Calculators are used in public schools. Calculators can be used in a homeschool. Calculators are neither evil nor a God-given right. Calculators are a tool that can help students do math faster, much like a computer will help students write faster. Calculators can’t really teach math concepts anymore than a computer can teach a student to write, but they can be a great tool.
When students are very young, the emphasis is on learning how to understand math. Once those concepts are understood, and the student is working in pre-algebra or algebra, calculator use is important.
Without a calculator it can be impossible do complete a home high school math assignment within a reasonable amount of time. Even with a calculator, high school math lessons can take one or two hours to complete, so calculator usage is important.
Calculators are used and encouraged on the PSAT, SAT, and ACT tests. A student familiar and comfortable with calculators will score better on those tests than a student who rarely uses a calculator.
Public schools will often have a policy on calculator use. Read the Gadsden City Schools policy: “The broad range of mathematical topics addressed in this document, the problem-solving focus of the mathematics program, and the development of mathematical concepts in a hands-on environment demand that technology use be an integral part of the K-12 program. *Calculators are appropriate for exploratory purposes in Grades K-3 and should be used for problem solving in Grades 4-8. Calculators should be used on a regular basis in all courses and assessments in Grades 9-12.”Computer use should be integrated with content topics as appropriate.”
It is appropriate to use calculators for math at the homeschool middle school and home high school level.