How Do I Use CTC Math With My First Grader?

This post contains a thorough review of the 12 month family plan
subscription to CTC Math at the first grade level.


Math. The one subject I, as a teacher and a person, have disliked with a passion since I was a child.  My brain just isn’t wired for numbers!  I even cried over my math (picture wet, soggy pages) growing up.  Because of this, it’s extremely important for me to find a good, clear, thorough math curriculum for Emma that will teach in her learning style.

So Emma was going into first grade, and I needed to pick something out.  In a perfect world, I would have found a way to bring a math teacher to Emma (to spare me), but as this isn’t a perfect world (ain’t that the truth) I went with one of the more popular curricula which shall be unnamed here but can be found if you click the “homeschooling” button on the right.  This curriculum features a huge, heavy teacher’s guide that I rarely cracked open.

An Online Math Program?

I honestly hadn’t considered an online math program for first grade because I had read that younger children in the elementary grades shouldn’t be learning on screens – that hands-on was the best approach.  Although I agree with this in part, I should have known better.  I mean, my daughter learned her ABC’s on a screen (*gasp*).

I believe that rather than saying “This is not good for children.” or “This is the best way to go!”, that homeschoolers should take into account that it will depend entirely on your child’s learning style.  Some kids are open to online/video learning – they excel when a concept is presented to them visually.  Isaac isn’t into learning online or through educational DVD’s, but Emma has been receptive to this way of learning since she was 3.  All this said, it is important for kids to learn pencil/paper math.  I’m not discounting the value of that!  But you, as the teacher, can make sure your child is learning that way as well.

So what is CTC Math exactly?  It’s a tutoring program featuring online math lessons (both instructional videos, practice questions and tests, and printable worksheets) on all math concepts for children from Kindergarten to high school.  It’s organized by grade and topic, and one subscription can be used by up to 10 children in one family!

How I’m Using CTC Math with My First Grader

Emma, 7 and in first grade, began her journey by logging into the student account I created for her and taking diagnostic tests which told us where she would need to start.  This initial testing takes a little time, so be prepared for that.  I love that it is tailored to the child’s skills, though!

Her daily math lessons

Now, she starts her math for the day by clicking on the topic she needs to learn on the first grade list:

CTC Math

After clicking “Plane Shapes”, for example, a video tutorial/lesson pops up and she watches it.  The lesson is taught by a male teacher with a very clear voice, and bright graphics and visual aids help her understand the concept the teacher is instructing her on. She can stop and rewind it anytime she wants – without raising her hand. ;)

After the video is over, she is given the opportunity to complete some math problems of her own to gauge her understanding of what she was just taught:


The program gives her a score/grade based on what she completed, and she can do more problem sets anytime she needs additional practice.

The layout of the menu and options is clear, easy to follow, and easy to navigate.  We simply work through all of the topics at Emma’s pace, working about 20 minutes every day.  If she has trouble understanding a concept (I can easily see her results in the parent dashboard or weekly progress email they send me), she can complete more sets of problems until she has it down pat.  I appreciate the fact that she can go at her own pace without being forced to move on before she’s ready or held back when she can move on to the next stage.

When she is finished with her math for the day, she can close the window or log out.  Her progress will be saved automatically and when she logs in again the next day it will go straight to the screen she was at the previous day!

Can it be used as a full math curriculum?

We used a math workbook for first grade and supplemented with CTC because we already owned the workbook, but yes, you can supplement CTC Math with math printables, hands-on activities, and the occasional inexpensive workbook when necessary.  This is what I plan to do for second grade.  The key would be to write down what you wanted your child to learn, then make sure those topics are covered!  You can google “Scope and sequence ___(first, second, third)___ grade” to find out what kids in your child’s grade should be learning.

Why We Will Continue to Use This Program

Pace and Independent Work

This program doesn’t do all the work for you, sadly.  ;)  You’ll still need to guide your child in choosing the math topics he or she needs to work on that day.  This can be a positive or a negative, depending on how you look at it:  CTC doesn’t offer one path, with your child forced to complete problems she knows how to solve already.  It allows you to test your child to be sure he understands the concept and can move on to the next topic or grade level.  If he does, on to the next topic!  If he doesn’t, watch the lesson again and work on some more problems.

All of the above said, there is opportunity for independent work.  I haven’t found it necessary to stand over Emma once she has begun a lesson, though occasionally I will remind her to take her time and make sure the answer is correct when I see her going a little too fast and losing her concentration.

Tablet Friendly

One positive of this program has been that Emma can complete her math lessons at the table on my iPad Mini!  It’s completely touch-screen friendly and since everything is done online, she can always access it as long as we have internet access.  Since we only have one computer and it’s in my room, this portability is very important to me.

Also, you never know when we might take our work outside, and now it’s doable!

Video Tutorials

I think what I love most about this program is that I don’t have to explain the math concepts myself.  Well, to begin with anyway.  Each lesson’s intro video takes care of that for me, and I am deeply thankful for that.  It saves me time, though I am always nearby to help if she still needs it.


Homeschoolers get a 60% off discount!  Yearly subscriptions are $78.80 for individual students and $118.80 for a family subscription (up to 10 student logins).  This is an very reasonable for what you’re receiving!  Visit to watch a demo or sample lesson, or to sign up for a free trial before subscribing.

CTC Math is one of Cathy Duffy’s Top 102 Homeschool Curriculum Picks!

CTC Math on Facebook:  Click here.

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2 Responses to How I Use CTC Math With My First Grader

  • I too love it that we can do it on the iPad. Ours is an old 1st generation that bounces back from time to time, but when it does work it’s delightful.

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