Homeschool Math Curriculum Forum


Hi everyone! Welcome to another homeschool curriculum forum post. Today we’re talking all about math!


As most of you know I have previously tried both Abeka and Saxon math. Abeka was okay for the  younger years, but flashcards just weren’t doing it for us. We needed something more hands on as well as something that better explained the various skills we were learning.

We switched to Math U See. While this curriculum was working well for us, I ventured over to Saxon for a bit just to see how it worked. After finding myself explaining Saxon lessons using our Math U See blocks and examples, we switched back to Math U See and haven’t looked back since.

One thing to know about MUS is that they do teach to mastery, and that means your student might not learn a certain skill right off the bat. They build on concepts so that the math skills actually make sense for your student.

Students also use the MUS visual manipulatives to help further understand whatever skill they are working at the time. However to my surprise the students do not become depending on the manipulatives to solve problems. They’re simply hands on training tools to use until a concept is mastered.


  • Hands on learning.
  • Teaches to mastery.
  • Visual aids to help explain various skills.


  • Skills are taught in a non-traditional order.
  • Manipulatives can be pricey unless purchased used.


So, now comes the fun part!

What are your favorite Math curriculum, resources, websites, etc? Leave a comment below discussing your choices for this year and why.

Feel free to ask questions or reply to each other too!

It’s my way of doing a forum without actually doing a forum haha!

And hopefully this will help us all as we start the process of researching curriculum, and trying to decide what will be the best fit for our homeschool.

Note: Please keep today’s conversations geared towards MATH, I will be posting one for each subject separately so we can keep our comments organized.

Click here if you missed my previous Homeschool Curriculum Forum posts!

Disclosure: This was not a sponsored post, I may however be affiliated with one or more products mentioned. The opinions expressed in this post were not influenced by the company. They are products I have used and felt like sharing, cuz’ it’s my blog and I can if I want to.


  • Demetria April 23, 2013 at 11:40 pm

    We are loving MathUSee 🙂 We switched to it about a year ago and my lego-loving kiddos love it! They are picking up on it quick and love the DVD lessons, too.

    • Ali April 24, 2013 at 10:58 am

      My kids love MUS as well. I let them watch the DVD’s. Never any complaints about math & they retain it! Mastery makes for little to no backsliding.

      Although we love MUS, more importantly is fact memorization. If you don’t memorize the basic facts, then you will struggle later on regardless of the curriculum you use. You need to know them as quick as your response when someone asks you your name!

      My son temporarily went back to school & I was nervous about possible gaps, but the kids in his class are struggling more because they don’t know the #’s as well. His mind was already set-up to grasp newer concepts.

      There is less decimal, fraction, money & clock work in MUS, but it’s not an issue for me at the 3rd grade level. We just do a little extra stuff with a small clock & some coins.

  • Randi April 23, 2013 at 11:41 pm

    We LOVE Right Start Math. Like Math U See, it is a mastery approach. The abacus helps my 6 year old get the concepts, and she loves all the math games that solidify math problem solving in her head. I looked into both Math U See and Right Start Math, but my husband thought the Abacus was better for teaching mental adding (and he’s the math one in our family 🙂 ). We hope to transition into Saxon in her older years when she has a solid foundation.

    • Jill April 24, 2013 at 6:54 am

      We made the switch to RightStart FROM MUS. What an amazing change. 🙂
      I’d like to see a thorough review of that one. 🙂

    • tracy April 24, 2013 at 1:46 pm

      My son is 5. We’ve been using Right Start casually for about a year or two. Now that we’ve started homeschooling “for real” we’ve been using it more regularly. We LOVE, love, love it! I am so happy to have found this program! We’re planning to move to Saxon, too, when he’s older. I would not hesitate at all to recommend it!

  • carylynn April 23, 2013 at 11:46 pm

    I have been trying to decide between MUS and Teaching Textbooks for next year. I spoke to the people at MUS and they said that if my 3rd grader wasn’t able to just “spit out” facts, then we needed to start at Alpha. He can do it in his head, but it does take a few seconds for him to figure out. He did all of the Teaching Textbooks sample lessons for 3rd grade, and loved all of them, but I really liked the way MUS was set up. We used Horizons Math this year, and Abeka last year. I hate jumping all over, but I just feel like we haven’t found the right one for us yet! I am just worried about starting him so far back in Alpha. Will he be bored? Will he be behind? Eeek!!! Thanks Erica!
    cary lynn

    • Diana April 24, 2013 at 1:10 am

      I use Singapore Math for my 2 1st grade boys and they love it. Neither liked the Right Start Math when we tried that. For some reason, they don’t like a lot of hands on school work. They are bothADHD so go figure…I would say if your son loved what he saw of Teaching Textbooks, then go with that. I’m finding that what looks fun or good to me doesn’t always mean it is right for my kids.

      • carylynn April 24, 2013 at 10:24 am

        Thanks! 😉

    • Maryna April 24, 2013 at 1:29 am

      My boy also works things out in his head and for our South African program he was at a Grade 4 level, but we decided to start MUS at Beta. Even though they know everything it gets them in the system of how it works and they find easier ways to learn and understand stuff.

      • carylynn April 24, 2013 at 10:23 am

        Thanks! I was thinking I could just start in Beta!

        • Melissa April 24, 2013 at 11:22 am

          My daughter was kind of in the same situation. We changed curriculum midyear and went to MUS. We were doing long division when we left the other curriculum, however, she just wasn’t grasping it. She needed more repetition of problems. MUS has been wonderful. I started her in Beta (even though she could do long division) because they stressed knowing the facts, and she didn’t. Some weeks we have doubled up chapters/lessons and completed 2 a week if it was something she knew well. Other times it has taken longer than a week to complete one. Great thing is we can focus on where her gaps are, and her ability to apply what she has learned to word problems has increased substantially. We just keep practicing facts everyday. It’s been great for us!

    • Allyson April 24, 2013 at 3:37 am

      Can you just do flashcards with your child this summer? We use MUSee and really love it. My son just finished Beta. My daughter is on Alpha. I do flashcards with them when they get to about the middle of the program. I buy some kind of educational game for their prize and when they are able to do the flashcards fast enough, they get the game. I got the allowance game for subtraction and snap circuits for addition. Maybe you could get a few worksheets on their website to teach your child the concepts and then just do the flashcards. You would need blocks, too.
      I personally have seen subtraction be really really easy b/c my son knew addition very well. He is starting multiplication in the fall and he already knows it b/c of skip counting. I’m sure other programs are great, but MUSee is really excellent if you want your child to understand when to use it.
      Another option would be to buy or borrow the dvds from Alpha and Beta and get your child to watch them and then practice memorizing the facts. I usually don’t use the dvds until the middle or end of the program. I teach without looking at the teachers manual or dvds and then when they start getting bored, I introduce the dvds and he usually explains it a tiny bit different than I do and the concepts get reinforced.
      I don’t think I would start that far back with my son. He would be really bored even if we went through really fast. I would just work on explaining it the MUSee way and memorizing the facts.
      Good luck.

      • carylynn April 24, 2013 at 11:02 am

        I sat down and talked with him, and I think that the TT is what we will do. He really enjoyed it. I think I will use flash cards and drills over the summer just to solidify those facts. Like I said, he knows them, he just is not that fast at spitting them out, he does use his head to figure them out. Heck, I still use my head to figure them out because I was never made to memorize them. I just feel that they should really memorized them so that they will enjoy math better than I do! 😉

        • Ann-Marie April 24, 2013 at 12:31 pm

          We just made the switch to TT mid way this year and my sons LOVE it! I cannot say enough great things about it. My oldest has always struggled with math and was not confident at all. He is a changed person now and it is because of TT! We also drill using FlashMaster and that is phenomenal too 🙂 Hope you enjoy TT as much as we do! Well worth the investment.

          • jessie April 24, 2013 at 6:46 pm

   is really fantastic for drilling math facts and it is free.

        • Chantie Holland March 27, 2014 at 7:31 am

          I know this is an old post but if you’re still looking for a way to work on the math facts is awesome.

    • kelle April 24, 2013 at 4:33 am

      We did MUS because it was so highly recommended BUT we didn’t like it. It was very boring. Also, my kids weren’t learning time or money which I thought were very important to us. I went online and viewed the demo for teaching textbooks and LOVED it. We are using that this next year. My kids are very excited that it’s on the computer. We also used Abeka math. We actually really enjoyed that but I wanted to try Teaching Textbooks. People really seem to like MUS but it just wasn’t a good fit for us at all.

      • Laci April 24, 2013 at 6:06 am

        We had the same issue with MUS it just didn’t work for us. We use Horizon math and both my K and 3rd grader love it. They are both very independent learners and like to work on it at their own pace. I do have the manipulates for MUS so we do use those from time to time. As they get older I think we will switch to Saxon.

        • Sarah April 29, 2013 at 2:48 pm

          We also got very bored with MUS I had to supplement a lot to give challenge to it. We will be switching to Saxon for 1st grade, hoping this is a better fit for us. I guess it is just a trial and error thing till we find the math that fits.

    • Amy April 24, 2013 at 4:36 am

      Alpha is just basically memorizing + and – facts, so I think he would be bored.

    • Brandi April 24, 2013 at 6:20 am

      There are 6 worksheets for each lesson, but once they can explain and teach a concept to you, you move on whether worksheets are done or not! We started with MUS, but my oldest is such a firecracker that we skipped through a bunch of lessons in Alpha real quick. However, expect setbacks too. They are natural for children and when we had our fourth child, we didn’t do school for a few weeks and suddenly he couldn’t remember any of his math facts at all… So we had to go back to flash cards and he is doing his +0’s, +1’s, +2’s etc., while he does an exercise. Mixing mental and physical is supposed to tie it to both sides of the brain, making it harder to lose and easier to retrieve. No results on that yet, but we will keep you all posted.

      • Brandi April 24, 2013 at 6:26 am

        I forgot to mention that my oldest is now six and he is just about to finish Alpha, but we supplement with the memory work. It is about a first grade level.

        • carylynn April 24, 2013 at 8:51 pm


    • Sasha April 24, 2013 at 2:28 pm

      We started using MUS with my 2 nd grader, we started him in Alpha because he just didn’t know the basic concepts very well. We have been able to work through it pretty quickly, I feel like the manipulative s have really helped him grasp the concepts a lot better than just memorizing them. I love MUS and I will definitely say its worth the cost!!

    • Tami April 24, 2013 at 3:53 pm

      We use MUS and started with Alpha, even though my son had already learned a lot of the alpha book. When we came to a lesson that he knew really well we just did a fast review and then moved on to the next lesson. He has not been bored, it has built up his confidence to know that he hasn’t had to work super hard to get every lesson. I would say start with Alpha and then go through it as quickly or slowly as he needs- one of the great things about home schooling!!

  • Amanda April 23, 2013 at 11:57 pm

    I am about to order Horizons for my son who will be in third grade this upcoming year (our first year homeschooling). I have heard really great things from some family who uses it, and also read really good reviews, so hopefully it will work for us, as well! Math was always my worst subject, so I’m really worried about having to teach it!

    Has anyone used Horizons for the first year after pulling from public school? I’m wondering about the transition he will have to make.

    • Dana April 24, 2013 at 3:52 am

      I use Horizons and find that the books go beyond the recommended outcomes at my children’s grade levels. There is a free placement test on the website that would help you figure out what grade to order.

    • Laci April 24, 2013 at 6:07 am

      We pulled my daughter out of public school starting with her 3rd grade year and we went straight to Horizon’s 3rd grade book and she has had no problem.

      • Kathy April 24, 2013 at 9:23 pm

        May I ask your reasons for pulling her out? We are considering doing the same next year when our daughter is in third grade. Was it a tough transition?

    • Jennifer April 24, 2013 at 6:26 am

      I pulled my daughter out of public school mid way through 2nd grade. I chose Horizons math. I thought we could just jump into 2nd grade horizons math and be ok — NOPE!! A lot of what they taught in the book, my daughter hadn’t even been exposed to so we stepped back to book 2 of first grade and took our time getting the foundations down. We skated through the first grade book fairly easy and then went onto second grade with more confidence. I didn’t realize Horizon was more advanced than what public school was but I am so glad I took the extra time to go back a bit. She loves Horizons and although we are still a bit “behind” where I’d like to be..she is getting it and we no longer have tears during math time.

    • Anna April 24, 2013 at 9:13 am

      I have used Horizons for three years. My children have never been in the PS system. My 6 year old is using grade 3 and doing great. He does get bored with the repetition, since he is such a quick learner. So we will skip some of the hw pages and move onto the next lesson. He does very will with independent work and enjoys completing his assignments.
      My 5 year old is using grade 1 and doing great. He likes the repetition. Both kids (at least I do) like the brightly colored assignments. I dont know if I should try a different Math program, such as MUS. I have seen great reviews. So far this has worked great for us, I might venture out and attempt MUS this year, but will have Horizons to fall back on.

      • Jennifer Ott April 24, 2013 at 10:41 am

        We have finished up through Grade 3 with Horizons (son just finished 3, dd did 2, and dd did 1). We’ve used it with all three kids from K. My son and daughter tested into 6th and 7th grade levels in our state, and tested into 5th and 4th in TT. So yeah, we are pleased with it. However, we are considering switching simply because I don’t have time to teach 4 different levels and grade them every single day!

    • MgMama April 25, 2013 at 9:45 am

      I love Horizons. It really drills the concepts in with the repetitive practice. It is great for skills my children struggle with and when they’ve got the skill down, I just let them do every other problem. I like that it is in color and is pretty independent.

      • Jennifer Castaneda April 28, 2013 at 1:38 pm

        I have used both Horizon’s and MUS. Horizon’s is very visually appealing to the child – very colorful and fun! I like how it looks like math can (and is) a very fun subject. For some kids I can see how that can be a very important factor for their learning. MUS looks very borning and I know my kids don’t like that a whole lot. What I didn’t like about Horizon’s is the order that they teach everything. It’s very much like what you would find in a PS textbook. It jumps from one thing to the next without much rhyme or reason as to why a certain thing would be next. I really like the way MUS is organized. The order things are taught makes so much sense to me. So, even though MUS looks very boring my kids are doing great with it and I attribute most of that to the organization of things taught. I have considered switching to TT because of time (I have 5 kids!) but I’m just not ready to make the switch because it is similar to Horizons, as far as the order things are taught. I think we will reconsider TT after we have finished MUS through Zeta.

  • Ann April 24, 2013 at 12:14 am

    We love Math-U-See. We have tried Teaching Textbooks also, but find that MUS works much better for us. Although, some may feel MUS is too repetitive, that repetition works well for us.

  • Joyice April 24, 2013 at 1:19 am

    I have researched MUS and I must say…I cannot find what the “hoop and holler” is all about. I so want to use it but when I look at demos, I’m bored. Maybe I should just try it. Nonetheless, we use Singapore. We supplement with BJU as well. I like the concepts Singapore teaches and I like the review of BJU.

    • Allyson April 24, 2013 at 3:45 am

      I think that most people do find MUSee boring, but it works really well. I find that the strong points of the program are mastery, understanding when to use each concept (word problems), and building a strong foundation so that the next step is easier. It is very repetitive, but I don’t see how you can master something without repetition. The other big math curriculums (Singapore, Saxon) are less boring b/c they jump around to different concepts (spiral approach). You just have to do what you think is best for your kids. If you like the spiral approach, then you would like Saxon or Singapore, but if you want a mastery approach, MUSee is a better fit.

      • Joyice April 24, 2013 at 7:31 pm

        Ahhh, thank you for that! That makes so much better sense to me now! 🙂

      • Carina May 10, 2013 at 7:58 pm

        Singapore math is a MASTERY math curriculum. That is one of the many reasons we use it. It is not spiral…

    • MommyBrain April 24, 2013 at 11:44 pm

      Check into Right Start Math – I thought it was more “fun” than MUS!

  • Maryna April 24, 2013 at 1:27 am

    Also changed to MUS this year, we love it and I am just sorry we did not start with it sooner. Best program ever. Some may think the initial cost of the blocks are expensive, but it is not as it is only a once off item that can be used over and over again only add other items such as fraction overlays etc at a later stage.

    My kids use to do a South African Afrikaans program (as we are Afrikaans) and I was really afraid to go over to an English program. But I am so amazed at how well they are doing and actually understand perfectly, even their reading has picked up.

  • Dion April 24, 2013 at 1:52 am

    We use Horizons for Kindergarten and 1st grade. It provides a thorough knowledge base. I liked the spiral approach and the tips in the teachers guide. I added our own manipulatives (abacus, base ten blocks, Math Dice game, etc.)

    When it is time for 2nd grade, we switched over to Teaching Textbooks 3. And we haven’t looked back! TT3 was perfect for my DD’s 2nd grade year. Next year, as a 3rd grader, she will be doing TT4.

    She likes the graphics, the concepts are clearly explained by the on screen tutor, and the speed drills provide a bit of the fast math she needs. I like that I don’t have to keep records or do grading (built into the programs), and I feel confident that she is getting math instruction systematically (math is not my strong suit).

    For us, it is a great fit. I can teach my DD#2, who at this point needs my one on one teaching. At the same time DD#1 is getting her math instruction on screen and can ask me for back up or when she has questions.

    I’m following the same plan for our DD#2 (Horizons in Kindergarten, Horizons in 1st, then making the switch to TT3 in 2nd grade).

    Thanks again, Erica, for hosting this forum!

    • Jennifer Ott April 24, 2013 at 10:42 am

      This is what we are considering. My son finished Grade 3 with Horizons and tested into TT 5, but I think we will start him in 4. We don’t keep up with speed drills very well now…

    • Kelly April 24, 2013 at 12:22 pm

      This is helpful. My daughter is in 2nd and we have done Horizons for 1st & 2nd. I am planning on starting her in TT4 next year.

    • Jennifer Castaneda April 28, 2013 at 1:57 pm

      I’m thinking about doing something similar with my son. For K I started him with MUS Alpha and will stick with Beta for 1st. Then I’m thinking about switching over to TT3 for 2nd grade. My daughter has been doing MUS for many years. She’s finishing up Delta right now and we will have her stick with MUS for 2 more years. If we switched her any earlier I’m afraid there would be some gaps in her learning since MUS teaches things in such a different order than TT.

  • Susan April 24, 2013 at 1:55 am

    We use RightStart Math. I started with it at Level A and we’re 1/2 through Level B. It’s awesome!! I initially chose it because my son was slower in writing than he was in Math. In the early levels, there are few worksheets as most of the lessons are done orally and with the manipulatives. Numbers and new concepts are initially abstract for the kids. RightStart uses their tools to help the students understand new math concepts concretely. We all really enjoy using it. We also supplement with Life of Fred because it’s cute.

    • MommyBrain April 24, 2013 at 11:45 pm

      Susan, What age kids do you have? This is what I’m thinking of doing with my 3rd and 1st grader. My 3rd grader loves LOF!

  • Tina April 24, 2013 at 2:56 am

    For K we used Abeka and MUS. For 1st grade this year we have actually used Saxon, MUS, and Abeka. Someone had given us the Saxon. She has done so well combining the 3. She actually has went to the next Saxon book after completing the first one. For 2nd grade we will use Singapore and Mathusee. I like the idea of conceptual learning, but feel like we still need the mastery in MUS ( not to mention we already have the manipulatives so why not?).

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