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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.
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?
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!
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 advice. We're currently using Math-U-See with our 3rd and 6th grade boys, which seems to be a good fit for them.