What I love most about homeschooling is the freedom to be creative. No matter the skill that has to be taught, homeschooling allows parents the flexibility to chose what method to teach the skill. Worksheets are not the only way to learn. Tradition may dictate that math texts be black and white, weigh about 5 pound and contain lots of monotonous busy work. But, that's definitely not the case for the Beast Academy. Not only is the textbook a work of art, but so is the curriculum! Far from a traditional text, Beast Academy is written in comic book style. The full-color glossy and heavy weight pages beckon a child. I can't tell you the number of children who came up to me while I was reading through the text book and asked, "What's that?" In the Montessori tradition, materials are intentionally made attractive and colorful to appeal to the child so that they child will want to do the work. These texts achieve the same effect.
The Guide (text) starts off by introducing the cast of characters, like Lizze the "Bookworm" who is learning to breathe fire at Dragon School on the weekends, and Alex "The Executive" who knows 7 different ways to tie a tie. Parts of the text look like sketches by children, making it even more appealing.
In true comic book style, each character has its own color-coded bubble to make it easy to follow the dialogue of the characters. The dialogue is used to present the lesson. There are also stop signs at the bottom of the page that must be read before moving ahead. In fact, there are lots of tips along the way. The gray boxes provide tips and define concepts. There are also games interspersed throughout the curriculum. Much like computer games, the Guide use games to reinforce the lesson and keep children engaged with variety.
Though intended for 4th grade, the material goes well beyond the scope of that level. When I asked KingMan, my 8th grader, to give it a whirl, he didn't say "mom this is baby stuff." He had to think about it. He loves comic books so his interest was piqued anyway. Thanks to the engaging format, I was able to introduce LionHeart, my 2nd grader, to the subject matter as well. In his mind, we were reading a comic book and solving a mystery.
If you are looking for a way to sneak in some summer learning, Beast Academy is perfect. This certainly doesn't mean this is a lightweight program. It's strong enough to be used as a stand alone program, especially for children who think they can't do math or simply don't like math.
The problems start simple and work up to a crescendo. But the more difficult problems are marked with a star and also have hints in the back of the book. Not that this matters to me at all, but the material covered is linked to the Common Core Standards. Luckily, Beast Academy has decided that those standards will not limit the material covered and more complex concepts outside of standard curriculum is included. How refreshing! The colorful and engaging Guide introduces the lesson, while the practice book brings it home. Each part of the curriculum has been thought through, so don’t skip the games. They are important pieces to the puzzle. These problems will require some thinking. This is what makes learning during the summer fun. You can take your time and really enjoy all that this math program has to offer the whole family.