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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.
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.
Wanda, the Ask Dr. Callahan DVD set might have worked well for my daughter. But, she didn't really respond well to either the Math-U-See videos or the Teaching Textbooks videos. So I'm not all that driven to try her on another video set.
Now, almost a year after my previous comment, I can say that our plan has worked out quite well. Rather than having a video set for her to watch, she has worked through the text and asked me to go over the problems with her when she had trouble. In the earlier part of the year, that experience was kind of straining our relationship and I wasn't sure it was such a good idea. Now, though, she's driven to get through it as preparation for the college tests and she's finally picking up some of the concepts. We sit down together fairly frequently to go over things that are troubling her but she's able to do more and more of it on her own.
Now, we're going to have to try and figure out what to have her do next year. I think we've exhausted Jacobs' texts. I think trig would be the best subject to tackle, but I don't know a good text in that area.
This is a comment on Jeff Thompson's comment. I am wondering if Jeff has checked out Ask Dr. Callahan-- since its a DVD set covering the course content of the Jacobs textbook, with each lesson explained-- and more-- he might find it is the perfect fit for his daughter?
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
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!
[...] it doesn’t fit everyone. Here is a link to Sonlight. Have him choose his own math, using the high school math strategies [...]
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.
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!
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:
[...] Homeschool High School Math – Choosing Curriculum March 23, 2009 Lee Binz [...]
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!)
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!
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.
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?
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