It's been a little over a year since we started using CTCMath and this is my second time writing a review about it. I was pleased to have my daughters start using it last summer because we were expecting baby #3 anytime and it was a blessing and relief to have some of their learning be more independent while we settled into our new status as a family of five and got acquainted with Baby Sis. Now, CTCMath's Family Membership continues to help us stay on track with math lessons while I attend to baby-turned-toddler as she climbs, tosses, tears, throws, plays, runs, bangs, wiggles, snuggles, hugs, kisses, babbles, and squeals throughout the house, and my attention is usually being split, balanced, or rotated among the three girls.
If you're interested in trying out CTCMath, until November 15th, 2017, you can get a free trial and they are also offering 60% off + 6 bonus months!
CTCMath is an extensive, secular, online math curriculum for grades K-12. Their website mentions that it is a full curriculum up to grade 8 and it is recommended as a supplemental program after that. I previously read on their website that it is not aligned with the Common Core standards (though that question and answer seems to have been removed from their FAQ page, so I'm not sure of it's current status, but I haven't noticed anything significant change). This is not a software disk, but rather a membership with online access, so students need internet access to participate. The program is computer based and is accessible via an iPad or Android tablet as well!
At the elementary levels we've used thus far, the program consists primarily of short, step-by-step, video-based tutorial lessons, thousands of practice questions (for which the parent can set the passing grade that is required), and diagnostic tests with automated grading, as well as progress reports, activity logs, and feedback available to both student and parent. There are also downloadable, printable lesson summaries (much like pre-made notes) for each lesson video. Diagnostic tests have three options for length, from 20-40 questions, depending on how comprehensive the user wants to be in evaluating the student's knowledge of a topic. They also offer speed drills and a game for practicing multiplication tables.
Parents also have accounts and are able to set up a specific assigned "tasks", such as lessons and/or tests, including a time frame and due date for completion, to guide a student in their learning path. They can also choose to receive weekly reports via email to keep track of how things are going. Just as the student has access to material from any grade, so too can the parent assign material from earlier grades as review or later grades if the student is ready to move on or for an extra challenge. There are various ways to see a student's progress, including a history timeline of usage, number of topics completed, dates lessons are passed/completed, and both detailed and summary reports.
Since we have a one-year subscription to the CTCMath's Family Membership, both Big Sis (fifth grade) and Lil' Sis (second grade) have been using it as their primary math program. Last year, I felt a little uncertain, at first, as to how to get things started because it isn't as restricted as other programs we've used in the past and doesn't direct the student from one task to the next in sequence. There is flexibility and are lots of options on where to start, which lesson (or even grade!) to work on, etc. This year, though, we are all set and know what we're doing.
Basically, there are two ways we use CTCMath in our house. First, I can (and do) assign "tasks" to each child. These are the topics that I decide I want them to complete within a give day or time frame - it can be one topic or several. Sometimes I'll put in topics for which I know they need extra practice or a refresher. Other times, I'll include tasks that ensure that they are staying on track to cover all the material for the grade over the course of the year. I find this necessary to be sure that they do work that is necessary for their level, since the program doesn't clearly walk them through step-by-step from one lesson to the next. Second, Big and Lil' Sis are also allowed some autonomy to choose which subjects they are interested in and want to pursue studying. I love this method because, as we well know, kids [and everyone else] learn best when they are interested in something. But since our state has required standardized testing at certain grades (currently 3, 5, 8, and 10), I feel it's best to do a mix of both teacher-directed and child-led learning.
There aren't clear placement tests, per se. We do use the diagnostic tests as a tool to determine their skill in each individual topic area, but the tests are not designed to test across several topics all at once and they do not direct the learner on what to do next. I have not seen any total grade level tests in the program that would tell a user if they "pass" a certain grade and are ready to move on to the next, nor what grade or topic at which to begin.
It is the ability to decide what to learn that has had a big impact on both girls' love of math and their excitement to use CTCMath and learn more, increasing their independence and self-direction. As I mentioned in a previous review, this is empowering! They are given ownership of their education and don't feel like they are just along for the ride. They aren't staring out the window waiting for it to be over. Instead, they are seeking out knowledge and retaining more of it as a result.
Both girls have made notable, trackable progress. Just today, Lil' Sis came bounding over to me with pride at her accomplishment in improving her ability to read clocks and calculate time (a weak are for her previously, but she got 100% of the answers correct this time). Big Sis often mentions that she enjoys the feeling of understanding math better now.
Another feature that I want to mention is one that might get easily overlooked. There are three small, simple links near the bottom of the lesson and task pages: Speed Skills, Times Tables, and Swap Pieces. These might be useful tools for some users that let the student practice math facts and play a game. I do think that these links could be made more prominent and easier to locate, but maybe they don't want it to serve as a distraction from the main lessons.
I would definitely recommend CTCMath to others who are looking into online math curriculum options, whether it be for students struggling with math, those right on track, or those who are advanced or want to get ahead and not be held back by a rigid process. Indeed, I have suggested this program to a number of my friends and other families in local homeschool groups over the last year because I definitely see the value in it.
If you'd like to know more about this program, you can check out other reviews by clicking on the banner link below and/or visit CTCMath at their website and/or on Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, Pinterest, and Youtube! As mentioned above, at the time of this post and until November 15th, 2017, you can get a free trial of CTCMath and 60% off + 6 bonus months!
I'm a homeschooling mom of three, enjoying our time in Hawaii and hoping to share some of that experience with you, including ideas, reviews, resources, and information.