One of the skills shared by the best math students is a sense of fun. They know how to play around with numbers to find the solution to difficult problems. Programs that focus on facts and formulas don't help kids develop this flexible way of thinking. In fact, for some students, puzzles, games, and brain teasers can be better training than traditional math textbooks.
Of course, many people (including me) just feel more comfortable using a math textbook. They don't want to worry about their child missing some important topic. Have no fear -- many popular homeschool-friendly series help kids develop that playfulness that makes solving math problems a challenge instead of a chore.
The books below all show kids how math works, instead of merely presenting facts and formulas to be memorized. These series are also great because kids can work their way through them by themselves, with minimal adult supervision. And with their playful style, kids and parents will both enjoy using them!
Singapore Math softcover textbooks and workbooks present math concepts visually, but without a lot of clutter. And they give students a choice of problem solving techniques, so kids learn that numbers can be manipulated in different ways to reach the same right answer.
The popular Life of Fred series is written as the fantastical adventures of an unusual young boy, with math concepts woven in as he goes about his daily life. Each short chapter includes math questions and brain teasers for readers to solve.
Key To... workbooks, which come 10 to a topic, cover everything from fractions and decimals to algebra and geometry. Students can easily work through them by themselves, at their own pace. There's just enough information in them to use Key To as a bare bones course. They're also excellent for review or test prep.