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The Best MATH PROGRAM for Kids {and Moms} Who HATE MATH

**Math-U-See**

**Horizons Math**

**Life of Fred**

**Christian Light Education**

**Learn Math Fast**

**Math Lessons for a Living Education**

You might be thinking this is a list of available homeschool math programs, and in a way, you would be right.

But, really, this is a list of math we have used in our homeschool.

And by used, I mean, actually used for a decent amount of time during a school year.

And, the best part of this, is that all of them were for **ONE KID**. Yep, six different math programs for one kid.

He’s an only child and **HE** **HATES MATH**.

He didn’t hate it from the very beginning when it involved counting blocks and tracing numbers. But as soon as it involved computing problems, even as simple as single digit addition, **HE HATED IT**. He could do it but **HE HATED IT**.

And, the way he felt about math resulted in

**TEARS**,

**FRUSTRATIONS** and

more than a few whispered

**SWEARWORDS**

from me.

As you probably know, if your child hates doing something, it’s really easy to start hating the experience of asking that child to do it.

So, soon enough, **I HATED MATH** too.

But, we all know math is necessary to learn so we didn’t give up.

But, we did try out a whole bunch of math programs.

We started with **Math-U-See** and stuck with that for a few years. It was great for its hands on blocks and visual number street concept. I also loved the way the pages were laid out with their spacious work areas. And, the fact that Steve Demme taught all of the lessons was helpful. But somewhere along the line, Steve started using a strategy that made no sense to me, which meant I could not help the kid with it, and since **HE HATES MATH**, he always needed my help. So, I decided to make a switch mid-year.

We switched to **Horizons Math**. I thought the kid would like the colorful pages and that I would like the spiral approach. But, the pages were crammed with too many problems and for a kid who **HATES MATH** and is a messy writer, more space and a better layout were necessary. But, we finished out the school year with it and then tossed the half-used book into the trash.

Next up was **Life of Fred**. I had heard so many great things about this unconventional program with its story approach and real-life applications. I decided we’d give it a go during the summer months. But, with its unusual approach, I figured we needed to start at the beginning. So we started with Apples….and didn’t get too far. Neither of us really enjoyed the stories; we found them weird. And, there was simply not enough practice to accompany the stories. So, that was the end of Fred.

When the fall rolled around, I was searching for yet another math program. A fellow homeschool mom suggested **Christian Light Education**. The small booklets were appealing to me and I thought would be less overwhelming to my son. So, we did the placement test, which resulted in him being more than a grade level behind. Though I didn’t like that fact, I knew it must be true. After all, **HE HATES MATH** and we were now on our fourth math program {in six years.} So, I swallowed my pride, and ordered the level that the placement test suggested. But, apparently, I did not swallow **ALL** of my pride, because I was determined to catch him up within that year. So, we doubled up on math. Yeah. For a kid who **HATES MATH**, that was a really dumb move on this mama’s part. But, he’s a compliant kid and did what I asked….with lots of frustration, tears and whispered swearwords {from both of us, truth be told.}

And we actually used CLE for a few levels. He was catching up, but still hating it, and then I was offered a full set of **Learn Math Fast** for free and I took it. It is promoted as a program that works for kids who don’t like math, find math difficult to grasp or need to catch up. That was surely a description of my kid so we gave it a go! But, it is very clearly designed to start with Volume One {they don’t use grade levels} and work through the rest of the volumes quickly {that’s the “fast” part of the title, I guess.} Well, it didn’t work. Their approach was totally different to what he had learned with the other eighty-two programs he had tried {okay, it was only five by this point, but it felt closer to eighty-two}, so that program was abandoned fairly quickly and the remainder of the set was passed on to another family.

So, now we’re sitting a few months into a new school year and, yet again, need another new math program. So, **Math Lessons for a Living Education **it was! The name alone promotes a concept of learning math from the perspective of using it in real life. And it had stories to go along with it. At this point, I was so tired of math, that I figured if he could just learn how to use it in real life, I’d be satisfied and we could move on with life. So, that’s what we did for seventh grade. And we both hated it. The stories seemed totally random and didn’t really incorporate math into real-life situations and they certainly didn’t lend themselves to any type of excitement or anticipation about reading the next one. So, we finished one book of that during 7th Grade but I knew I needed to find something else for 8th Grade and beyond.

And, then the kid announced his firm intention of being a zoologist when he grew up. And I knew that meant that I needed to make a very specific and rigorous plan for his High School science **and math**.

So, back to the drawing board I went. Or at least, I started to go. But then God took care of all of my math worries and woes by sending me on a quick and unexpected trip multiple states away close to the end of that summer.

While in California for a funeral, I stayed with my favorite auntie. This favorite auntie happens to be my ultimate role model for homeschooling. She homeschooled all of my cousins long before it was even legal to do so. And, in the end, she produced five well-adjusted, gainfully-employed, mathematically-literate adults.

Why I hadn’t approached her about math before is beyond me. Maybe because it had been two decades since she had actually taught my cousins so I assumed she’d be out of touch with today’s programs? I don’t know. But, I should’ve known she’d have the perfect suggestion for us because, really, does math change?

You can add manipulatives and color pictures. You can add DVDs, video streaming or live instructors. But, does the actual math really change? No.

When I explained where my son was in math and where he needed to go, she immediately got up, walked into her garage and came back with the math book that all five of my cousins used in 8th Grade:

**Saxon ****Algebra 1/2**

I took that old, worn, hardbound book and opened it. On the inside cover I discovered the signatures of all my cousins and the dates they used the book. It made me think of when I was in school and had been assigned a textbook for the year.

But beyond the sweet nostalgia of realizing that a second generation would be using that book, was the sudden “ah ha” moment of what my son needed. He just needed straightforward, simply presented normal math.

So, I packed that Saxon book into my luggage with a newfound excitement for the upcoming school year.

And then I got home and sat down to plan the lessons out and got overwhelmed.

It was straightforward all right. I knew it was what he needed to finally set a firm foundation in math and get him ready for the rigors of Algebra, Geometry and Calculus in high school. But, it was so straightforward that I knew he would need more than just the plainly written daily lessons for him to actually learn. And, now that we were dealing with the beginnings of advanced math concepts, I knew I could not teach it.

And then God stepped in again. I wish I could recall exactly where I read about **Nicole the Math Lady**. I think it was in a FaceBook group for homeschoolers. But, I am not sure. But, no matter where it was, I am positive that God placed **Nicole** right there in my path for a very specific purpose. I had never ever heard of **Nicole** before. Ever. But, I will be forever grateful that I discovered her when I did.

**Nicole** **TEACHES** Saxon math lessons to your kids. For a very low subscription fee, you can log into her videos and watch her go through **EACH LESSON**. She does it efficiently with nothing but a big whiteboard, some colored markers, total clarity and a sweet smile.

It was like hiring a one-on-one private and highly qualified teacher to tackle the one subject that was hated in our house.

The kid and I watched the daily lessons together {so I knew what he was supposed to be doing and could help him correct mistakes of his written assignments} and then he would do his daily assignment. Every day, **Nicole** saved the day in our home. I’m not kidding. I cannot adequately praise her approach or thank her enough for her lessons.

After one year with Saxon and **Nicole**, my son is ready to take on Algebra for Ninth Grade!

And, for once, it’s just the middle of the summer and we’ve already got Math all figured out: **Saxon Algebra **with **Nicole the Math Lady**.

**If you are interested in “hiring” Nicole the Math Lady, you can find the details by clicking on her name…just pick one of the 54 times I dropped it for you. Oh, heck, let’s make it a nice round 55 times because, in case you didn’t notice, I LOVE Nicole! **

The kid may never love math, but I know we will have much fewer tears, frustrations and swear words with this approach to math.

And I know this approach will give him what is necessary to take the required science courses in high school.

And I know this approach will have him all prepped and ready to roll for college in four years.

**FEB 2021 UPDATE: We are now half-way through his Ninth Grade year and the kid is rocking Algebra! And, really, all of the credit goes to Nicole! Not only does she offer easy-to-understand videos for every lesson in his Saxon Algebra 1 textbook, she now also offers online grading. So, she does ***ALL THE MATH WORK* for me!

*ALL THE MATH WORK*for me!

Erin says

I like Math Lessons for a Living Education so far, but we’re at the end of the road with that. I’ll have to consider going back to Saxon (we used it for K) with NICOLE. 😉

Katherine Wolfe says

Oh, does MLLE end at elementary? I haven’t even looked that far. But, I am glad it worked well for you. But, yeah, if you have to change…ya know I love my NICOLE!

Sacha says

I am so grateful that there are so many different learning programs that we can choose from for our children these days! Thanks for sharing these great math programs.

JA says

Ha ha! Your post sounds like my math adventures with my now 12 yo! I am currently in the midst of finding yet another math curriculum for her since the one we finally found that worked for her ended at grade 5.

We took a little break in the meantime and are doing an entertaining economics course (free) on fisheconomics.org which has fun cartoons and then a bunch of activities to go a long with it. It’s designed for a high school classroom but we’ve been adapting it and it’s fun.

Nativa Rodeback says

I appreciate this post so much, thank you for your suggestions.