Beast Academy (mathematics, grades 2-5) operates by giving students problems to solve without a great deal of initial instruction, guiding them into learning as they wrestle with unfamiliar material.
Subject: Mathematics (arithmetic)
Grade level: Elementary and early middle school (grades 2-5)
Publisher: Art of Problem Solving
Description: Beast Academy is a conceptual math program intended to cover arithmetical topics (according to the publisher, it is “loosely based on the Common Core standards”) The program is written in comic book style, with plenty of problems and an online component, and is intended as a full math program (not a supplement).
Beginning with arithmetical problems, Beast Academy moves (by grade 5) into some pre-algebraic material. Like the upper-level Art of Problem Solving materials, Beast Academy operates by giving students problems to solve without a great deal of initial instruction, guiding them into learning as they wrestle with unfamiliar material.
Pros: Beast Academy is strongly conceptural and encourages mathematical thinking (as opposed to formulaic problem solving) at an early age. The program is designed to produce a high level of mathematical achievement at an early age, and is excellently suited to STEM-gifted students.
Parents of dyslexic children have found Beast Academy (and the AOPS approach generally) well suited to students who struggle with processing written information.
Cons: Many parents have observed that the program is designed for children who process mathematical information quickly (and relatively easily). Although it can be used with slower maturers, it is likely to frustrate many children working at the grade level indicated by the book titles.
The cartoonish, comic-book style is annoying to some learners, and the core books are visually “busy” and distracting.
Why it’s not in the book: Several reasons.
As of publication of The Well-Trained Mind in August 2016, the program was not complete through the end of Grade 5.
The program introduces “higher level” (abstract and algebraic) thinking at a very early stage. Although many young students will prosper with this challenge, in our opinion, the majority of math students will not be ready for the logic- and even rhetoric-stage skills introduced during grammar- and early logic-stage studies.
Generally, Beast Academy does not hold to our preferred model of grammar-stage instruction; it is strongly whole-to-parts.
What parents say: Visit these forum threads to find out more.