My daughter isn’t strong in math, so we’re trying Teaching Textbooks for the rest of this year. So far, we’ve loved it and we’ll continue for her grade 7 coming up. I’m giving my review of the product but should be clear that so far, we are really just using it as a way of reviewing this past year and to firm up her skills before going forward. I’ll update or re-review after next year when we are tackling more new material than we are now.
Teaching Textbooks is a math curriculum that runs from grade 3 up to pre-calculus and geometry. It’s a computer-based system that uses voice instruction and graphic animations to teach lessons and to quiz students. Correct answers and mistakes are recorded in the teacher/parent gradebook so you can see how your kid’s doing without having to watch the entire lesson with them.
Here are my thoughts on Teaching Textbooks as a secular math curriculum program, with a few screenshots at the end.
Things I Liked
My biggest love with Teaching Textbooks is that every single question can be explained by the “teacher” when answered wrong. Seeing the correct answer in an answer key isn’t that helpful when you don’t understand the process. In TT, you can have the narrator walk you through the entire problem, with graphics, for every question in the book.
Since we are using this grade as a review, there are some questions we just didn’t need to deal with because she didn’t need the extra help. She can skip over them without any penalty. So even if she skips a third of the questions in one lesson, she can still earn a 100% if she gets the rest correct.
It’s extremely repetitive, and would probably annoy kids who get concepts quickly. Each lesson has less than half the questions pertaining directly to that lesson, the rest are all pulled from earlier lessons. Great to reinforce concepts though.
A small thing I loved was that there is a mix of responses when she gets something correct. An enthusiastic voice will say “good job” or “that’s exactly right”. It feels more like real praise.
I have heard some people complain that Teaching Textbooks is a little soft and tends to run about a grade “behind”. For some, that can just mean having to buy a grade ahead of where they need to be. But since my daughter is already struggling, I love that it’s not too rigorous and takes its time.
Things I Didn’t
I found that some of the word problems were really the same problem, over and over again. The whole point of a word problem is to figure out the math when presented in real-life sentence form. There is no reason to have virtually the same problem given day after day. Not all word problems, but I found they tended to be very similar and lacked the variety I would have liked.
The cost of Teaching Textbooks is a little steep and but I do have to admit that it’s worth the price. I didn’t find that the workbook was all that necessary since you have to enter all the answers in the computer. We’re really just using it as a really large scratch pad. I think I will save a little money next year and just get the CDs.
Oh, and speaking of the CDs, we found it a little limiting to run this on a computer with a CD drive. It’s not exactly obsolete but fewer and fewer things are needed CDs these days and only one computer in our house has a CD drive. I hear they are working on a downloadable version, which we would love.
Take a Look
I am loving this program and am definitely going ahead next year. Only time will tell if it can help her understand new topics as well as it has to reinforce older ones. When I get a month or so into next year, I may update or add to this review.
You can purchase Teaching Textbooks from their website, with most grades available with or without the workbook.