Thursday, January 22, 2015

Curriculum Review: Christian Light Math (I'm in Love!)

For the first two years of our home education program, we used a math curriculum that was enthusiastically recommended to us (separately) by two dear friends. For both mamas, the math in question was wonderful. However, for us it didn't work out. When the second-grade materials arrived in the mail and I sat down to review them, I realized that I needed to consider using a different math curriculum. This was far outside of my comfort zone (I prefer to pick something and stick with it), but I had to do something.

In the end, I made the plunge. I re-sold the already-purchased math materials locally, and decided to purchase the second grade math curriculum from Christian Light Publications. We have now nearly finished that second grade curriculum after our first year of using CLP math.

And I'm in love.

Christian Light math is simply the best math I've ever seen. It is thorough, well-organized, and excellent quality in every way. It is a pleasure to use.

Each grade of Christian Light math contains ten workbooks. There are seventeen assignments per workbook (fourteen lessons, two quizzes, and one final test) for a total of 170 daily assignments.

(This is cutting it a bit close when one factors in sick days. However, as lesson #16 in each book is always "review for the test," we cut that lesson out - resulting in ten additional days of wiggle room per year.)

Each grade level also comes with two teacher's manuals (each covering half of the year's material), which give teaching suggestions, answer keys, and alternate tests. Though they are intended for use in Christian schools, the teacher's manuals are quite useful for home educators as well (if only for answer keys).

Let me tell you about some of the many things I love about Christian Light math! (And Christian Light Publications in general.)

Christian Light Publications is a Mennonite company that produces educational materials for Christian schools, home educators, and church programs. Their materials are thoroughly Christian, have a rural focus, and seek to give glory to God and set a good moral example. I love this!*

(I should note that these materials are still completely usable for non-Christian families.)

As is the rule with all Anabaptist-produced products that I have seen, the materials are of excellent physical quality. The paper is excellent, the binding is superb, the drawings are first-rate, and the layout is simply beautiful. It is a pleasure to use on a physical as well as an academic level. (By contrast, our last math curriculum had drawings that were painfully poor in quality.)

Each math lesson has a tiny beginning section that covers new material, and then one or two questions concerning that material. The bulk of the lesson, however, is devoted to reviewing previously covered material. Thus, children review almost every concept daily, so there is never time to forget earlier topics. This is wonderful, as children tend to forget material fairly quickly if it is not continually reviewed.

Another huge benefit to this method is that I need to spend relatively little time doing math with our eight-year-old. A few minutes suffice to go over the new material, and he can then work independently on the rest of the lesson. (We spend additional time in the afternoon going over errors.)

While we have found the lessons to be a bit lengthy for one sitting (at least for our fidgety eight-year-old!), that problem has been easily solved by dividing the lesson into two parts. Our son completes the first half in the morning and the second half in the afternoon. In the earlier years, I might consent to write all or part of the answers (while the child tells me the answers orally) for a child who is (like ours) a reluctant writer.

Each lesson also includes a two minute "speed drill," which helps to cement basic addition and subtraction facts. These have been very helpful in helping our son to become accustomed to working under a time limit - a skill which is new to him.

I also like that each book contains two quizzes and one test. Our previous curriculum did not have any tests or graded assignments, so this has also helped our son to become accustomed to a testing environment and to being graded. With his first quiz, on which he did very poorly, we had to deal with quite a few tears. But since then, he has become very used to a testing environment and now handles quizzes and tests comfortably.

(However, if you do not want to begin testing at this early of an age, there is no need to do so - tests and quizzes can be given but not graded.)

While every student, every home school, and every season will dictate different curricula for different families, I can say with full enthusiasm that we love Christian Light Publications math. This is our default curriculum going forward!

Christian Light Publications carries full curriculum in every subject for K-12, so check them out! Samples are available in most subjects on their website.

* The other major Mennonite curriculum company is Rod and Staff, which we also love.

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  1. I have been developing our own math curriculum the last couple years because I just haven't found one that I love. I haven't heard of this one before, so I'm glad you mentioned it. Tagging this page so I can look through it in a couple months when I'm ready for more.

    1. I have only one student and have only used two curricula (over four years), so my experience is not extensive at all. But we have indeed had a great experience with Christian Light, so I'm glad to tell people about them! :)

  2. I am a big fan of Christian Light materials! They have helped our family so much over the years!

    1. Hi, Dana! Two years later, we still LOVE Christian Light!! We are on our fourth year of using their math curriculum, and we also now use their Language Arts and Reading curricula as well. I simply have not found one thing not to love about their excellent materials!! :)

      Thanks so much for stopping by and commenting! :)


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