14 Actually Engaging Homeschool Math Curriculum Options

Research shows homeschoolers tend to struggle in math compared to typically schooled peers. Which math curriculum you choose can impact your learner's success in high school and college.

Emily Veno
May 19, 2023

Prisma is the world’s most engaging virtual school that combines a fun, real-world curriculum with powerful mentorship from experienced coaches and a supportive peer community.

The Homeschool Math Struggle

Recent studies have highlighted an interesting pattern in the homeschooling universe: a 'math gap.' This term refers to the tendency for homeschooled students, on average, to score a bit lower in mathematics on various standardized tests compared to their traditionally schooled peers.

We’ve seen this trend at Prisma. We have a mix of learners who have switched to our virtual school from a traditional in-person school, and learners who have been homeschooled for their educational careers. We often find that homeschoolers excel in reading, but score a few years behind their actual grade level in math, or are missing key math concepts.

At Prisma, we don’t believe standardized tests are the most important measure of learning, or that the knowledge they assess is necessarily relevant to real life. However, we do believe the ability to solve math problems is an important skill for future academic success, access to in-demand STEM careers, and increased critical thinking.

Now, before you worry, remember this: every homeschool journey is unique, and averages don't tell the whole story. Some homeschooled students excel in math! But these findings give us an opportunity to consider how we can make our math lessons even more effective.

Why Homeschool Math Curriculum Might Not Always Be as Successful as Traditional School

We can make some informed predictions about why homeschooled students might struggle more with math compared to other subjects:

  1. Math requires consistent and cumulative learning: Math is a subject that builds on previous knowledge. If a concept is not well understood, it can affect the understanding of future topics. This cumulative nature might pose more difficulties in a homeschooling setting if there are gaps in the curriculum or the student's understanding.
  2. Math teaching may require specialized knowledge: It can require more specialized knowledge to teach math effectively compared to other subjects. Parents who homeschool might find it challenging to teach math if they don't have a strong background in the subject themselves.
  3. Math can benefit from classroom dynamics: Some research suggests that group problem-solving and peer interaction can enhance math learning. Homeschooled students may miss out on these opportunities.
  4. Lack of appropriate resources or approaches: Homeschooling families may struggle to find suitable homeschool math curriculum, or they may not have access to varied instructional approaches that could help make math more accessible and engaging.

So, what does this all mean for homeschool parents as they plan math curriculum? It's a rallying cry to make math as engaging, enjoyable, and effective as possible in our homeschooling journey. We live in an era where STEM skills are becoming increasingly important, so let's embrace this challenge head-on.

In this post, we’ll explore different ways to teach math and learn math at different grade levels, keeping the needs of your learners at the forefront.

Questions to Consider When Selecting a Homeschool Math Curriculum

  1. What is my child's current proficiency in math? Use standardized tests, online quizzes, or a tutor's assessment to determine your child's current level. These tools will help identify any gaps in knowledge and areas of strength. At Prisma, we use NWEA MAP, and we also recommend IXL’s assessment.
  2. What is my child's preferred learning style? Spend time observing your child. Do they enjoy reading books, watching videos, doing hands-on experiments, or talking through a problem? Any effective math program should have a mix of methods, though, since all kids need multiple modes of learning to understand math concepts.
  3. Does the curriculum align with my educational goals for my child? Do you plan to homeschool all the way through high school, or do you want your child to move to traditional school for upper grades? If you want them to be able to easily transition into mainstream school or attend college, you should select a homeschool math curriculum that aligns to Common Core (used in nearly all schools) and keeps pace with grade-level requirements.
  4. How much time can I dedicate to teaching math? Be realistic about your schedules. Knowing how much time you can devote to teaching math will help you decide between a curriculum that requires heavy parental involvement in delivering lesson plans and one that encourages more independent study through workbooks, video lessons, or online programs.
  5. Is the curriculum adaptable? Read reviews from other homeschooling parents or reach out to the curriculum publisher directly. Ask about the flexibility of pacing and the ability to adjust the level of difficulty within the curriculum. Online math courses or adaptive technology are often more adaptable than teaching textbooks.
  6. Does the curriculum include real life applications of math? Look for lessons that tie mathematical concepts to real-world scenarios. At Prisma, learners end each math mission by solving a real-world, hands-on math problem; and collaboratively solve problems with peers at their level in our math workshops.
  7. What support is available? Look for information on support services, such as access to a teacher, helplines, online forums, or FAQ sections. Reviews from other homeschool parents can also give you a sense of the quality and availability of support.
  8. What is your budget? Decide what you're comfortable spending on a math curriculum. Costs vary widely. Many homeschool parents choose to splurge a little more on math curriculum given the challenges with teaching math outlined above.
  9. What do other homeschooling parents say about this curriculum? Join local or online homeschooling groups where you can ask for curriculum recommendations or ask for personal experiences with a math program you’re considering.

Remember, the flexibility of homeschooling allows for adjustments as you discover more about your child's evolving needs and interests. Don't be afraid to experiment to find the best fit.

However, keep in mind that since math is cumulative, switching curriculum choices frequently could leave your child with math skills gaps.

Should You Use Common Core Standards in Homeschool?

The Common Core State Standards in Mathematics (CCSSM) introduced not just a new list of mathematical concepts and skills that students are expected to learn, but also a different philosophy about how math should be taught and understood.

Traditional math instruction, which we’re familiar with from our own schooling, often involved the rote memorization of math facts, formulas, and procedures, and generally prioritized getting the correct answer.

In contrast, the philosophy behind Common Core math emphasizes deep understanding of math concepts, problem-solving, and analytical thinking. It's about teaching kids to understand why math works the way it does, not just how to execute procedures or apply formulas.

For example, instead of just memorizing that 5 x 3 = 15 using flash cards, a student learning with Common Core-aligned methods might use visual aids and manipulatives to understand that this multiplication fact is equivalent to adding five groups of three together.

While this approach is designed to give students a more solid foundation in math and better prepare them for real-world problem solving, it can sometimes look unfamiliar to parents who learned math in a more traditional way. Parents might see diagrams, drawings, and explanations where they would expect to see straightforward calculations. It's not uncommon for parents to feel a bit puzzled by Common Core math methods.

When deciding whether to choose a Common Core-aligned math curriculum for your homeschool, consider the following:

Common Core Alignment Advantages

  1. Consistency: If your child transitions back into a public or private school at some point, a curriculum that's aligned with Common Core can help make the transition smoother, as the material they were learning at home will be consistent with what's being taught in school.
  2. Benchmarking: Common Core standards allow you to gauge your child’s progress against a set of nationally recognized benchmarks, which can be helpful in ensuring your child is on track with their peers.
  3. Preparation for standardized tests: Many standardized tests, including college entrance exams like the SAT and ACT, have aligned their content with Common Core. A Common Core-aligned curriculum can help prepare your child for these tests.

Other Math Approaches Advantages

  1. Flexibility: If you opt for a non-Common Core math curriculum, you might have more flexibility to tailor your teaching methods and content to your child’s individual needs, interests, and learning style.
  2. Greater depth or alternative methods: Some non-Common Core curricula may allow for greater depth in certain areas or introduce alternative mathematical methods and philosophies that you feel may be more beneficial for your child.
  3. Alignment with personal beliefs or values: If you have concerns about the content, teaching methods, or philosophy behind Common Core, a non-Common Core curriculum allows you to choose a math curriculum that aligns more closely with your personal beliefs or values.

The Best Online Math Programs


Cost: $129-$199 per year

Grade Levels: 6-12

Approach: ALEKS is a personalized learning platform that adapts to each student's individual needs. It uses a mastery-based approach, which means that students only move on to the next level once they have mastered the current level.

Pros: ALEKS has been proven through research to be highly effective at helping students learn math. It also provides excellent data and insight into progress.

Cons: ALEKS is expensive, and can also be a little dry compared to more engaging platforms. It is also not available for younger students.

Art of Problem Solving

Cost: $199-$399 per year

Grade Level: 2-12

Approach: The Art of Problem Solving (AoPS) is a rigorous math program that focuses on problem solving. It is designed for students who are interested in math competitions and who want to challenge themselves. There are also live math courses available that align to the curriculum.

Pros: AoPS is an excellent program for students who are interested in math competitions. It is also very effective at helping students develop their problem-solving skills.

Cons: AoPS is a very challenging program. It is not suitable for all students.

Beast Academy

Cost: $199 per year

Grade Level: K-5

Approach: Beast Academy is a creative and engaging math program that uses games, puzzles, and comic-book style stories to teach math concepts. It is designed to be fun and motivating for young learners.

Pros: Beast Academy is a great way to introduce young children to math. It is fun, engaging, and effective. Prisma parents have often told us that Beast Academy is their child’s favorite math program.

Cons: Beast Academy is not as rigorous as some other math programs. It also doesn’t provide as excellent data on what your child may be learning on the back end as some other programs do.


Cost: $129-$199 per year

Grade Levels: K-8

Approach: Dreambox is an adaptive learning program that uses a game-based approach to teach math. It is designed to be fun and engaging for students of all ages. It also uses a mastery approach, and will make learners repeat concepts and practice math skills until they’re second nature.

Pros: Dreambox is a great way to help students learn math at their own pace. It is also very engaging and motivating. Prisma learners have enjoyed the fun math games incorporated into Dreambox.

Cons: Dreambox doesn’t incorporate as much math instruction as other online math programs. Some Prisma learners reported that the games felt repetitive and that they progressed too slowly, due to the mastery learning approach.


Cost: $12-$19 per month

Grade Levels: K-12

Approach: IXL is an online math practice program that provides personalized instruction and feedback. It is designed to help students learn math at their own pace.

Pros: IXL is very affordable, offers great practice, and allows parents to track standard by standard which math skills their learners have mastered.

Cons: IXL can be repetitive. It is not as engaging as some other math programs.

Khan Academy

Cost: Free

Grade Levels: Pre-K-12

Approach: Khan Academy offers many subjects, including math. The math program provides interactive lessons and practice problems. It is designed to be accessible to all students, regardless of their background.

Pros: Khan Academy is free, comprehensive, and engaging. Its embedded instructional resources and videos are some of the best around. With the new AI tutor, Khanmigo, learners can benefit from even more guided support.

Cons: Khan Academy can be overwhelming. It is not as personalized as some other math programs, nor is there great insight provided on where your learner is struggling.


Cost: $9.99-$12.99 per month

Grade Level: K-8

Approach: Zearn is an online math program that uses games and activities to teach math concepts. It is designed to be fun and engaging for young learners. It is one of the most popular math programs used in schools for good reason. It’s also a tool used by the middle school learners at Prisma.

Pros: Zearn is a great way to introduce young children to math. It is fun, engaging, and effective, and provides great assurance that kids are progressing through all concepts they need to understand due to its adaptive, mastery-based approach.

Cons: Zearn may feel repetitive for some learners, and can feel immature to some older students.

The Best Traditional Homeschool Math Programs

Horizons Math

Cost: The complete set costs around $102 for each grade level.

Grade Level: K-8th grade

Approach: This is not aligned to Common Core Math. Uses a spiral-method that introduces, reviews, and reinforces concepts progressively through memorization and drill​s. Note: This is part of a whole curriculum that takes a Christian approach.

What's Included: A complete set includes an instructor’s guide and student workbooks, priced separately.

Pros: Concepts are introduced and then reviewed and reinforced over time. The worksheets are colorful and designed to move quickly through concepts for children who are easily bored.

Cons: May not be ideal for students who prefer less structure and more experiential learning. May also be more challenging for homeschool parents who are less confident in math, since they will need to lead the lesson plans themselves, which are not scripted.

Life of Fred

Cost: About $20 per book. Learners should complete two books per year, if they are below the pre-algebra level.

Grade Level: 1-12

Approach: A complete math program that relies on the self-teaching learning style with lessons structured around the humorous and unlikely adventures of Fred Gauss, a six-year-old math professor at Kittens University. It aims to engage students in a fun narrative while instilling a solid understanding of the math concepts without an abundance of repetitive drills

What's Included: Hardcover, non-consumable textbooks with answers included in the text for most texts. For geometry and college-level courses, selected answers are in the texts with answer keys that are sold separately.

Pros: Engaging and fun narrative, self-teaching approach, comprehensive coverage from primary mathematics to pre-calculus

Cons: Not aligned to Common Core. May not suit students who need more structured instruction or prefer a more traditional approach to math.

Math Mammoth

Cost: About $40 per grade level

Grade Level: 2-5th grade

Approach: This curriculum is Common Core-aligned, mastery-oriented and emphasizes conceptual understanding, mental math, and number sense. It is nearly self-teaching and requires little teacher preparation ("open-and-go").

What's Included: The curriculum is available both as digital and print versions.

Pros: One of the most affordable options aligned to Common Core and that requires little support from the homeschool parent

Cons: There are no manipulatives included as part of this curriculum, which are supported by research to help develop higher level mathematical understanding and problem solving skills


Cost: About $140 per grade level

Grade Level: K-12. Math-U-See organizes learning math by level rather than by grade. Learning starts at Pre-K and moves all the way up to advanced topics like trigonometry.

Approach: Hands-on, multi-sensory, and full of manipulatives. Kids also are expected to mastery concepts before moving on, due to the approach where kids pass levels rather than simply learning the content for their grade.

What's Included: Instructional video lessons, placement tests, and manipulatives.

Pros: The mastery learning approach is excellent for ensuring your child doesn’t have any math gaps.

Cons: Although it’s very effective, the mastery learning approach can feel frustrating for kids who learn more slowly or struggle in math.

Rightstart Math

Cost: About $110 per set

Grade Level: K-12.

Approach: Hands-on, interactive, and full of math games rather than traditional worksheets and teaching textbooks.

What's Included: Manipulatives, paper and printable materials, and the AL Abacus which helps learners simulate and experiment with math problems and solutions

Pros: Excellent for learners who love to learn in a hands-on, kinesthetic way or for families who align with a Montessori-style approach.

Cons: Requires high parental involvement and supervision to guide your learner through the activities. At higher levels, this form of math learning may feel less natural and helpful.

Saxon Math

Cost: About $100 per grade level

Grade Level: K-12.

Approach: Aligns to Common Core and uses a spiral method that includes drills and lots of repetition.

What's Included: Manipulatives (for elementary levels and below), workbooks, teaching textbooks, and CDs.

Pros: Great for learners who may struggle with math, since it can move more slowly and help fill in gaps with the spiral approach.

Cons: The spiral method can feel repetitive or not as engaging for some learners.

Singapore Math

Cost: About $50 per set

Grade Level: PreK-8th grade

Approach: Aims to bring the approach to teaching math in Singapore to non-Singapore audiences. Singapore students excel in math! Has one version that aligns with Common Core.

What's Included: Instructor’s guide, teaching textbooks, and workbooks/worksheets.

Pros: Great for learners who excel in math, and parents who are comfortable supporting their learner in math.

Cons: Some may find this math program to be too fast-paced and challenging.

Join our community of families all over the world doing school differently.

Want to learn more about how Prisma can empower your child to thrive?

Learn More

More from our blog

Best Online Homeschool Programs

We’re fans of online learning, but it depends how it’s done. Here’s some pros and cons of different kinds of online homeschooling resources to consider, plus links to a variety of options.

Emily Veno
November 16, 2023

Unit Study Template and Examples for Homeschool

Unit studies blend multiple subjects together to create real-world, interest-driven learning experiences. Steal the approach our curriculum experts use to create themes with a free downloadable unit study planner.

Emily Veno
November 6, 2023

Meet Camil Aponte

“The curriculum at Prisma allows learners to learn about their strengths and use their passions in an organic and interdisciplinary way. The kids have the freedom to choose by having differentiated projects, quests, enrichments, and clubs.”

Emily Veno
October 21, 2023

How Do Homeschoolers Get Into College?

You might be hearing from friends, extended family, and random strangers in the doctor’s office “there’s no way your kid will be able to get into a good college as a homeschooler.” Impolite, yes. True? Let’s figure it out.

Emily Veno
October 20, 2023

Meet Todd Forsyth

“The amount of support and check-ins our learners have at Prisma is unparalleled compared to anywhere else I’ve ever worked.”

Emily Veno
October 16, 2023

Guide to Different Styles of Homeschooling

Each of the most popular homeschool styles has existed for a long time, and each has diehard evangelizers and fervent critics. From classical to unit studies to unschooling, this guide will help you find the form best suited to your family.

Emily Veno
October 13, 2023

Meet Tim Corkran

“What most drew me to Prisma was the chance to work with a fully project-based curriculum custom-designed for middle schoolers who are hungry for academic engagement.”

Emily Veno
October 10, 2023

Best Online Private Middle Schools

The best online school for your family is a question of priorities: More support or lower tuition costs? Traditional or project-based academics? Asynchronous or lots of interaction? We break it down in this post.

Emily Veno
October 4, 2023

Meet David Waitzer

David Waitzer is the Founding Learning Coach for our first cohort in East Asia & Oceania. In this post, he describes how his background teaching and leading for innovative international education companies will help him accelerate the growth of Prisma learners.

Emily Veno
October 3, 2023

Announcing Prisma East Asia and Oceania

Prisma has hundreds of learners across the Western Hemisphere. Along the way, we've gotten requests to launch cohorts in new time zones from families around the world who want to be part of what we’re building. Next up is East Asia & Oceania! 

Emily Veno
October 3, 2023

Meet Lizzie Thompson

Middle School Curriculum Designer Lizzie uses her diverse experiences: studying Literature at Harvard, leading outdoor adventure expeditions, and teaching high school English, to help Prisma learners find their voices.

Emily Veno
September 25, 2023

What's the Difference Between Homeschool and Online School?

The pandemic has made homeschooling easier than ever before with a boom of online options from curriculum, to part-time programs, to full-time schools. But which is best for your family?

Emily Veno
September 23, 2023

Meet Trevor Baker

Prisma High School’s Launchpad Program will prepare learners to tackle their next phase, be it college, training, or an exciting career. Trevor Baker, our LaunchPad program designer, describes how he sets learners up for success.

Emily Veno
September 14, 2023

Decision Making for Kids

You might have to jump in at first. But eventually, with the right modeling and practice, kids can develop the skills to make thoughtful decisions.

Emily Veno
September 13, 2023

Meet Gabe DellaVecchia

Middle School Curriculum Designer Gabe, an expert in interdisciplinary learning with a PhD from the University of Michigan, explains how he designs themes that blend together STEM and literacy.

Emily Veno
September 7, 2023

45 Unique Activities for Homeschoolers

One of the most fun parts of being a homeschooling parent is creating fun learning experiences for your kiddos! In this post, we share our favorite at-home activities and online resources.

Emily Veno
September 6, 2023

Meet Helen Reinecke

Our Head of Middle School Curriculum explains how her team blends core subjects and real-world topics to design “hard fun” cycle themes.

Emily Veno
August 31, 2023

Emotional Intelligence for Middle and High Schoolers

One of the reasons our team wanted to develop a new kind of school was because we felt traditional schooling doesn’t put enough emphasis on developing emotionally intelligent kids. But what is emotional intelligence and how do you develop it?

Emily Veno
August 30, 2023

Meet Carolyn Ruffin

"Carolyn is a miracle worker in math. Piper's attitude towards math has improved so much this year. It's never been her favorite subject but Carolyn's patience and encouragement has made such a positive impact." -Alexia A., Prisma parent

Emily Veno
August 24, 2023

Ultimate Guide to Media Literacy for Kids

Media literacy is touted as one of the most important “21st century skills” for kids to master, in line with creativity, communication, and grit. Thinking through the amount of time most of us spend interacting with some form of media each day makes a good case for this.

Emily Veno
August 23, 2023

Meet Lauren Green

“Lauren is fantastic and has struck a nice balance of connecting with Cooper and keeping him on task. I'm impressed to see real growth in Cooper around self awareness, reflecting on his “glows and grows,” and goal setting.” -Kym J., Prisma parent

Emily Veno
August 17, 2023

Meet Kimberly Harlan

“I've seen growth in my kids, and most importantly a solid relationship between them and their coaches. We feel so grateful for these amazing humans that have entered our kids' lives. My kids' words exactly: ‘These teachers actually want to be here. They really care!’ ” -Katie M., Parent in Kimberly’s Cohort

Emily Veno
August 14, 2023

How to Teach Your Child about Investing: Empowering Through Financial Literacy

By introducing these concepts at home, you're setting your child up to be more financially responsible and savvy, giving them the tools to navigate an increasingly complex financial world.

Emily Veno
August 8, 2023

Meet Javi Bernatas

“I’m so happy to have an opportunity to call out Javi. As a math educator myself I am really impressed with how he presents math concepts, differentiates for and challenges learners as needed. From a social-emotional perspective he is so kind, patient and invested in the kids as a whole. I am so happy he is Brynn’s math coach.” -Chandra S., Prisma parent

Emily Veno
July 31, 2023

How to Help a Child with Frustration

The ability to tolerate frustration is not merely about weathering the storm of the moment, but about instilling the persistence, adaptability, and resilience that set your child up for future success.

Emily Veno
July 28, 2023