Monday, August 18, 2008

Book Review: Teaching Textbooks

It is my opinion that just about any program can be used to teach mathematics successfully in the elementary years. Living books are obviously the best route if a mother has time and a list of concepts before her so that she knows what to teach her child in preparation for higher math, but not every mother can do this. I use both living books and a textbook approach, often skipping unnecessary pages and tweaking according to my children's personalities and abilities.

I had a negative experience learning algebra when I was in Junior high, so I determined that I would spend the extra dollars, if necessary, in order to assure that my children had a positive learning experience in this area. I did a lot of research for an algebra program before I decided upon Teaching Textbooks (I must say that I dislike the boring name immensely). I stumbled on it a few years ago when few people knew about the company yet. Teaching Textbooks had only been out about a month. I spent an hour or so on their website, really liked what I saw, took the plunge and bought the Algebra 1 program. We have had very positive experiences with it.

My oldest daughter, who is not mathematically inclined and has always struggled with math, loves this program. She has completed Algebra 1, is in the middle of Algebra 2 this year and now feels confident in this subject. She mentioned that the author applies the concepts to real life situations and teaches you how to do the same so that algebra is useful. It took her two years to go through algebra 1-- 4 days a week, 1 hour a day, not skipping anything and taking every quiz and test. She is now moving more quickly through Algebra 2. My second daughter, who is a math whiz, is speeding through it. They both are very enthusiastic about Teaching Textbooks.

Strong Joy commented that she felt there needed to be a little more practice problems to help cement new concepts in her mind. I thought that the textbook should have been of better quality. The pages are really thin and the binding is spiral, but it has many pages and is very thick. This is because the authors chat with you in detail in the book, knowing that homeschoolers often need that further explanation since they are not participating in a classroom setting. Maybe this is why they had to keep the pages thin. I hope mine lasts throughout the years as four children go through the program.

Learning Styles
My eldest, Strong Joy, is an auditory learner and prefers to listen to the lecture. She hardly uses the textbook. Raora, my second, is visual and prefers to use the textbook while only occasionally listening to the audio. They both like the fact that he explains in detail how to solve a problem and they can listen again and again until they understand it.

Since both my daughters think Teaching Textbooks is wonderful, I am sticking to it and recommend it to those who are looking for a good algebra program. We plan to use it for geometry as well.

My Grade for Teaching Textbooks Algebra 1:


one step at a time...


  1. Everything I hoped it would be. We're still praying about returning to homeschool after we move. This is my pick for math, even though we though Rod & Staff was great for elemenary--for Grade 7 and Algebra, I didn't feel enough comfort.

  2. We love Teaching Textbooks! My daughter's biggest challenge is math and she completed Pre-Algebra without any difficulty and looks forward to Algebra I. That's definitely a recommendation!

  3. We're big fans of TT, too, but it's funny you mention the binding. I was just telling (lecturing?) my 15yo and 13yo today about the condition of the TT books they've been through, given they've got to last through six more children... realistically I think we're in for more TT purchases down the road, though.

  4. Sounds like a good fit for your family. Have you ever used Learning Language Arts Through Literature? I just got an old copy off of ebay. I like the concept but it didn't come with the readers. Not that that is a biggie, my daughter is reading everything in the house. I just have to find literature that will challenge her.

  5. We're using the Geometry from TT this year. I'll comment and let you know how we like it as soon as we start school! I was impressed on how fast we got it after I ordered it...we got it the NEXT day!

  6. Anonymous19.8.08

    Take the TT to kinkos and ask them to split them in half and put spirals back in. We did that with all of their high school books and they've held up just fine. Algebra 1 has gone through 3 children so far. Looks almost new.

  7. Anonymous19.8.08

    I should have added that we first did this out of necessity when a younger child started in the same book as an older child. It was much easier to give each of them their half of the book than to have them share something that they both want to use at 8am.

  8. Anonymous--what a great idea to split it in half like that...for multiple purposes!

  9. Anonymous27.8.08

    Thank you so much for this review, it has helped me tremendously.


  10. Belinda9.10.08

    It's been a while, huh?

    I hadn't seen your review, but I blogged about our purchase of Teaching Textbooks' Pre-Algebra book after similar struggles as you mentioned with the oldest. It was a leap in my thinking about purchasing, or in this case, investing, in a math program. One of the many benefits of a CM approach is that you don't have to buy alot of curriculum. Anyway, I'm glad I commented, allowing me to see the comments of others. Everywhere I've seen reviews about these books, the one consistent criticism is that the books aren't made to be sturdy. Of course, if the paper was of higher quality, the publishers would probably price out many homeschoolers--it's steep enough already. "Anonymous"'s suggestion to have Kinkos reprint and re-bind the books is excellent.

    Sorry about the person who was stealing from you. Another way to look at it is that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I do understand. You've done an excellent job of making this a teaching blog as well as an inspirational one. Too bad someone actually took your words, and I'm assuming in the name of Jesus, posted them as their own.

    Canning looks great, and so does the garden. I'm glad you all are enjoying your new home!

  11. Anonymous12.2.09

    Hello, Friend,

    I'm being reinspired. I love what you're doing here. Time to get my feet wet again, the CM way. Connie B. in Arl.