Homeschool Math Curriculum: Mastery vs Spiral Based Math Programs

Mastery vs Spiral Based Math Curriculum. Which type of math curriculum should you use to homeschool your kids?

There are two basic approaches to math curriculum. Some curriculum is mastery based, while other curriculum uses a spiral based approach. With this being said, many parents love to use games, manipulatives, and even literature based math books to help their children develop math skills.

This article will help you understand the differences between the two approaches. You’ll also learn about various math curriculum that falls into each category. In addition, we’ll share some information about fun math games and literature based math books.

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Mastery Based Math Curriculum

With a mastery-based curriculum, the student must fully understand a concept before moving on.

Spiral Based Math Curriculum

With a spiral-based curriculum, the student is introduced to an idea, works on it for a while, and then moves on to other types of math problems. Later, the curriculum circles back around to the concept, the student reviews it and then goes a little deeper in their understanding of the math problem. This process is repeated until the student has a full understanding of the concept.

Mastery vs. Spiral Based Math Curriculum

In the video below, you’ll learn about different curriculum. You’ll also begin to understand the differences between mastery based math curriculum and a spiral based approach to math.

Examples of Mastery-Based Math Curriculum

A mastery-based approach focuses on a single concept for a length of time. For example, a child might work on multiplying three times each single-digit number for several weeks. Your child will master their 3’s before moving on to another number. Also, your child might do a variety of word problems that involve multiplying by three.

Do you have a child who is working on multiplication? Quick, ask your son or daughter the following question.

“If you had seven friends over to your birthday party and they each wanted three pieces of pizza, how many pieces of pizza would you need?”

Did your child know the answer? If so, then they’ve mastered this multiplication fact and know how to apply the concept.

Here are a few examples of mastery-based curricula:

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Examples of Spiral-Based Curriculum

With a spiral-based curriculum, your child might work on many types of math problems in a day. They might work on addition, subtraction, telling time, and measuring the perimeter of a square all in one day.

It’s likely that most of the items are review items with only one new concept being presented at a time.

Now, let’s look at a few examples of spiral-based curricula:

Improve Your Child's Math Skills with Homeschool Math Manipulatives. Blog. Podcast. Video

Elephant Learning Math Curriculum: Interview with Aditya Nagrath

Is your child behind or struggling with math? If so, then you’ll want to learn more about the Elephant Learning math app and curriculum. In this interview with the founder, Aditya Nagrath, you’ll pick up on some ideas that you can use with any curriculum.  

Elephant Learning uses their own methodology that combines both a mastery based approach with a spiral based approach. According to Aditya Nagrath, “Elephant Learning uses a spiral based approach as students answer incorrectly. Having said that, students must show mastery to get to new topics.”

Listen to the podcast interview with Adityah Nagrath.

Mastery vs. Spiral Based Math Curriculum

So, which is better, a spiral approach or a mastery based curriculum? Here’s our take. It doesn’t really matter how you teach your children math, it matters that they learn how to use and apply their math skills in the real world.

Whether you use curriculum, games, or a real-world approach is up to you. Just make sure your children learn the skills that they will need in the future.

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Fun Family Math Games

Playing fun and educational math-centered games is an excellent way to help your kids improve their math skills.

Tenzi is an incredibly versatile dice game. It’s not necessarily intended for educational purposes, but it can certainly be used to help your child improve their math skills.

In other words, you can have some family fun, and your kids won’t even realize they’re practicing math.

Learn more about Tenzi here.

Discover more fun math games.

Literature Based Math: Life of Fred

Parents and kids alike love the Life of Fred series. You’ll find books for kindergarten kids to young adults who are entering their college years.

The Life of Fred series is known to be easy, entertaining, and downright fun to read. In the Amazon reviews, parents rave about these books. They say their kids LOVE them, that they don’t have to prod them to read, and that kids begin to “just get math.”

Head on over to Amazon and read the reviews for yourself!

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Teaching Textbooks Math Curriculum

Teaching Textbooks is an award-winning, homeschool math curriculum offering Math 3 through Pre-Calculus that allows students to learn totally independently.

Teaching Textbooks also provides unique benefits like hints for tough problems, clever “buddies” for encouragement along the way, and automated grading that allows the parent or teacher to see at any time how the student is progressing.

This program takes the job of teaching off of the parents and encourages the child to succeed at math!

Free tutoring is available on the phone for students, and placement tests are available online to determine the most appropriate level of math for your student.

You can learn more at Teaching Textbooks website or buy pre-owned curriculum on Amazon.

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Connection Before Curriculum

Regardless of whether you use a spiral or mastery-based math curriculum, we suggest that your relationship with your child come before the curriculum. If your child is not grasping a concept and is in tears, then it might be time to slow down or try a different approach.

Learn more about why you might want to focus on connection before curriculum.

Connection Before Curriculum

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