Full disclosure: Teaching Textbooks (TT) approached me and asked me to do this review. But the opinions expressed here are entirely my own.
I did a previous review in 2018 on Teaching Textbooks 3.0, which you can find here. In that review, I talk about how I learned about TT and my previous experience with it. I also talk about all the things that I love about TT. And honestly, that hasn’t changed!
I still love this curriculum and it continues to work well for my son!
This review is for the new version of Teaching Textbooks (4.0…Also called the Teaching Textbooks app).
So here are the reasons that I, as a homeschool parent, still love this curriculum:
This curriculum is self-guided so my son can work on his math lessons alone and only ask me for help when he gets stuck and the built-in help isn’t helping him understand (a rare occasion). I feel like this is particularly important for him now that he’s an older teen (he’ll be 17 soon). He doesn’t need Mom hovering all the time. And I have other things to do!
This curriculum is self-correcting. This still saves me SO MUCH WORK and I have always felt this was the BEST FEATURE of all! Not to mention the fact that I truly believe that it’s a much better learning experience getting IMMEDIATE feedback on your answers instead of having to wait for someone to correct them. By then, you will have forgotten what you were working on! So this is just the perfect solution all around!
This curriculum is so slick and visually appealing. That’s important to ME, but I really feel most kids nowadays are not going to tolerate poor visuals on any technology. The visuals really add to this curriculum in so many ways. Even for the older kids, they have specifically designed buddies and backgrounds with teens in mind, which only adds to the overall experience. And I have to say this new feature they added makes me so silly happy: The use of a growing #2 yellow pencil for their loading bar!! I don’t know why I dig that so much, but I REALLY DO! It’s the attention to detail.
I can quickly and easily see at a glance how my student is doing! The digital gradebook tracks his progress and it’s very easy for me just pop in and see how things are going!
It’s super easy to edit problems. So if there is a problem or set of problems that he really struggled with and got low scores…it’s as simple as just logging onto the parent side of our account and deleting those questions or the entire lesson, and he can try them again! OR sometimes he knew the answer but accidentally hit the wrong one…I can go in and correct that easily as well!
I have access to ALL the lessons and answer keys in ebook format so I can look something up when my child struggles with a concept. This helps me to figure out where he’s at without having to go through the audio lessons.
We can PAUSE the curriculum. This curriculum is on a time limit and sometimes you might end up going on vacation or having a bunch of sick days or some other family emergency. If you know this is the case and you need to put the lessons on hold for a little while, you can save your remaining time by hitting “PAUSE.” Then resume when you are ready again! VERY handy to have this!
The digital format is so much more affordable! When this curriculum was entirely printed: books and CDs…The curriculum was QUITE pricey! But now, it’s about half the price it was before! This makes it MUCH more attainable for more families!
This curriculum uses a spiral learning approach. My son needs this. I found that when we followed a mastery approach that he was often forgetting concepts. This spiral approach, while sometimes it can get repetitive, really helps the lessons stick long-term for my son.
And now, with this new version, there is a new feature which I LOVE: progress emails! Every day that my son completes work, I get an email from TT telling me how he did. This is extremely invaluable to me as an ADHD homeschool mom since it’s quite common for me to forget to check on his progress otherwise!
So that’s MY take on this curriculum…
Here are some questions I asked my 16-year-old son (“T”) about what he thinks of the updated version of this curriculum, and his honest answers!
ME: What do you think about the new scratchpad?
T: “It’s ok, but I would rather use a dry-erase board since it’s hard to write with a mouse.”
NOTE: I just learned that the scratchpad was actually designed to be used with tablets and not for use with a mouse…so this makes perfect sense since he uses TT only on his desktop.
ME: What do you think of the new stickers, wallpapers, and sound effects?
T: “I kind of liked the original ones better. (The sound effects) were less loud in your face. I chose the closest thing (to the original), but they don’t have the original sounds anymore.
I don’t like half of the stickers for when you get a problem right.
I like most of the backgrounds.”
NOTE: There are a LOT of options for all of these…and there are also settings you can tweak to make these features work for you…even turning them off:
ME: What do you think of the new buddies?
(These are animated gifs that are used to help motivate kids to keep working. They move and say encouraging things.)
T: “I never use the buddies, cuz I didn’t really like them.”
NOTE: They do seem young for an older teen like my son. There is a setting to disable buddies for kids like mine that don’t care for them. But I could see younger kids enjoying them!
ME: What do you think about Teaching Textbooks vs the math curriculum we used before?
T: “Sometimes the guy reading the problem can help me figure it out more.”
(Rather than our previous text-based curriculum.)
“I like using the keyboard rather than writing.” (Our previous curriculum wasn’t computer-based.)
“I do like that (it corrects as you go) because then I know whether I got it wrong or right immediately.”
ME: What do you think about the way Teaching Textbook looks?
T: “I do kinda like the aesthetic. I just think it’s cool.”
(He finds it visually appealing.)
ME: What do you think about the pencil loading bar?
T: “It IS funny!”
(We both love the growing pencil loading bar!)
ME: How do you feel this curriculum does with walking you through a new concept?
T: “They usually do a pretty good job on that.”
ME: (After explaining to my son what “spiral learning” meant.) What do you think about the spiral learning approach TT uses?
T: “I think that’s a smart way to do it.”
ME: Do you think this way is helping it stick in your long-term memory?
T: “Probably, yeah.”
One other thing we discussed: The program used to say “Hold on, we’re downloading the lesson for you,” but we seem to have found the setting to download the lessons ahead of time. Now it’s always available and he no longer has to wait for the download. BIG improvement!
Some other things that are nice to know about TT:
So all this to say…TRY IT!! Teaching Textbooks just keeps getting better!!
And since they have a free trial offer, what have you got to lose?