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Art of Problem-Solving Algebra

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I have a 12 yr. old dd. She has been homeschooled all along and is now in 800 level CLE (8th grade), although she is in 7th grade as far as her age. It is a very good solid program and she does very well on standardized tests in math (consistently at 99th percentile).


Next year, I think she will be ready for algebra. I have looked at several curriculums including Saxon, Life of Fred (which I love), and Art of Problem Solving. She is very good at math, but isn't really excited about it. She is more of a musician and plays several instruments.


Anyway, I was wondering if it would make sense for her to do a more standard math program like Saxon Algebra or Life of Fred or the Key to Algebra (even more basic) and then do the Art of Problem Solving Algebra the following year. So, she would actually have 2 years of algebra. One with a standard sort of program, then one with a more advanced problem-solving approach. She would do the first year of algebra in 8th grade and then the second year in 9th grade to get a very good grounding in algebra before moving on to higher math courses.


I'm not sure if throwing her right into the AOPS without some more basic intro. to Algebra would be the best thing for her- she might be overwhelmed by it. So, if she actually learned the basic algebra first, then went on to the the more challenging problems, she would be ready for it.


What do you think?

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Guest Cheryl in SoCal

I wouldn't classify LOF as a standard math program. I would probably get either Intro to Counting & Probability or Into to Number Theory to see if she likes the way AoPS teaches before tackling Intro to Algebra.

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She sounds like a strong student. I would encourage strong students to complete algebra 1 before 9th grade so that they will have the time in high school to reach the highest levels of math. Even if they say at age 12 that their interests lie elsewhere, keep their options open by giving them a strong math background in high school. Where I taught high school math, top students were all on track to take calculus in high school whether they favored math/science OR humanities.


I don't know about current algebra 1 programs (my kids aren't there yet). I would look for a solid program for her 8th grade year and plan to go on to geometry in high school. If AoPS is too much, I'm sure there are several other programs that will still provide a complete algebra 1 experience for her. Haven't seen AoPS--maybe it is something that you can use to supplement a different program?

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Let we preface by saying the we love AoPS in our family. My DD used AoPS Intro to algebra in 7th grade after she had completed her prealgebra using Saxon 8/7. AoPS teaches all the algebra, you do not need to know any algebra beforehand. You need, however, to be proficient in prealgebra and able to do arithmetic with fractions.

My DS is using AoPS Intro to algebra now, in 6th grade, after doing Saxon 8/7 in 5th. He is doing just fine.


AoPS is great if the student is prepared and interested in math. If your DD is not excited about math, I am not sure this will be the right program for her. Its scope is beyond a traditional algebra 1 course: the content of algebra 1 is done in the first 13 chapters of Intro to Alg., the rest of the book is material typically covered in algebra 2. So I do not quite see the point of doing another extra year of algebra beforehand and then doing AoPS intro to Alg. which is, essentially, three semesters worth of algebra.


If you want to go with a more traditional math program, you can always use the Problem Solving books from AoPS as a supplement.

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