CTCMath is a video-based instructional math program for K-12 students. They suggest that K-8 levels are complete curriculum, though high schoolers should use it as a supplement. We are currently using CTCMath for 5th grade, 3rd grade, and my 4 year old is using the Kindergarten section. It's been incredibly interesting to see the results so far!
My 4 year old is eager and precocious and was already doing several pages each week in a Kindergarten Math curriculum workbook, at her request, so I knew she'd enjoy having the exact same math program as the big kids. Now she asks for her "computer math" a few times a week, and is working steadily through the Kindergarten level. At this level, the videos are about five minutes on average which is doable, but there could be 20+ questions. Sometimes she takes a break and comes back later or the next day to finish the questions. She's doing lessons on counting, number words, shapes and such. It's a fun way for her to have something special to do, without being too demanding. When a lesson proves to be too much, one of her big brothers usually comes to her aid, or I just direct her to a different lesson or send her to play. She may only complete a lesson a week this way, but for her age, I don't even require school work, so I'm completely satisfied with this progress.
Completed "worksheet" of the Questions for a Kindergarten lesson.
My 10 year old is the child that is difficult to please when it comes to math. He's good at it, but doesn't particularly like it. I asked him to give this a try again, and he agreed. Not only that, he has agreed to switch to CTCMath and work towards a mutually agreed upon final grade. My 3rd grader, who initially said he wanted to stick with his original math program, asked to switch after a week or so of watching his siblings use it!
So what makes it so special? It's hard to pinpoint exactly.
The video tutorials are voiced over, and you see computerized graphics, charts or other visual elements. This allows the student to have the auditory input of the teacher, without the distractions of a person on the screen. The lessons are short (average 10 minutes, often much less) and to the point. From the lesson, the student can this access the questions.
Although the lessons are taught through video, you can access a PDF summary, so if the material is already familiar, you can just do a quick review. You can also access the questions without watching the video - so again, if the material is familiar and I'm confident they know it, I can just have the kids skip the video. For instance, I allowed Emory to skip the video on the Greater Than/Less Than lesson.
I'm still not a fan of the "counting on fingers" strategy that is sometimes recommended in the lower grades, but I do like that the program offers different ways to look at some topics than I might present it.
CTC Math follows a logical scope and sequence, but allows students to move between lessons, and between all grade levels. This means all lessons for all levels are available at any time, which means if a student gets "stuck" in an area, they can either move down to a lower grade and review it at a simpler level, or they could move to a different stream of math, and focus on something else for awhile. If they need more challenge, they can skip over previously learned material (there are tests for each set of lessons, so they can test out if you wish) and not waste time on stuff they've mastered. They can also move up to a higher level if they have interest in learning something more advanced. As a homeschool family, we really appreciate this flexibility, because we all know that children learn at different levels, and may not be at "grade level" for every single skill.
Grades are calculated automatically, and repeated attempts are averaged. Certificates can be awarded for each section, and the color (bronze, silver, gold) is based on the final score. For children who are motivated in this manner, it is a great feature.
All of the work is done on the computer, there's nothing to print out (at least at our current grade levels) except completed worksheets. The completed worksheets must be printed immediately though, because once closed you can only see the score. These work great for portfolios though, and I print about one a month for this reason. However, my 5th grader has been instructed to get out pencil and paper to work out problems in writing, so he also has this work that can be put into his portfolio.
From the parent account, I can preview lessons/questions, see cumulative scores, print a checklist of skills per grade, download reports, set tasks, determine their "passing" grade, and do other administrative tasks.
There were a few minor things here and there that we had to adjust to (no commas in large numbers, vocabulary, etc) but no major issues. So far we are enjoying the program, and I intend to use it for the rest of the year.
You can check out a free trial and sample lessons from all levels, and be sure to check out crew reviews - other crew members are reviewing all different levels!
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