Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Homeschool Curriculum Review: Math in Focus

A few months ago, math was driving my daughter (and me) crazy! My seven year old daughter started in Horizons Math, but this year it was rubbing her the wrong way. She no longer liked math and was having a very hard time learning and understanding its concepts. I knew I had to change things! I have that fortunate opportunity as a homeschooler, so I began to pray and search. God sent the answer – at least for now. I ran into Math in Focus.


Math in Focus is “Singapore math for U.S. classrooms”. I had used some of Singapore’s Kindergarten math but didn’t really feel inclined to use the rest of their curriculum. I was aware, though, that Singapore Math had a good reputation. One concern I had read was that it didn’t apply as well to the U.S. since it came from Singapore. That problem seems to be somewhat resolved since Math in Focus is the U.S. Edition of Singapore Math.

The main aspect I like about Math in Focus is just that – it is focused. The curriculum focuses on one concept at a time, making it easier for my daughter to concentrate and understand the concepts. Each chapter centers around a particular topic, like addition, multiplication, length, volume, etc. For instance, in the 2nd grade book, there is a chapter on “Addition up to 1,000”. It covers four main lessons: addition without regrouping, addition with regrouping in ones, addition with regrouping in tens, and addition with regrouping in ones and tens. I usually cover one lesson per day, and it has worked very well for my daughter.

At the end of each chapter is a chapter review/test that is several pages long. With my daughter, I make it more of a review since she is young. There are also cumulative reviews and a mid-year review. The curriculum also provides plenty of other game ideas and activities for further reinforcement.

The student textbook is colorful but the workbook is not. That is a plus/minus situation. Sometimes my daughter likes that and sometimes she doesn’t. I did not buy the teacher’s edition for this year, but I know it is valuable for higher grades – makes checking problems so much quicker, for one!

In particular, if you have a child who is struggling in math, I would recommend Math in Focus. Check it out!

Saxon Homeschool sells Math in Focus Homeschool Bundles.

This post is linked to The Homeschool Curriculum Review Round-Up.


  1. Sounds neat! It sounds alot like Math U See. I liked the concept but the workbooks are pretty boring. Where did you order Math in Focus from?

  2. At the moment, I can't remember what math we used at that age but I remember the non-colorful workbooks. I let our second-born son, who liked art and color, use colored pencils for his workbook. He really enjoyed using the colored pencils which spiced up the pages for him.

  3. Our school system is looking at Math in Focus. I teach second grade. Any comments about this program would be very appreciated. How hard is it to teach, how long each day is required, and progress from the students?

  4. We too adopted MIF because my daughter was frustrated with the drill and kill nature of some of the other math programs. Although pricey, MIF is well worth the investment. As is the case with any math program, there are pros and cons, but in my opinion MIF has far more pros to balance out the cons. We purchased our program from Christian Book Distributors, but I would recommend purchasing directly from Houghton Mifflin as their costs are much more affordable. Thus far, we have found the Teacher's Editions to be helpful, but too pricey! I so wish that they would make their materials more accesible and affordable for homeschool families!

  5. Thank you for posting this! I used Horizons 1 with my son last year, and although it's a nice curriculum with colorful workbooks, a spiral approach, etc. my son was really starting to dread math time. I knew things weren't working when I realized I was using stickers and little snacks as incentives multiple times per week. When he's turn the page in his workbook and see a whole page of addition & subtraction problems, he's slither out of his chair and start moaning. Not the experience I was going for!!
    I've read a lot about math curriculums in the past month, and I've mostly decided to commit to Math in Focus--so I appreciate reading about your experience in this blog post. Have you enjoyed it since you've been using it? Have you written anything more about your experience? Thank you!!

  6. I moved into MIF this year, too, along with some supplemental with the Investigations In Numbers, Data and Space. My daughter is very visual, and does need that reinforcement of one idea at a time with math so it's been a great path for us to use. Glad to see your review.

  7. I'm glad that your child was brought back in liking mathematics. I hope for her continuous love for the subject so that she can compete someday in the singapore math olympiad.