Math is one subject that public schools still do well today. Not all teachers are equally good, but most large public schools have at least some good teachers and offer advanced math courses. The same cannot be said of many private schools, which cannot pay enough to attract the best math teachers. This is often used as a criticism of private schools, but it would certainly not be the case if the market was not rigged by the government monopoly.
It must be pointed out that in spite of all this, many students in the public schools are still not proficient in math. Just because good teachers exist and advanced courses are available does not mean every student will take advantage of the opportunity. And in fact, some students just struggle with math. It is also the case that many students do not need an advanced math education. The majority of non-engineers will not use anything more than basic arithmetic throughout the course of their lives. So the modern emphasis on math is slightly overstated. That being said, math is worth studying simply because it develops the mind.
Math for Homeschoolers
So what is a homeschool family to do? One may think that homeschool children are mathematically doomed if one of their parents is not an engineer or college math professor. But this is not the case. Online curricula are revolutionizing education, and this includes the subject of math. This means parents do not have to teach the material but can simply serve as a guide for their children, especially as they mature.
There is a ton of math curricula out there, and I cannot possibly review all of it. However, I can make some recommendations. While textbooks serve a purpose, they can be difficult to use for homeschooling. It therefore seems best that parents use video instruction for teaching math.
The great thing is that Khan Academy offers K–12 math videos for free. They have instructional videos ranging from basic arithmetic all the way to calculus and linear algebra. Khan Academy also serves as a great tool for students who attend schools, as they can watch the videos as a refresher or to help with concepts they are struggling with.
Ron Paul Homeschool is strongest in history, government, and economics. But they too offer math videos for K–12. They offer entire math courses for K–8 students and algebra, geometry, trigonometry, and pre-calculus for high school. Each course consists of five videos per week (for a total of 36 weeks), making this option more structured than Khan Academy. A subscription is $250 for the entire family per year, plus $50 for each course you take. You can sample their first 40 math lessons for free. The Ron Paul curriculum also aims to prepare students to take CLEP exams and therefore earn cheap college credit while still in high school.
If parents want live online math courses, they should check out the Logos Online School for 7th–12th grade. This is an explicitly Christian school. Classes meet live over the Internet Monday through Friday for 50 minutes per day, with students turning in assignments just like any other school (they max at 24 students per class). Full-time tuition (four courses) is about $2,200, and part-time tuition is $600 per course (not including books). You can choose your own courses to take, or you can follow the suggested diploma track. They offer pre-algebra, algebra 1, geometry, algebra II, pre-calculus, and calculus.
Math and Worldview
When I criticize secular education by pointing out that no education is religiously neutral, I am often met with the response that subjects like math are actually quite objective. There is some truth here. Out of all the subjects taught in school, math is probably the easiest subject to teach from an objective viewpoint. Even the most ardent atheist can still teach math concepts and teach them well. That math is a fairly objective subject means that parents can use pretty much any math book or curriculum and adopt it to their worldview.
That being said, worldview should not be left out of teaching math. While an atheist teacher can still teach math concepts to children, he is implicitly training them that God is not necessary to math. But that is simply not true. Math, like logic and beauty, has God as its foundation. Without God, there is no basis for math. Why does two plus two always equal four? Because it is an objective reality that is part of God’s universe. It cannot be any other way. So we should teach math from a Christian worldview. And teachers and parents should make it clear that math is an objective reality based on the nature of God. He is an orderly God.