If Art of Problem Solving books was a bad fit for your family can you tell me why?

Your use of the Forums confirms your acceptance of our terms of use and forum guidelines

Started by
elmerRex
, Sep 23 2016 07:06 PM

37 replies to this topic

Posted 23 September 2016 - 07:06 PM

If Art of Problem Solving books was a bad fit for your family can you tell me why?

Posted 24 September 2016 - 02:04 AM

It was a bad fit for my younger. He is interested in learning maths efficiently. He wants to be told how to do a problem, do a few with a small twist. He is not interested in theoretical maths, but would rather focus on applied type word problems. He wants to pass NZ exams which align better with other curriculum, and he wants to get there as efficiently as possible. His math education will be good, but not at an AoPS level, and this is ok. He simply does not need the rigor of AoPS, and he can learn persistence and problem solving through other subjects like English or Programming.

In contrast, my older is an AoPS kid and plans to be a mathematician. I have seen both sides.

Ruth in NZ

- Woodland Mist Academy, loesje22000, swimmermom3 and 6 others like this

Posted 24 September 2016 - 09:58 AM

Similar to lewelma, I have a dd who is good at math and doesn't struggle with it, but who is not that interested in it and who would be completely unwilling to invest hours per day on math. She spends hours each day writing, that's her thing, math isn't. We switched to a still conceptual but very efficient math program so that she can spend the time necessary to stay on track, but no more. Like lewelma says, she gets plenty of challenges in other areas. Math doesn't have to be that subject for every student.

The time investment AoPS required, from both dd and me, didn't work for us, and didn't fit with her goals or with the way our homeschool and our lives work. Our main energy is focused in different directions.

- Woodland Mist Academy, kand, loesje22000 and 3 others like this

Posted 24 September 2016 - 10:55 AM

It did not work for us. I enjoy teaching how to do something and then assigning problems. We do problems together, but then the child has to do some alone. The format of the book lended a lot to self study. But I think it could also lend to cheating and such. I had the feel of LOF to me, without the stupid cutesy story. If the child is not that interested in learning, the child won't get much out of it.

I only have one book set. So I have kept it, on the shelf. I might try to use it again in the future with younger children when they are older.

- Woodland Mist Academy and Chrysalis Academy like this

Posted 24 September 2016 - 11:12 AM

DD is fairly good at math--she understands it intuitively, but she has never enjoyed doing math. I thought the wordy style would appeal to her and increase her interest level, because I know she can handle math in more depth. At some point she started asking, "Ok, what's the trick to this question? The answer is probably 1, because there's always some trick that makes it easier than it seems." AOPS wasn't increasing her interest in math, just teaching her to look for the trick so she could be done sooner. I've tried a wide range of curricula with her over the years, and at that point I realized, she will never love math. So I found a more straightforward program that she can get through and move on to subjects that she actually cares about.

**Edited by TKDmom, 24 September 2016 - 11:14 AM.**

- Woodland Mist Academy, loesje22000, dmmetler and 3 others like this

Posted 24 September 2016 - 11:18 AM

My kid didn't like to have to constantly figure out how to do things before being shown how to do them. At the time I used it he was very young so that might have been part of it.

I used the thinner math competition prep books along with another math program and that worked out better for him.

- Woodland Mist Academy likes this

Posted 24 September 2016 - 11:20 AM

DD is fairly good at math--she understands it intuitively, but she has never enjoyed doing math. I thought the wordy style would appeal to her and increase her interest level, because I know she can handle math in more depth. At some point she started asking, "Ok, what's the trick to this question? The answer is probably 1, because there's always some trick that makes it easier than it seems." AOPS wasn't increasing her interest in math, just teaching her to look for the trick so she could be done sooner. I've tried a wide range of curricula with her over the years, and at that point I realized, she will never love math. So I found a more straightforward program that she can get through and move on to subjects that she actually cares about.

Yep, same thing here. What's the trick? It started to feel a little too contrived after awhile.

- Woodland Mist Academy, TKDmom and elladarcy like this

Posted 24 September 2016 - 11:21 AM

DD is fairly good at math--she understands it intuitively, but she has never enjoyed doing math. I thought the wordy style would appeal to her and increase her interest level, because I know she can handle math in more depth. At some point she started asking, "Ok, what's the trick to this question? The answer is probably 1, because there's always some trick that makes it easier than it seems." AOPS wasn't increasing her interest in math, just teaching her to look for the trick so she could be done sooner. I've tried a wide range of curricula with her over the years, and at that point I realized, she will never love math. So I found a more straightforward program that she can get through and move on to subjects that she actually cares about.

I agree with this observation, and noticed it myself - sleuthing out the clever trick to solve a problem does not always lead to understanding the concept. I am definitely guilty of doing this myself, and dd was starting to catch on. Not what I was hoping to have her learn!

- Woodland Mist Academy, TKDmom, loesje22000 and 1 other like this

Posted 24 September 2016 - 12:09 PM

I agree with this observation, and noticed it myself - sleuthing out the clever trick to solve a problem does not always lead to understanding the concept. I am definitely guilty of doing this myself, and dd was starting to catch on. Not what I was hoping to have her learn!

Although I found that helpful for me. I now can sometimes work my way through a problem if it doesn't initially look familiar by looking for the parts I do know.

But then again most math problems in math books are basically contrived. It just felt like some of the AoPS problems were set up to trick a person. I don't think my kid appreciated that.

Posted 24 September 2016 - 12:55 PM

Pace. My son could do the work, but not at the pace necessary to complete our desired high school math sequence.

Us, too. It took us 2 years to get through one textbook. At that rate...

- Woodland Mist Academy, Meriwether and Penguin like this

Posted 24 September 2016 - 01:11 PM

I will let the others detail the reasons AoPS wasn't a good fit for their students as there are plenty of possibilities. I'm just popping in to point out a couple of things. In general, I would keep in mind that the high school AoPS books might not well-suited for a very advanced 8 y.o. though it might be worth re-evaluating at a later point in time, in another year or three. I'd hope such a talented student would further develop problem solving skills eventually, though there are multiple ways to skin that cat. I strongly suggest asking on the Accelerated Learning board where some parents of young, advanced learners might have experiences to share, including reasons they didn't find AoPS to be a good fit at some point in time, as they may not see this question over here on the high school board.

- Woodland Mist Academy, dmmetler, Roadrunner and 3 others like this

Posted 24 September 2016 - 02:09 PM

See my post in your Beast thread.

Posted 24 September 2016 - 02:18 PM

My daughter is dyslexic. She's always been good at math, but her working memory is an issue - especially with a program like AOPS. Not nearly enough review for her, which mean tweaking. Then there's the busy pages and the fact that it's just very wordy.

It obviously doesn't apply to everyone, but my personal opinion is that being good - or even GREAT - at math isn't enough for this program to be a sincere success - you have to have a kid who is not only good/great at math, they need to LOVE math, and that just wasn't my DD. For her, math is a means to an end. She likes Biology and Physics, and may want a career in in one of those fields, and math is necessary for that... but she does *not* "love" math.

- Woodland Mist Academy and dmmetler like this

Posted 24 September 2016 - 03:21 PM

My son had used Saxon his whole life, and had never attended a math club where you sort of learn to "discover" math concepts, think outside the box with math, etc. He always was OK at math and is a highly intelligent, logical thinker. (computer programmer, etc.)

He was SO TIRED of the formulaic - algorithm based drill in Saxon! He just could not stand it, and so we switched to AOPS, with a once per week tutor.

It was a very mind numbing, difficult year. He went forward by leaps and bounds in his logical thinking, and ability to problem solve, and he really loved it that there were some challenges, but it was WAY WAY over the top. * This curriculum, as I have said here before, is for EXTREMELY gifted kids, who also LOVE math, and like to take their TIME pondering over the problems and figuring things out*. We also used the Online class and found it extremely frustrating, even moreso than just the book and solutions manual. WIth the book and solutions manual you have...the solutions manual! With the online class, the problems they use are NOT the ones in the book so you have no solutions manual. It would have been better for us if I could have given my son a hint. And with the online class students are supposed to be able to ask about the tough ones, but for us, half of the challenge problems would go unsolved until he could meet with his tutor....some chapters were harder than others of course, but towards the end of the book it was EXTREMELY difficult.

Additionally, he ended up being shaky on just solving some of the concepts during the end of the book, as far as regular algebra goes, because the book really relies on the Discovery method and shies away from algorithms and memorization.

My son is using Saxon Alg 2 with the DIVE CD and he loves Dr. Shormann. Dr. Shormann has faithfully answered two emails so far, true to his promise on his website.....My son will be using Saxon for high school, supplemented with SAT Critical Thinking prep, SAT tutoring and also possibly a tutor for Pre-Calc...he will either get a tutor for Calc to go along with the books or take the course at Community College. I have heard kids that use Saxon Calc usually get 4's and 5s on their AP Calc exam, so it can't be that bad. So I am just going to stick with it.

**Edited by Calming Tea, 24 September 2016 - 03:24 PM.**

- Woodland Mist Academy and lewelma like this

Posted 24 September 2016 - 04:10 PM

We tried it, but my DD has no patience for math (she doesn't really enjoy it) and she was not amenable to sitting there and puzzling things out patiently. She wants git her done math, so we're with Saxon and it seems to be fine for her.

Posted 24 September 2016 - 05:30 PM

DS did AOPS pre-algebra - mind numbingly slow. Plus we had to add Math Mammoth 6 to drill those things that he needed the extra practice on. Then it cam time for Algebra. He still wanted AOPS. I didn't! Even slower. He did learn to work through problems, patience, and perseverance. For Algebra 2, he looked at every program I could find. He decided on teaching textbooks - I know, it is the opposite end of the spectrum. But he has had great success with it and now likes math again. (He is my history/ geography boy)

As a comparison, DD did AOPS pre-algebra last year. She flew through it. Barely needed any help - even on the challengers. I mostly sat there, checking her answers. She is my gifted one. Watching her go through it so easily, made me see how it really was not a good fit for my son. She is doing AOPS Algebra - relishing it. Usually spending two hours a day. She wants to finish it to get to the Counting and Probability book.

Posted 24 September 2016 - 05:37 PM

I will let the others detail the reasons AoPS wasn't a good fit for their students as there are plenty of possibilities. I'm just popping in to point out a couple of things. In general, I would keep in mind that the high school AoPS books might not well-suited for a very advanced 8 y.o. though it might be worth re-evaluating at a later point in time, in another year or three. I'd hope such a talented student would further develop problem solving skills eventually, though there are multiple ways to skin that cat. I strongly suggest asking on the Accelerated Learning board where some parents of young, advanced learners might have experiences to share, including reasons they didn't find AoPS to be a good fit at some point in time, as they may not see this question over here on the high school board.

Yes. The presentation is very dry and possibly too dry for some younger kids. I have always used low flash books when possible so my kids don't care about that aspect, but I could see where it might be disappointing and seem boring to a young kid.

Posted 24 September 2016 - 06:53 PM

First kid: Didn't make it past 10 pages. Was not at all a good fit.

Second kid: LOVED AOPS it so much she wanted to work every. single. problem. There was no way to finish the curriculum. She did Intro to Algebra over 6 - 8th and most of intro geometry in 8th - 9th. She both wanted to do every single problem and wanted to get to calculus, because she was learning from science fair that "everything" is calculus. In 10th, she took AP Chem with a couple of very gifted 8th grade boys, both of whom were doing calculus. She decided from AP Chem that all her homeschooled classes had been too slow and not challenging enough and if 8th graders can do calculus then she was way, way behind (her words not mine). So, 11th we decided to do DE. She placed into Calculus at the CC. We did a Pre-cal over the summer to get ready. (UW Math 120 - http://www.math.wash...n.edu/~m120/).She whizzed through it so off to calculus she goes. She starts after winter break.

ETA: Fixed broken link

**Edited by JanetC, 24 September 2016 - 09:37 PM.**

Posted 24 September 2016 - 07:38 PM

It's been a little hit-and-miss here. My youngest ds 10 really enjoys Beast Academy, and is doing well. He's finishing up 4D and moving onto 5A soon.

My oldest ds 14 tried AoPS pre-algebra a couple years ago, but went back to Saxon 1 / 2. He finished up Saxon Algegra 1 and is now doing AoPS Geometry and really enjoying it.

My middle ds 12 tried Beast Academy, did well but preferred Saxon. He LOVES doing the math contest stuff as well. He'll not master the most challenging problems on those unless he goes back to AoPS or gets specific coaching, though. We'll just wait and see what he decides to spend his energies and focus on.

Dd tried AoPS Algebra, but went back to Saxon Algebra. She likes the format and does much better with regular review of a variety of types of problems. Dd loves joining in and trying out the fun problems with ds 10's Beast Academy.

I like having a few different types of learning materials available, as they can be used for different students at different times in their mathematics journey. All my guys participate in math contest once a year from age 12 on up just for the experience. I think* I've* been the most keen to learn how to tackle the most challenging problems on the practice tests. I just never had the opportunity to see anything like them in my school. I'm so happy to expose my dc to these types of programs. It will be interesting to see how they develop and grow in the field of math, and in other fields.

Posted 24 September 2016 - 07:56 PM

nm

**Edited by Cathi, 04 October 2016 - 06:36 PM.**

Posted 24 September 2016 - 09:37 PM

Pace. My son could do the work, but not at the pace necessary to complete our desired high school math sequence.

Us, too. It took us 2 years to get through one textbook. At that rate...

Yup, same here! He had too many other things he wanted to do with his time than to spend the 2-3 hours/day AOPS would have required. And feeling steadily "behind" zapped his enjoyment of math.

- Penguin likes this

Posted 24 September 2016 - 09:46 PM

Haven't quit AoPS yet, but we are seriously considering moving to Derek Owens for my oldest DD. She likes AoPS - they all do - but it's the pace. She's at the point where she's becoming much more tactical about math - she wants to cover what she needs for the SAT and get on to Calculus in time to do the Calc AP and maybe Calculus based physics. AoPS is still working well for my younger ones, but it is such a very, very time consuming program. There are days when we only get through one problem, or maybe two. I think it works best when you start it early - but some kids can handle starting it early and some can't.

- Penguin likes this

Posted 25 September 2016 - 07:34 AM

As a stand alone, pace and efficiency were problems. I've only had one child thus far who could learn and retain the information using AoPS alone without becoming incredibly frustrated to the point of just not wanting to try. They have all appreciated the explanations of the text, and we still use it to compliment/supplement whatever else we are using at the time.

Posted 25 September 2016 - 04:50 PM

I have a math gifted son who works at a fast pace, loves math and is very driven. This child taught himself Algebra in 3rd grade and finished Calculus by 8th grade (all self taught). My point is he is the kind of kid who AOPS was designed for. So I bought a couple of books for him to try out (Probability and I forget which other one). He HATED them. I don't think he made through a chapter in either book. The discovery approach drove him NUTS. He is perfectionist and the trying to figure out the correct approach just gave him fits. He likes to be told how/what to do, and be able to go do it. But guessing his way through till he found the "correct" way was not his style at all.

- Calming Tea, herbalgirl and nobeatenpath like this

Posted 26 September 2016 - 10:42 AM

My son would have been so much better off if we had just used it as a supplement!!!

- Woodland Mist Academy likes this

Posted 26 September 2016 - 02:24 PM

My son loved AoPS. His brain loves a puzzle and the how to. It really has prepared him for Calculus now. He went away in August for 11th and 12th grades, but his AoPS books are on his bookshelves at school.

My daughter is dyslexic. It was awful. She is now using Pearson's Math and learns math in a much more traditional way. AoPS would have taken too long, and her brain doesn't learn the way AoPS teaches.

Posted 26 September 2016 - 04:23 PM

BA was a game changer for us. It came out when DD was in 2nd, and it's the only elementary math we used in its entirety until we outpaced it. (We did mostly living math before it.) She thrived in it, and I credit it for helping to reduce her perfectionistic tendencies and associated anxieties. It was that good for her.

Last year (6th) she was ready for pre-algebra. We used a few chapters of AoPS but it was slow going. She loves Richard and the strong conceptual approach but she does not like the discovery approach of AoPS. Even doing it buddy style just wasn't a great success compared to Dolciani which we were also using.

She is strong at math, but it's not her love. She would rather do just about anything else than ponder an AoPS problem for an hour.

We switched to Foerster's for algebra 1 this year, and it's a great fit.

Last year (6th) she was ready for pre-algebra. We used a few chapters of AoPS but it was slow going. She loves Richard and the strong conceptual approach but she does not like the discovery approach of AoPS. Even doing it buddy style just wasn't a great success compared to Dolciani which we were also using.

She is strong at math, but it's not her love. She would rather do just about anything else than ponder an AoPS problem for an hour.

We switched to Foerster's for algebra 1 this year, and it's a great fit.

- Laura in CA likes this

Posted 26 September 2016 - 08:53 PM

It was a bad fit for my younger. He is interested in learning maths efficiently. He wants to be told how to do a problem, do a few with a small twist. He is not interested in theoretical maths, but would rather focus on applied type word problems. He wants to pass NZ exams which align better with other curriculum, and he wants to get there as efficiently as possible. His math education will be good, but not at an AoPS level, and this is ok. He simply does not need the rigor of AoPS, and he can learn persistence and problem solving through other subjects like English or Programming.

In contrast, my older is an AoPS kid and plans to be a mathematician. I have seen both sides.

Ruth in NZ

Pace. My son could do the work, but not at the pace necessary to complete our desired high school math sequence.

For both of the above reasons. My son liked the program, but it simply took too long in conjunction with a couple of AP classes per year, and math wasn't going to be his primary focus. The style of teaching and problem presentation floated his boat so to speak, but the time commitment was problematic.

Posted 28 September 2016 - 07:32 PM

We're still using it, but it's been really tough. The last few books have a lot of Putnam and IMO problems. They make the AIME problems look easy! I can about halfway through the solutions before giving up. Still, we just reached an easy chapter (complex numbers is mostly review), so we press on. But next year she'll switch to a regular AP calc class to get the job done.

Posted 30 September 2016 - 09:42 AM

Time. Dd13 wanted to continue with AoPS for geometry this year, but she just can't work through AoPS fast enough. Math is *not* a strength of hers although she is proficient. Even with an easier/faster program, she easily has an 8-9 hour school day and is out of the house for 17+ hours/week for activities. We cannot spent 2 hours on math/day, and she would have to do at least that to get it done.

Posted 27 November 2016 - 06:34 PM

We are quitting AOPS (again!!) and going back to Foerster's. Dd does enjoy AoPS, but she just doesn't have the time with all of her other subjects to make the kind of progress she wants. She keeps getting stuck on tough problems and the time just ticks away... then she gets behind and frustrated with her progress.

She did well with Foerster's last year for Algebra 1, so we are going back to that for Algebra 2 and I will integrate geometry with it so she can be done with both by the end of 8th grade. She loves math and is excited to make the switch.

I am trying not to feel like I am "settling" by not using AoPS. This kid is good at math and may end up in a math related field. Blah.

She did well with Foerster's last year for Algebra 1, so we are going back to that for Algebra 2 and I will integrate geometry with it so she can be done with both by the end of 8th grade. She loves math and is excited to make the switch.

I am trying not to feel like I am "settling" by not using AoPS. This kid is good at math and may end up in a math related field. Blah.

- Woodland Mist Academy, herbalgirl and daijobu like this

Posted 27 November 2016 - 07:18 PM

I just made the same switch (albeit for Algebra 1) and do not at all feel like I settled. This because already in chapter 5 we are hitting tricky (to us) word problems (versus breezing through it and calling it review, which it is). But it's the right sort of "tricky"'for us so i'm so happy to have made this move. As a very wise poster here emailed me, we landed on the moon without AOPS, you will be ok ❤️We are quitting AOPS (again!!) and going back to Foerster's. Dd does enjoy AoPS, but she just doesn't have the time with all of her other subjects to make the kind of progress she wants. She keeps getting stuck on tough problems and the time just ticks away... then she gets behind and frustrated with her progress.

She did well with Foerster's last year for Algebra 1, so we are going back to that for Algebra 2 and I will integrate geometry with it so she can be done with both by the end of 8th grade. She loves math and is excited to make the switch.

I am trying not to feel like I am "settling" by not using AoPS. This kid is good at math and may end up in a math related field. Blah.

**Edited by madteaparty, 27 November 2016 - 07:19 PM.**

- Woodland Mist Academy, lovelearnandlive, loesje22000 and 2 others like this

Posted 27 November 2016 - 07:23 PM

As a very wise poster here emailed me, we landed on the moon without AOPS, you will be ok ❤️

- chiguirre, RootAnn and ananemone like this

Posted 27 November 2016 - 07:31 PM

We simply liked the Discovering Maths/Dimensions Maths from Singapore better. All three of us felt the presentation was more elegant and the content more enjoyable to work through. That's not to say we didn't use AoPS as a supplement -- because we have always used their books as supplements, and have enjoyed them. That approach seemed like a better fit for us.

Also, we preferred to follow an integrated math sequence (which AoPS does not offer). After the DM series, we switched to Saxon Advanced Maths, and liked that as well (although not as much as DM).

- lovelearnandlive and SparklyUnicorn like this

Posted 28 November 2016 - 06:49 AM

We are quitting AOPS (again!!) and going back to Foerster's. Dd does enjoy AoPS, but she just doesn't have the time with all of her other subjects to make the kind of progress she wants. She keeps getting stuck on tough problems and the time just ticks away... then she gets behind and frustrated with her progress.

She did well with Foerster's last year for Algebra 1, so we are going back to that for Algebra 2 and I will integrate geometry with it so she can be done with both by the end of 8th grade. She loves math and is excited to make the switch.

I am trying not to feel like I am "settling" by not using AoPS. This kid is good at math and may end up in a math related field. Blah.

It really doesn't work for everyone - not even the best math students. Our older son can go back to AoPS for review, but as a first pass course, it simply doesn't suit his learning style.

- SparklyUnicorn likes this

Posted 28 November 2016 - 06:56 AM

Uh yeah definitely not everyone likes it. My son does more than fine in math and didn't like AoPS so much.

Posted 20 March 2017 - 08:00 PM

We simply liked the Discovering Maths/Dimensions Maths from Singapore better. All three of us felt the presentation was more elegant and the content more enjoyable to work through. That's not to say we didn't use AoPS as a supplement -- because we have always used their books as supplements, and have enjoyed them. That approach seemed like a better fit for us.

Also, we preferred to follow an integrated math sequence (which AoPS does not offer). After the DM series, we switched to Saxon Advanced Maths, and liked that as well (although not as much as DM).

If you are still following, I have some questions for you.

My son is using Dimensions Math, and it's a pretty good fit. Did you go straight from 8B into Saxon Advanced Mathematics? Did DM provide enough geometry for that?

Saxon (as I remember it from school) is really incremental, but Dimensions is not. Was that a problem?

I am wondering about Algebra 2 and geometry coverage, particularly Algebra 2 since it sounds like Advanced Mathematics covers 1/2 of geometry, pre-calc, trig. It was my understanding that Dimensions covers through Algebra 1 and part of geometry.

I have AOPS geometry, and the first couple of chapters appear to be something my son could do understand even before finishing Dimensions (not sure about the hardest problems), but I am thinking AOPS must move fast after that.