Overview: Get all the info you need to find the best homeschool math curriculum for high school. Lists types with pros/cons of each, plus curriculum reviews. Note: There are referral links present.
Homeschooling math in high school, hello. Just thinking about it can send a chill up even the most math-y mom’s spine.
Cuz every kid is different, am I right? And just because it’s your kid doesn’t mean you can teach them how to solve an equation or form a proof or graph a parabola. (Say “graph a parabola” five times fast. I dare you.)
The days of looking over your kid’s shoulder and understanding immediately what their math lesson was about — and where they were going wrong — are over. Now you gotta leave it up to the experts — that is, the homeschool math curriculum creators.
Yep, in high school most families let the math curriculum do the talking. But which is the best homeschool math curriculum for YOUR teen? This can be a tricky problem to solve. (Ha! See what I did there? Puns are LIFE, y’all.)
As a former math teacher, I have set myself a goal to get my hands on as many homeschool math curriculum options as I can. I’ve made a fair dent, and I’ve been able to determine pros and cons of the different types of math curricula out there. Hopefully that will help you decide which will be the best fit for your teen and your family.
As always, there is no one right or BEST homeschool math curriculum for everyone everywhere. Homeschooling high school is an individual endeavor that varies widely between families and students. Don’t worry about what everyone else seems to be using; although reviews from actual users do help, they don’t guarantee a perfect fit in your situation. There actually is no “perfect” fit, and it’s wise to go into the search knowing that.
You’ll make the best decision you can given all the information; no one can expect more.
If you end up not liking what you’ve chosen, it’s not the end of the world. You may decide to switch to a different curriculum — I’ve done that, but in the end I wished we hadn’t. Switching curriculum takes time out of the school year that might be better utilized just trying to figure out the exact reason(s) why the current one isn’t working and then adapting how you use it. More about that here: Episode 30: Thoughts on Choosing and Using Curriculum.
Sometimes a temporary supplement is all that is needed to get over a particular hump and get back to a good work flow. Often you can find extra practice on just about anything by hitting up your ‘ol friend Google.
So as you read the descriptions of the types of math curriculum below, as well as the mini reviews I’ve written for the ones I’m familiar with, remember to filter it all through your WHY for homeschooling high school, your teen’s strengths and weaknesses, your budget (always a factor in my world, LOL), and even your own preferences for what the best homeschool math curriculum should look like — in YOUR situation.
All righty? Let’s get to it.
Types of Homeschool High School Math Curriculum
I am personally a huge fan of textbooks for math. I love having the use of a table of contents or index to find a topic that we know was covered but can’t remember when. I love being able to flip back and forth through pages of content. I love being able to gauge how much is left to do, or how hard a topic might be, by how many pages are devoted to it.
I also love textbooks because in my opinion they are the best for independent learning with math. Math is one of the easiest subjects to use to get your kid started on the path of independent learning, because it is always laid out in the structured format of a lesson with practice problems. And then after so many lessons, there is a test.
This means the student can read the lessons and do the practice problems on their own. They also check their daily work against the printed answer key or solutions manual and figure out why they got something wrong. If they have questions, you can consult the text to help them. And then all you have to do is grade the chapter test.
This makes life much simpler for mom, and it is also teaching the kid the very valuable skill of learning how to learn. More about independent learning here: How to Teach the Most Valuable Skill Your Child Will Ever Need.
Textbooks also tend to be one of the less expensive options, especially if you do what I did, which is have each kid do all their problems in a spiral notebook so the book would be clean for the next kid to re-use.
Some great textbook math curriculum options are:
Saxon – all levels
We used Saxon for grades 4-8. I stopped for the high school years because I didn’t like the idea of Geometry not being a separate course, although I think they offer it that way now.
Saxon is known for its spiral learning method, so that the student never forgets how to do the types of problems they have learned previously. I think this is an effective idea for the younger years, but at the high school math level it might get confusing. That is just my opinion; if you love Saxon, don’t let me stop you from continuing to do so!
(My son actually did use Saxon for a year when we were in Classical Conversations; I think you need a teen who is more diligent than he was to succeed with the spiral method, so they will remember all the different topics from day to day. Just sayin’.)
Saxon can be found at many websites such as Christian Book Distributors or Rainbow Resources.
Jacobs Algebra & Geometry
I wish there were more Jacobs textbooks than just these two. They are both written to the student in an engaging style and provide a solid math education. I’m a fan of the Geometry because it still focuses on proofs the way I, as a former math teacher, think they should be done. (Many current math curricula have dumbed-down the topic of proofs.)
The nice thing about these is you can buy older versions from Ebay or Amazon for not very much money AT ALL. Math doesn’t change, so don’t worry about getting the latest and greatest.
Read more about Jacobs here: Our Homeschool Math Curriculum Sequence K-12. (This article is actually a little outdated now, because it doesn’t reflect the curricula my two youngest kids used, but it’s still a helpful review.)
Lial Algebra 2 and Pre-Calculus
These are also solid math texts that are written to the student, which makes them perfect for independent study. Which is probably definitely needed at this stage, if not before, unless you remember this stuff, which even I don’t any more, LOL.
These are actually community college texts, so you know they are thorough. My older three kids used them, and in retrospect I wish I’d had my younger kids stick with these, as well. Every kid is different, so that’s worth considering, but I’m impressed by these texts perhaps moreso than anything else I’ve seen at this level.
These can also be purchased in an older edition from a used bookseller or Ebay to save money.
Online curriculum is SO NICE because it is basically set it and forget it. It does EVERYTHING for you! The kid watches the video and does the practice problems, and the computer grades them. The kid takes the test, and the computer grades that, too!
When the kid has questions, though, they must find the answer on the computer. This is easier or harder depending on the curriculum. And if you try to help, it’s not always easy to figure out where to look, or to know what part of the video you need. You can’t exactly “skim” a video!
Online programs are often engaging, with cartoon characters or the feel of competition against the computer, and this might make kids more motivated to get to work. Online is definitely more interesting than a black-and-white, boring textbook.
Online math curriculum can be pricey, but often it is a subscription plan with a monthly cost which doesn’t seem so bad. Be sure you download all the grades before you stop paying!
There is a longer discussion about online homeschool math here: Using an Online Math Curriculum.
Here are some online math curriculum options:
I am very impressed with what I see at Unlock Math. It’s one of the only online math programs with a REAL teacher in the videos. The interface is easy to follow, and mom has a lot of control over grades. Their customer service is top notch, and you can email them with math questions and expect a timely answer. There is built in review and as many practice problems as the student needs. I haven’t found a downside to this one yet!
I love all the new aspects of TT 4.0. Now it is an APP, rather than an online program, and this means your kid can work on any device at any time. There is a scratchpad so your kid can do their work on the device itself. You will receive a daily email to see what your kid accomplished, and you have more control over how many lessons they can do, etc. TT 4.0 is more of a “cartoon” experience, if you will, with graphics and animation presenting the instruction.
CTCMath is what we got my youngest daughter going with AFTER she had worked on Jacobs Algebra for awhile and decided she hated it. I was feeling more lenient as a homeschool mom by then, so we tried another online program first — hated that, LOL — and then CTC. It was with CTC that she finally finished the course! It’s thorough and doesn’t have some of the frustrating quirks that other programs might have.
We tried Aleks on the recommendation of someone whose kids were Ivy League material, and for them it might have been great, but we didn’t do so well. There is a requirement that you get so many problems IN A ROW correct before you can move on, and my daughter got very frustrated with that. I think for a very detail-oriented student, though, it would provide an excellent math education.
More info here: CTCMath vs. Aleks.
Live classes are almost like being in a classroom. There is an actual teacher who instructs in real time. Kids can ask questions as the class progresses. Again, absolutely NO work for mom!
Classes are usually held once per week, and you do have to make the effort to be online at the right time. This does affect the family schedule, so it is something to keep in mind. The rest of the week is for homework and quizzes and tests. The nice thing is that these do get graded on the computer or by the teacher.
My daughter (again the youngest; we tried SO MANY math curriculum options with her, LOL!) got frustrated with the pace of the live class. She wanted to keep moving without being dependent on the speed of the other kids in the class to get a problem or to ask questions. It’s a good thing she never when to public school, LOL! She ended up watching the replay more often than attending the live class. Then she could fast forward as she wanted. Ah, the impatience of a teenager!
Possible live classes:
Mr. D Math
Mr. D is the icon of live classes; EVERYBODY loves him! He also offers self-paced videos if you’d rather not be tied to a schedule. And there are multiple weekly live help sessions to attend if your student has questions about the work. Mr. D used to teach in the school system, so he’s got the experience with teens and the know-how to make it all understandable.
Dreaming Spires Home Learning
This is math taught differently than anywhere else. Dreaming Spires uses living books to explore math concepts in a Charlotte Mason kinda way. Expect discussion and narration and an interest factor that goes beyond boring problem sets.
Learn Math Fast
I can’t say enough good about this program. The author explains concepts in a way that kids understand. It’s as simple as that!
I caution anyone from using this as a stand-alone curriculum, however. The author says it is good for 3 high school credits only if ALL the books are done; using one book to replace a full Algebra curriculum, for example, is not what this program is intended for. My personal opinion is it works for certain scenarios but not for any time you just want to make math faster and easier.
If you do decide to go with Learn Math Fast, use code ANNIE for 10% off!
My Math Assistant – for Saxon math users
This is a great way to make Saxon more user friendly; they will do the grading for you! So you get the flexibility of a textbook with the ease of an online program. What’s not to love?
The best homeschool math curriculum for your teen?
That’s the one that YOU have chosen with full information not only about the curriculum but about YOUR teen. Don’t let what others are doing intimidate you into trying something you know in your heart won’t work.
You might even narrow the selection down to two or three and have your teen make the final decision. That definitely helps with motivation, and it also gives you ammo when they start to complain: “Hey, you chose this one, not me!” LOL.
I’ll add more math curriculum options to this article as I get my hands on them. If you have a specific curriculum you want me to look at, let me know in the comments!