I had just asked my son what he was grateful for and was surprised by his answer,
“Math! I am learning so much!”
Now, this boy loves math. But enough that it won out over his computer games in his memory of the day? That surprised me.
After reflecting on our math for the past month, I realized he was right, he was learning a lot in math…and so was I.
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Not Your Average Math Curriculum
If you have not heard of Beast Academy you are in for a treat. I wish it was around when I was learning math. The connections I am making now, going through it with my children, are amazing.
It currently spans grades 3-5 (with 2nd grade in the works). Each grade level is split into 4 volumes. Each volume has a guide and practice book.
There are two things that really stand out the first time you flip through this program. The guide is written in comic book form and the depth of the practice questions.
The practice questions are my absolute favorite. Not surprisingly, the guide book is my kids.
We are using grade 3 for my 3rd and 5th graders.
Passing on Beast Academy
The first time I looked at Beast Academy, I passed on it. It reminded me too much of Life of Fred (which was not my favorite) and looked like “fun”. Fun can’t be good, right?
But it kept popping up. And I gave it a few more glances. The problems do look interesting. Finally I contacted the company and asked if they would mind sending me the first volume of level 3 to try in exchange for this review. They very kindly agreed. This is my honest review of the last 2 months of using Beast Academy.
I knew what it was when I saw the package. I was expecting it. But we had just started our Summer Break. It wasn’t time for lessons, even if I was excited like it was Christmas. Grace(10) saw me holding the package and with much enthusiasm asks, “What’s in the box? Is it for me?”
“It’s your new math curriculum.” Words to quell enthusiasm if ever there were any. “Don’t you even want to look at it?” I ask at her retreating back.
“I guess.” All enthusiasm gone.
I open the package and pull out the books. Grace is mildly interested but still refuses to come closer. I start reading. The first section tells you how to read a comic book (which I found helpful, the non-comic book reader that I am). Even so, Grace is coming closer and closer until she can see the pictures. Now she’s hooked. We read a whole section together, stopping to solve the problems sprinkled throughout the guide.
“What do you think? Are you up for some practice problems?”
“I guess so.”
At this point Ben (8) comes in and the process starts over. Grace sits and listens while I reread the section to Ben getting excited when she notices something she didn’t notice last time.
If you are looking for something to pull students in, Beast Academy is for you.
If the Guide is the Hook, The Practice Book is the Meal
I look back on that day fondly. My two math students. Working side by side. On math. During Summer Break?! On purpose!
It was a miraculous day.
Wouldn’t it be nice if all days were this miraculous.
I’ll be honest, it wasn’t long before things got hard. With one of my children anyways. Ben is fine struggling, I think he even enjoys it. Grace…not so much. If she couldn’t answer a problem in a few seconds, it was declared impossible and therefore, she was not doing it and I couldn’t make her no matter what!
Unfortunately for Grace, I value the learning that comes from struggling. Fortunately for Grace, I am more than willing to help her through the challenging problems.
If you want your children to be challenged, Beast Academy is for you.
The Right Amount of Challenge is Up to You
There is no lesson plan book. No daily schedule. No time frame at all. I love this! I never use those things anyway, they kill my kids inquisitive nature.
During breakfast, we sit at the kitchen table, read a little of the guide book then solve some of the problems. Some days, we spend as much as an hour on math. Other days I’m grateful to get 10 minutes. Some days are like that.
Most of the problems, my two students can solve themselves. The star problems almost always need my help or a hint from the book. Sometimes I need a hint from the book!
As of yet, I have not had any problems with not understanding how to solve the problems. The hints and answers found in the back of the practice book have been enough.
If you are looking for a casual, natural way to learn math, Beast Academy is for you.
Is Beast Academy for Gifted Students?
The other reviews I have read make it sound like Beast Academy is for gifted students. As in, if your student isn’t gifted in math, don’t try this. I even read one post that said struggling math students should steer clear.
I completely disagree.
Beast Academy presents math concepts in such a low key, conversational, interesting way that I think all students would benefit from using it.
However, the problems are definitely above grade level so choosing the right level for your student might be a bit challenging. I would say that any child who hates or struggles in math should start at the lowest level (currently grade 3), even if they are in High School.
My 5th grader hates math. Really she hates anything she didn’t think up in the first place. But somehow, she has gotten it into her head that math is boring and that she is no good at it. I am using level 3 with her, not because she couldn’t do a higher level, but because of her attitude. I wanted something that would be a little easy for her knowing that she would hate being challenged.
My 3rd grader on the other hand loves the challenge. I knew he would be fine, even though the problems are a bit higher than what I thought he would be ready for.
Think about your child’s temperament as well as their math ability when deciding what level to purchase.
If your really nervous about it, buy just one volume. It’s a very affordable way to test out the curriculum.
Does Your Math Curriculum Leave you Feeling Grateful?
Mine does. I can’t wait to keep reading and see what’s next.
Any questions you have, feel free to comment. Don’t forget to share with a homeschool parent struggling with math!
Check out #BeastAcademy to see what other math beasts are up to.