# Tips on getting Algebra rolling before high school

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Hi, Can anyone have tips to get Algebra going before high school?

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There is nothing magic about algebra that makes it suitable for highschoolers only.

Simply get pre-algebra rock solid- but don't get your kid sick of it (my kids' ps is teaching arithmetic with fractions in 5th and in 6th and in 7th and in 8th grade. By that time, the last kid has zoned out.)

Get a solid background in arithmetic with integers and negative numbers first. Then work on fractions and decimals. Practice till child can do fractions forwards and backwards, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division.

When that is done, he can start algebra.

My son is in 6th grade and currently taking algebra, he used Saxon 8/7 in 5th to get his pre-algebra preparation.

Do not, however, skimp on this preparation - a student without the pre-algebra proficiency will be frustrated and not successful. Give your student enough time to become proficient in prealgebra.

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Hands-On Equations and the Singapore bar model method are really helpful in introducing algebraic thinking to younger kids.

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Get a solid background in arithmetic with integers and negative numbers first. Then work on fractions and decimals. Practice till child can do fractions forwards and backwards, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division.

When that is done, he can start algebra.

I would add developing a strong understanding of ratio and proportion, both in the context of pre-algebra type word problems and geometry.
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My child is not yet 6, so I have no experience with this, but from what I have read, to understand algebra, a child needs to be able to think in the abstract (in terms of functions and variables), and most children are still in the concrete or pictorial stage until about 10 or 11. A gifted child may develop differently, though.

According to Carolyn Kieran (Algebraic Thinking in the Early Grades: What Is It?), algebraic thinking includes:

1. analysing parts and whole,

2. generalising (forming equations or seeing patterns) and specialising,

3. and doing-undoing (what I see as balancing and solving both sides of the equation)

If you Google for "early algebra", you will find several articles that suggest ways to introduce algebraic thinking in the K-4 years. Here are some basic articles:

1. "ALGEBRA in the Early Years? Yes!" http://www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/recordDetail?accno=EJ666728

2. "Doing Algebra in Grades K-4" http://sdcounts.tie.wikispaces.net/file/view/doingalgebra.pdf

3. "Developing Algebraic Thinking in Early Grades: Case Study of the Singapore Primary Mathematics Curriculum" http://repository.nie.edu.sg/jspui/bitstream/10497/67/1/ME-8-1-39.pdf

I found a few more articles on the ERIC web site by searching "early algebra".

Of course, I do agree wholeheartedly with the previous posters too.

HTH

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CD Prealg in 7th was successful here, following years of Saxon.

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Wow, thanks everyone. This is excellent. I will definitely refer to everyone's responses.

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Hands-On Equations and the Singapore bar model method are really helpful in introducing algebraic thinking to younger kids.

I don't know if it's helpful in introducing algebraic thinking, but the Singapore bar model problems had my dd begging for algebra, so she wouldn't have to do them anymore! :lol:

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I don't know if it's helpful in introducing algebraic thinking, but the Singapore bar model problems had my dd begging for algebra, so she wouldn't have to do them anymore! :lol:

Ha! Ha! That is exactly how I feel, when confronted with PSLE word problems. "Why can't I just solve it using algebra instead?"

I am waiting to see how it goes with dd. She will have no choice but to learn the model method in school.

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I agree with the abstract thinking - not every kid is ready for it before high school. Some are, and they move into it early...others aren't, and they move into in high school.

Definitely work to give your kids a solid background in math - but I would strongly recommend you do it so that they have a solid background, not so that they move into algebra on a predetermined timeline. Let them move at their own pace, whatever it is, and enjoy the ride. It only happens once - let them get the most out of it. :)

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My 11 year old daughter (7th grade) is doing Algebra 1 with Video Text Interactive this year. She is over 1/3 of the way through it with no problems at all.

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