Let every math-loving family delight! The mathematicians behind the Art of Problem Solving have developed an elementary math curriculum. And, boy, will you love it!
Beast Academy teaches through a bright, colorful, comic-book style Guide Book. And being a comic book about math, it’s full of smarty-pants type humor. Even though you’ll be giggling, the math is no laughing matter. You get thoughtful dialogue that really delivers age-appropriate instruction on advanced math topics.
True to Art of Problem Solving form, students are challenged to tackle tough word problems by developing and practicing problem solving strategies – which is why this is a curriculum that requires a parent or teacher to work with the child. Parent involvement will be especially necessary for math-loving kids who are weak readers, as the strength of this curriculum lies in appreciating the dialogue presented in the Guide Books.
On the surface, the topics look like a typical elementary math progression using a mastery approach, but don’t be fooled. Beast Academy moves beyond plug-and-chug and teaches the concepts behind the math. The Practice workbooks are full of thoughtful and well developed problems and puzzles that reinforce the lessons from the comic book Guide. They also include comprehensive, step-by-step solutions for each problem.
Beast Academy offers an online version of their curriculum. You can access digital versions of the Guide books, as well as hundreds of video lessons and 15,000+ problems that provide immediate student feedback. The parent dashboard provides a comprehensive breakdown of how much time has been spent on individual topics and lessons. You can also drill down for more information about how well your child did completing individual activities.
For families anticipating switching between math curricula, be aware that Beast Academy does not follow a traditional math scope and sequence. In some cases, Beast Academy does not include certain topics, such as line plots or bar graphs in their curriculum at all. Other topics, such as geometry basics, are introduced in later grades than normal. And, since this curriculum supports the needs of strong math students, some concepts, such as variables, are introduced years before most elementary students would see them in a traditional classroom.
What does this mean for most families? Well, if you complete the entire Beast Academy program, then your child will be ready to start pre-algebra in 5th or 6th grade. If you wind up switching over to a different math program before completing all four levels of Beast Academy, you may notice some odd knowledge gaps – which should be pretty easy to fill with some targeted instruction. For more information, Beast Academy offers free, downloadable grade level Chapter Overview guides and Standards charts for you to review.
The biggest drawback about Beast Academy is going to be the price. If you opt for the print version, you will need to buy both the Guide Books and the student Practice Books for each level. Each set of books costs around $30 – but, remember, you need to buy 4 sets in order to complete the entire year. The online platform offers a reasonable monthly fee, but that will add up to over $100 by the end of each academic year.
Interested? Download and print the placement test to see what level your child may be ready for.
About the Authors: Jason Batterson taught math for nine years in North Carolina, coaching several state-champion MATHCOUNTS teams, before joining AoPS. He was recognized by the Mathematics Association of America with their prestigious Edyth May Sliffe Award for Distinguished Mathematics Teaching; a distinction shared by only 50 other middle-school teachers nationally.
Updated Review: October 12, 2020