Inside: Math can be hard, especially if your child doesn’t have a solid math foundation. Luckily, there is a solution to this problem. We’ve been using CTC Math since 2016, and we think it’s the best curriculum on the planet to help your kids catch up, learn math, and develop mathematical confidence.
If you’re reading this post, the chances are good you’re interested in finding the best method for teaching math to the kids in your life.
You might be a homeschooling mom who is tired of math battles, a parent who is not convinced that school is teaching math well, or even a classroom teacher in search of a better way of teaching math to your students. Whatever your situation, CTC Math is a perfect solution for you, and this is why.
Disclaimer: I received a one-year membership from CTC Math for free. We only review things on the blog that we love. The post contains Amazon affiliate links. It means I get commissions on qualified purchases.
I want you to pause here a minute and tell me what comes to mind when I say “math.” Addition and subtraction, word problems, homework sheets, puzzles: what adjectives would you use to describe math? Beautiful, boring, interesting, essential, useless?
While you’re at it, ask your children the same question.
Go ahead. I will wait. Go to your children and ask them to describe math. If they have a hard time getting started, tell them they can only use three words.
Did you and your kids use positive words? Have adjectives like “powerful,” “awesome,” and “fascinating” come to mind? “How about “universal language” or “easy as pi”?
I hope it wasn’t anything like “I can’t do” or “use a calculator.”
The Pew Research Center found that 42 percent of Americans disliked math in school. “A 2012 study comparing 16-to-65-year-olds in 20 countries found that Americans rank in the bottom five in numeracy. They could do basic arithmetic but not computations requiring two or more steps.” Only 2 percent of American teenagers can develop “models for complex situations, and work strategically using broad, well- developed thinking and reasoning skills” (compared to 31 in Shanghai). And when it comes to 15-year-olds, not only do they rank below average in math among the world’s most developed countries, but the results also showed that the gap was growing (from the 23rd place a few years ago to 39th according to latest assessment).
How to teach math
The main reasons we decided to homeschool our children were to provide them with the best education, to broaden their vision and interests beyond what the four narrow walls of compulsory schooling ever could, and to give them an opportunity to spend time and energy pursuing things that matter to them.
To that end, I research and explore a variety of philosophies and ideas to find resources that not only deliver results but also allow my kids to have a positive experience with any given subject.
When it came to researching how to teach math, I read everything from Why Johnny Can’t Add (1973 classic) to Jo Boaler’s inspirational Mathematical Mindset, and groundbreaking What’s Math Got to Do With It?
Besides reading books, I studied homeschool math curriculum comparison guide, read articles and blogs, watched YouTube math talks, took an online class on Singapore Math (to learn how they teach it over there since Singapore is #1 in math education in the world), explored every math curriculum available for sale, looked at online math games, and started doing math exercises for fun at the kitchen table to be a good role model (with the help of Danica McKellar’s great book Math Doesn’t Suck).
It soon became obvious to me that much of math had nothing to do with long, boring school math. Much of math was actually fun – making sense of patterns, creative problem-solving, abstract thinking, and drawing logical conclusions.
This fun and sophisticated math wasn’t possible without a solid grasp of foundational concepts first, such as fluency with numbers, operations sense, rounding, conceptual understanding of place value, and much more.
That’s where CTC Math comes in!
It can teach all the essential fundamentals of math in an engaging, efficient, and very organized manner so we can have time, energy, and motivation left to play with abstract math problems, logical puzzles, and math-based toys and games.
What’s CTC Math
CTC Math is an online math curriculum that covers grades kindergarten through high school. It’s used by over 200K students in the world to master math fundamentals, build math confidence, and get interested in math.
We have tried a wide variety of different curriculums, and after much trial and error, my three older kids and I are in consensus – CTC Math is the best.
I wanted to get a quote from my 11-year-old son, so I asked him, “What are your thoughts on CTC Math?”
My son, “I like it.”
Me, “I want to get a more descriptive answer. Let’s imagine you can’t do CTC Math anymore. How would you feel?”
My son (beginning to get upset), “You can’t take CTC Math from me. It would be cruel.”
How we use CTC Math
CTC Math with an 11-year-old
My 11-year-old son does at least a lesson a day right after breakfast (except when he has a cold or we are traveling, which isn’t often). After we started using CTC Math, it quickly became obvious what a thorough and comprehensive curriculum it is, so we decided that he would start at the beginning to make sure there were no gaps. In this manner, he covered Kindergarten, 1st grade, 2nd, 3rd, and he is about to finish both 4th and 5th at the same time.
Each grade has well over a hundred lessons, except for Kindergarten, which has fewer (maybe about 60 lessons). It means my son completed over 600 lessons with CTC Math, spending on average about 15 minutes doing it each day.
When my son does CTC Math, he has his notebook nearby in case he needs to make notes, draw a diagram to help him think, or to help him make calculations.
We also keep a lot of math manipulatives nearby, from cubes to 3D shapes, in case they can come in useful. I think it’s important to encourage hands-on multisensory learning experience whenever possible.
When I talked with my son about what appeals to him about this curriculum, it turns out that the number one draw is the clear objective. He likes that it’s clear what he needs to master by the end of the lesson, so he knows exactly what he’s working on, and knows if he got it.
CTC Math with an Eight-year-old
My eight-year-old daughter developed her own method. She likes to pick a topic and expand on it. For example, she first finished all lessons on multiplication in the 1st grade. Then she immediately moved to the 2nd grade multiplication section (15 lessons). After she did 3rd grade (another 15 lessons) followed by 4th grade, she arrived at 5th grade. She finally did three lessons on multiplication in 5th grade and decided it was too difficult, at which point she picked division to master and went back to 1st grade.
I should note here that my daughter has a winter birthday, so if she went to public school here in Chicago, she would have been only in the second grade. Besides her own motivation, most of the credit goes to CTC Math for making such an engaging and addictive math curriculum that she can’t stop doing it.
My daughter doesn’t do math every day. Instead, she waits till she feels particularly inspired to do it (usually 2-3 times a week). Once she starts, she can’t seem to stop and ends up doing a whole bunch of lessons in one sitting.
Just like my son, she also likes to use manipulatives and a notebook for calculations, and I always encourage it. For example, when she was recently doing a section on Money, I gave her paper money and coins that she used in calculations and got to keep once she was done.
CTC Math with a Six-year-old
My second son just recently turned six, so I try to make sure that the bulk of his math training is done with hands-on games. But a few times a week, if he is willing and eager (because he wants to be just like the big kids), we do a CTC Math lesson. Usually, it ranges from 1 to 3 times a week.
During his lesson, I stay nearby so I can see exactly what he’s working on. He’s usually doing it on my laptop in the kitchen, so I can listen and cook at the same time. As appropriate, I can jump in with “here is a pile of LEGO pieces that will help you with this problem” or “use your fingers to solve that, dear.”
At this point, Space and Geometry are his favorite topics, so we finished that whole section first. Numbers and Patterns are the current focus, which we tackle with plenty of manipulates. He likes his lessons and is very motivated to finish the whole grade since we have a big math party with presents and cake for each kid who finishes a whole year of lessons for any grade.
Reasons to Love CTC Math
The material is divided clearly into units and sections. Each section is divided into lessons that are bite-sized and very specific so that kids can work only one particular skill at a time. It’s very useful for us that the lessons can be done out of sequence.
Engaging video lessons are quick, to-the-point, very clear, and easy to understand. There are no busy graphics, just straightforward explanations with basic drawings to demonstrate the concepts. In some cases, when a lesson appears to be too challenging, they just play it again or pause and take notes. I never had to look for additional resources to help my kids understand even difficult topics. The playback is immediate, there are never any glitches, and it’s easy to fast forward or go back.
Each lesson is narrated by the same instructor, the founder of CTC Math (and father of 10) Patrick Murray. The choice and use of words and his style of enunciation in speaking make him an amazing instructor. All my kids love his voice. Each lesson is presented in the same manner: video lesson followed by practice questions. The video is also available in a PDF format that can be viewed, downloaded, or printed. If for any reason your kids are not in the mood for video, they can just read the printed PDF and answer all problems and assignments with pen and paper instead of being online all the time.
Each problem, assignment, and quiz fortifies what kids learned in the lectures as well as tests their knowledge of the material covered. Besides a set of questions at the end of each lesson, there are optional diagnostic tests of three lengths (short, standard, and comprehensive). It also includes weekly revision tasks, which we don’t do weekly but leave till the end of the grade. Then we do all the weekly revision tasks together as a big, fat final exam. That’s just what my kids prefer.
The whole curriculum, from kindergarten to high school, is available at all times. So, if your fifth grader needs to review a lesson that was covered in 3rd grade, it will take only seconds to find it. No searching around frantically and wasting anyone’s time. Two clicks and you have exactly what you need.
It’s so user-friendly and easy to navigate! Even if your kids have never played video games (like us) and you don’t own any iPads (like us), your kids will have no problem figuring out how to use CTC Math.
#7 Everything is saved automatically
Every “submit” click is recorded and saved automatically. So, if your laptop dies after 32 questions, your kids don’t have to start from the beginning again. I also like that kids don’t have to force themselves to finish. They can stop and pick up exactly where they left off the next day.
#8 Check marks and rewards
My kids really like the check mark system (and yes, I did read Punished by Rewards). My son loves to look at all the topics with check marks next to them and marvel at how much knowledge he has put into his head. I like that I can see at a glance how many lessons are in each section and how many lessons they’ve done so far. Also, my son doesn’t really care for certificates and medals, but my daughter is a gymnast, so she hearts the Rewards section and loves to see how many Gold, Silver, and Bronze certificates she earned. My daughter’s favorite topics are Statistics and Probability, so she printed a few gold and silver awards certificates in that section to hang on the wall.
We reviewed CTC Math a few years ago (in 2016), and they have made some amazing changes since then:
- You can now print the lessons
- There are more high school lessons and practice questions
- Weekly revision opportunities
- Speed skills and math drills.
I can’t think of a single thing that could be improved about CTC Math. It’s perfect. If you are still not convinced, you can try it now for free. Click here for a FREE trial.
I’m a busy mom homeschooling multiple children while juggling the demands of everyday life. CTC Math takes a lot of stress from my shoulders. It allows my kids to develop mathematical proficiency while I can dedicate my time and energy elsewhere. We love the mixture of video lessons, PDFs, and quizzes. CTC Math is an extremely well thought-out math curriculum, and my family enjoys it immensely!