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Homeschool Curriculum - How to Fail in High School Math

>>>>Dorette asked: Why did you use Saxon Advanced Math when it looks like you used another program for Algebra 1, Algebra 2, and Geometry?<<<<

A wise homeschool Mom once said, "If it works, use it. If it doesn't work - Change!"

We used Addison-Wesley math books through elementary school. When we started Algebra, the next book in the series was Algebra 1 by Paul Foerster. It was highly rated by homeschool suppliers, so it seemed like the "right" thing to do. I chose that book because it had a solution manual. Really, that was my whole reason - it had a solution manual!

My son Kevin is very mathematically minded, but he really struggled with this book! It just didn't seem to say things in a way that Kevin could understand it. By the end of the year, Kevin scored about 75% on the final. I really wanted Kevin to succeed before he moved on, so I searched for another math book so that he could do Algebra 1 over again. We chose Jacobs Algebra. I was planning to use that in the fall, and just have Kevin repeat the course. Instead, Kevin studied it by himself, took the final exam in the Jacobs Algebra text, and got a fabulous score, so in the fall he was able to move on to geometry. We used Jacobs geometry for that course. When it was time to do Algebra 2, I bought Paul Foersters Algebra 2 and Trigonometry. Don't ask me why! This author hadn't worked for us the first time, so I don't know why I thought it would work a second time through! After a month, I realized that we simply couldn't go forward with this book. We had to make a change, and Jacobs didn't have an Algebra 2 book.

Following a friend's advice, I gave Kevin the choice, and he chose his own math book. I was SHOCKED that he would choose Saxon! Saxon had no appeal to me, because I like books with color, and photos. But Kevin loved math, and he liked the look of Saxon because it was mostly numbers - problem after problem! That's what appealed to him! (Who knew?) So we switched to Saxon Math at that point. Since Kevin had already completed Algebra 1 and Geometry using different programs, he took the Saxon placement test, and we started him with Saxon Advanced Math.

I think almost everyone "loses it" at some point with high school math. It was during Algebra 2 that I simply couldn't DO the teaching anymore. That's when I began to use DIVE CDs. You can find more information at this website:

So now you know the story of our math curriculum choices! Our choices don't matter to your family, of course. What really matters is the underlying philosophy: If it works, use it. If it doesn't work - CHANGE!

I notice that a lot of homeschooling families work like this. They expect their student to really master a subject before moving on. I think that's why homeschoolers have higher standardized test scores than other students! We simply want them to know it before they move on! That gives them a better foundation for more advanced learning, and ultimately makes them more successful. My son Kevin is currently a sophomore in college, studying engineering and computer science. He takes upper level math classes "for fun" with his free credits. I'm really glad we encouraged mastery in math. And I'm really REALLY glad I let him choose his own math book!

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Monday, 28 September 2020

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