Teaching Textbooks Curriculum Review

 

Teaching Textbooks

Two years ago, my oldest son was in 5th grade. For years, we had used Math U See. But I decided to try something new, and he was struggling with the new curriculum. Math suddenly became a huge burden. I had 7 children ages 10 and under, and I felt like a sinking ship.  I needed him to be an independent learner, but he was becoming very needy because the materials we were using did not work for us. We struggled all the way until January or February. He had floundered all year and very little math actually happened. He started to get “behind” in my mind. I considered going back to Math U See, but I was realizing that we really needed math that was almost zero work for mom. I had 4 kids in diapers and no brain cells  to think about school.

That was when the idea of Teaching Textbooks started to really take hold. I actually really like Math U See, but I didn’t have time to make sure my kids were checking their work. We could go days…weeks without me checking it, and sometimes they were doing things wrong. We would have to go back and relearn the right way. So…nothing wrong with the curriculum…just me!  So when I looked up the sample problems for Teaching Textbooks, and it seemed like a good fit, I decided to try it…I was desperate despite the intimidating price.

We are now on our second year with Teaching Textbooks and here are a couple of things that jumped out at me and the reasons why I liked the style.

1. Each problem was presented visually and audibly. It seems that each of my kids has their own unique blend of learning styles. I like that TT blends both visual and auditory styles. I find it helpful that the teacher explains the lesson which provides focus for kids that tend to skim over the directions when reading.

2. Only one problem was presented at a time. We recently attended a class on ADHD. The counselor presenting the material mentioned that for kids with difficulty focusing, it can be very helpful to limit the number of problems they see at a time. With TT, only one problem is on the screen at a time. They complete that ONE problem before seeing another.

3. As each problem is completed, it is immediately graded. This has obvious advantages. Kids don’t spend an hour on a lesson only to find out they were doing it incorrectly. With automatic grading, they find out immediately and can relearn the concept before moving on.

4. The student has a second chance. When I was in school, I remember having a very real fear of failure. I saw my son stressing over the same issue. I love that TT has a built in method that acknowledges that we often need that “do-over” before we get it right. So, when the student completes a problem, if they get it wrong, they have a choice. They can either have the program “teach” them how to do that problem step by step…or…they can simply re-do it. They if they get it wrong again, they can choose to have the program “teach” them at that point. If the par

5. The parent grade book allows parents (not software) to ultimately be in charge. Whether you need to allow your student to redo a problem or a lesson…it can be done. If you want to change a grade for whatever reason, you can do that to. The automatic grading has plenty of options that allow the parent to override the system as needed.

6. If you sell it, it has a great resale value. To me, a product with a high resale value speaks to its quality (or its limited availabilty). TT is expensive, but I felt confident giving it a try knowing that it has an excellent resale value (via Ebay or online classifieds) if for whatever it did not work for us longterm.

7. Great Customer Service.  I’ve had a few times where I needed to contact customer service. A product can only be registered a few times before the code no longer works. The first year we used this, we had 4 of our computers die…so all of them! As one after the other died, we would reregister the software on a working computer and my son would continue to use it. When the program no longer allowed us to do that, we made a quick phone call and within a minute or two, the activation code was ready to use again. It was easy. No questions asked. I’ve been very happy with their service.

Prior to buying TT, we had read that it was a year behind other curriculums. So we did buy Teaching Textbooks 7 for our 5th grade son (because it was near the end of the year). He used it for the end of the year and then through 6th grade. We bought Algebra 1 for him in 7th grade choosing to skip Pre-Algebra. All I can say is that he loves it and I love love it! I’ve used at least 5 math curriculums and was homeschooled myself with another one. So I’m familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of a variety of them. We went from math being a tear filled, daily frustration to an independent empowering learning experience. My son often tells me how much he likes math. That alone makes its worth every penny.

Prior to buying it, I had great hesitation spending so much money on one subject. We are a single income family with a whole bunch of kids, so spending over $150 on math seemed extravagant. I did rationalize that if it “works” then I’ll reuse it for the rest of the kids which would make it less than $30 a year per child…but that up front hit is painful. Having used it for well over a year now, I can attest to its value…well worth the price. Math is essential for functioning in the “real world” and if it can be done in a way that is manageable and even fun, then to me that is worth spending a little more money.

We still use Math U See for some of our younger children and find that it is a great fit, but for our oldest moving into learning independence, Teaching Textbooks provided the quality learning we wanted with time saving convenience that made it a great bargain for me!

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