Note: This post is a review of CTC Math, which I received free in return for an unbiased review. I believe this is a great product for homeschoolers, but would also benefit my non-homeschooling friends who are looking for help or reinforcement for their children in math. Regardless of your schooling status, I hope you'll take a moment to read and share this post. Thanks!

The "New" Math vs. "Old-School" Math. You know, I'm not really sure what

*either one*is. I just know that math in general has really caused me a lot of stress over the last few years. Jewell always made A's in math, but none of us (me included) really knew what we were doing. Two bachelors, two masters, and a doctorate between us, and Gerald and I still found ourselves huddled over the computer Googling 3rd grade math, assuring each other that we were, indeed, intelligent people, while Jewell tearfully tried to explain the round-the-world way she had been taught to do simple addition. (Why must you draw sets of sticks and piles of rocks when it would be much simpler to just remember that 12 + 13 = 25. At least it used to. Now it could be 24. Or maybe 30. Because instead of just adding to find your answer, someone thought it would be better to guesstimate. Because isn't*rounding*numbers just as good as*adding*them? Well, no. My banker doesn't think so. He insists that we keep*exactly*enough money in the bank to cover our checks. Not*about*enough.) So needless to say, math was the one thing I was*determined*to get right when we began homeschooling. But it took a while.
As I said, Jewell had always gotten A's in math, but she had no confidence. It seemed I spent the first 10 minutes of math each day talking her off the ledge. Assuring her she could do it. And she could. She did. But not until we were both thoroughly frustrated. And exhausted. And at this rate, she'd never achieve the autonomy in math that we both wanted her to have. There had to be a better way. I needed to find a math program that A) made sense and B) took me out of the mix.

I decided to try Teaching Textbooks. I must admit, it worked. I stayed by her the first couple of days to make sure she understood the process of logging in and saving her work, but after that, I left her to it. She actually liked it. She would complete several lessons in one sitting. She enjoyed it and she began to feel that she could "do math". Ahh, success. But...

It's not cheap. And you buy one level at a time. Should you finish a level quickly, you have to buy the next. Add in a couple of kids, and, as great a product as it is, it starts to eat up the budget. Back to the drawing board. I kept getting emails from the Cathy Duffy review site advertising CTC Math, so I decided to give it a try.

*Loved*it! Very similar to Teaching Textbooks, and the creator/teacher has a very, umm, how should I put it?...*appealing*Australian accent, if you get my drift. Bingo! We have our own "new" math program. Give me a few minutes and I'll tell you why...
First of all, it's easy to implement. Unlike Teaching Textbooks, you don't have to have a disk. You simply log in to the website, so you can do math any time, anywhere. (And don't we all love the ability to do math on vacation, in the car, at Grandma's? OK - maybe not, but you don't have to worry about damaged or lost disks.) Each child has their own login. I keep a post-it stuck to the computer with the kids various user-names and passwords. Once you're on the site, it's very clean. No ads. Very few graphics. Just very simple and not at all distracting...unless you find yummy Australian accents distracting. But I digress.

Second - you have access to all levels. Let me repeat...ALL levels. So if you have a second grader who is breezing through lessons and is ready to begin the next level, well then, go right ahead! Suppose your 9th grader is having a little trouble with Algebra 1. Never fear. Simply move back and do a little reviewing in Pre-Algebra. You can move around at will, and the child's progress will continue to be recorded.

Third - it grades your child's work and will send you a weekly email, letting you know their progress. One less thing for you to worry about!

Here's how we used it last year. Before beginning the lesson(s) for the day (Jewell usually did two a day), she would click on Speed Skills at the bottom. There are four Speed Skill levels. Level 1 - Addition and Subtraction. Level 2 - Addition, Subtraction and Multiplication. Level 3 - Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division. Level 4 - Addition, Subtraction, Mixed Multiplication and Division, Division with Remainders and Order of Operations. I had her working on level 2 and 3. I had her complete a 60 second session in each area. (I really believe in speed drills. This was something that was not stressed as she was beginning arithmetic in 1st and 2nd grade, and I believe it is one of the reasons she lacks confidence.) Once she completed the daily Speed Skills, she moved on to the lessons. All in all, her math took less than 30 minutes, leaving her time to work daily critical thinking activities like Sudoku and other math puzzles.

Each lesson "lecture" generally lasts between 3 and 7 minutes. At least that is our experience so far. Jewell worked in 5th grade math, and I started with 7th just to get familiar with the program. I had a lot of fun and was really surprised at what I remembered. Even if I couldn't explain it, I generally remembered what to do. (And don't judge, y'all. I'm now up to Algebra 1, and doing well, thank you very much! See how much YOU can remember after 30 years!)

Once you listen to the lecture, you click on "Questions" and begin your work. In the elementary grades, there are generally 10 questions. Once you finish those, you have the option of working 10 more, and so on. With Jewell, if she got all 10 correct, she could move on to the next lesson. If she missed one, I required her to work another 10. Remember, whatever they do will be sent to you in a weekly email. The program also keeps up with the child's work and tells them what level they are working on. It will also give them the option to print a certificate of level completion, which Brack really likes.

This is NOT a spiral program. There is really no review of past materials. This is probably my main complaint (on a very short list which I will share with you shortly). To make sure that my kids are retaining skills, I use a program called "180 Days of Math" for each of their individual grade levels. It takes less that five minutes a day and is a great little brush-up tool. Each daily lesson presents them with 12 questions ranging from simple addition to shapes to time to graphs, etc. Each workbook comes with a disc that you can use to print the worksheets if you have other children that will need the material later. (We also use "180 Days of Reading" for comprehension work.)

In the elementary levels, questions are answered directly into the computer. In the upper levels, you listen to a lecture and then print out the worksheet containing the questions. Once you have worked your answers on paper, there is a key on the side. Not the answers, mind you. That would allow for, well, cheating. Suppose your answer for #1 is 12. The key will tell you - 12) R. Once you have found the corresponding letter to your number answers, you enter the letters as your "answers" and it gives you the grade. This is good because it helps you to know if you got the right answer. For example, if you think that your answer is 12, but there is not a letter for 12, you know you need to redo the problem. Working the worksheets in the upper levels is also a good idea because it gives you more practice and it keeps you familiar with testing styles.

I spoke several times with Matthew Rahi, the American representative for CTC. He was extremely helpful with all my questions, and trust me, I had a lot. When I asked him about whether CTC was intended to be a stand alone math curriculum, he said "definitely" up to 6th grade. He suggested it serve as a supplement in the junior and senior high levels. This was a disappointment to me because I really like this program and would be happy to commit to a long-term relationship with it. So I did some investigating. I printed several tables of contents from companies like Houghton Mifflin and Harcourt and compared the upper levels. Looked complete to me. I mentioned this to him and asked him what he felt was lacking from CTC in the upper levels. He responded with something that I am sure only brain surgeons and rocket scientists need to know. Let's just say I have done fine without it!

I

*really*like this program, and see us using it for the long haul. However, there are a couple of things I wish were a little different. 1) If you miss a question, it doesn't tell you why you got it wrong. 2) It's not spiral, but I've already addressed that. That's it. Seriously.
So, what are my top three favorite things about CTC Math? (Besides the fact that it's like having Hugh Jackman teach you order of operations?!) 1) I'm not having to teach math. That means one less melt down per day. (Mine, not hers.) 2) It's cost effective. You get more than one level on a CD that can get lost or broken. 3) It does the work for you. Teaching, grading, recording. Done. This program made me believe we can do math again!

You can go online to their website CTC Math and get a free, trial membership. There's no time limit on it. You just get access to the first lesson under each topic. This is what I did when I was first checking them out. I liked it so much I contacted them and offered to do a review. In exchange, they gave me a free family membership. However, this review is truly my own. And like I said before, we

If you'd like to subscribe, click here. This link gives homeschoolers 60% off, which boils down to about $120 a year for unlimited lessons for two or more kids. That's a pretty good deal if you have a big family, but you can do the math. (And if you can't, then you really do need to join CTC!)

*love*CTC Math!If you'd like to subscribe, click here. This link gives homeschoolers 60% off, which boils down to about $120 a year for unlimited lessons for two or more kids. That's a pretty good deal if you have a big family, but you can do the math. (And if you can't, then you really do need to join CTC!)

Now to the fun stuff...a giveaway! The great folks at CTC Math have agreed to furnish me with a 12 month family membership to give away to one lucky winner!

If you are needing a fresh start in math this fall, I hope you'll give CTC Math a try. If you have more questions, please feel free to contact me!

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Hey Missy! Thank you for your review. Just like you I used Teaching Textbooks last year with Laney. I loved it but not the price. I was planning to use it for both my girls this year but am very interested to try out CTC. I have one child who struggles in math and one who excels to this sounds like something that would be great for us to try. Plus, like you said one less thing I have to teach. I need any extra time I can get for one on one. Thanks again! Hope I win! Suzy

ReplyDeleteI've seen several positive comments about CTC. It may be a good fit for my family. Thanks for the review!

ReplyDeleteMy kids started out using TT but soon got frustrated with it. We recently switched to ctc and they love it. I like how the problems are different any time they retake a lesson if they didn't pass. This program is also very cost effective since I have 3 kids (5K, 3rd and 6th) using the program.

ReplyDeleteThank yo for your review!! I just switched my crew from Saxon (those workbooks are never ever ending!!) to TT and but several of my other homeschool moms are using CTC....I was wondering what the difference was between them..and now I know!! I think we will be sticking with TT....i can pass the disks down to the youngest...so in the long run it will be cheaper ;)

ReplyDelete