Homeschooling Math- Teaching Textbooks Review

Teaching Textbooks Review by Stephanie Harrington

 A Teaching Textbooks Review:

Looking for that perfect Math curriculum? Well, I am not sure that it truly exists. However, I wish I had found Teaching Textbooks sooner. I can’t say enough good things about it. At first I was reluctant because I had tried so many different math curriculum that I thought this was sure to turn out like all the others- always something not quite right. I simply felt that a Math program that didn’t require a ton from me was too good to be true.

Let me tell you more about it in contrast to the other programs I have used. I hope my experiences, will help you determine if Teaching Textbooks is right for you.

When I began with my first child, now  in college, I remember that at first I was not particularly worried where math was concerned, after all… I am fairly good at math and this was only elementary math at the time. However, I was homeschooling because he was designated ADHD by the school system, and so if something was dis-likable to him or boring from the get go, it was already a struggle for him to complete assignments.

Compared to Modern Curriculum Press

We started with Modern Curriculum Press, third grade. This book made us both pull our hair out. There were long drills and assignments that he struggled to finish. It was a time when we were both not sure if homeschooling was the answer. Thankfully, with a lot of prayer and a little determination, we survived. I was able to adapt many assignments and come up with strategies for helping him focus on one problem at a  time.

Here is one of my favorites:

*Take a piece of construction paper, cut a hole in the middle-just the size of one problem-and use it to cover the page of problems showing only the one problem to be done. This eliminated some stress over being overwhelmed by the amount of problems to do. And of course, I quickly learned that we didn’t have to do all fifty problems.
Looking back now if he had Teaching Textbooks:

  1.  It is computer based and he would have loved that.
  2.  Lessons are direct.
  3.  One problem presented at a time (great for an ADHD kid).
  4.  It’s explained simply.
  5.  Problems are practiced enough but not over kill.
[tweetthis]We use #teachingtextbooks #math. Computer based, direct, one problem presented at a time, and is explained simply.[/tweetthis]

I can’t recommend Modern Curriculum Press (MCP) for anyone unless your child loves drill and thrives on doing multiple problems quickly. The book is generally dry, however there may be some who like it. I CAN, however, recommend  their Kindergarten book. I used it with my third child. It was refreshing and to the point, likable, and easy to use. Since he was a “work book man” this worked out swell. It is fitting for kids who need some time spent on the basics in the early years, but might be a waste of time if your kid just gets it.

Compared to Singapore Math

So once we realized MCP was not for us it was off to try something else. We used a lot of Sonlight (still love and use many of their books) so I decided to try Singapore Math. I have to admit that this eliminated the problem with too much drill. But I soon found out that it was a bad thing, for us anyway. My two oldest children were in and out of different schools during their 1st-3rd  grade years, so much of the basic education was taught by the schools. They did not have their math facts memorized to efficiency so that kept them from excelling to higher levels in the end.

** Can’t stress enough the importance of memorizing the math facts! Third grade is especially critical in learning those multiplication facts. So Singapore is good if you supplement and rely a great deal on your own teaching skills, this again demands a lot of the parent-teacher.

In comparison, I think Teaching Textbooks (TT) does give enough drill and is very comprehensive over time. It is presented simply, as Singapore Math is, but even though its simple, there is still enough daily drill to master concepts. It also requires very little of the parent teacher and keeps a grade book for you in the elementary years, which is fantastic! Yes, you still need to be available to assist and direct your child but it is designed for independence.

Compared to Saxon

Moving on now, after Singapore I chose Saxon.  I have heard it is good in the first to third grades, but once it hits fourth grade it changes entirely. We used it in late middle school and early high school years, but not without strife.   I used it for both my older two for Algebra 1/2 and Algebra. It was very difficult. I chose it because I trusted in it’s quality, but it ended up too challenging for many reasons:

  1. Too much drill. Explanations were easy for me to understand… but I am an adult and I have taken Algebra before, but for a beginner I think it was overkill. Explanations could be simpler.
  2. It required way too much of the parent-teacher. The Dive CD’s are good and are in the same direction of the TT CD’s but I found that for my kids, I still had to re-explain most of the material and we ended up not using them. So unless your child is advanced (in that case it may be great for you) I don’t recommend.
  3. I also didn’t like the way there was no separation of Geometry. Because even though my kids did get some Geometry in it, that could not easily be represented on a high school transcript.
    Saxon ultimately slowed us down. I feel like if I had started them in High School with TT Algebra (9th), Geometry (10th), Algebra 2 (11th) and then Pre-Calculus (12th)… I know they would have done very well. And their transcript would look much better too. With Saxon it always took us more than a year to finish, or we just didn’t finish the book.

Now, with caution I stress……don’t panic too much. Even if your child is struggling in math, he can go to college someday. My oldest son, the one who was deemed ADHD has gone on to college and is getting his degree in Network Security, a Science degree. He got an A in his college physics class though we never did that in high school. He took Pre-Algebra, Algebra, and Consumer Math in High school. What you choose for them in high school IS very important, but there are many ways to give your child the education you want and they need. It also depends on the route they want to take. It is OK if there is struggle in an area…in fact, it is normal. You just have to do the work. If you lack expertise in an area you can find alternatives and solutions.

Compared to A Beka

With my youngest after MCP Kindergarten we went to A Beka. I loved A Beka and credit it with his very strong base in Math. I did have to adapt the lessons from the teachers guide. I recommend just using the work text which is very affordable, but if you use the teachers guide just beware of a lesson that lasts over an hour. For me more than 45 min. for first- third grade is too much.

One thing to note is that after doing A Beka for second and third grade, my son tested into 4th grade TT as a third grader. For some kids TT in the early elementary may be too easy. But it definitely seems to level off by fourth or fifth grade to being appropriate challenge while remaining simple. It is perfect for the homeschooling environment as long as you like the idea of a computer based program. It may not be a good fit for the gifted in math child, but for the average student or for those of us less strong in math, it’s amazing!

There are numerous other good math programs out there but since I have no experience there I can’t help. I hope if your interested in Teaching Textbooks that this will help you make an informed decision. This review is a personal review. I am one homeschool mom happy to have finally found a good fit for our math program.

Linked Up for: NOBH

You may also want to read:
10 Reasons I use Teaching Textbooks


  • Lisa

    Please let me know if you have any of the Teaching Textbooks 4 &7 available. Thanks

  • Starla Smith

    Thanks moms for your information. I too am completely frustrated with public school education and have decided to homeschool my twin girls for their high school years. They have a severe case of ADD and are slow learners. Public school has not met their educational needs. They have completed grade 9 in public school and should be entering 10th grade but function on about a 7th/8th grade level. I am considering TT for them in math. Do you all have any recommendations for curriculums that might be appropriate for ADD kids in science, literature/English, and history?

    • Stephanie

      Starla, I like Apologia Science, however I haven’t used it yet in the high school years and I know some of their high school level courses require math knowledge. I would recommend starting with General Science to bring them up to speed and give them high school credit for it. Then go on to biology after that. English depends a lot on their ability. I would consult an experienced homeschooler and tailor for each of them their own program for finishing high school.

  • Carmen

    Thanks for all your insight with TT Stephanie. My son also has ADHD and we also using MCP and I almost want to quite. He is not focused and does not even want to try. I also have been praying a lot about this and was wondering if you have heard about Math U See and what do you think about it . Sorry if you have already answered this question and I did not notice….God Bess Carmen

    • Stephanie

      Yes Carmen, I have heard of Math -u- See and know many people who really like it a ton. It’s got lots of manipulatives so it’s perfect for a tactile learner. For us the TT works better because it is less preparation for me and with an auditory learner who likes the verbal teaching and the computer set up, it is a good fit. I also like that it is one subject that I don’t have to plan or teach and my child works through it independently. It also grades the lessons as he goes so he sees right away if he made any errors. I would advice you to assess what style learner you have and then make your choice based on what is a good fit for him. Many homeschool blessings to you. Definitely don’t stay with a program that causes you both frustration. Let me know how else I can help:)

  • Dee

    Thank you for sharing your opinions! Very insightful. I have a question concerning your son who is in college. Did he take the SAT, and do you feel like the math he took in high school was preparation enough for it? I really do like TT for high school math, but I have heard from others that it didn’t prepare their children well for SAT math.

    • Stephanie

      Great Question. My son who was attending college when I wrote this graduated from college in 2.5 with his BA in Network Security. He did not have the benefit of Teaching Textbooks.I wish he had. We used Saxon which I feel was why we struggled daily and didn’t get past Algebra 2. ( I struggled too.) He did not have to take the SAT as he went to a technical school that later got it’s university accreditation. When he took the COMPASS for entry he was borderline passing into college math so they had him take one noncredit math course in college to bring him up to speed. I feel he would have gotten much farther in high school math if I had chosen TT for him as it is less complicated but covers the basics for Algebra to Pre-Calculus. This would have also been easier to account credits for since Saxon combines Geometry I could never conclusively add it to his transcript even though we covered it. It’s hard for me to believe that it doesn’t prepare kids for the SAT and/or ACT. I guess I will find this out with my youngest but here is an excerpt directly from TT website:

      “You say that your Geometry has SAT and ACT prep built in. What exactly does this mean?
      A. In addition to covering all the standard school geometry topics, the book puts great emphasis on problems found on the SAT and ACT. In fact, nearly every problem set includes several problems that were modeled after those found on actual SAT and ACT exams. And since all Teaching Textbooks use the review method, students become better and better at solving these important problem types each day. ” ~From TT Q & A page.

      In any case, it would be wise to have your child prep for the ACT or SAT in addition to your curriculum if they are college bound to a college which will require it.

  • Amanda

    Hi! I’m so glad I ran across your blog! My 2 boys are still in Public SChool nad I am seeeerrrrriously considering homeschooling them. My oldest (5th grade) has been on medication for adhd since kindergarten….i know….public school. He has struggled so much, we’ve changed his meds, etc… but bless heart, he just goes to school for the interaction with the other kids and at fifth grade, he still isn’t getting it. I spend more time in the evenings doing homework than he does learning in school!. Now, my first graders teacher suggested that he try a “low dose” for adhd. I can just see the writing on the wall and am so frustrated with the public school system. I’m so glad you commented on your adhd son using TT. I’ve been researching it and really liked it the first time I saw it on timberdoodle. I also think they would both benefit from Time4Learning – but I’ve read that the lessons and work problems are super short. Like your son, my son is very science minded (wants to be a marine biologist, chemist or zoologist) but he struggles in math. Thanks again for the thorough review. You have no idea how much its’ helped since I’ve been on the curriculum hunt for over a month!

  • Nita

    We use Teaching Textbooks as our ‘Math Lab’ which is done in addition to their main math curriculum. So my dd does her dvd, textbook based lesson as her 2nd class then after she’s finished all the other coursework she does her TT for 1 lesson and it takes her about 30 min to do it. On the weekend she and I review the problems she had to do over or missed then she does the problems she missed independently. My dd needs a lot of review and using Teaching Textbooks gives her a totally different way to review. Now that Time4Learning has high school we are considering using their Pre-Calc as our supplement.

  • Julia

    Thank you for sharing this info! I have desperately searched all day for the best math curriculum for an adhd child….when I came across yours I felt like a huge weight lifted! I could identify with you.
    I have always homeschooled and we enjoyed school so much until we hit 4th grade and I noticed my child started struggling in math, but we pressed on. Then this past year in 5th grade was a disaster! I didn’t know at the time that she has adhd…we just found out recently. Before I didn’t really know anything about it or how it affects learning.
    I knew we couldn’t face another year with the same math….we are both at a breaking point.
    I am very grateful you shared your experiences. We have tried 3 different Math curriculums, MUS was one of them. Until I understood why she has been having such a hard time, I really didn’t know what she needed.
    We went to the web site and she loved the sample. She is very excited about starting Math and that’s a first in a very long time!!
    Thank you again!!

    • stephanie

      I am so very happy that I could help! Helping other homeschool moms like me is my mission. Homeschooling can be tough regardless but teaching a special needs kid is even more demanding. I hope that you really end up liking TT as much as we have:)

  • Becca

    I love this post with the comparisons. Saxon is so highly recommended in so many places in the homeschool world, and yet we didn’t find it a good fit at the lower levels. I appreciate your feedback and the detail of your report. THANK YOU!

    • stephanie

      Saxon is wonderful for some but it just didn’t work for us either! I am so glad that this has been helpful to you Becca!

  • Jane

    Thank you for this awesome review! We’re going to be using TT this fall & my kids are excited! They loved the samples on their website.

  • Rachel Proffitt

    I have to admit I love TT too. My son too is slightly ADHD… as in he has TERRIBLE focusing abilities LOL
    TT has allowed his natural mathematic abilities to thrive though- and it is a well done program!
    I plan to start my DD in it soon 🙂