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Has anyone used Beast Academy as their *only* math curriculum?


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My DS6 is doing Go Math! (Grade 3) as his primary math curriculum and BA 2 as a supplement. They seem comparable in difficulty, but BA is more puzzle-y, for lack of a better term. However, I think the manner by which BA math is learned is appealing to me. Does BA cover all of the basic math elements as well as a traditional curriculum?

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I personally found BA to be “trick”-heavy, emphasizing things that may have been interesting but not necessarily what I’d consider super important. For example multiplying numbers that are (?) 2 apart from each other (can’t quite remember the details). Sometimes it seemed like my kids understood the trick but soon forgot it, or it never seemed that useful. Two of my kids, with very different personalities and approaches, got stuck within a page of each other in one of the year 3 books, and I had to step away for six months. So I didn’t get more than a few books in. However, if it’s working for you, why not? It’s supposed to cover the same material and be a full curriculum.

Also, they do now sell puzzle books; as of now, only for levels 2 and 3.

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We used Miquon completely for the early grades then BA as our primary afterwards. I only do math facts and Prodigy for extra math exposure for my BA kids. It has a deceptive amount of practice built in and we do BA online as well for review. We do the books in order and then my kids have free(ish) reign on BA online so they get review and extra practice. 

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We used BA as our math program for levels 3-5, (level 2 was not out when we used it). My kiddo has a solid understanding of math and used to read the books for fun. 

If you use BA, make sure you are using both the guide and the practice books. I've seen some people try to only use the practice books and then complain that their kid didn't understand what was going on.   

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My youngest dd did. We did Miquon and then switched to BA3-5. After that she moved to AOPS prealgebra at home. I'm planning to move away from AOPS for Algebra, bu-ut she seems very interested in trying the Intro to Counting and Probability book. So perhaps we will give that a whirl and completely disrupt my nicely penciled in math sequence.

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Yes, it covers all of the basic math elements. It is a complete math program.

BA is a part of art of problem solving just for elementary aged.

My son did Singapore math 1 and 2, then BA 3 -5 and now in AoPS algebra.

It is not for everyone though. In my opinion, it is pretty hard. Love it, but hard. 😆

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We’ve used BA only (mostly) for my oldest for books 3C to 5D, my middle (2A to currently in 3D), and youngest is in 2B.  I really like the puzzle approach,  the comic books for explanations, as well as the wide variety of ways to practice and the way topics are tired together & come back around for practice even though it is mainly a block curriculum.  It is a complete curriculum, however, there are a few topics that in my opinion don’t get enough time or are put in an odd order, especially in level 2 and early level 3.  We found we had to do extra work on these to develop a good understanding. Place value isn’t as strong as it could be, and the distributive property chapter took a long time to work through.  The logic chapter in 4B is the highlight so far.  I found it got better as it went. 

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My mathy DS used RightStart A-C very early on & initially we loved it, but even with condensing / accelerating he soon got frustrated with the pace. Followed that with Singapore’s 2nd grade Intensive Practice. The challenge level was better... but engagement-wise it didn’t quite hit the mark.

BA was love at first sight. He’s worked through 3A-4B & is currently in 4C. For the first time I don’t have to worry about running out of material halfway through the year. Probably my favorite aspect of it is how it’s built his frustration tolerance. Even when he finds a problem incredibly challenging, he isn’t deterred; the rush of “winning” is worth the slog & he has a genuine sense of pride when he succeeds. He loves playing with math & BA really encourages that sort of relationship to the material, IMO. It’s just genuinely FUN!

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Yes.  It wasn't out yet when my oldest was elementary aged, so we used Singapore Math, but as BA was released we used the pieces that were available until he was ready to start AoPS prealgebra.  Since then he has worked through the AoPs books.

My other two have used BA as their only elementary math curricula before also moving on to AoPs.  I've occasionally supplemented with worksheets for topics that needed a bit more extra practice.

 

 

 

 

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Yep. Love Beast Academy.

Although, both my older 2 got kind of Beast-ed out in the level 5 books and asked for something else. They are both absolutely fine now in higher level math, beast prepared them well.

And, we tend to go a bit slower, generally we only get through 3 books a year. So they end up off kilter grade/level wise, but I find Beast so rich that I'm not at all bothered.

I bring in some other maths for variety (sometimes) or to add more practice (occasionally).

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I have 3 kids who used BA as pretty much their only math - two of them used it for the 3-5 levels, and my youngest from 2-5 (he's halfway through the 5 books right now). 

After experiencing it the first time when oldest DS went through the books, I found that I could judge each kid's "puzzle tolerance" and if they got to a point on a given page where they understood the computation or other concept being taught but we're just getting exhausted from the puzzle aspect (for example - match the equivalent fractions by drawing lines between them, but you have to do it by not crossing any lines over another line), I let them forget the puzzle aspect on some problems and just connect the fractions or whatever it was asking for. 

The only supplementing we did was fact practice for two of the three kids, and some additional long division practice. Youngest needs work on math vocab and reading/comprehending word problems due to dyslexia, but that isn't something most kids would need. 

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10 hours ago, stripe said:

Yes, I felt 3A was harder than 3B. Also a few things seemed late to me, or at least I had already covered them with my kids.

That actually brings up something I’ve wondered about... how often are people who use BA as their main math actually letting BA introduce the concepts?

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Our experience with BA has been kind of mixed. I usually write DD8’s lessons, and at some point I got some BA books for free from AoPS to do some supplementing. DD8 was excited about them at first but cooled on them quite quickly. She never asks to do them herself and prefers the lessons I write.

We also had the issue, at least in the 2nd grade books, that the difficulty level jumped in an annoying way: the basics were too easy and the hard stuff could be too frustrating. Plus, I didn’t feel like it spent enough time with certain important concepts.

DD8 does love the Guide Books, though. And the practice is fun! I just love it less than I thought I would.

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10 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

how often are people who use BA as their main math actually letting BA introduce the concepts?

I can't really be exact about this, but I'd say most but not all of the time?  Depends on the topic, depends on the kid.  

BA was written out of order  and over a period of many years-- IIRC, they first came out with the 4th grade books, then 2, 3, and 5th -- and I suspect some of the seeming 'choppiness' comes from that.  

I have been delighted with how BA set my kids up for middle and high school math.  

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Just now, stripe said:

They actually started with 3, then 4, 5, and 2

You're right!  I was just looking at what I wrote and thinking that maybe 3rd had been first? 

I do remember that the pace at which they came out was very uneven.  

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1 hour ago, JennyD said:

I can't really be exact about this, but I'd say most but not all of the time?  Depends on the topic, depends on the kid.  

BA was written out of order  and over a period of many years-- IIRC, they first came out with the 4th grade books, then 2, 3, and 5th -- and I suspect some of the seeming 'choppiness' comes from that.  

I have been delighted with how BA set my kids up for middle and high school math.  

No, it was choppy page to page. Hard to explain.

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So far, we have used BA as a supplement. But I don't know whether we'll continue this way or switch to just using AOPS when my son finishes BA. 

Does anyone have thoughts about this? He's done Singapore math for 5th grade and is now working through BA's year 5 stuff. He really likes their approach and I'm loosely planning to use the AOPS pre algebra with him next. 

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I've been using it since December, with a 6-year-old. It's first impression, to me, was of being really well-designed. Like I thought a kid would go from understanding place value poorly to understanding it well by doing all of the problems on pirate numbers in order. It took me a while to figure out that it's actually pretty ad hoc and sloppy, at least at a problem-to-problem level. It's inspired in places, but it very rarely seems like it's necessary to master page 99 before moving on to page 100.

And usually I think that there aren't enough problems on page 99 for the kid to master whatever concept is being illustrated there.

Early on I realized I was having two difficulties with it: the workbook is really dense and busy. And it's not repetitive enough. The solution to both was the same, I copy some of the problems out in big handwriting on blank sheets of paper. This way she doesn't get discouraged or enervated when she sees that it's one of ten hard-looking problems on the page, and I can give her the same tricky problem a few times over the course of a week or a month, often not even varying the numbers or the wording.

I'm not very unhappy with it but I think about switching all the time. 

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Just now, UHP said:

 It took me a while to figure out that it's actually pretty ad hoc and sloppy, at least at a problem-to-problem level. It's inspired in places, but it very rarely seems like it's necessary to master page 99 before moving on to page 100.

Yeah. I don't find that the concept-building is nearly as careful as I'd expect. Honestly, this is my usual issue with them... they have so MANY good ideas, but I don't think they test them out quite enough. 

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14 hours ago, stripe said:

Also a few things seemed late to me, or at least I had already covered them with my kids.

That’s fascinating. DD is doing beast 4 and RSM 5 and they seem aligned (that’s to say, Beast is one year ahead of that program at least )

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Just now, madteaparty said:

That’s fascinating. DD is doing beast 4 and RSM 5 and they seem aligned (that’s to say, Beast is one year ahead of that program at least )

I've actually wondered about RSM... what's the program like? I have a friend who teaches there, but I don't know a lot. 

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

I've actually wondered about RSM... what's the program like? I have a friend who teaches there, but I don't know a lot. 

 Well I’m not a math person 🙂 so I don’t have words to explain what it’s like. It’s supposed to be fairly straightforward Soviet math. Now there is no textbook used so I can’t tell. The homework  problem sets for DD seem to be a mix of drill and puzzley word problems. Feels a bit like Singapore, maybe. I personally love RSM, and DD was signed up for both preA and geometry there next year (their normal sequence). But she says she hates it, and that she wants to torture me instead with her math, so it’s been nixed. 😞

Edited by madteaparty
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4 hours ago, stripe said:

There are a few old threads about people who didn’t like it. I vaguely remember a huge thread, but I am not sure it’s one of these

 

 

Hoo boy, that last thread you linked.... I felt like Alice down the rabbit hole, and I remember it from the first time around.  

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1 hour ago, madteaparty said:

 Well I’m not a math person 🙂 so I don’t have words to explain what it’s like. It’s supposed to be fairly straightforward Soviet math. Now there is no textbook used so I can’t tell. The homework  problem sets for DD seem to be a mix of drill and puzzley word problems. Feels a bit like Singapore, maybe. I personally love RSM, and DD was signed up for both preA and geometry there next year (their normal sequence). But she says she hates it, and that she wants to torture me instead with her math, so it’s been nixed. 😞

Why does she hate it, do you know?

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6 hours ago, kirstenhill said:

(for example - match the equivalent fractions by drawing lines between them, but you have to do it by not crossing any lines over another line),

That's funny. Dd9 was doing that exact section today and I let her skip the puzzle part, just like you said. I always make them ask if they're getting frustrated with the puzzle aspect to see if there is inherent value in it or not. 

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6 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

That actually brings up something I’ve wondered about... how often are people who use BA as their main math actually letting BA introduce the concepts?

I guess we sort of did? DS12 was kind of all over the place with math. He read all sorts of math and math-enrichment books for fun and basically taught himself everything in BA, while also teaching himself whatever bits he could get from Life of Fred, Murderous Maths, and the Penrose the Cat books.  There was very little direct-instruction from me. 

I think BA appeals to a certain kind of kid. Mine loved the format, loved the monsters, loved everything about it. As soon as he opened the cover to 3A guide book, he was hooked. He would read the guides under his blankets with a flash light, lol.  I wasn't worried about any sort of "gaps" or choppiness to the books, because he's the sort of kid that will seek out missing info when he doesn't understand what's going on. 

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7 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

That actually brings up something I’ve wondered about... how often are people who use BA as their main math actually letting BA introduce the concepts?

I think most of the time, BA introduces the concepts here. 

My girls read all the guides as soon as they got to the house. They argued over who would get which book for bedtime reading, lol. But they didn't refer back to them while doing the practice pages. DS doesn't care about the guides. I started off trying to read them with him, but after a bit I quit bothering because he didn't care. If he's interested later, cool, we still have them. He very much enjoys the practice books, though.

Some concepts we had done before because we are people who talk about math. Negative numbers, for example - I let both girls skip several pages on that topic when BA got to it because they already knew it well, and DS is also already fluent with the concept so I'll do the same with him. But mostly, yeah, BA introduces the concepts. And it's mainly via the practice pages for us.

I do think level 2 is a bit more "let's throw this at you, now this, now this" than the other levels were. But it wasn't out yet when my girls would have been at that stage, so I can't compare it across different kids.

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Posted (edited)
13 minutes ago, purpleowl said:

My girls read all the guides as soon as they got to the house. They argued over who would get which book for bedtime reading,

Yeah, our guides are now all falling apart after years of being everyone's favorite books to read (and reread, and reread) at lunchtime.  DS10 had read all the guides long before starting the program.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, MissLemon said:

I wasn't worried about any sort of "gaps" or choppiness to the books, because he's the sort of kid that will seek out missing info when he doesn't understand what's going on. 

Yeah, I was this type of kid myself. I would have just pondered and pondered until something made sense. I am pretty sure BA would have worked for me. 

But DD8 is not going to bother to spend her own time learning things, lol. It ain't going to happen. She likes math... she might even math say is her favorite school subject... but she's not passionate about it or excited about it outside of class time. 

She does read things like Murderous Maths and the BA Guide Books, but she doesn't actually do the math along the way if it's the least bit hard. I mean, I'm sure she would if I MADE her, but I'm not that interested in making her. 

 

2 hours ago, purpleowl said:

But mostly, yeah, BA introduces the concepts.

So BA introduced place value and multiplication? 

Edited by Not_a_Number
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Thank you so much for the responses! If I can add on a question: if you went on to AOPS (we have the pre-algebra book on deck), which math curriculum did you love for the basics? My DS is roughly mid-grade 3 if it helps.

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1 minute ago, Not_a_Number said:

Yeah, I was this type of kid myself. I would have just pondered and pondered until something made sense. I am pretty sure BA would have worked for me. 

But DD8 is not going to bother to spend her own time learning things, lol. It ain't going to happen. She likes math... she might even math is her favorite school subject... but she's not passionate about it or excited about it. 

She does read things like Murderous Maths and the BA Guide Books, but she doesn't actually do the math along the way if it's the least bit hard. I mean, I'm sure she would if I MADE her, but I'm not that interested in making her. 

Ha, yeah, DS12 is a kid who won't let it drop if he doesn't understand something. It's caused some friction with teachers, lol.

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1 minute ago, GracieJane said:

Thank you so much for the responses! If I can add on a question: if you went on to AOPS (we have the pre-algebra book on deck), which math curriculum did you love for the basics? My DS is roughly mid-grade 3 if it helps.

I'm probably not going to go the AoPS route, but that's cause we're being more rigorous, not less, lol. 

I do my own thing, to be honest. It doesn't look like any curriculum I've seen. 

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Just now, MissLemon said:

Ha, yeah, DS12 is a kid who won't let it drop if he doesn't understand something. It's caused some friction with teachers, lol.

I remember you talking about that! I'm sure I'd have enjoyed having him in class 🙂 . 

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1 minute ago, Not_a_Number said:

I'm probably not going to go the AoPS route, but that's cause we're being more rigorous, not less, lol. 

I do my own thing, to be honest. It doesn't look like any curriculum I've seen. 

Oh cool! Are you using different books as starting points or inventing it from scratch?

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Posted (edited)
1 minute ago, GracieJane said:

Oh cool! Are you using different books as starting points or inventing it from scratch?

I'm making it up from scratch 🙂 . But I'm a math Ph.D and I've also taught at AoPS for the last 6 years... so I have a lot of material to work off of in my own head! 

Edited by Not_a_Number
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2 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

I'm making it up from scratch 🙂 . But I'm a math Ph.D and I've also taught at AoPS for the last 6 years... so I have a lot of material to work off of in my own head! 

Do you have a favorite curriculum for elementary math?

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Just now, GracieJane said:

Do you have a favorite curriculum for elementary math?

I don't, alas 😞. But the problem is that I haven't really tried to use anything other than what's in my own head much, so I don't have very informed views. I wasn't 100% happy with BA when we tried to use it, but I doubt I'd have been 100% happy with anything. 

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13 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

So BA introduced place value and multiplication? 

Both of those were first introduced in curriculum we used prior to BA (mainly Math Mammoth). For the girls, starting at level 3 in BA meant they were already very solid on place value, and they had a strong understanding of what multiplication IS but they hadn't yet become fluent with it.

For DS starting in level 2, I did continue using MM alongside BA for maybe...a chapter or two? And that included some place value stuff in BA, but I was mainly doing the MM because he needed to review addition and subtraction within 20, if I recall correctly. I think the first chapter on place value was tough for him, but with help he could do it, and his understanding was clearly developing. I felt like it was later (maybe during the addition chapter) that he really got a strong handle on place value. So I would say that on the whole, BA is how he learned to understand place value.

He has already figured out multiplication on his own even though he's not there yet in BA. (The girls had done the same thing before getting to the topic in MM.) But I haven't *taught* it, just provided vocabulary to describe what he's figuring out.

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11 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

That actually brings up something I’ve wondered about... how often are people who use BA as their main math actually letting BA introduce the concepts?

Yes, we sort of are for the most part, and much of the time that works well.  We realistically need some kind of road map.  My two youngest have heard of some things before they get there, so then they aren’t new (fractions, negative numbers). My oldest did a different curriculum prior, so she had some exposure to others before switching. I’ve been having a lot more conversations with my kids about math topics, so that is also contributing to some things coming up earlier. 
Where it starts in Gr. 2, I don’t think it’s supposed to be a kid’s first exposure to place value, in reality. 

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, MissLemon said:

I think BA appeals to a certain kind of kid. Mine loved the format, loved the monsters, loved everything about it. As soon as he opened the cover to 3A guide book, he was hooked. He would read the guides under his blankets with a flash light, lol.  I wasn't worried about any sort of "gaps" or choppiness to the books, because he's the sort of kid that will seek out missing info when he doesn't understand what's going on. 

This has been our experience, as well. The playfulness has been key! He loves the word play, the pop / geek culture references, the puzzles. We play math games nearly every day. Read mathy picture books & novels. Make math art. We spent a month last year graphing all the things in half a dozen ways because he was obsessed. He comes across concepts again, and again, and again because he just loves it. I mean, the kid tries to play “exponents” at the playground with random kids! 😅 

BA is a perfect match. 

Edited by Shoes+Ships+SealingWax
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2 hours ago, Shoes+Ships+SealingWax said:

This has been our experience, as well. The playfulness has been key! He loves the word play, the pop / geek culture references, the puzzles. We play math games nearly every day. Read mathy picture books & novels. Make math art. We spent a month last year graphing all the things in half a dozen ways because he was obsessed. He comes across concepts again, and again, and again because he just loves it. I mean, the kid tries to play “exponents” at the playground with random kids! 😅 

BA is a perfect match. 

Aw, that sounds familiar! When DS12 was younger, he saw the game Prime Climb at B&N, and gave me a hard sell on why we should buy it! "Mommy, it has addition, subtraction, multiplication, AND division! It has it ALL!!!". How do you say no to that? 🤣

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11 hours ago, Eilonwy said:

Yes, we sort of are for the most part, and much of the time that works well.  We realistically need some kind of road map.  My two youngest have heard of some things before they get there, so then they aren’t new (fractions, negative numbers). My oldest did a different curriculum prior, so she had some exposure to others before switching. I’ve been having a lot more conversations with my kids about math topics, so that is also contributing to some things coming up earlier. 
Where it starts in Gr. 2, I don’t think it’s supposed to be a kid’s first exposure to place value, in reality. 

Probably not. But then I think we vastly underdo place value teaching in general. 

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Posted (edited)
9 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

Probably not. But then I think we vastly underdo place value teaching in general. 

I was troubled by the way some HS math teachers in the US “understood” long division, as discussed by Liping Ma. Although their understanding of geometry was horrifying.

ETA I will say that MEP works place value in to a surprising number of areas in their primary school books.

Edited by stripe
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19 minutes ago, stripe said:

I was troubled by the way some HS math teachers in the US “understood” long division, as discussed by Liping Ma. Although their understanding of geometry was horrifying.

ETA I will say that MEP works place value in to a surprising number of areas in their primary school books.

Yeah, Liping Ma's book is definitely a "Wow, things are THAT bad?!" kind of testimony. Not that I was all that surprised, but still... kind of ridiculous. 

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I’m late to this thread and haven’t read all the prior posts, so forgive me if I’m repeating what has already been said. DD used Singapore until she was ready for Beast 3 (2 wasn't out yet), did Beast 3-5, then went into AOPS. It worked for her - she is very math-intuitive and enjoys math. She largely taught herself from the books.

It would not work as a  primary stand alone program for my other child who has ADHD. I think this is partly because it would be difficult for me to adapt it in the way he might need, and at a certain point, it is more efficient to go with another solid program. 
 

to answer your main question, yes, it covers all the basic elements as well as a traditional curriculum. Success with the program probably depends on the type of learner/student you have, and the type of teacher/teaching environment you can set up at home. 

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