I've heard so many positive reports of families using CTC Math for their homeschool math curriculum, that I was excited we were able to review the CTC 12 month family plan for the Schoolhouse Review Crew. I was curious to see how well it would work with our satellite internet, how easy it was to navigate, and how much my children would like it.
So, how did it work with our rural internet?
I initially set up accounts for both my 9 year old daughter and my 11 year old son. I started testing it with my daughter, first. I wanted to be sure it was going to work with our satellite internet before getting my son's hopes up. We don't use much online curriculum, because of our rural internet. We have a basic satellite package, with limits on the amount of internet we can use. When we cross our limits, we're scrolled back to slower internet for the rest of the month.
Most of the time, we didn't have problems getting CTC Math to load for my daughter, even when we were scrolled back. There were some rainy days and a few days after we were scrolled back, that we couldn't get CTC Math to load. This is an issue with our internet, not the website, but I wanted to mention it in case others who have rural internet were wondering how it would work for them. You can try out the free demo at the CTC Math website, if you're concerned about your internet situation.
Note: For some reason on our new Windows 8.1 laptop, I couldn't get CTC Math to load on Firefox. I used Chrome, without difficulties, instead.
Once I had my daughter started on CTC Math, I realized I had a different problem. We were sharing the only computer, and she liked it too much to try to fit my son in for the testing period, too.
So how easy is it to navigate?
Once I logged in as a family, I was able to set up accounts (including their password and username selection) for each of my students. The 12 month family plan lets you set up accounts for each of your students from Kindergarten through Trigonometry for $118.80 per year. That is really the best online math curriculum price I've seen. Once a child has an account, they can access their grade level, as well as the ones above and below them. If they need to backtrack for some review, it can be done easily by selecting an earlier grade, the content area, and then honing in on the particular concept they're struggling with.
My daughter was able to log herself into the student area, select her grade, and then the broad category she was in, and the sub-category. Once she did that, it took her right to where she left off, showed her video lessons, gave her practice problems, and tracked her grades. To keep it simple, she just tackled each lesson and subject in order. She didn't jump from category to category, but started at the top, and worked her way down.
She was frustrated at first that she repeatedly earned low scores on the first set of practice problems. But she soon realized her grades improved as she continued to practice the concept. Despite her initial low percentage scores, her overall score is a 94, which I am able to see in my parent section, as well as in the weekly report they send to my email.
Each time my daughter completed a section, she earned a certificate with a gold, platinum, or silver medal, depending on her scores. I received an email notification of every certificate she earned. One weekend afternoon, she voluntarily worked on CTC Math for well over an hour, and earned 3 certificates. On a weekend. In the summer. Voluntarily. She was proud of her awards!
So how did my children like it?
My daughter just finished third grade math, so I had her working on the 3rd grade level to help review and solidify her understanding before she moves onto 4th grade in August. She enjoyed working on CTC Math and often asked me if she could please use CTC Math right now. She has always needed encouragement and reassurance while working on her math, and she did occasionally ask me to come sit beside her or help her with a new concept on CTC Math. I'd walk her through a problem, coach her a bit on the next one, and then watch her work on a few before I'd walk away. Other children might not need that extra support, but she does. It was a hit for her, though I had to encourage her not to rush through video lessons and not to feel bad if her first scores were lower than she hoped.
I like the way CTC Math is set up. It's easy to use and a student can move up a grade mid-year without problems. The weekly emails for parents, as well as the certificate-earned emails helped me see how she was doing and reminded me to keep an eye on her grade each week. Even though I had to sit and encourage her sometimes, and walk her through an assignment, it still removed the burden of teaching - and especially GRADING! - from me.
The 12 month family package for homeschoolers is the first online math program that I felt would be an affordable option for our budget. For us, we probably couldn't rely on it as our sole math curriculum, because of our rural internet and lack of multiple computers. But it would still be a helpful supplement for review and video-explanations. If we viewed our math as a 12 month subject, we could probably get through a whole level in a year even with our flaky internet, but we'd still be battling the shared computer issue with six homeschool students.
Even though it probably won't work for our family as a main curriculum, I can see how it would work quite well for those in town with cable or DSL internet and more than one computer. I would recommend that anyone looking for an online math curriculum or supplement sign up for the free trial. See how it works for you and your family. I'm sure your kids will love it, too!
Follow CTC Math on facebook. They post educational ideas as well as CTC Math news. As always, check out other Crew reviews by hopping over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog.