Tied 2 Teaching STEM Activities, Full Year of Challenges with Close Reading Review


Tied 2 Teaching provides a great break from boring textbooks with their STEM Activities, Full Year of Challenges with Close Reading!

It includes 61 STEM challenges, which is more than enough for an entire school or calendar year.  Many of the activities are seasonal, so they would make a great addition to any unit. However, there are activities that can be done year round.

Materials:

In each challenge pack, there is a list of materials that you will need to complete the challenge. I appreciated that all of the materials were things that you would already have, so there was no need to purchase any additional supplies.

What’s Inside a Challenge:

  • Design Challenge Overview

  • Reading Passage Link

  • Comprehension Questions

  • Example Pictures

  • Student Worksheets to plan their design (multiple formats so choose the one that works best for you)

  • Student Reflection Sheets

  • Parent Letter

How we did the challenges:

Since my children range in ages from K-4th, I chose the activities that all of my children could enjoy. After going through the list, we chose the following four fun challenges.

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Challenge 1: Build a Foil Boat

Of course since this challenge used water, I knew it was going to be a hit. This activity was very easy since all we needed was aluminum foil. Although it seemed simple, my children really had to think about ways to create their boat using the foil. We actually tested our boats in the bathtub to determine if they would float. I appreciated the planning sheet since it allowed my children to really think about their design before actually building. Since there are multiple formats of planning sheets, they are adaptable for multiple age groups.

Challenge 2: Design a Building Block Structure

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This activity was easy and fun to do for all of my children. We used larger blocks and my children enjoyed building the tallest tower they could. I added a math component by having my children count how many bocks they used in the challenge. For my fourth grader, I had her read the passage and complete the comprehension questions. She was very interested in the website that was linked since it has many interesting reading passages about a variety of topics.

Challenge 3: Design a House of Cards

The house of cards challenge was an actual competition in my home. My children split into partners to design their house of cards. First they used the planning sheets to decide how they wanted to build their house. Then afterwards we talked about their designs and they thought about how they could have made it better. The included reflection sheets helps children extend their learning by reviewing their design.

Challenge 4: Design a Pencil Tower

This was a new challenge to me. My children love to make towers, but I had never heard of a pencil tower. We used unsharpened pencils for this one, but I think it can also be used with crayons if needed.

Overall:

My children really liked the variety of challenges that were available in the bundle. I think that they can really be used all year, since your child can go back and make their designs better. STEM is everywhere now, and these fun challenges will stretch your child’s imagination and get them more interested in Science. With the added reading passages, these activities can easily be integrated into any curriculum.

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STEM Activities, Full Year of Challenges with Close Reading {Tied 2 Teaching Reviews}
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Homeschool Complete: A Unit Study Review

Sometimes it is nice to take a break from regular studies and try something different so we were excited to review  Unit Studies:  (K-6) from Homeschool Complete.

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DISCOUNT: Use the code CREW2019 and get 10% off orders until 3/31/2019.

 We received the Ants Units study. Since ants are all over, and since children are interested in living things around them, I was happy to review the Ants curriculum package. My daughter is interested in insects and since ants are so easy to observe, I was happy to have the chance to teach her more about these interesting creatures!

Contents:

The printed curriculum included a full-color cover, table of contents, and the actual curriculum/worksheets. There was also a materials list for each of the activities.  Most of the materials were very simple and things that would you already own.

How We Used It:

I followed the detailed lesson plans, which I think would helpful to new homeschool moms, or parents who like their curriculum already prepared.

The entire unit contained four lessons which could easily be taught in one week.  The unit is based on a five-day school week, with four planned activity days, and one open day for activities of your choice.

My Second Grader’s Thoughts:

She liked doing the activities that were related to the ants. One activity she enjoyed was coloring the diagram of the ant body parts. The vocabulary taught the body parts of the ants.

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Curriculum:

The curriculum was really complete and included Science, Math, Reading, and Language Arts activities. There was also a Skills List, which covered the skills that would be taught throughout the unit. There was also a Literature List of recommended books which could easily be found in the library to enhance the lessons.

Science - The science information was basic information about ants. It gave a lot of a facts, which was perfect for my second grader.

Math- The math was place value activities, and two-digit addition problems. The math included the answers as well, to easily check your child’s work. Since the math covered different skills such as place value, addition, and ordering numbers, it is up to the parent to decide what your child should work on, since some skills might be new and need to be taught.

Reading- There were multiple short passages about ants to read.

Language Arts- The language arts included fill-in-the blank sentences and there was also cursive practice included as well.

In the curriculum, there was also a hands-on activity of making an ant. This was a good way for us to review the parts of an ant.

Conclusion:

Overall, my daughter liked completing the unit study. I wish that the worksheets were on a different page. All of the pages are combined, so although it saves paper, it is a lot to read.  I felt that putting all of the information on one page was a lot for a child. I did like that it included all of the subject areas, so although the focus of the unit study was ants; there were lessons for the entire week.

 

Check out more Unit Studies below:

Homeschool Complete K - 4th Grade & Unit Studies {Homeschool Complete Reviews}
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IXL Learning: An Honest Review

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My children love any chance to get on the computer, so we were more than happy to review the annual membership, IXL, from IXL Learning. IXL Learning is an all-in-one solution to practice skills in subject areas (math, language arts, grades 2-8 science, grades 2-8 social studies, and intro Spanish).

My 4 children were all able to use IXL at their individual levels.

My 4th Grader’s experience

My daughter really liked the fact that if she got an answer wrong, there was an explanation that helped her to understand the right answer. She did not like the fact that the questions were timed, since she felt that sometimes she need an extra moment to figure out the answers.

My 2nd Grader’s experience:

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My second grader was excited when she saw that IXL offered intro Spanish. We have been studying Spanish at home so it was a good opportunity for her to test her knowledge. She also liked being able to move on to the next level of a lesson and not be stuck in a certain grade. The way that it is setup children can practice by grade or by skill.

My kindergarten twins experience:

I really wanted my twins to gain practice on the computer, but I wasn’t sure if they would be able to navigate the site. However, I was pleasantly surprised that the questions were really at their level, and the only skill they needed was the ability to use the mouse.

My twins liked that the questions could be read to them. I liked how they were able to practice test-taking skills on the computer. The explanation for the most part was a bit over their head, since it wasn’t an actual video. However, I sat with them while they were doing their work and used any missed questions as an opportunity to go over it with them.

Conclusion:

Overall, I really like the way that IXL Learning is setup. It allows parents the ability to see when your child has logged in, as well as what they have been practicing on. It also gives parents the ability to check on any milestones their child has reached, and celebrate any achievements.

I think that IXL is a good review tool, after your child has learned a particular concept. Since the lessons start right in with the questions, a child has to already have an idea about the topic otherwise they will have a hard time succeeding. Again, if a child gets an answer wrong, they will be able to see an explanation for the right answer.

The subscription also emails the parent when a child reaches a learning milestone. It is also a good motivational tool to print out any certificates for your child, especially if it is an area of concern.

My favorite part of IXL is that children are not stuck on their current grade level. Whether your child needs extra review, or is advanced, the membership allows your child to work at their current level.

Click the button to read more reviews:

Immersive, Adaptive Learning Online {IXL Learning Reviews}
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How to Teach Grammar in Homeschool: Hake/Saxon Grammar Review

Today I want to introduce you a homeschool grammar program, Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3, from Hake Publishing

I was excited to review the Grammar workbook from Hake Publishing since I am always working to improve my daughter’s grammar skills.

Even in public school, language arts is not usually as focused on as far as the rules are concerned. In order to become a better writer, children need to learn the rules of grammar.

Hake Publishing

I was pleasantly surprised to see when I opened the box that the curriculum includes a Teacher Guide, Student Textbook, and Student Writing Workbook.

Hake Publishing Writing and Grammar

This curriculum is clear and easy to use even if you have never taught before.  There are three products in the set which includes the student workbook, a student writing book, and a teacher guidebook.

The Products:

Student Workbook

The student workbook contains 111 grammar lessons.  Each lesson is divided as follows:

  •     Grammar meeting
  •     Vocabulary
  •     Teaching
  •     Examples and solutions
  •     Practice
  •     Review set

The beginning of the book starts with learning about sentence structure and at the end students learn how to write a chapter summary. I like how they added the writing piece to make the grammar that children learn have a purpose and be used in context.

The student workbook is definitely designed for older students in mind, there are no pictures or clipart, just the work. It was an adjustment for my daughter from her previous language arts book that she used. I think that the lack of images prepares children for middle and high school textbooks.

Student Writing Book

The Student Workbook has 21 lessons. The writing lessons are designed to be done on the test days. The writing activities include short answer and paragraph writing practice.

Teacher Guidebook

The teacher guidebook has answers so that you can help your child with their lessons. The teacher guidebook also has teacher notes, as well as a teaching schedule to help you plan your lessons accordingly. It is recommended to teach the lessons in order so that your child doesn’t miss out on any important skills that are taught.

There are also additional review pages for selected lessons when you need to review with your child.

How We Used It:

My daughter completed one lesson a day each week. It took her about 15-20 minutes to complete the activities, then we spent another 10-15 minutes going over the answers and clarifying the information.

There is a Meeting component of the lesson that we didn’t always do, since it seems more geared to a group of students in a class setting.

After every five lessons, there is a test that you can give to check on your student’s progress. I would actually do them every six weeks, so that way there could be a one week of review before the test.

I like how the curriculum progresses in difficulty, so that it builds student confidence as they are working.

Overall:

I really liked the layout of the book. It is great for homeschooling parents as well as parents who see that their child is either lacking or needs more assistance with their grammar.
It is also helpful that the curriculum constantly reviews what was previously taught, so students do not forget what they have learned.

This is one of the most comprehensive grammar curriculums I have seen, and I will continue to use this curriculum for all of my children. The curriculum actually goes up to the 8th grade, and even if your child attends a traditional school, I would definitely recommend this program to supplement their learning.

 

Read more reviews by clicking the button below:

Hake/Saxon Grammar and Writing 3 {Hake Publishing Reviews}
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How to Improve Reading with Reading Interventions Programs: MaxScholar Review

My daughters have been working on improving their inference and highlighting skills with MaxReading one of the Reading Intervention Programs from MaxScholar.

 

MaxScholar

Introduction:

MaxScholar has a program called Reading Intervention Programs that is designed to help identify and bridge the gaps in reading that children have.

Getting Started:

First each of my daughters were set at their current grade level (first and third).

When they logged in for the first time, they took a diagnostic test for their skills. The program adjusts to the child needs and teaches to their current level.

How We Used It:

We used MaxScholar as a supplement to our reading program three times a week. My daughters were on the program for about 20 minutes each session.

My First Grader:

Once my first grader logged in, she had to read a short reading passage. The words are not too difficult and she could read them without assistance. After reading, she was prompted to first highlight information. I think that your child may need help doing the first few assignments until they get the hang of it.

The highlighting was a new experience for my first grader, but I feel confident that by introducing the skill at a young age it will improve her reading.

There is also a dictionary section that defines all of the words in the reading passages so that children know what the new words would mean.

 

My Third Grader:

My third grader first had to read a detailed passage which was more than a few paragraphs long. After she finished reading the passage, she was given comprehension questions to answer. The comprehension questions are multiple choice, and I always make sure that she goes back into the story before choosing an answer.

My third grader really enjoyed the feedback she received after each lesson.

Parent Dashboard:

Here is an overview of the Parent Dashboard once you log in:

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I like how you can see the main components of reading as well as the areas that need improvement. Since this is a reading intervention program, it works to focus on the areas of weakness.

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Our Experience:

My children really enjoy improving their reading online.  Unlike just reading a regular book, your child actually has to prove their understanding of the story through their answers, so it holds children accountable for their reading.

I also like that it covers all of the components of reading, instead of just focusing on reading comprehension. My daughters actually had high comprehension scores, but need more assistance on making inferences and highlighting. Highlighting is a good skill for children to learn because it teaches them to be more aware of what they are reading, and provides them with text evidence they can use when answering questions.

Reading Intervention Programs {MaxScholar Reviews}
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Learning to Read: Reading Kingdom Review

Reading Kingdom

Basics:

Since my twins will be in kindergarten in August, I am always looking for ways to help prepare them for school. I was very excited to review the online reading lessons from Reading Kingdom.

Getting Started:

If you have younger children, (the program starts at 4), I would suggest skipping the assessment and starting with Level 1. The reason that I would skip the assessment is that the program has children locate letters on the keyboard, and if they don't know how to do that it could get frustrating for them.

How We Used It:

The program recommends one session per day, four times a week. Since both of my twins were on the program, I did one session for each child a day.

My twins really enjoyed the program, and would request to go on "Kingdom" to learn to read. They also liked the animated characters that would sing and make noise when they got an answer right.

Lesson Walkthrough:

Each lesson focuses on one word. In the lesson, children have to do multiple activities to show that they understand what is asked of them.

First, the focus word is introduced. Children have to know where the letters are on the keyboard and push the keys before the letter disappears.

Next, the word is shown with missing letters and children must guess which sign holds the correct word. After the sign is shown, children have to type the missing letters. I like how it helps children learn how to spell, and helps to improve their recall skills.

Another part of the lesson is the short phrases. The focus word is shown with another word, for example “a boy”, and children have to click on each word.

My twins favorite part of the lesson is when they are finding the matching word cards. The focus word is shown and spoken, then children have to find the matching word. They like the dancing character that pops up when they get it right.

When you first start the program there is an option for an assessment to see where your child is and what they need assistance with.

 

Helpful Tips:

If you are using the program with a younger child like I did, make sure that you help them find the keys on the keyboard. My 4-year old twins "missed" questions because they didn't know where the letters were.

The program does show where the letters are located on the screen, however since they were so little they couldn't transfer the information.

Overall thoughts:

I think that Reading Kingdom is a great program for older children who have more familiarity with the keyboard. I liked the way that it worked on the same word throughout the lesson, and that the words were reviewed in a later lesson.

I also liked that the program explicitly teaches phonics, and doesn't solely focus on sight words like many other programs.

There is also a program for children on the autism spectrum called ASD Reading, be sure to click on the other reviews to read about it.

Learn to Read with Reading Kingdom OR ASD Reading {Reviews}
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A+ Interactive Math: Homeschool Curriculum Review

Since I have been homeschooling my oldest two daughters for this past semester, I have noticed some learning gaps in their math skills. So I was very pleased to try the Adaptive Math Curriculum Online from A+ Interactive Math (by A+ TutorSoft Inc.) to identify and address learning gaps in their math skills. The program is skill-based and covers grades 1st-6th and Pre-Algebra.

Getting Started:

Adaptive Math

Introduction:

This program requires students to take a placement test first. I chose my daughter's current grade level as their target grade level.

Then they had to take small tests for each math concept to determine their skill level. The great thing about the program is that it adjusts the question difficulty based on their answers.

What it Looks Like Inside:

The Parent Dashboard gives you an overview of the different sections of the program.

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Summary Report

The Summary Report is an overview of the grade level skills and exactly what skill level your child is working at. I was honestly surprised at the results, however you have to keep in mind that it depends on how well your child did on that particular placement test.

So if your child is not a good test-taker, or doesn't take his time, he might not score well in the beginning either. However, I don't mind making sure that my daughter reviews over math skills, because I want her to really understand what she is doing regardless of the program or curriculum she is using.

Let's look at my 3rd grader's results:  

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Lessons

The lesson overview shows the status of each lesson, as well as the date completed. My daughter usually does two or three a day for her math assignments.

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Interactive Q & A

The Interactive questions and answers are a fun way for your child to engage with their math lessons. I like when I enter the parent dashboard how I can see the percentage as well as any remarks that my daughter has for me. My oldest really enjoys using the program as you can read in her remarks below.

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Online Worksheets

There are online worksheets to practice the math skills. When you log into the parent area, you can see your child's progress on the worksheets, as well as their score.

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Overall, both of my daughters enjoy using the Adaptive Math Curriculum Online. They like the games and how the lessons are broken down into simple sections.

There is also a Family subscription available as well.

Click below to read more reviews about the A+ Interactive Math.

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Family & Adaptive Math Online {A+ Interactive Math Reviews}

Help Teaching Pro Review: Homeschool Curriculum Supplement

As a homeschooling mom, it can be difficult at times to find resources to teach your children all the subjects they want and need to learn.

That is why I was thankful to find a one-stop shop for online lessons, worksheets, and quizzes.
I have been using the Help Teaching Pro. subscription from HelpTeaching.com to supplement my homeschool science lessons.

What is Help Teaching Pro?

Help Teaching Pro is an online subscription that contains access to hundreds of lessons, worksheets, and videos for a variety of subjects.

The website is easy to use and also includes a test maker, worksheet generator, and tests and worksheets.

Features:

  • Covers all grade levels
  • Works well with multiple students
HelpTeaching

How We Used It:

Since I am always looking for ways to explain Science topics to my third grader, we focused on the Science lessons.

The lessons are separated by category, and show how much time it will take to complete, as well as the appropriate grade.

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Pros:

I like the fact that you can assign lessons to your children, which makes them more independent and responsible for their own learning.

Another benefit is that the video lessons are relatively short, and have questions that check student understanding after they watch them.

The lessons also show a related worksheet for even more practice and review.
 

Cons:

The one thing that I did not like about the online subscription is that some of the printables are in color.

Since I try to conserve ink, I like to print in black and white and colored images use more ink when printing.

Another thing that may be a con for some people, is that the amount of resources is overwhelming.

I think to properly utilize the subscription, you should plan your lessons ahead of time, so that way you won't spend too much time searching for the materials.

Favorites:

My daughter enjoyed the word search printables. There are many printable games that you could use to make your lessons more interesting.

You can also make custom word search games based off your child's spelling and vocabulary words that you are using.

Other Ways to Use the Subscription:

Since I had a multiple student subscription, I was able to take advantage of other lessons on the site.

My preschool twins liked watching the phonics and word family videos. They were good to use emphasize the spelling pattern of the week.

My first grade student was also able to gain a better understanding of language arts with the grammar lessons.

She enjoyed being able to watch the short videos before doing her grammar lessons.

Overall:

My daughter enjoyed using the lessons and worksheets for her Science lessons.

I liked the fact that I could go to one main website and find what I need for her lessons.

I think that Help Teaching Pro. subscription from HelpTeaching.com is a great complement to any homeschool curriculum.

 

Help Teaching Pro. {HelpTeaching.com Reviews}
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Memoria Press Review: How to Teach Spelling in Homeschool

As I was planning my homeschool curriculum for my oldest daughter, I wanted to make sure that I had a spelling curriculum to use. I was very excited when I had the opportunity to review the Traditional Spelling II from Memoria Press.

What it is:

Traditional Spelling II - including student and teacher books, practice sheets, flashcards, and Classical Phonics.  Intended for grades 2-3

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I was not sure what to expect, so I was pleasantly surprised to see a complete spelling curriculum for my third grader.

How we used it:

The lessons are broke into days, so we started Day 1 on Monday, and so on. I would review the sound/spelling pattern of the week and she would complete one activity a day.

The Traditional Spelling II is intended for grades 2-3, but for my daughter most of the words were review and we could have used another set.

The set includes flashcards that go over the phonic sounds, however my daughter did not need to use them. When I was in the classroom, I routinely had to review phonics even to my third and fourth grade students, since many did not have the basics.

My favorite part of the weekly lesson was the fill-in-the blank comprehension. This page really helped my daughter to understand how to use the words that she was learning.

Additional Resources:

Traditional Spelling II includes a Teaching Manual that helps you teach spelling and phonics correctly. The Teaching Manual also includes answer keys for the student workbook assignments, as well as dictation sentences, and sentences for the spelling test on Friday. There is also a dictionary at the end of the Teaching Manual to quickly look up words that you might not know.

The curriculum also includes Spelling Practice Sheets. This thin workbook allows students to copy the spelling words in print, and later in cursive. My daughter has been learning cursive, so this was a good additional practice for her.

Overall, I enjoyed using the Traditional Spelling II curriculum. I think that if you are looking for an all in one unit, this is a good choice for a second grader or a third grader who needs extra practice.

There are many curriculum products from Memoria Press, click below to read more reviews.

Spelling, Music Appreciation & Latin {Memoria Press Reviews}
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How I Teach Math in My Homeschool: CTCMath Review

This is a sponsored post, however all opinions are my own.

I have been looking for a complete math curriculum for my homeschool, and so I was excited to find CTCMath. CTCMath is an online math curriculum for grades K-12th.

Wow, I love this homeschool math curriculum! These math activities are perfect for homeschool curriculum!

Getting Started:

When you first get started you will add your children to the program. I added all four of my children, 1st, 3rd, and placed my twin preschoolers in the kindergarten level. Note: I think that four-year olds can start the kindergarten level to be prepared for school. I do the lessons with my twins and we usually do two each a day.

Each level has diagnostic tests that you can assign to your child to see where they are. I assigned my daughters their current grade level to see where they are now. Although they did well on the diagnostics, I still kept them in their current grade level so that they could go through each lesson.

CTCMath is very detailed, so you can see exactly what your child needs help on. So for example, my first grader needs assistance in Money. It shows that she is having difficulty adding coins, so now I know exactly what I need to work with her on.

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Major Features:

-        Kindergarten through 12th Grade

-        U.S. Curriculum

-        Flexible Grade Placement

-        Interactive (Videos & Questions)

Pros:

History

This is my favorite feature! I love clicking on the timeline and being able to see what my children have done throughout the day. The history tab allows parents to see when your child has logged in, what they viewed, and what they completed.

Emails

CTCMath sends weekly emails so that you can monitor your children’s progress. They also send certificates to your email as well. My children get motivated by the awards they receive and I can easily display their accomplishments.

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Parent Area

In the tools tab, you can browse through the lessons beforehand. It gives the option view the video or download a pdf. This is good for children who need additional practice, and you want to teach it to them.

Checklists

You can download checklists for each grade level that shows the topics of each lessons. I can put the date that we completed the lesson, as well as their grade.

Easy to Use

My children had no problem logging in to CTCMath. The lessons are short and are helpful video explanations. After each video, there are questions to check understanding.

Cons:

I like that the lessons are flexible and can go in any order, however I wish that I could lock them and place in the order that we are teaching. My oldest likes to choose her lessons and always starts with the easiest first.

Overall:

I think CTCMath is great for all children, even those who are not homeschooled. It helps children understand math, and is like a personal tutor.

Children get better at math with practice, and CTCMath gives children that confidence in the comfort of their own home at their own pace. I also think that you could complete two grade levels in one year. Even if your child does attend traditional school, he will have a head start because the material will not be new to him. If your child ever needs assistance, there is a feature that allows you to reset the assignment and complete it again.

I also like how you can switch grade levels, so whether your child needs review or is advanced, they can work at their needs.

My children actually ask to do their math because of CTCMath. I am happy that I can now focus on Math as much as Reading.

We will definitely continue to use CTCMath throughout my children’s school career. Especially as a mom of four, since I’m teaching three different grade levels I need all the assistance I can. CTCMath acts as my math helper and assists my children until we can go over it together.