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The key to choosing a high school math program is recognizing that your preferences and learning style may not be the same as your teen's. Your child may learn differently, and require a different program than you would choose for yourself.
Teenagers sometimes have pet peeves and personality quirks that interfere with certain textbooks and videos. A teen may be so annoyed by a person on video tutorial that it distracts them from learning. What if they don't like the teacher's accent? Or they can't stand learning from a white board? An imitation classroom setting may even drive them crazy.
For these reasons, I suggest that parents give their children choices in math. Choose some equally good but different math tutorials, and then allow your teen to decide.
My son Kevin shocked me when he chose Saxon Math. I hated the way Saxon looked. I'm a visual learner and I desired photos, pictures, and graphic illustrations. But my son loves numbers. He liked Saxon because it had so many problems on each page with no pictures getting in the way. Can you believe that? I never thought that Saxon would be a fit for my family - it never occurred to me! But I gave him the choice, he chose Saxon, and he went into engineering with a minor in math!
Here are some video samples to help you compare choices with your teen. Click on each link and open the video tutorial in each one to "Algebra 1." Compare them with your child, and allow your child to give feedback. The differences may not matter to you, but might To your teen. Sometimes simply the ability to choose will provide "ownership." They may (hopefully) be less likely to complain when they have chosen it for themselves.
Here are two options for serious bibliophiles. If you child loves literature and hates numbers, you may have success with these books.
There are so many math programs available and I can't possibly list them all. These are a few that I hope will help you find a math curriculum that fits your student perfectly. Remember that it is about how your student will learn best. It doesn't really matter how the parent learns best.
For more on teaching math and choosing math curriculum, check out High School Math Without the Moaning. Or, grab my Coffee Break book: High School Math The Easy Way: Simple Strategies for Homeschool Parents In Over Their Heads.
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Please note: This post was originally published in March 2009 and has been updated and revamped for accuracy and comprehensiveness.
Good advice. We're currently using Math-U-See with our 3rd and 6th grade boys, which seems to be a good fit for them.
This was probably one of the biggest challenges, especially with my youngest son, who will be high school age next year.
He's an auditory learner and when he sees a HUGE textbook, he flips out and can't see the forest for the trees. At the same time, he's brilliant at math. I think that a lot of pictures (other than examples) just distract him.
This year, we've been using the Key to Algebra from "Key to ..." series (http://www.keypress.com/x6469.xml) and he's done SO well with it. Since it's a thin booklet, it doesn't overwhelm him at all. And I love the very inexpensive price tag!
Thanks so much for all your great tips, Lee!
Good thinking, Diane! Keys to sounds like a PERFECT solution for your situation. I wonder if the SAT prep booklets will be a good fit for him later on, in high school? I'm really impressed that you were able to draw outside the lines like that, Diane! I think you moms are just the best!
I remember when I found out I couldn't hand down my older child's curruculum to her sister. I tried, and it bombed. My younger daughter is currently doing very well with a curriculum I can't stand. I add hands-on activities, and she's absolutely thriving. But I can't stand that curriculum. It's perfect for Little Sis. I still hate it. It was heartbreaking to pack up big sister's old books and sell them to fund little sister's curriculum. I LOVED those books.
I have to remind myself that it's just the same as the situation with jeans - Big Sis can wear jeans, but jeans just don't fit Little Sis right, so she has to wear slacks and sweatpants instead of Big Sis' hand-me-downs. I love jeans. I don't much like slacks or sweatpants. But it's not about my personal preference, is it?
I have created a website with over 4,000 videos of my students and me working problems from basic mathematics through calculus. The reaction to the site has been overwhelming positive. The address is http://www.mathtv.com. The videos are free.
We are getting ready to launch a series of online textbooks that will be available at a significantly lower cost than the current textbooks.
The one thing that I have learned, homeschooling 4 kids (grades 4-12) is that it is OK to not use something you bought or have. Being able to "walk" away from a text is hard - I felt I needed to use it because I bought it - wrong!!! Recognizing that a book or style of learning does not work for a certian kid is a wonderful thing. Acting on that and trying something else is even better!
What a wonderful idea to have a video link to the major math demos all in one place for easy comparison!
I am a math aficionado, so I love looking at all kinds of materials. There are new programs coming out all the time, so it is wonderful to be able to see them next to each other!
For Pat McKeague, what a brillian idea to show your students explaining the problems! Very well done!
I want to reference this column on my blog (with proper credits of course!)
[...] Homeschool High School Math – Choosing Curriculum March 23, 2009 Lee Binz [...]
Lee, here is on that you might add to your list:
Saxon Teacher which was created by Saxon, similar to DIVE, but more extensive. It goes through every problem in the text and the test. Here is the video demo:
Thanks for the Saxon link! I kept meaning to add the new Saxon videos, and your post prompted me to finally get to it - thanks!
Most of my kids could learn math from just about anything. The inherit good math skills from both my wife and I. I enjoy it when they get old enough that they can do real math with me. (I don't consider arithmetic real math. It's just something you have to learn to get there. Further, I'm lousy at it. When teaching my kids upper level math, I tell them they have to watch me to make sure I don't make mistakes.)
Most of them have found Math-U-See quite effective and have worked through most of that curriculum.
However, to introduce some variety, we did geometry from Harold Jacobs "Geometry: Seeing, Doing, Understanding", http://www.amazon.com/Geometry-Understanding-Harold-R-Jacobs/dp/0716743612/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1246981553&sr=1-1 . That worked really well.
When we got to Calculus, we couldn't find any homeschool oriented texts. Instead, we selected one of the most widely used and highly regarded standard textbooks, "Calculus" by Howard Anton. We bought the older, 6th edition used, because it had better reviews. She did well enough on that to pass the AP Calculus AB test.
You may have noticed that I kept referring to "most of my kids". With one daughter, a very creative, artistic girl, it has been a very different story. Math-U-See didn't work well for her. We tried Teaching Textbooks. She got through it with some success, but she never used the really cool, expensive CDs. We tried Jacob's "Geometry" for her this past her and we had good success with that. Based on that, we decided to try Harold Jacob's "Elementary Algebra". http://www.amazon.com/Elementary-Algebra-Harold-R-Jacobs/dp/0716710471/ref=ed_oe_h . We've got it sitting waiting for the next school year to begin and it looks promising for her.
One thing that we've discovered with her is that we can have more success by re-arranging the standard math sequence. In public school, she would have to go strictly by the sequence. However, we went from Pre-Algebra to Geometry and then we're going back to Algebra this year. The following year we may skip Algebra II and go to Trig. She's struggled with Algebra, but by doing an end-run around it with Geometry (with review/preview bits in each chapter), I think she's going to do much better.
To a lesser degree we did something similar with my oldest, who passed the AP Calculus. She skipped Algebra II. We had to do a bit of catch up during Calculus. There were areas where we had to fill in the gaps. Then after passing AP Calculus, she had to take a math placement exam to register for her college classes. In reviewing for it, she saw a bunch of algebra that she didn't know. So we taught her Algebra II in 3 hours one evening.
[...] it doesn’t fit everyone. Here is a link to Sonlight. Have him choose his own math, using the high school math strategies [...]
To find a 'fitting' Math curriculum is not always easy. You definitely want to know your child's learning style, and than it still might be trial and error with the books. All I can say is, do not make the price tag of the curriculum the deciding factor!It is a life time investment if you buy the books that fit your child perfectly.
btw we use Paradigm Accelerated Curriculum and it includes the variety of books and CDs, never boring!
Excellent advice you've provided! My 15 year old son has excelled with Saxon and is currently enjoying their Advanced Math with Pre-Cal and Trig as a sophomore. One problem I hope you may be able to address...Although he has excelled in his co-op math classes and is far ahead of schedule, he performed very poorly recently on his at-home diagnostic practice for the PSAT this year as a sophomore. Any ideas why? Any ideas for a solution? I'm baffled as he LOVES math and Apologia Physics which are quite challenging! Thank you so very much for your mentorship! God bless you greatly! Natalie
Ever wonder about high school subject tests? Like, which one should your child take? Which one will benefit them the most? Should they even take one? What is the difference