10 In Homeschooling

An Honest Horizons Math Review

 Ensuring your child has a strong math foundation is crucial to later success. So often homeschool moms feel pressure to choose the “right” math curriculum for their child.

What if they don’t understand it? What if I choose the wrong program and my child ends up hating math?

So many questions!

Well, today I’m going to answer those questions when it comes to Horizons Math from Alpha Omega. Let’s get started!

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What is Horizons?

Horizons Math is a simple math curriculum for grades K-8. I say simple, but that doesn’t imply that it skimps in any area. It’s simple in the fact that it is just a workbook based curriculum. You can always add manipulatives to your lessons, which I highly recommend. If you have looked at other math curricula that have “scripts” for you to read every day and thought NO WAY, then Horizons might be for you!

There is a teacher’s manual (optional, in my opinion, but I’ll get to that in a minute.) and two student workbooks per year. That’s it! I love how simple it is.

Alpha Omega is a Christian publisher and the website does describe it as a Christian math curriculum. However, it is not an overtly Christian curriculum, so do not be put off if you are not a Christian.

The workbooks are brightly colored, have lots of variety, and are engaging to the student. Here is a peek at a sample page:

Horizons Math Sample Page

Who is this curriculum for?

I would recommend Horizons Math to a parent who is looking for a simple, fast-paced math curriculum. I say fast-paced, but really it’s not that fast. It’s just faster than a lot of other curricula that I’ve seen, but the individual lessons don’t take as long. It’s very easy with Horizons to go as fast or slow as your child needs. There is no “script”, so you can just skip sections if your child doesn’t need to review certain things again.

Horizons Math would be a good fit for children who like to take the initiative and work independently. The directions are simple and easy for students to understand. My first grader often works through her lesson on her own while I work with her sister. If she has a question, she asks, otherwise she just goes to town. It frees me up to help her younger sister and it makes her feel proud because she can do it on her own.

I would also recommend this curriculum to moms who want to give their children variety in their math work, but don’t want to do a ton of prep. Horizons does a great job of covering lots of topics in each lesson. They do put in a large chunk of addition or subtraction problems, but I think that is just because we are doing the first grade level and memorizing math facts is a big part of this phase.

As you can see in the picture above (a few paragraphs up), one lesson includes geometry, place value, counting, word problems, and volume. The program does a great job of giving small bits of each topic, so children review the topics frequently, but don’t get bored with doing too much of one thing at once.

One note: Since there is no “script” with Horizons Math, you have to be comfortable explaining the concepts to your child. The teacher’s guide gives some tips, but you are definitely going to have to be able to answer any questions your child has. Just something to be aware of before you buy the materials.

Learning Styles

This math program works best for children who can sit and do a worksheet. It does not have super fun, interactive add-ons, but you can certainly add those yourself as you want to. That’s what we do.

If your child absolutely cannot sit and do a worksheet, then Horizons is not the math program for you. It is more of an intellectual learner program as opposed to a kinesthetic learner program.

Horizons Math is fantastic if your child needs frequent review of previous topics to keep up their skills. Every lesson has at least one part that is a review of a previous skill. I would say with most lessons it’s more like almost half that is review. The program does a great job of spiraling review and gently inching your child forward with new concepts.

What If My child Doesn’t Need Review?

If your child picks up math concepts quickly and doesn’t need to review, then skip a section or whole lesson. Make the curriculum your own.

Horizons Math makes it super easy to assign part of a section. Almost every section is color blocked (see picture below). My daughter gets tired of doing too many math problems in a row, so it’s very easy for me to say, “Ok, just do the purple ones.” There is no need to circle the problems for her to do or anything like that. I will often give her a choice and have her pick which color she wants to do.

What Does My Daughter Have to Say?

I asked my daughter (first grade) what she likes and doesn’t like about her math book. Here is what she had to say.

She likes that it is colorful. I look at some workbooks for elementary students and they are just black and white and I think “What are you thinking?! You expect a young kid to be interested in this?!” Horizons math has lots of color in the problems and lots of pictures to accompany the text.

She likes that there are new topics frequently. Each lesson is broken down into short chunks, so students get a lot of review and a gentle push forward. Every few lessons introduces a new topic or an extension of a topic, so students are constantly growing and extending their math knowledge.

She likes the variety in each lesson. Those small chunks of different topics are great for keeping kids interested . They are motivated to get done because there isn’t that much to do and then they are on to the next thing. The amount of work in each section doesn’t overwhelm their minds and make them shut down.

She doesn’t like the pages that have lots of addition or subtraction problems. Well, ya know, you can’t have everything! My daughter just doesn’t get as excited about doing math problems as she does about measuring and geometry. I’ve told her that it will be easier once she’s memorized her math facts, but she still doesn’t like it. This is one of those times when I let her choose a color and she just does some of the problems instead. Then, we’ll play a game or do something interactive to work on math facts.

Parent Pros and Cons

My only real dislike is the same as my daughter’s – those larger chunks of math facts. But, I also understand that it’s the phase of learning math facts and they’re important. And, this is a workbook program, so how else are they supposed to emphasize the importance of learning math facts? You can easily add in a manipulative or math game to have your child practice their math facts with instead.

Here are some reasons I love Horizons Math:

The variety presented in every lesson. Multiple topics in each lesson means it keeps my daughter’s attention.

Constant review. I love that my daughter gets constant practice on previous topics, so she doesn’t forget anything.

It’s affordable. I haven’t talked about cost yet, but Horizons is one of the most affordable programs I’ve seen. Partly because it’s a trim curriculum only consisting of student workbooks, but hey, money is money.

It’s flexible. If my daughter needs to practice a topic, I know it will be in her lessons frequently for her to practice. But, if she’s got it and we don’t need to review it that day, Horizons makes it very easy to skip parts of a lesson. This allows you and your child to progress as quickly or as slowly as needed.

No script. As an engineer and former math teacher, I knew I didn’t want a cumbersome math curriculum where I had to read word for word from a teacher’s guide.

Easy to shorten lessons. If my daughter is sick or in a foul mood, the lessons are very easy to shorten by choosing colors or rows of problems in each section.

Final Verdict

Overall, I highly recommend Horizons Math. You can be confident that your child is getting a solid math education with this curriculum. I hope you found this review helpful in your quest for the right math program for your homeschool.

Surya blogs at The Busy Mom Club where she provides resources and advice for moms on their homeschool journey. She also adds in a few sprinkles of tips to make motherhood easier. You can find her on Facebook and Pinterest.

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  • Reply
    June 4, 2019 at 9:36 am

    You did a great job summing up the pros and cons of Horizons Math! It’s the curriculum I always use for Kindergarten, 1st Grade, and 2nd Grade before my kids move into Teaching Textbooks.

    The long chunks of problems I handle one of two ways – I have my kids do every other problem, or I set the timer for two minutes and if they get them all done they get a small reward. 🙂 That motivates them pretty quickly to get through and work quickly instead of whining about how many there are…

    • Reply
      Surya Chronister
      June 6, 2019 at 7:27 am

      Lisa, I love the idea of setting a timer and giving a reward for those big chunks of problems! I’m going to try that with my daughter. Thanks for the tip and I’m glad you liked the review!

  • Reply
    June 4, 2019 at 10:18 am

    I like the tip you give about using manipulatives as I think that is imperative for learning math concepts, especially at a younger age. These books look bright and colourful to keep kids interest as well! I love JUMP Math but the books are very boring in appearance by comparison. These look great!

    • Reply
      Surya Chronister
      June 6, 2019 at 7:29 am

      Hi Rach, I started having my daughter use and abacus with these workbooks and it was great. We used to use a ten frame and some beans, but they always got misplaced. The abacus is nice and neat and easy to keep track of.

  • Reply
    Jalisa Harris
    June 5, 2019 at 8:17 am

    We’re going to be doing some learning over the Summer so this is so helpful

  • Reply
    June 8, 2019 at 11:21 am

    Sometimes a mom just needs a simple open and go program like this. I did find for myself that as the kids got older I needed scripted lessons because I am not good at explaining higher math concepts on the fly. Of course, that depends on each parent, my husband can teach math without even having a program! Workbooks like this can be a life-saver when mom is dealing with health issues, has babies and toddlers to care for, or has a large family.

  • Reply
    June 10, 2019 at 4:16 pm

    I love that this program is hands-on and that the reviews are built in.

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    April 20, 2022 at 11:24 am

    We got Horizon thru sonlight and I like it better than another program I picked last year (Math U see) My daughter was in tears at the end of 3rd grade because she had to multiple multiple digits by multiple digits. This year i bumped her down so we’re doing Horizon 3 even though she’s 4th grade but I wanted her to gain confidence and it seems to have helped, it’s still something she doesn’t like to do, but it’s better, then I now have a Kindergartner too and she’s doing very well in level K, so we’ll continue with both in Horizon next year. With K I don’t open the teaching book at all, only a little bit with 3, I felt guilty about that, but it seems to be fine. I didn’t think about skipping sections, now I need to go back and see what we covered and skip some stuff to finish the year in 7 weeks! (They are both behind now, my K kid was ahead for a while then she started doing one page a day instead of 2 and my 3 kid was doing 3 pages per day for a while to catch up but now she’s back to 2 pages- oh well)

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