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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.
Great comments here! Thanks to all who have posted. We were hitting a brick wall with Saxon, but after switching to Life of Fred for Pre-Alg, Alg 1, and Alg 2 with success, math is not an emotional rollercoaster anymore. We have two 10th graders volunteering to do Geometry in the summer months so they can be ready for Trig. as high school Juniors, and two very pleased moms in this co-op. Overall reviews of Life of Fred on the internet are massively positive.
Lee, your advice is super!
Great idea to have your teens choose their math program. I will have my twins look at the links you provided. I didn't see Teaching Textbooks on your list. We have been using Teaching Textbooks and LOVE it!
Hi Lee,I see in your math choices you have said YourTeacher has no printed material. You can print all worksheets, notes,tests, and the lessons.
Any math curriculum is a good choice if the child likes it and tolerates it. Even the highest rated math curriculum will get poor results if the child hates it. Look at your child, and see which one would be a good fit. If you are using words like "scared" about a math program, that may not be a good fit. In the upper grades, I do suggest using a curriculum that has a video tutorial. After all, you don't have to "teach" it or learn it yourself, you just have to make sure your child learns it.
Can you speak at all to your opinion on Math U See...I always get scared when I get to the Gamma book at what they are missing through the problem. Time, money, measurement those types of things. I am considering bailing on this again with the second child. It just seems it puts them behind and I am afraid that I am not getting all the supplementation that I need. Any opinion on Math U See for younger or older grades?
Has anyone heard of or used Khan Acadamy? I used it when I first pulled my girls out before we had any curriculum and I enjoyed it! Its actually really easy to use and the best part is that its free! Some public schools have even started using it in the class rooms! Its easy to see what your child has done, where they need help and what "grade" they made on a lesson. I actually think I may go back to using it!
I'm currently using a free trial of yourteacher.com's algebra 1 course. There is a button on each lesson that says xtra probs, which stands for extra problems, and if you press that one you get a page of problems that is printable. We like it so far.
This small ebook will help you:
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If you are looking for Algebra 2, it has more to do with the fit for each child. You can read my article here:
That's said, my Computer Science major did NOT do well with Foerster's - truly a horrendous failure for our family. That was when he decided to switch to Saxon, and he loved it. For heavy math/science kids, Saxon is the highest rated program. But they have to tolerate it!
I really appreciate this discussion regarding high school math. My son just finished geography for 10th grade - we did the Abeka DVD's and he did pretty well. Previously he did video text algrebra I, he liked it, struggled some, but I do think he got a pretty solid base.
I am hoping for recommendations for Algebra 2. I have heard good things about Foerster's Algebra and Trig book which I think covers Algebra 2, I can find the textbook for sale used, but am unsure of where to get the workbooks, answer key,etc that go with it,
He is interested in IT, so I think it is important that he gets a solid Algebra 2 program. I would appreciate any recommendations. Thanks you
Hi April! I really encourage you to invest in math with a solid curriculum, and not look at the price too much. Math is something that is worth the investment because it can be difficult to teach, and getting a full curriculum that she can finish in a year will be worth the effort. Particularly when you are just starting out, having something that is easy to use, and holds your hands through the process - priceless! It's much easier to be flexible after you have been homeschooling a while. Please see my article on math here:
I going to homeschool my daughters next year my oldest is in 7th grade will be ready for pre algebra so I'm looking at Math TV.The book intro to Algebra is $58 but it comes with a 6 month membership to all the videos and all kinds of worksheets. Even if she dose not finished the book before the membership is up its only $20. Good price. If you don't want the text you can get the membership for $20 for months and the online text books is in included with the video, but my daughter learns better with a book in her hands and the videos is a life saver for me.
Dawn, I want to thank you for writing. I have an almost identical situation with my daughter--she's a whiz at memorizing formulae and getting the right answer--for the day. But a week or a month later it's as if she never learned it. And she is a very smart girl. She does not do well with being told how to do something, she prefers to see a problem, examine it, and try to work on it, usually hitting a brick wall, and only then will she seek help. Being introduced to the problem and being told how to work through the entire problem in advance is a definite turn-off. And I thought she was the only one....I've tried everything else--TT is close, but not quite there (too much text, too slow and she's impatient)-- I'm going for VideoText Interactive now.
To anyone with a child who is not remembering how to do his/her algebra two weeks after the lesson is taught: We used Saxon and discovered after a year that our son was not retaining the information taught. Was he learning impaired? Should we have him tested? No! He simply is the kind of learner who needs to know "why" and needs the idea cemented in his mind before going on - makes so much sense to me now. After much prayer another homeschooler (of older boys) urged me to look into videotext interactive's materials. I was able to get a used set at half price and our son is ACING every quiz! Each concept is mastered and quizzed before going on so we know he is understanding each lesson. It is a bit more time-consuming for the parent at first, but then the student is off and running. There is much benefit to watching the short instructional video's with your child so you'll be ready to help if needed. One of the unexpected benefits of this curriculum is that a student can potentially cover both Algebra I and II in one year and be ready for the college clep test! Our son is so excited to be successful in math FINALLY! I hope this suggestion helps someone else.
Life of Fred, in my family, worked best for the child who has loved math since infancy. It had so many "extras" that it was extremely rewarding for her. Her brother, my non-math child, liked the stories in LOF, but didn't "get it" as easily. He used Teaching Textbooks, with the LOF as a supplement.
Jeff, Life of Fred has a trigonometry textbook and Companion book. If your daughter enjoys literature (?), it may be a good fit. We are currently using Life of Fred Beginning Algebra-- the hilarious narrative makes learning algebra almost enjoyable!
I would also like to suggest http://www.mathwithoutborders.com It uses Foerster's Algebra I, which is my favorite for algebra 1.
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