Category: Learning At Home

Online Math Curriculum for the Whole Family | a CTCMath Review

Online Math Curriculum for the Whole Family | a CTCMath Review

Have you been wondering about using an online math curriculum in your homeschool? We’ve been using the same textbook-based math program since we started homeschooling six years ago, so our entire family was excited to try something fresh and different.

I received a free trial of this product and was compensated for my time writing the review, but all opinions are my own!

I’ll be honest — I never expected to use an online math curriculum with our kids, but CTCMath has been a lifesaver for our family this year. Every spring, when the lessons in the math book get harder, teaching math becomes a headache for all of us. I’m raising a natural perfectionist, who wants everything to come easily … and even though we consistently work on our growth mindset and positive language, math is a bit of a trigger for her.

This year, we hit the frustration wall later than usual, and I give a large part of the credit to CTCMath. Both girls have been enjoying their daily practice on the iPad, which we have added to our traditional math lessons (textbooks, worksheets, and pencils) over the past two months.

Online Math Curriculum: Fun for the Whole Family

Why choose an online math curriculum?

Even though the myth persists that homeschoolers are unsocialized, we know how busy our kids are! The benefit of an online math curriculum is that our math lessons can go anywhere we go — without having to lug around a big textbook. Over the past two months, we’ve been able to log in to CTCMath at the library, in the car, and at Grandma’s house. Our softball season starts next week, and I am thrilled that we can get our math done during the 25-minute commute.

Overview of CTCMath

CTCMath is a web-based program, which allows our children to login from our home computer or use the iPad when we’re on the go.

Setting up a family account took hardly anytime at all, and my girls really enjoyed creating their own usernames and passwords. As the teacher/parent, I can login at any time to see my kids’ history and assign specific lessons for them to complete.

When a student logs in to CTCMath, they can complete assigned tasks or work on lessons of their own choosing. There are also a few simple games to practice problem-solving and math facts.

Each lesson has a short video that explains the new concept and demonstrates with a few different examples before giving a child a set of practice problems. The program gives instant feedback, letting a child see if they got the problem correct before moving onto the next one.

There is also a spiral-based review each week that covers a variety of skills and concepts with 20-25 problems. Since we jumped into the program in the middle of the year, there have been a few times I’ve had to quickly teach a concept in the weekly review, but that’s not been an issue at all.

Benefits of CTCMath

I’m rather old-fashioned when it comes to screen time for my kids, so the novelty of getting to “do math” on the computer or iPad is very enticing for both of them. The interface is easy to use, the instructions are very clear, and we have all seen clear progress from Day 1.

My favorite thing about CTCMath is that every child has access to the entire program, which means that each of my girls can work at their own pace. We can go back and review prior lessons or move ahead to the next grade level whenever they are ready.

Typically, we do math together, but children can also complete lessons independently. My husband even enjoys taking over CTCMath time on the days he’s home — and the four of us often end up on the couch together working through some of the trickier problem-solving lessons in the 5th grade section. Sometimes we “race” each other to find the answer first or work in teams so that our younger child can participate, too. Honestly, math has never been so much fun!

As we begin to think about purchasing curriculum for next school year, we’ll definitely be including the 12 Month Family Membership from CTCMath in our plans!

Note: Homeschooling families receive a massive 60% discount from regular price. Purchase any 12 Month Membership and receive a bonus 6 months for FREE! (total 18 months).

We all know how hard it is to switch curriculum sight unseen, so CTCMath offers a free trial for new families! You can also enter this giveaway for a 12 Month Membership.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Have you considered using an online math curriculum? Let me know your thoughts in the comment below!

Online Math Curriculum Benefits

Preschool at Home Curriculum Ideas

Preschool at Home Curriculum Ideas

Do I need preschool at home curriculum?

Did you know the number one search result for both “tot school” and “preschool at home” is all about choosing curriculum? Which program will BEST prepare my child for Kindergarten?

As I’ve said before:

The truth is, there is NO perfect curriculum that will make tot school or preschool at home a guaranteed success.

While I am not anti-curriculum, I don’t think it’s necessary for MOST families who choose to do tot school or preschool at home. Curriculum is simply meant to be a jumping off point for teachers (and homeschooling parents). All too often, we become more focused on teaching the next lesson in the book rather than what our child needs to learn next.

{text} Which preschool at home curriculum is best for my family?
I don’t typically recommend that families “wing it,” either.

Some programs, like Five In A Row or A Year of Playing Skillfully, have a natural and gentle approach to how young children learn best. We also offer affordable, themed Family Activity Guides in our Play School Club, a membership program for parents with children ages 2-6.

The Family Activity Guides take a “menu approach,” with 40 hands-on learning activities that can be chosen based on skill, interest, or time. Think of the guides as a learning BUFFET, where everyone can get exactly what they want (and need!) next. Best of all, each guide comes with a list of recommended books, material suggestions, and the support of a (former) elementary school teacher–ME!

Or maybe you’re more of a DIYer? There are lots of great Instagram feeds and Pinterest accounts filled with activity suggestions for you and your kids. The piecemeal approach can be fun as you follow your child’s interests and passions … though it can cost you more time and money.


Are you considering preschool at home for your toddler or preschooler? Check out our series:


There's more to homeschool preschool than "just playing." Get your questions answered from a former classroom teacher.

Is learning through play really enough?

If you are new around here, you should know I am a BIG FAN of learning through play!

Is it enough for preschoolers learning at home? Yes…and no.

Babies and toddlers discover most of the world through play (and their mouths). It really IS enough to choose a few, intentional open-ended toys, stock the play area with a variety of terrific board books, and spend lots of time reading, singing, and playing outside.

If you have a preschooler at home, I believe that child-directed play should take up a large portion of each day. However, some skills will need to be taught directly to children by a caring adult. Despite my greatest hopes that they would pick it up indirectly, I have had to teach both of my children how to:

  • brush their teeth
  • wipe their bottoms
  • wash their hands
  • tie their shoes
  • and ride a bike.

(But they picked up how to read on their own. Go figure!)

Knowing which skills to teach (and when) can be tricky for parents and caregivers who do not have a background in education. (And even for those of us who taught older children and didn’t take many ECE/EYFS classes in college!)

Developmental Milestones Checklist

During our preschool at home years, I created a list of nearly 100 developmental milestones for children birth-age 5. You can grab yours here!

Developmental Milestones Checklist {from birth through Kindergarten}

Using this milestones checklist can give you the wisdom you need to plan fun, hands-on learning activities that are perfectly, developmentally-appropriate for your child(ren).


Where do I find ideas for fun learning activities?

As I mentioned before, there are so many amazing parents sharing their ideas on Instagram and Pinterest. Use hashtags #totschool, #preschoolathome, and #learningathome to connect with other families who have similar styles to you!

You can also follow us on Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook for simple learning through play ideas — or join our FREE Resource Library for even more FUN!

If you’d like, we invite you to join us in The Play School Club for a free trial week. Download our latest Family Activity Guide, and see if it’s a good fit for your family.

(Simply use the code TRIAL here to join immediately!)

Try The Play School Club FREE for one week using the code TRIAL.

Preschool at Home Schedule {Free Printables}

Preschool at Home Schedule {Free Printables}

If you are just starting out on your learning at home journey, you might be wondering how on earth you’ll fill the LONG days with your little one at home. Or maybe you’re wondering how you’ll fit ALL the fun things you have planned into 24 hours! (Don’t worry–it takes both kinds of homeschooling families to make the world go ’round.)

This post will walk you through creating a preschool at home schedule that works for your family.


If your children are past the preschool phase, click here to see our post about creating a homeschool schedule for a new year.


Schedule vs. Rhythm

When we first started learning at home with our three-year-old, I had to adjust my expectations as a former classroom teacher.  I craved structure, but I quickly realized that no two days were going to be exactly the same (especially with a newborn, too).

While I loved the idea of doing math at 9:00, craft at 9:30, read-aloud at 10:00, etc., trying to stick to a strict schedule just left me and my preschooler feeling frustrated. We found that a rhythm worked better for our family:

  • breakfast
  • outside play
  • snack
  • read-aloud time
  • free play
  • lunch
  • nap/quiet time
  • invitation to play/tot tray/preschool lesson
  • dinner
  • family time
  • bedtime routine

On the days we needed to run errands or planned to meet with friends at the park, we would simply move things around. My little one always liked to know what was coming next, so we started each morning by writing out the day’s events on our chalkboard easel.


See our must-have supplies for preschool at home!


Learning through play is the best way!

Direct Teach vs. Free Play

It’s no secret that I’m a BIG fan of learning through play! I think toddlers and preschoolers need at least one big chunk of time for self-directed free play every day. However, some skills need to be taught directly (riding a bike and tying shoes come to mind) by a loving adult.

Each week, I would plan out a handful of activities that we could work on together. This might be sorting items by color, counting, working on letter recognition, or doing a science investigation. Once I had introduced the lesson, she could come back to the activity again and again during independent play time throughout the week.

Our best time for preschool at home lessons came directly after the girls’ afternoon nap. I would use their rest time to set up an activity, and we would get right to learning once both girls were awake. (The toddler often had a related “tot tray” or “invitation to play” that she could work on while I taught the older child.)


Download our favorite learning activities here.


Creating the Perfect Schedule for Your Homeschool Preschool

preschool at home | creating a schedule that works for your family!

Creating a Preschool at Home Schedule

If you’re anything like me, the temptation is to GO BIG: make an amazing, detailed daily schedule for your preschooler and dive right in! The trouble with going from no schedule to a full day, though, is that it’s very difficult to sustain.

My advice to new homeschooling families is to start with ONE thing and do it well before adding in the next element.

  • Make a list of ALL the things you WANT to do with your child, either daily or weekly. (My non-negotiables at the very beginning would be read-aloud and outside time.)
  • Ease into a new family rhythm by adding one new element each week.
  • Make a visual schedule using a chalkboard, whiteboard, pocket chart, or file folder. Talk about the day’s activities after breakfast so everyone is excited and on the same page.
  • Build in time for your child to be the boss of his/her schedule (free play). You can start out by giving your child two or three choices if this seems like too much freedom at first–or try toy rotation to limit decision fatigue.

In no time at all, with lots of parent consistency, our toddlers and preschoolers can learn to anticipate the daily routines and transition seamlessly from one activity to another.


preschool at home | free schedule templates

You can click here to download our FREE weekly planning page and schedule template from our Resource Library.


Creating a preschool at home schedule can be a fun and simple process, if you take it one step at a time!