Super Honest Horizons Math Review: Everything You Want to Know

Looking for an exhaustive Horizons Math review?

Want to know every single thing there is to know…and even some things you didn’t think to ask?

I know you want every possible detail before your invest your dollars into a homeschool curriculum…

Because I have been when you’re at! Combing the internet for every last positive or negative curriculum review that will help you decide. 

All of my reviews are about as honest as they come, so sit back and get ready to soak in everything Horizons Math.

You are going to find out why I started using it, exactly how a regular lesson runs, what I like, what I don’t like, what my kid thinks about it, whether I’ll keep using it in my homeschool, and I’m even going to run through a bunch of FAQ about Horizons Math that I think you’re burning to know!

Horizons Math Review: Why I Started Using Horizons Math

Looking for a high quality, low prep math curriculum for your elementary aged homeschooler? Check out this comprehensive Horizons Math review to see why I picked it, exactly what daily lessons look like, what I love about this curriculum, and what I would change. Oh, and what my 1st grader has to say about it!

The first time I taught 1st grade math was a straight-up nightmare.

Everything in my homeschool was going just fine – except math. We just could not figure it out. The first curriculum was too light and unstructured. The second curriculum I tried was way TOO structured and overwhelming. 

Thankfully, I learned a lot of lessons and we ended up surviving 1st grade, but when my middle child started approaching 1st grade – I knew I had to have a better plan for math. 

A good homeschooling friend of mine recommended Horizons Math and I poured over every review I could find. I ended up taking the plunge and ordering the books. 

It turned out to be the perfect fit for our homeschool, and I am so excited to share everything about Horizons Math with you!

Exactly How Horizons Math Works

When your curriculum arrives, you will have 2 workbooks and 1 teacher’s manual (further down I’ll talk about whether or not the teacher’s manual and manipulatives set are necessary).

The teacher’s manual is very well laid out and will give you more than enough information to teach every lesson.

The beginning of each lesson (as outlined in the teacher’s manual) will tell you what concepts, objectives, teaching tips, and materials you will need.

For every lesson, your child will do 2 workbook pages (technically 1 page that is front and back). 

The workbook pages are broken into multiple sections and your teacher’s manual will tell you how to approach and teach each section. 

There are about 5-6 sections in a lesson so your child will typically be learning and practicing one new math skill, and reviewing 4-5 other math skills they have already learned. 

As the year progresses, the child is encouraged to do a good bit of the worksheets independently as they become confident in their math skills. 

Every 2 weeks or so, there is a test included in the workbook to evaluate your student’s progress and retention.

There are a total of 180 lessons, which comes out to 36 weeks of math – if you are doing math 5 days a week.

Let’s Look At a Sample Horizons Math Lesson

I know it helps to have a real visual of what a day in Horizons Math looks like.

Below are the pages from the teacher manual that I will be teaching next week in my homeschool. It is lesson 83 and will teach a new concept – counting to 200:

Horizons Math Teachers Manual guide for grade 1

The left-hand page tells you the concepts, objectives, teaching tips, and materials you will need for the lesson. To be completely honest for this Horizons Math review…I rarely look at that side of the page.

The right-hand page contains directions for how to teach and review each of the sections on the corresponding workbooks page. So #1 under Activities in the teacher’s manual corresponds with #1 on the worksheet and so on.

I know this looks like A LOT of text to read. Trust me when I tell you that you will learn very quickly how to skim this for the important things. I probably spend less than 90 seconds reading these pages and I know what I need to do. 

Here are the 2 worksheets that are assigned for lesson 83:

Horizons Math Workbook page

Horizons math Workbook Page grade 1

The worksheets are bright, colorful, and brief. 

For this lesson, the teacher’s manual says that I will start the lesson by counting from 100-200 with my child using a number chart. This will reinforce the correct way to read and write the numbers. Then my child will complete the first section on their worksheet with your help and assistance as needed. 

If your child isn’t getting it right away – no worries. The following worksheets will give many more opportunities to practice the skill. 

The second section of the worksheet is a review of place value to the hundreds, which was taught in previous lessons.

The third section is a review of number families in addition and subtraction – also previously taught. 

The last section is a review of matching and identifying shapes. 

As you can see this is classic spiral math teaching – one new concept is taught and several others are reviewed and reinforced. 

That’s it! Your lesson is done. 

What I Love About Horizons Math


1. Bright, colorful workbook pages…but not distracting

I have seen both extremes – black and white pages that remind me of math prison and such brightly colored pictures that my kid can’t focus on their work because of all the silly, cutesy things on the page. 

Horizons strikes a really nice balance between those two with my highly distractable 1st grader. The pages are inviting and pleasant to look at…but not overwhelming.

2. Short, Effective Lessons

As I said, I have tried A LOT of other homeschool math programs. My kids do not do well with long lessons that include lecture/instruction time, forced fun games (“Mom, are we done yet? Has this been long enough??”), and multiple pages of problems over the same concept. 

Horizons Math offers such a short amount of work – just 2 pages. And the pages are broken up with multiple math concepts. No doing the SAME thing for 30 painful problems.

The short, no pressure lessons with tons of daily review just works for my kid. 

3. Spiral Crushes Mastery

Horizons Math Spiral

Speaking of tons of review, the spiral method is the way to go with the elementary grade level. 

What is the difference between spiral and mastery? 

Mastery curriculum focuses on one math concept at a time until the child fully masters it and then the student moves on to a new concept. 

That sounds really good right? Who doesn’t want their kid to fully master a math concept before piling on more things?

That would explain why I bought this mastery math curriculum

I quickly came to find that my elementary school child did meet the standards of mastery…but she would forget things weeks or months later without continuous review – which most mastery math programs do not provide. 

My homeschooler would also struggle with a concept and be overwhelmed with having to wrestle with it every day until she mastered it. She wanted a break from it instead of feeling like she was failing every day. 

I love that Horizons Math allows kids to learn other things along the way. Maybe my kid is struggling with odd/even number or subtraction facts, but that is not the ONLY thing we are learning. She has chances in other parts of the lesson to have victories.

4. Minimal Supplies Needed

Elementary school math can get pricey with all of the extra things the curriculum calls for.

Maybe it’s tons of things that need to be printed, copied, and laminated. 

Maybe it’s playdough and candy for games. 

Or a massive, very expensive manipulatives set. 

The Horizons Math teacher’s manual will occasionally call for some random supplies like a felt board, but I can usually find a different way to teach the lesson without them.

The main math supplies I have needed for Horizons Math 1st Grade include:

Older elementary kids will need less of the “extra” things for math as they get accustomed to more abstract thinking. 

5. Horizons is Advanced Math Curriculum

Smart homeschool kid loves math

I feel so comfortable that my kid is learning everything for their grade level – and then some! 

One of my friends was shocked to hear some of the things my 1st grader was learning in math because those same concepts were just being touched on for her public school child towards the end of second grade.

Thanks to the gentle, short lessons with tons of review – my kid does not feel overwhelmed though. 

I feel very confident that she will test well this summer and be more than ready for 2nd-grade math.

6. Horizons Math: Minimal teacher prep, open and go!

This should probably be at the top of this Horizons Math review list as opposed to the bottom…but I saved the best for last!

I have used math programs that required me to do extensive planning before lessons. I would have to watch videos, read pages of teaching instruction, and/or setup intricate math games. 

Horizons is so, so simple. 

You can open your teacher manual and just start teaching. I personally prefer to quickly review the lesson the night before (takes less than 2 minutes) to make sure I am fully prepared, but you could easily prep the morning of…or just teach the lesson as you read the teacher manual prompts. 

If you are a busy mom (who isn’t?!) and/or have multiple other homeschoolers to teach – the open and go format is essential to sanity. 

For some of the review lessons and problems, your child can even do the work independently! 

That is a huge time saver!

What I Don’t Love About Horizons Math

homeschool mo who doesn't love Horizon Math

To make this Horizons Math review as thorough as possible, I wanted to also include the things I didn’t like and how I dealt with them. Some may seem very minor or nit-picky to you, but they may be deal-breakers for others, so I wanted to include them.

1. The Way Math Facts are Taught

Math facts are essential building blocks in the elementary school years. If you don’t know your addition and subtraction facts…everything else is so much harder. 

Horizons Math calls for the student to learn math facts by being drilled with flashcards that have the answers on them for a certain number of weeks. And then they are drilled with flashcards that do not have the answers on them.

I have been homeschooling for almost 4 years now and I thought that sounded sooooooooooo boring. And ineffective for a 1st grader. 

I just skipped that all together and supplemented with this outstanding and inexpensive Addition Fact and Subtraction Fact Program. 

Keep in mind that some 1st graders are not developmentally ready to memorize facts, but my 1st grader is on the older end (late birthday) and has done just fine. 

2. Skip Counting Standards

I am all about the advanced math curriculum that Horizons offers…but I thought the skip counting was unnecessary, and I cut it from our lessons.

Yes, I taught the basic skip counting of 2s, 5s, and 10s. But counting by 3s, 4s, 6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s??

Confusing and unnecessary for 6 and 7-year-olds. 

I know they’re laying the foundation for multiplication, but I think it could easily frustrate and bore a child more than strengthen their math foundation. 

If you do decide to purchase the Horizons Math Program, I would recommend you skip the excessive skip counting if your child is resistant to it.  

3. Reading Expectations

Horizons Math had a number of lessons about teaching kids to recognize number words. 

I was okay with number words “one” to “ten”, but beyond that I found it to be too much of an emphasis on sight words.

Our homeschool uses phonics, and we will cover the number words when we get there…I don’t need the math curriculum to do it.

On several lessons, I just crossed out those assignments and moved on.

4. Test Day Lessons

So this is just me being a bit picky, but I didn’t like that Horizons Math schedules a new lesson to be taught AFTER a student takes a test.


Why would you try to teach new material after a child has successfully completed a test? That is the time to celebrate and/or discuss what was missed on the test.

I chose to not do the assignment until the next day, which will probably add an extra 2 weeks to our math lessons. 

What My Kid Thinks About Horizons Math

Horizons Math First Grade books for review

My middle kid is 7 and in the first grade, so she’s not really at the age that she can sit down and deeply discuss the pros and cons of a curriculum just yet. 

Now that we are halfway through though, I have asked her several times what she thinks of the Horizons Math and she says things like, “I like it!” and “I love it!”

When I ask her why she loves it, she usually says something about the fun workbook pages. When I ask her if she wants to do reading or math to start off her core curriculum work for the day, she will often say math. 

This is so interesting to me because my older daughter (now 4th grade) cried through math when she was in 1st grade. I truly wish that I had Horizons Math for my oldest – I think it would saved us so much stress and frustration. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Horizon’s Math:

Questions About Horizon Math Review

1. How Long Does Horizons Math Take Every Day?

This is extremely child and teaching style dependent.

If you follow the teacher manual to the letter and you have an average skilled child, I would estimate that math would take you 30-45 minutes. 

I do not follow the teacher’s manual to the letter, but I also have a distractable kid who I am often working to keep on task. On average, I would say Horizons math takes us 20-30 minutes daily.

We have had days that were 10 minutes though and some that were 40 minutes depending on the material.

2. Does Horizon’s Math Need to Be Supplemented?

Horizons Math is definitely a complete and solid math curriculum. You should not have to supplement anything. 

As mentioned above, I did supplement the math facts to suit my personal taste for how they should be taught. 

 Whether or not you supplement that portion of the curriculum depends on your teaching style and how your child learns best. 

3. What Do I Need to Buy for Horizons Math?

The curriculum usually comes with 1 teacher manual and 2 workbooks. You also have the option to buy the horizons math manipulative set. 

Younger students are going to greatly benefit from having concrete manipulatives to work with, so I recommend you find the most cost-effective way to purchase those items.

****I personally did not buy the manipulative set because I already had most of the items on hand in my homeschool. 

As for the teacher’s manual, I think for 1st grade that I could have managed without it. I have been homeschooling for a while now and I am pretty comfortable with teaching this level of math.

If you are new to teaching/homeschooling or teaching an older grade, I would recommend getting the manual to make you feel more confident and prepared for lessons.

It also helps that the answers to all the worksheets are in the back, which makes for quick and easy grading. 

****There are “drill” sheets included in the back of the teacher’s manual. We have never used them. It looks like busy work/homework that would be used for a private school. 

4. Is Horizons Math Common Core aligned?

Yikes! This is a hot button issue that I actually had to look up since I am not well versed in Common Core. 

According to the wonderful Cathy Duffy reviews, Horizons Math did not write their curriculum to line up with Common Core, but “it seems to cover the standards although sometimes at a grade level earlier than required by the standards themselves.”

So again, Horizons Math is a bit advanced beyond the typical grade-level standards. 

I know Common Core has a reputation of being very confusing, but I have seen none of that with Horizons. The math we have used so far is taught in the traditional way I learned it as a child. 

5. Where Should I Buy Horizons Math?

Unfortunately, Horizons Math is not a quick buy on Amazon like many other homeschool curriculums. 

You may get lucky and find a good deal – click here to see what Amazon has for Horizon today. 

For the most part though, you are going to get a better deal from ChristianBook, eBay, and/or my personal favorite: RainbowResource

Horizons Math is For You If…

Thumbs up

  • Your kid is cool with workbooks

  • You think regular review is crucial – yes for the spiral learning style!

  • You like short and efficient lessons

  • You are flexible with adding and taking things away from a curriculum depending on your student’s abilities

  • You are busy and need a grab and go curriculum

  • You like the idea of an advanced curriculum that will challenge your child

Horizons Math is Not for You if…

Thumbs down

  • Your kid hates workbooks

  • You prefer a mastery curriculum style

  • You need something completely independent for your kid

  • You want lots of math games and other hands-on math activities

  • You do not think your child is ready for an advanced, challenging curriculum.

Recap Horizons Math Review

I hope that this Horizons Math review has answered any and all questions that you could think of!

My blog is always aiming to help the homeschool mom make the best decisions for her kids and herself – and I think Horizons Math is a pretty solid choice. 

I fully intend to purchase Horizons Math for second grade and continue with this high quality, but efficient math program.

If you have more questions, drop them in the comments and I’ll do my best to get you answers!

Want to save this monster-sized review for later? Smart choice!

Just pin it to your favorite Pinterest board and share it with your homeschooling friends and followers! 

Read Next:

Math U See is such a popular, well loved math curriculum! Check out this review to see how the curriculum works, why the manipulative set is just as awesome as everyone says, what my math hating kid thought of Alpha, and whether we still use it in our homeschool today. I hope this math curriculum review helps your family make the best informed decision for your kids and homeschool!


  1. I am part of a startup team for a Christian Homeschool Learning Center Co-Op for K-8. The curriculum I like the best is MFW, but do not like Singapore Math. This led me to check out other math curriculums and like what I have read about Horizons. The issue I’m facing is Horizons only goes through Grade 6. Do you recommend a particular math curriculum for Grades 6-8?

    1. Lauren Schmitz says:

      Saxon Math is a great option, Roxanne!

  2. Do you recommend this with the MFW kindergarten curriculum? I was also looking into Math with Confidence. Or would you not recommend supplementing? Do you have a review for Math with Confidence yet?

    1. Lauren Schmitz says:

      Holly, I absolutely love Math with Confidence, but I do not have a review out on it. I have also not used the kindergarten book (just the 2nd grade one), but I know Kate Snow is a math genius and an excellent curriculum writer. I would recommend it over Horizons for the Kindergarten level, but be aware is a tiny bit more teacher intensive.

  3. We have used MFW since Kinder, now in 3rd grade. We’ve LOVED it. But the math this year (Singapore primary) started to get a bit confusing to teach, and so now I’m wondering if we should continue their math, which switches to Dimensions math curriculum in 4th grade, or go to another like Horizon… Do you think she would be behind or ahead, or same switching from one to the other?

    1. Lauren Schmitz says:

      Hi Cyndi, Math is definitely one of those subjects that shifts as kids get older – their style of learning, development and other factors play a huge role. I would strongly recommend looking into Apologia Math and/or Math with Confidence by Kate Snow. I will have reviews about them coming out soon. They are both very good for this age bracket.Hope that helps!

  4. Elizabeth says:

    I don’t know the date of your article, but I came across you looking for reviews regarding Life of Fred (LoF). We have used it as reinforcement to Rod and Staff until this year, when we began Pre-Algebra 0 and have had some issues with it. Now, I am wondering if I should continue on with Life of Fred.

    We have homeschooled ten years now, and my oldest has gone through four math studies–Math Mammoth, Rod-N-Staff, Saxon, Principles of Mathematics, and some LoF. She loves Rod-N-Staff, as do I, but unfortunately, Rod-N-Staff has only accounting eighth grade math, and we needed something more and switched back to Saxon. It’s a challenge to find complete math programs from grade K to grade 12.

    Three other children, the youngest being seven now, have used Rod-N-Staff, and two of the children used math together, but it didn’t seem to work as well as independently working math. The boys were bored with Rod-N-Staff. We switched to Simply Good and Beautiful (SGB) mathematics, and it is the most amazing math curriculum we have ever used. Unfortunately, at this time, the curriculum ends after fifth grade. Though I laud praise on this program and wish so much that I had known about it for the past two years, only time will tell if it keeps pace with math expectations into the higher grades. If not, we will return to Rod-N-Staff, which offers excellent explanations of concepts and plenty of practice.

  5. I appreciate your review of Math U See and Horizons so very much! Math U See was not a good fit for my first grader but it came so highly recommended and was working well with my older boys that I just wasn’t sure what to do with her for math! Reading these reviews helped me make my decision! Much thanks from a first year homeschool mom!

  6. Hi! We used Horizons this year for my 1st grader and loved it. We are nearing the end of the school year but are only half way through book 2. Did your kids finish all of the curriculum in a year? Thank you!

    1. Hi Jessica! No, my kids didn’t finish Horizons and they did just fine the next year. Horizons is so advanced, but they also include so much review that anything that was missed was easily picked up the next year.

  7. Hi! Thanks for your helpful reviews. I saw another math program was listed for your recommendations for third grade and higher. Do you not like Horizons for that age? We used Saxon for my 2nd grader last year but I didn’t like it.

    1. Thanks for reaching out, Naomi! I prefer Teaching Textbooks for 3rd grade and up because it allows my kids to have another independent subject. I often still sit through the lesson with my kid, but I can do other things at the same time because I’m not actually teaching it. I also like Teaching Textbooks because it breaks up the lessons of the day. Most everything else I teach is through books, and TT is video-based. My kids appreciate the change in pace 🙂 Hope that helps!

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