We first tried out CTC Math
during Ian’s Kindergarten year, using it to supplement the math program we were currently using. However, I was eager for a chance to review their 12-month family plan
again, because this time around I wanted to try using it as a stand alone curriculum as Ian heads into 2nd grade (as well as for Elijah and a buddy, who age-wise are just old enough to start Kindergarten but academically could handle some more advanced math).
About CTC Math
CTC Math is an online math tutor that provides a complete math curriculum for grades K-6, as well as solid teaching to help supplement students’ current curriculum in higher math (through trigonometry and calculus). Each student has access to the complete program, so there’s no need for them to be limited to just one grade level. Lessons can be completed on any computer or tablet connected to the Internet.
In Kindergarten through 6th grade, the lessons cover four main streams:
- Numbers, Patterns, and Algebra
- Space and Geometry
- Statistics and Probability
Each of those streams contains multiple topics, which in turn contain multiple lessons.
I’m not sure if every grade level is the same, but the 2nd grade program contains 95 lessons total. The lessons don’t have to be completed in any particular order, so students can work their way through however they choose (or how you direct).
Though there’s no placement test to determine grade level, each topic does have two optional diagnostic tests that can be used as a pretest to help you see if your child needs to go through those particular lessons. (They’re also helpful as a way of determining whether the child has mastered the topic after completing the lessons.) If there are lessons they already know, you can just elect to have them move on. They’re not required to complete every lesson before moving up to the next grade.
The lessons consist of two parts: a video tutorial and a series of questions. The tutorials are very thorough and cover everything the student will need to know to complete the questions. If they feel confident, they can skip right to the questions. If they need to go back and watch the video again, that’s easy to do as well. Consequently, the students are able to work through the program with very little assistance.
In addition to the lessons, students can practice their math facts by going through the “Speed Skills.” My boys both worked hard to beat their records for how many facts they could answer before their 60 seconds were up, providing lots of facts practice.
Our Experience With CTC Math
There are many things I love about CTC Math, but the thing that stands out the most to me is its flexibility. I was using it with three students, with a slightly different approach for each of them.
For Ian, I just wanted a comprehensive math program that covered everything he needed to know and allowed him to work independently (since we tend to get into math battles when I’m trying to teach him). As long as he achieved a passing score on his lessons (it’s set at 90% but parents can change that if they so choose), I let him work through them on his own. If he scored lower I did make him repeat the lesson, but other than that I let him be pretty much self-directed as far as choosing which lessons to work through or whether or not he wanted to repeat a lesson.
Elijah and his friend both of them have a natural affinity for mathematical concepts, so I was less concerned about covering everything and more focused on just providing some stimulation to encourage them to keep learning on their own. Whereas Ian finds math a chore to be completed, for these two, math time is more like fun computer games. They were both full of smiles, squeals, and giggles going through their lessons.
Elijah was already familiar with CTC Math, so I started him out in the 1st grade lessons, even though he was following along with Ian’s 2nd grade lessons really well. He’s a perfectionist, so he insisted on working through each and every lesson, not content with anything other than the “Platinum” level, which means having 100% on every lesson. When calculating the student’s level, CTC Math uses an average of the last three scores, so if Elijah missed even one question, he would go back and do that lesson over and over again until he had three 100% scores in a row to maintain his Platinum status. (That could get a little frustrating when a wrong answer stemmed from typing mistakes!)
“Buddy” was new to CTC Math, so we started him out at the Kindergarten level, going through the diagnostic tests to see which lessons he would really benefit from doing. Once he’d passed all the diagnostic tests and covered a few lessons to fill in some gaps, he was thrilled to be moving on to 1st grade as well. I love that this program works so well with gifted kids who need to move at a quicker pace rather than being locked into a grade level just because of their age!
Strengths and Weaknesses
For the most part, CTC Math met my expectations as far as being a program the boys could do independently. One problem we have encountered with online math programs is that they don’t always provide enough instruction. That is definitely NOT the case with CTC Math. Every lesson does an excellent job of teaching the concept, and if I ever saw the boys struggling with a question, it usually meant they hadn’t paid close enough attention to the video. Once they went back and watched it again, they were able to get through the questions easily.
The only time we had some difficulties was when it came to money problems. They use dollar and half-dollar coins much more than people encounter in real life, but that my boys found that fascinating since they rarely see those coins so I didn’t really mind. The real issue I had was the availability (or lack thereof) of virtual coins to help work through the problems.
For example, at the first grade level in the lesson on “Getting Change,” Elijah was able to manipulate virtual coins to help him find the answers.
This was really helpful because everything was visual and he didn’t have to keep track of anything in his head. However, when Ian started working through the second grade “Getting Change” lesson, he was out of luck. The lesson video showed coins, which helped teach the concept.
Yet when it came time for Ian to answer questions on his own, there were no tools available to help him.
After trying to talk him through it using mental math, I realized he just wasn’t going to be able to do these problems on his own at the computer. We ended up breaking out some real money and he sat down at the table to figure out each problem.
It didn’t take him long to catch on, and it was great for him to have the hands-on experience, but I wish the virtual coins had been available to use in second grade just like they were in first. Sometimes we do our lessons on the go (e.g. at the library or Grandma’s house), and this particular lesson wouldn’t have worked well for him away from home since he needed more than just the computer.
That was the only lesson we really had any trouble with. As I said before, there is no suggested order to the lessons so I just let the boys pick which ones they wanted to do each day. For the most part we’ve been fine with that, but occasionally I wonder a lesson would have been easier if they’d done a different one first.
My Overall Thoughts on CTC Math
If you’re looking for a complete online math curriculum that allows students to work independently, CTC Math is a great option. We’ve used several online math programs, and this is by far the best when it comes to TEACHING, rather than just practicing. The videos are clear and concise, laying out everything the student needs to know in order to complete the lesson.
I especially recommend it for families with multiple students, or students who might want to work through more than one grade level in a year. The 12-month family plan provides full access to every grade level for up to 2 or more students for just $118.80 (this is the 60% homeschool discount), so CTC Math is much more affordable than purchasing multiple grade levels worth of curriculum. They even offer a free trial, so if you’re still searching for the right math program for your family, be sure to check it out!