are teacher’s manuals you can buy, as well. They have the answers to the questions ad some additional hands on learning ideas, as well as additional tests and quizzes.
This particular homeschool math curriculum is not very colorful or “fun.” It tries to be hands on sometimes, but is nothing like a Math U See type program.
In fact, I’ll sometimes use my MUS blocks with my kids to help them understand concepts.
Because of the gentle approach and lots of hand holding this curriculum does, my kids haven’t needed much with manipulatives, but sometimes it’s nice to break up the monotony.
The books are all green and white and there is not a lot of color beyond that. It can be a good thing for children who are easily distracted, I will say. Even though, I’m not wishing it was colorful or more hands on. My children are learning math with this curriculum and that’s all that matters.
We aren’t spending hours on math, only about 15 minutes, but those minutes are jam packed!
My 6th grader understands the concepts fully and has almost no gaps in her math education. I will take that over colorful any day!
Another drawback, is I don’t recommend starting in highschool with CLP.
When we started this curriculum, I had a 10th grader. I put her in the geometry CLP curriculum and we failed epically!
It started out with proofs and spent most of the entire first book on proofs, but she had never seen proofs before and it had been years since I had!
Due to the rigorous nature of this curriculum, neither of us were able to keep up with the geometry books and we gave up. She was frustrated, as was I. We already don’t like math a whole lot and I didn’t want to further any rifts my daughter had with math.
Now that my youngest is in 6th grade and moving closer to highschool, I have wondered about putting her in the CLP highschool books.
I am thinking that the junior high math curriculum will gently lead her into the higher level concepts of highschool math, so will most likely stick with it unless it becomes impossible, as it was with my other daughter.
But I think coming into CLP in highschool with no other CLP experience or background was rough.
If you have a highschooler who needs some challenge with math or who is very math focused, I think this would be an excellent program. But for highschoolers who struggle or haven’t had a solid background, this might not be for them.
This curriculum is a great program if you need to remediate any of your kids.
I know that sounds strange after what I just said about how rigorous this program is, but stick with me!
My 9th grader was struggling with math and was extremely behind because of our debacle with MUS.
I put her in the 6th grade CLP math books. It was the first time she had worked with fractions, decimals and the like.
It served her very well!
I was so happy that she found a math curriculum that taught her in a gentle way, yet caught her up quickly. While she didn’t love being in 6th grade math as a 9th grader, she progressed quickly, understood the concepts and went on to do just fine in algebra.
She has since graduated and is completely functional in her math skills as an adult. This program is great for those that need to go back and review concepts that other math programs failed to teach.
Overall, I am in love with this math curriculum!
It is the perfect mix of everything we want in a math program: quick, simple, tons of review, no gaps, can be student led, no teacher prep at all, and can be used to challenge your kids or remediate if needed.
I wouldn’t hesitate to buy this curriculum if you are on the fence.
Thank you for being here. I hope this was helpful and I really do appreciate your time spent with me!