Our Journey BACK to Teaching Textbooks

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I started homeschooling when my oldest was in Kindergarten. She is now in tenth grade and sometimes I feel like I am still endlessly making mistakes and starting over in our homeschool. Math is one of the areas that I definitely made some mistakes…but we have started over {again} and now we are sticking with it!

TT-review

Much like other homeschooling moms, at times I have been influenced by what others think the “best curriculum” is and why I should be using that instead of my current choice. That is where I ventured off my path when it came to math curriculum and we have paid dearly for it.

We started off using Abeka for all subjects, because as a new homeschooling mom, I wanted an all-in-one solution. I don’t regret that because it gave my daughter a great foundation in reading, writing and arithmetic. When she hit fourth grade we started using Teaching Textbooks for math. She loved it and did great; I was most intrigued by the fact that I didn’t have to teach any lessons OR do the grading for it. We used Teaching Textbooks for fourth – sixth grade, but then poor math scores at our end of the year evaluations scared me. I let the nagging voices of other moms convince me that it was the curriculum’s fault (certainly it wasn’t that my daughter just struggled in math?!)

I had read a lot of reviews about Teaching Textbooks and learned that some moms thought it was too easy and not on grade level. Well there you go – it WAS the fault of my curriculum…or so I thought. So off we went to two other math programs for 7th and 8th grade. Apparently all math curricula was subpar because my daughter continued to struggle, in spite of switching what we used. Okay, so maybe I was in denial. Perhaps my kid really did have some sort of math learning struggles and it had nothing to do with her curriculum?

I made a decision to go BACK to Teaching Textbooks

Since we jumped around so much she had a lot of gaps, so we had to start off with Pre-Algebra in ninth grade. Mind you, if we would have just stuck with TT she would have been in Algebra 1 at this point. We got a tutor and muddled our way through math and by the end of the year she was enjoying her math lessons and excelling with A’s and B’s. She did need time with a real-live tutor because she was so behind and had to get a good grasp on concepts she missed in all of our hopping around.

This year she is doing great with Algebra 1 and next year for eleventh grade she will be using Teaching Textbooks Geometry. I really wish I would have just stuck with Teaching Textbooks. I am thankful that my littlest one, who is in first grade, will be able to start using it in 3rd grade and I plan to use it all the way through to the end.

Teaching Textbooks Skill Level

While I do believe that in the early years especially, Teaching Textbooks is not as advanced as some of the other math programs, if you stick with it your children will get a well-rounded math education. Don’t let the naysayers put doubts in your mind like they did mine!

They offer complete math courses for grades 3-7, Pre-Algebra, Algebra 1, Geometry, Algebra 2, and Pre-Calculus. After all, how easy can Calculus really be? They have placement tests on their website. In the past, I may have made a choice to skip my child if they placed at a higher grade level, but knowing what I do now about learning gaps, I would just keep them on grade level and allow an “easy year.” We had to go back to Pre-Algebra because my daughter missed out on solidifying her knowledge of fractions and decimals due to the concepts that she never learned or retained. If your child is great at math and the placement test shows them at a higher grade level, that is an option you can consider – however, if your student struggles with math you may want to reconsider skipping a grade.

 

How Teaching Textbooks Lessons Work

A lesson will start with an interactive lecture and then there are 5 practice problems that are not counted towards your student’s grade. They are optional, but since my daughter struggles with math, I require her to work the practice problems out. They are a great reference when a student is struggling with a problem because each problem in the lesson corresponds to a practice problem. They are labeled with a,b,c,d and correlate with the lesson problems with the same letters.

My favorite feature is the interactive lessons that TEACH students how to do the math problems. A regular textbook does not do that and there is no way I would be a good math teacher. We have previewed various DVD programs and other video teaching curriculum and they were either way too boring or extremely confusing. Some of the math DVDs were hilariously outdated and looked like they were made in the 1980’s. My daughter needs something very simple and easy to understand. I really like how the lessons do not use a real “teacher,” but a voice instead. The friendly voice and step-by-step explanations for every single problem make it easier for my daughter to pick up new concepts. The interface looks very professional and high quality, but also kid-friendly. It is super easy to navigate, even for someone who is not Internet/computer savvy.

Lessons are taught with continuous review for long term retention. For us, this is extremely important because my daughter is not a math whiz and she needs to review the concepts she has previously learned or she will forget them. Teaching Textbooks is really good about weaving new lessons and already learned concepts without becoming too redundant.

There are not a lot of bells and whistles, but there are neat features like the practice problems, “hint buddies,” and do-overs if students get an incorrect answer. Parents can login and clear out missed problems and have their child re-do them to bring up their grade too, which we do for anything that is under 80%.

The parent grade book is an important tool. It shows you their scores, but also how many tries it took for a correct answer. I use this to gauge whether or not my daughter is really trying. For example, if she missed a problem, I look to see if she tried it the max times allowed. If not, then I know she was being lazy and I make her try again. If she maxed out and her score was less than 80% I clear out the ones she missed and make her re-do them. There have been times when she knew the correct answer and hit the wrong key (I look in her book that she works the problems out in) and I change the score for her. When she misses a problem I require her to watch the solution to that problem so she knows why she missed it and what she did wrong. The grade book also tells me if she viewed the video solution.

 

The Student Book

We haven’t always used the student book, which is optional. When we first started using Teaching Textbooks, a friend lent us the CDs and we could not afford the student book. When we started buying the set directly from the publisher, we opted to buy the student book. It was much easier for my daughter to work out the problems in her workbook versus a sheet of notebook paper. She watches the interactive lessons and often times does her work in the book then types in her answers for automatic grading.

After learning that Teaching Textbooks has a very high resale value, we were able to justify spending extra money on the student book. Really, you invest one time and then can turn around and sell it nearly at full retail value (less the student book, since it is consumable.) Then you can purchase next year’s curriculum with the money you made selling the previous year. I prefer to buy brand new directly from Teaching Textbooks so I don’t have to worry about scratched or damaged CDs, however, the company is so awesome that you can purchase an individual CD instead of the whole curriculum should you need to for just $15 and that includes shipping.

 

Automatic Grading

All of the new Teaching Textbooks CDs come with automatic grading except Pre-Calculus. Fortunately for us, I doubt we will ever get to that level, but eventually I expect that too will get a revision and have automatic grading. Regardless, you get an answer key with each grade level. When you purchase directly from Teaching Textbooks, you are getting the newest edition that has automatic grading. If you purchase your CDs used, be sure to check if they are the newest version or if you have to grade yourself. Personally, I prefer the automatic grading. I hate grading, so this is a treat for me!

Teaching Textbooks has the best customer service. When my friend lent me her 4th grade set for us to try out, I had to call them because the serial number had been activated too many times. I was so worried I would have to pay a fee or something. They simply game me a new number and I was on my way. Did you know that if you have exhausted all means for your child to grasp a concept and you need additional help you can actually CALL Teaching Textbooks for help? From the website: “Do you offer toll-free telephone support? Yes. The purpose of the Teaching Textbook™ is to provide students a way to learn math without an on-site teacher. This means that if the CDs don’t answer all your questions, we’ll have tutors available over the phone as a final backstop.”

In the end, I really cannot stress how much I wish we would have just stayed with Teaching Textbooks from the beginning. I have heard of others who also left Teaching Textbooks, only to have come back with regrets like mine. Don’t let that be you!!

Written by Carrie

Carrie

Carrie is the owner & operator of Homeschool Giveaways. She has been homeschooling for over a decade and has successfully graduated her first homeschooler. She has two girls and works side by side at home with her awesome husband. She has been saved by grace, fails daily, but continues to strive toward the prize of the high calling of being a daughter of the Most High God.

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