If you’re like me, you read more than one review when considering a homeschool curriculum purchase.
And, if you’re like me, you get frustrated when the first half of every review repeats the same basic product info.
So, in this review, I’ll skip all the basics. This won’t be “All You Need to Know” about CTC Math. And it won’t be the “Complete Ultimate Comprehensive Guide” to homeschool math curricula.
In this CTC Math Mini Review, I’ll assume you’re already semi-familiar with the program and you’re just trying to decide if it will work for your family. (If that’s not the case, check out the CTC Math website to see what it’s all about or read Cathy Duffy’s review for a quick summary. Then come back here for my two cents.)
Our Experience with CTC Math
We began using CTC Math for my oldest son when he was in 5th grade. He needed a change of pace. We’d been using Math-U-See since kindergarten and he was getting frustrated with the mastery approach. He also didn’t like handwriting and wanted to try something computer-based to minimize the physical writing he’d have to do.
Enter CTC Math.
Our first impressions were very good. And, of course, once his siblings saw him using the computer for math, they wanted to do CTC, too. So, I went ahead and got the family subscription and my kids have completed the following CTC levels over the past couple years:
- Youngest (age 6) – K and 1st grade CTC levels
- Middle (age 10) – 4th and 5th grade levels
- Oldest (age 13) – 5th and 6th grade levels, Basic Math & Pre-Algebra, Elementary Measurement, and Elementary Geometry (CTC’s Jr. High levels)
Here’s what we’ve liked and not liked about this curriculum:
CTC Math Pros
- My kids liked the teacher. They enjoyed the Australian accent and we all liked his straightforward and friendly manner.
- This is a complete, comprehensive math course. I can’t speak for the high school grades, but the elementary and middle school levels we used were thorough. You wouldn’t have to buy any additional supplemental materials if you use this for homeschool math.
- CTC is very efficient. Lessons are short and to the point. Zero – and I mean ZERO – time is wasted on chit-chat.
- There are a lot of administrative options for the parent/teacher. When it comes to assigning lessons and quizzes, setting passing grade minimums, and creating review sets, it’s easy to customize CTC to work for your family. You can manage things as much or little as you want to.
- It’s easy to stay informed about your students’ grades and progress. Automated emails and clear charts and graphs make it easy for you to stay on top of things (even without logging into your parent account). It can be a very “open-and-go” experience if you want it to be.
- The speaker icon makes the lowest levels of CTC useable for non-readers. The first year my youngest daughter used the program, she wasn’t reading fluently yet. We both appreciated that she could click the little speaker icon for the questions to be read to her. She liked that she could do her math all by herself like her older brothers.
- The lessons are presented well. Explanations are very clear for the most part. But see below for a couple exceptions.
- My kids enjoyed the certificates and confetti. In my opinion, this program has just the right amount of reward graphics. A perfect score gets a little confetti, but nothing too over the top. And the certificates and ribbon graphics were just enough for my kids to feel good about their achievements without being too flashy and distracting.
CTC Math Cons
- We sometimes found the lessons to be repetitive. This could just be the nature of a semi-spiral approach as compared to the Math-U-See mastery approach we were used to. But my oldest son felt like he learned how to find the area of a triangle at least four separate times between 5th and 7th grade.
- At times, the amount of coverage of topics seemed unbalanced. Not too often, but once in a while in the middle school lessons, my son and I thought some easier topics were covered too much and some of the harder ones not quite enough.
- The difficulty level, especially in middle school levels, seemed inconsistent. This overlaps with the last point but is kind of its own issue. The lessons sometimes jumped from “that’s a piece of cake” to “what the wha???” very quickly. This made my son nervous. Just when he thought he really understood things… wham! A difficult lesson sandwiched between simple ones.
- The lessons were TOO short and efficient. Yes, I know I listed efficiency as a “pro”. But once we got past elementary math, Oldest and I both felt the lessons could use a smidgen less efficiency. Like maybe a 30 second introduction to explain why that topic is relevant or a quick joke to lighten the mood. The lessons really just jump straight into the material – sometimes even directly into the example questions!
- Computerized grading didn’t work well for my kids. None of my kids like instant, all-or-none grading. This isn’t unique to CTC – it’s just the nature of computer grading. There is no partial credit. There is no “undo” if you accidentally hit enter before fixing a typo. An unfortunate computer glitch on a 10 question quiz drops you to 90%, and there’s no way around it (other than taking the same quiz perfectly a half-dozen more times to try and raise your average… very painful to watch, trust me).
Overall, CTC worked really well for us for over two years and I’m glad we tried it. If I could do it over again, I’d still have used it when we did. It helped us out of some math ruts, gave my kids experience with another type of learning platform and a new teaching style, and helped all three of them move ahead of their grade levels in math.
With that said, my kids and I have decided to make a change for next year.
Ironically, the main reason we’re switching from CTC is also the main reason we switched to it in the first place. At that time, I needed something easy to implement where my kids could work independently and efficiently with minimal writing.
But, at this point, I think all of my kids need to get back to traditional pencil and paper math for a while. We like the video teaching aspect of CTC, but the computer-based questions interface isn’t working for us anymore. And, as much as I love efficiency, I want to make sure math isn’t becoming a rushed, check-the-box kind of experience for them.
So, that’s our story with CTC Math. Will it work for your family? If you think it might, I’d recommend using their free trial to try before you buy. Based on our experience with it, here’s who I think might like using CTC:
CTC Math may work well if your child…
- doesn’t like long math lessons
- likes to get right to the point
- wants to work ahead at their own fast pace
- needs extra practice in certain topics or needs to jump around between traditional grade levels
- likes to work on the computer
- isn’t thrown off by an Australian accent and terms
- wants to avoid traditional workbooks or textbooks
You might reconsider using CTC Math if your child…
- will be anxious about submitting their answers due to the immediate, computerized, all-or-none grading
- prefers a more personal experience (either an in-person teacher or a video teacher who adds more anecdotes, jokes, introductory explanations, etc.)
- likes to have multiple approaches or explanations to problems presented
- is expecting a lot of bells and whistles or a video-game-like experience (there are a few “Speed Skills” games included, but they are an optional side feature, not part of the main lessons)
Bonus CTC Math Tips
If you decide to give CTC a try, here are a few tips I would’ve like to have known when we started using it!
- They have a complete spreadsheet showing all of their lessons for every grade but it took me a while to find it. You can download it for free on their FAQ page in the answer to the “Which grade levels are taught in CTC Math” FAQ question. This is helpful if you’re trying to learn about their scope and sequence before you buy. I also printed out the list and had my kids use it to check off their lessons, track their progress, and see what pace they’d need to work at to finish by a certain deadline.
- When CTC reviewers say you can “jump around” within the program since all grade levels K-12 are included, that is technically true. But keep in mind, math is still a sequential subject – lessons build on each other. I confirmed with CTC customer service that the program is intended to be completed in the order the lessons are presented. Though your first grader, who loves geometry, could access the fifth grade geometry section, they might be frustrated when they find they don’t know enough foundational arithmetic to understand the fifth grade geometry lessons.
- The first year we used CTC, I logged in weekly to assign specific lessons, tasks, and review sets. It didn’t take too long, but it was one more thing on my to do list. The second year, I took a more hands-off approach. I just told my kids how many lessons per week they needed to average to keep up a good pace. I assigned some review sets at the beginning of the year (setting due dates throughout the school year) and then I didn’t have to assign or manage anything the rest of the year. So, the point is, if you want to assign specific things you can, but you don’t have to. Either way works with this program.
I hope this Mini Review was helpful! If you’re ready to tackle another subject, you can find reviews and info about other programs we’ve used and loved here:
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