Tag: homeschool

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.

5 Winter Learning Activities for Kids {FREE Printable}

5 Winter Learning Activities for Kids {FREE Printable}

Hooray, it’s winter!

I know it’s not common, but I LOVE winter. (I actually really love celebrating all the seasons, after living in Texas most of my life.) Winter is such a fun time to observe nature with our kids: watching squirrels and bunnies frolic in the snow, tracking footprints, and watching the days get shorter and then longer again. Whether you are doing preschool at home or just looking for awesome ideas to beat boredom with your toddlers, you’ll love these winter learning activities!

Scroll down for our freebie!

In case you missed the introduction to our invitation to play series (click here), here’s how we structure these fun, simple activities at our house.  

It’s the middle of the afternoon. Mom is trying to help the older child finish up her school work/homework before making dinner. Younger child is spinning around nearby or doing something quietly destructive in the next room. Mom pulls out an invitation to play to keep everyone calm and connected.

An invitation to play is an easy, open-ended activity. It uses just a few materials found around the house, like measuring cups, straws, old magazines, etc. Keeping these activities set aside for special times keeps them interesting and intentionally engaging for when you need 10-15 minutes to get something else done! Best of all, these simple materials can be mixed and matched for countless other activities throughout the year.

This week, I have a freebie for you: a printable with FIVE winter-themed invitations to play!

You also get:

  • a materials list
  • winter book recommendations for snowy days
  • and a coupon code for our winter Family Activity Guides, full of hands-on learning fun for kids ages 2-6!

5 Winter Learning Activities | FREE Download

Click here for your Winter Learning Activities download.

Access this and all our other freebies immediately!

How do YOU feel about winter? Leave a comment below and let me know!