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AoPS Paradigm Shift - Pros, Cons, Struggles


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Hello All,

 

I am researching Algebra and beyond for my three children - ds10, dd7, dd6. We use MUS currently, but plan to change to something else from Algebra onward. In reviewing exsiting threads as well as the sample text from AoPS I am uncertain whether or not it will work for our children.

 

Here are things which are commonly accepted regarding AoPS:

1. More rigorous than most math curriculum with a few exceptions such as Foerster, possibly better for STEM directed students.

2. Discovery approach

3. Wordy text

 

Based on its unconventional nature I am wondering from those who it worked for what you did to prepare for it? Maybe some tips on how to prepare for success with AoPS. Once using it did you hit a wall at certain pressure points because it was so *other than*? Is the layout and wordiness of the text something that the student eventually just accepts? Yeah, mom/dad, I know, I need to eat my peas.:glare: Do some hate it and simply do it because they have to? Do you sometimes suppliment with other materials? Unlike other curriculum I don't see many that suppliment with AoPS.

 

And for those who tried it and didn't like it for whatever reason(s), can you share why and also what has worked better for you? I am seriously considering Foerster coupled with Math without Borders as an alternative approach, or something else possibly for a less mathy child.

 

Hearing both sides I think is important to get a fuller picture of this very interesting program which even the biggest fans admit isn't for everyone.

 

Thank you,

Edited by dereksurfs
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Here are things which are commonly accepted regarding AoPS:

1. More rigorous than most math curriculum with a few exceptions such as Foerster,

 

Hem, no exception for Foerster. My dd was going to use AoPS Algebra this year (she did half of the Number Theory book one summer, and did well), but then balked and asked to do Foersters instead (She's also doing Algebra-based Physics this year and said she didn't want to spend her whole day on math). Foersters, while a great book, is still a cakewalk next to AoPS. I'm having her do Alcumus on the side to flesh things out.

 

I just signed my younger dd up for AoPS Prealgebra online. She'd rather do math than any of her other subjects, so it may be a better fit for her. We'll see!

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My ds(11) is a mathy kid. He definitely likes the discovery method. Even when we were using Singapore Math IP, he would not let me teach him and would not look at the text book, because he said it was cheating if he was told how to do the problems first. So he made SM into a discovery program.:001_huh:

 

There was no prealgebra when he started, so he went straight into the algebra text from SM 5b. I wanted to start with NEM or Jacobs Algebra (first 1/3 of book is prealgebra), but he found the AoPS book on the shelf and started it on his own. He would NOT let me teach him. The first chapter took him 6 weeks, with tears almost every day. But he did not want to stop. I finally hid the book.:001_huh: But he begged for it back, and we came up with a plan where I could be involved and where he would not work to the intensity of frustration that I was seeing before. Even now, 2 years later, I do not teach him the material (he is using the discovery method). I answer questions most days and occasionally discuss the material after he is done. I do give him a 10 minute overview of the chapter before he starts it to save him some time.

 

He has adapted to the wordiness of the text after 2 years. But he definitely does not read all of it like he should. He typically reads all the text in the sections that he does not understand. He also keeps the solution manual next to him on the table and checks each problem right after he does it. I have him mark the problems with green for easy, yellow for tricky, red for very hard. This system has helped when it comes time to study for the test. We do term tests (9 weeks worth of material) and it typically takes him 3 days to study (about 6 hours). Because he started the program young (9.5) and does it independently, he will take about 450 hours to finish the book. He works 1.5 hours 4 days per week. Because some problems take longer than others, I do not set him a specific amount of work to do, he just works for about 1.5 hours and picks up where he left off the next day. (he would spend longer on math, but then he is too tired to do anything else!)

 

There is absolutely no supplementation required.

 

I do have to spend a number or hours on the weekend going over the problems especially the challengers so I can help him during the week.

 

He has told me that he learns the material better using the discovery method because he has to figure it out for himself. Math is by far his favorite subject and AoPS keeps him challenged and engaged.

 

Hope this helps,

 

Ruth in NZ

Edited by lewelma
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I decided not to use it with my eldest dd. While she is good in math, she does not enjoy the discovery process. She likes the structure of being taught formulas and applying them. She finds math useful and is quite good at memorizing and applying formulas, but she does NOT consider math "fun." We switched to Saxon and LOF. She does not enjoy LOF either and would prefer to do only Saxon, but I wanted to make sure she could think through the math beyond memorizing the formulas. LOF was the least painful program I could find to supplement Saxon. Now she puts in her 90 minutes of math each day and moves on. :)

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Based on its unconventional nature I am wondering from those who it worked for what you did to prepare for it? Maybe some tips on how to prepare for success with AoPS. Once using it did you hit a wall at certain pressure points because it was so *other than*? Is the layout and wordiness of the text something that the student eventually just accepts?

 

We have used AoPS for several years and we love it.

My kids went into Intro to Algebra in 6th and 7th grades, resp.,with a solid pre-algebra background acquired in part through Saxon 8/7.

We did not do anything else, just used the books.

The often mentioned "wordiness" is because the text is written TO the student and designed for use without a teacher. So, every word a live teacher would say has to be right there on the page. The solutions are discussed in detail, not just to get the correct answer, but to thoroughly understand the concept. If I was teaching math from any other text, these would be the explanations I would give my students verbally. For, us this is one of the great strengths of the text that make it work for us; with any other text I would have to narrate and explain to get to the level of conceptual understanding I want - with this one, everything is right there.

I see no reason to supplement AoPS; there is enough material, and enough practice for all concepts (but all problems are sufficiently different so that the student needs to think and can not simply turn the crank.)

 

And yes, AoPS is not for everybody. I would not recommend it for a student who is not good at, and interested in, math, and who is not prepared and willing to go above and beyond the scope of a traditional curriculum. This also means a willingness to puzzle out the harder challenge problems.

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Hello All,

 

I am researching Algebra and beyond for my three children - ds10, dd7, dd6. We use MUS currently, but plan to change to something else from Algebra onward. In reviewing exsiting threads as well as the sample text from AoPS I am uncertain whether or not it will work for our children.

 

Here are things which are commonly accepted regarding AoPS:

1. More rigorous than most math curriculum with a few exceptions such as Foerster, possibly better for STEM directed students.

2. Discovery approach

3. Wordy text

 

Based on its unconventional nature I am wondering from those who it worked for what you did to prepare for it? Maybe some tips on how to prepare for success with AoPS. Once using it did you hit a wall at certain pressure points because it was so *other than*? Is the layout and wordiness of the text something that the student eventually just accepts? Yeah, mom/dad, I know, I need to eat my peas.:glare: Do some hate it and simply do it because they have to? Do you sometimes suppliment with other materials? Unlike other curriculum I don't see many that suppliment with AoPS.

 

And for those who tried it and didn't like it for whatever reason(s), can you share why and also what has worked better for you? I am seriously considering Foerster coupled with Math without Borders as an alternative approach, or something else possibly for a less mathy child.

 

Hearing both sides I think is important to get a fuller picture of this very interesting program which even the biggest fans admit isn't for everyone.

 

Thank you,

 

AoPS is completely different than Foersters. Foersters is direct instruction and builds concept upon concept for the student to understand. AoPS does not provide the student the little steps but guides the student to discovering the process behind the steps. While Foersters is a solid program and will definitely prepare students for STEM majors, it is not in the same ballpark as AoPS. (and the only AoPS course that I can see needing any supplementing is the calculus course if your student wants to take the AP exam b/c the course doesn't cover details like how to write free-response questions the way CollegeBoard graders are going to want to see them written. So, the necessity is simply for prepping according to how the exam works, not math concepts.)

 

I do not view AoPS as geared toward math competition students when you are discussing their core courses. I do think it is geared toward kids who like the challenge of really thinking through complex problems. Some of the problems take hrs to figure out.

 

I personally would never take the approach with AoPS that is often discussed on this forum. I would not use it with a student that needs to be taught the material. My personal POV is that AoPS is designed specifically for the student that needs and wants to struggle and work through concepts on their own. Giving occasional hints that do not give away the process that they are supposed to be discovering is not the same as working with them on the problems. I think a lot is lost from the program with direction/teaching/assisting. (I think Ruth's description is probably the most intervention I would personally want to see.)

 

I also think that this is a program that is better w/maturity vs. pushing younger kids ahead into it. The program is hard. It is meant to be. It is meant to challenge. W/o the maturity to accept that joyfully and as the fun of it, students are being short-changed from the program's beauty.

 

As far as what students, I posted about that on the thread quark linked.

 

ETA: I forgot to address part of your post that I meant to: Do some hate it and simply do it because they have to? That is not an approach I can see being at all successful if using AoPS as intended. Pondering the problems for hrs is how it meant to be done. I can't imagine a student who hates it spending the mental energy required to solve the problems on their own. (FWIW, my perspective is from the higher level courses of AoPS. I have never seen the pre-alg book, so I have no idea how it compares to their upper level texts. The online courses challenge sets, well, let's just say they are named appropriately! ;) )

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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I do not view AoPS as geared toward math competition students when you are discussing their core courses. I do think it is geared toward kids who like the challenge of really thinking through complex problems. Some of the problems take hrs to figure out.

 

I also think that this is a program that is better w/maturity vs. pushing younger kids ahead into it. The program is hard. It is meant to be. It is meant to challenge. W/o the maturity to accept that joyfully and as the fun of it, students are being short-changed from the program's beauty.

 

 

ETA: I forgot to address part of your post that I meant to: Do some hate it and simply do it because they have to? That is not an approach I can see being at all successful if using AoPS as intended. Pondering the problems for hrs is how it meant to be done. I can't imagine a student who hates it spending the mental energy required to solve the problems on their own.

 

:iagree: I have limited experience with AoPS, DD just faxed her final Challenge set ending Prealgebra 1, and will begin the Prealgebra 2 online class next week. My DD hated math up until AoPS, she would rather do 6-12 problems that make her think then 30 of the same thing any day of the week. AoPS can be frustrating. Today while finishing her final proof to send to her instructor she realized that one of the answers was wrong. She spent a frustrating 30 minutes reworking and rewritting that problem, but in the end she thrives on it. She loves the online portion and loves the instructor (who doesn't love RR?). She is also a gamer so the alcumus quests are right up her alley. Other programs could work for her, but AoPS is "more interesting, it's not boring and dumb", in her words. :lol:

 

On the few occassions where I thought DD needed it I have added problems from other programs that I already own. Mostly when we dicussed exponents and I wanted to make sure she really had it down. Overall I don't think it is necessary, especially when using all the components: textbook, videos, online class, and alcumus in combination.

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Hem, no exception for Foerster. My dd was going to use AoPS Algebra this year (she did half of the Number Theory book one summer, and did well), but then balked and asked to do Foersters instead (She's also doing Algebra-based Physics this year and said she didn't want to spend her whole day on math). Foersters, while a great book, is still a cakewalk next to AoPS. I'm having her do Alcumus on the side to flesh things out.

 

I just signed my younger dd up for AoPS Prealgebra online. She'd rather do math than any of her other subjects, so it may be a better fit for her. We'll see!

 

This is an interesting comparison in terms of difficulty level. I didn't realize AoPS was *that* much harder than Foerster. This is something to definately consider for dc who do not relish problem solving as some kind of enjoyable activity. From what many have stated Foerster is still one of the strongest traditional approaches for STEM oriented students.

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I decided not to use it with my eldest dd. While she is good in math, she does not enjoy the discovery process. She likes the structure of being taught formulas and applying them. She finds math useful and is quite good at memorizing and applying formulas, but she does NOT consider math "fun." We switched to Saxon and LOF. She does not enjoy LOF either and would prefer to do only Saxon, but I wanted to make sure she could think through the math beyond memorizing the formulas. LOF was the least painful program I could find to supplement Saxon. Now she puts in her 90 minutes of math each day and moves on. :)

 

I see this as a very common reason not to use AoPS for some children. I am not even sure I would like learning this way and I'm in a STEM career. Although I can definately see its benefits in stretching the brain.

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AoPS is completely different than Foersters. Foersters is direct instruction and builds concept upon concept for the student to understand. AoPS does not provide the student the little steps but guides the student to discovering the process behind the steps. While Foersters is a solid program and will definitely prepare students for STEM majors, it is not in the same ballpark as AoPS. (and the only AoPS course that I can see needing any supplementing is the calculus course if your student wants to take the AP exam b/c the course doesn't cover details like how to write free-response questions the way CollegeBoard graders are going to want to see them written. So, the necessity is simply for prepping according to how the exam works, not math concepts.)

 

I do not view AoPS as geared toward math competition students when you are discussing their core courses. I do think it is geared toward kids who like the challenge of really thinking through complex problems. Some of the problems take hrs to figure out.

 

I personally would never take the approach with AoPS that is often discussed on this forum. I would not use it with a student that needs to be taught the material. My personal POV is that AoPS is designed specifically for the student that needs and wants to struggle and work through concepts on their own. Giving occasional hints that do not give away the process that they are supposed to be discovering is not the same as working with them on the problems. I think a lot is lost from the program with direction/teaching/assisting. (I think Ruth's description is probably the most intervention I would personally want to see.)

 

I also think that this is a program that is better w/maturity vs. pushing younger kids ahead into it. The program is hard. It is meant to be. It is meant to challenge. W/o the maturity to accept that joyfully and as the fun of it, students are being short-changed from the program's beauty.

 

As far as what students, I posted about that on the thread quark linked.

 

ETA: I forgot to address part of your post that I meant to: Do some hate it and simply do it because they have to? That is not an approach I can see being at all successful if using AoPS as intended. Pondering the problems for hrs is how it meant to be done. I can't imagine a student who hates it spending the mental energy required to solve the problems on their own. (FWIW, my perspective is from the higher level courses of AoPS. I have never seen the pre-alg book, so I have no idea how it compares to their upper level texts. The online courses challenge sets, well, let's just say they are named appropriately! ;) )

 

Thank you for comparing and contrasting these two very different approaches. And I especially like what you said in response to this last Q above. I can't imagine using it in a way which shoehorns kids into doing this who do not like it or enjoy this kind of learning approach. It seems like one almost has to try it with each child to see how they do with it, then evaluate the learning experience. Not every child wants to ponder a question for hours bottom line. It simply not something they would enjoy. Heck, some adults don't even like to do that. :tongue_smilie: I have to as its apart of my job as a software engineer. So I can see the value in it. But it becomes very clear even in the workplace when certain folks just have no interest in this - never did and probably never will.

Edited by dereksurfs
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This is an interesting comparison in terms of difficulty level. I didn't realize AoPS was *that* much harder than Foerster. This is something to definately consider for dc who do not relish problem solving as some kind of enjoyable activity. From what many have stated Foerster is still one of the strongest traditional approaches for STEM oriented students.

 

I didn't realize what a difference it would be either - we did Singapore DM last year, which is much more on par with AoPS in terms of brain-cramping problem solving (esp. the workbook). I worked through that and the AoPS Number Theory with her, and honestly had fun stretching my brain too. :tongue_smilie: She's worked through Foerster's thus far pretty much unassisted, even the Quadratics didn't slow her down. She finds the much-vaunted word problems in Foersters to be elementary after Singapore.

 

She is liking it, though, and I do hear it's one of the more rigorous US programs (which is why I had it on my shelf - it was my original plan for after DM1 before we discovered AoPS.) I'm not saying this to disparage Foersters in any way - but as others have said, AoPS is a whole 'nother beast.

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My oldest is using AoPS Algebra right now. We used Singapore US edition through 6B and then did about half of NEM with him last year as set up. I would much preferred to use AoPS pre-alg last year but that wasn't an option at the time. I am thinking of going through 6B with my younger and then moving into AoPS pre-alg. But I'm still trying to figure her out - maybe she won't be an AoPS kid.

 

My husband and I both have tech backgrounds and I have a math degree. So our kid is mathy. But I'm not sure I'd describe him as wildly passionate about it. I would also say I've looked at SO many math curric. and it's more rigorous than anything else I've seen (incl. Forester), but it's certainly not the approach for everyone.

 

I think my math student would glide through most curriculum "too" easily. Students that are college bound and may be heading in a technical direction should be challenged in math sooner rather than later IMHO. I also am using this with a young kid, so we have the gift of time. I'm crawling through the Into to Alg book with him and it may take us 2 years to get through. Which I am completely fine with. I'd rather have him take 2 years than be through 3 to 4 years of less rigorous high school math and leave me wondering what to do next with a kid that is not ready to sit in a college class and has yet to be really challenged.

 

Oh - I will say I thought Singapore NEM was actually MORE challenging than AoPS in some ways. It took some leaps that I didn't think seemed logical and didn't introduce concepts as cleanly and logically as AoPS. I don't think I'd use it again unless a new edition came out.

 

Good luck! :-)

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DS11 is in pre-algebra right now.

 

He is just using AoPS as a light supplement to his main program, Life of Fred.

 

As a kid who loves math, he definitely prefers Fred, but will knock out a section of AoPS a day, every other week just for variety. The AoPS books aren't bad, but they are geared toward competition tricks... No matter what the concept, the main problem is finding the clever way to regroup and reduce it before carrying out the operation. This is a good skill to have, but be aware that it is a major theme of the problem sets in comparison to the operation being introduced. Be sure your kid doesn't miss the forest for the trees.

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Hello All,

 

I am researching Algebra and beyond for my three children - ds10, dd7, dd6. We use MUS currently, but plan to change to something else from Algebra onward. In reviewing exsiting threads as well as the sample text from AoPS I am uncertain whether or not it will work for our children.

 

Here are things which are commonly accepted regarding AoPS:

1. More rigorous than most math curriculum with a few exceptions such as Foerster, possibly better for STEM directed students.

2. Discovery approach

3. Wordy text

 

Based on its unconventional nature I am wondering from those who it worked for what you did to prepare for it? Maybe some tips on how to prepare for success with AoPS. Once using it did you hit a wall at certain pressure points because it was so *other than*? Is the layout and wordiness of the text something that the student eventually just accepts? Yeah, mom/dad, I know, I need to eat my peas.:glare: Do some hate it and simply do it because they have to? Do you sometimes suppliment with other materials? Unlike other curriculum I don't see many that suppliment with AoPS.

 

And for those who tried it and didn't like it for whatever reason(s), can you share why and also what has worked better for you? I am seriously considering Foerster coupled with Math without Borders as an alternative approach, or something else possibly for a less mathy child.

 

Hearing both sides I think is important to get a fuller picture of this very interesting program which even the biggest fans admit isn't for everyone.

 

Thank you,

 

I would warn you away from this if you have a student who is going to shut down and/or quit if they experience failure or if they get really frustrated at not understanding the first time.

 

We shifted from Saxon (having completed through Algebra 1/2) to AoPS Intro to Algebra. Cruised through chapter 1. Gave them a quiz. Reviewed what went wrong. Set them loose on chapter 2. Quiz time and they bombed it. Couldn't even work half of the problems.

 

When I picked at this a bunch, I found that they hadn't really assimilated the earlier lessons in a way that they could put those principles into use. I don't think the text is to blame here. I think what they'd gotten used to is seeing sample problems, reading through them and nodding that they understood. Then having lesson problems that were quite similar.

 

AoPS expects that the student will read the sample problems and work them out. Then turn the page and read the explanation in the lesson. And go back to rework it if they didn't understand. You can't just skip over the lessons about commutative property and associative property, because that will be the engine that drives the next chapter's manipulation of exponents.

 

We ended up going all the way back to the later half of chapter 1 and then redoing chapter 2. It has been a lesson to my kids that passive reading isn't going to cut it. They have to be able to apply what they are learning.

 

I remember when Califlower was younger and would get really worked up if he thought that he wasn't achieving perfection. If he were still like that, I don't think he'd be able to weather the knowledge that comes from the struggle of trying to apply what they are learning.

 

Having said that, I'm delighted with AoPS. Even though we had to repeat about a month's worth of lessons at various times, I feel like their understanding of math is miles ahead of what they were doing last year. And they are applying it in ways that are so much deeper.

 

Just as an example, they have learned about exponents and roots for several years. AoPS teaches what x^2 * x^2 = Then x^4 / x^2 = Then it moves into problems like simplify x^-1/2 / y^-3/2 (that is x to the power of negative one half divided by y to the power of negative three halves). Complicated? You bet. But it does follow logically from the earlier principles. And I love that my kids now understand.

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Derek, you're new to the boards, so I'll just give you one little bit of advice: every curriculum gets a heyday here for a while. Earlier it was Lials. Before that it was RightStart. Before that... AOPS is awesome, I have the pre-algebra, and like it. As in *I* like it. Doesn't really fit my kid (who gets certain things, doesn't care to grapple with others), and it's NOT a mainstream text. So if you're new to the boards and have come on looking for the BEST text for your bright students, this is not on the mainstream list. This is for the 1-2%, the really extremely out there kids who would really rather think about why than solve a ton of problems to get it over with. It's not something you make them do but something they internally crave.

 

It's not necessary to pick the most out there curriculum for the most math-gifted to teach your dc algebra and give them a good education. It's great that it's out there for the kids that need it, but it's NOT the mainstream choice for the majority of kids. If you have Foerster and aren't finding it to be what you want, Dolciani is a bit more theoretical, still mainstream. (It's what I was taught with.)

 

As for my dd (bright, doesn't particularly care about math, good at problem-solving), I've rebought Foerster. I bought and sold it earlier based on *my* taste. Now I'm hoping that it will work for her as it may fit *her* personality and bent. AOPS is just like the samples. You might find it helpful to buy a number of these texts and just look at them yourself. Or sometimes the library can get them for you. It's the transition from theoretical to which program has the parameters that fit this particular child.

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Derek, you're new to the boards, so I'll just give you one little bit of advice: every curriculum gets a heyday here for a while. Earlier it was Lials. Before that it was RightStart. Before that... AOPS is awesome, I have the pre-algebra, and like it. As in *I* like it. Doesn't really fit my kid (who gets certain things, doesn't care to grapple with others), and it's NOT a mainstream text. So if you're new to the boards and have come on looking for the BEST text for your bright students, this is not on the mainstream list. This is for the 1-2%, the really extremely out there kids who would really rather think about why than solve a ton of problems to get it over with. It's not something you make them do but something they internally crave.

 

It's not necessary to pick the most out there curriculum for the most math-gifted to teach your dc algebra and give them a good education. It's great that it's out there for the kids that need it, but it's NOT the mainstream choice for the majority of kids. If you have Foerster and aren't finding it to be what you want, Dolciani is a bit more theoretical, still mainstream. (It's what I was taught with.)

 

As for my dd (bright, doesn't particularly care about math, good at problem-solving), I've rebought Foerster. I bought and sold it earlier based on *my* taste. Now I'm hoping that it will work for her as it may fit *her* personality and bent. AOPS is just like the samples. You might find it helpful to buy a number of these texts and just look at them yourself. Or sometimes the library can get them for you. It's the transition from theoretical to which program has the parameters that fit this particular child.

 

:iagree: I actually find it humorous to watch the cycles. However, w/ AoPS I have been shocked by the number of people that have gone that route. AoPS is not for everyone. It is designed for the top gifted math students. The upper levels cover material that I have been told is often not covered until grad school. (I am clueless myself. My ds left me in the dirt 2 1/2 yrs ago! )

 

A better insight into AoPS is going to be found on the thread on the high school board that quark linked b/c those are moms w/older kids that are far beyond the pre-alg book. Another thing to keep in mind is that videos do not exist for the upper levels. (I'm not sure how high alcumus goes b/c my ds does not use it. ETA: I found this on AoPS' website: Alcumus currently complements our Introduction to Algebra, Introduction to Counting & Probability, Introduction to Number Theory, and Prealgebra textbooks..... We expect to continue to expand topics in Alcumus. So that leaves both intermediate C&P and NT, geometry, alg 3, pre-cal, and cal w/o Alcumus) The textbook is meant to be the main source. The online classes are helpful, but only for students that can keep up with the pace and that can learn from hints and not full-blown explanation. (and the pace is not going to match the vast majority of kids. That is simple reality.)

 

I would not use AoPS w/the vast majority of students, not even strong math students. I think it really requires a certain type of student. It fits my youngest ds and I think it would have been a match for my oldest. But, it is not for my 7th grader who took her first alg course in 6th grade. :001_smile:

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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These are wise comments.

 

There is also a line between researching and gathering info and gathering used or low cost copies of stuff when you run into it so that you can give it a good once over VS trying to decide when your kids are young what their long range academic track will be.

 

My kids at least have had a way of really surprising me. Things that worked well once stopped being a satisfactory choice. My kid who a year ago struggled to read an Usborne emerging reader chapter book is now on book two of the Hunger Games and was asking for a copy of The Hobbit.

 

I remember once charting out (probably when my oldest was 2nd grade) what math we would do every year through graduation. I'm so glad I didn't lock myself into those choices. Because we completely skipped one book and then switched programs completely to AoPS, which wasn't even a consideration when we started homeschooling almost a decade ago.

 

As for my youngest, I think he'll still get use out of the Saxon texts his brothers used. But at the moment I'm planning on a few months of using print outs of a math curriculum published in the 1960s. (Yep, we're using some of the much derided "new math".)

 

Elizabeth is right that there are fashions and trends in homeschooling. New or newly discovered things will get a lot of buzz for a while. Often a family will find great sucess with a new thing. Sometimes the sucess wanes when the novelty wears off.

 

Just for fun, you might want to look for some older threads about workboxes, folder filing systems, TOG redesign, Singapore vs. Saxon, or the Desk Apprentice.

 

It's crucial (imho) to focus on what works for your kid. Not what is popular. Not what worked for your friend or didn't work for them. Advice is good, but shouldn't be the last word.

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Ooo, the Desk Apprentice!!! I still have mine! :)

 

I can't even COUNT the number of fads and runs we've had on the boards in the past 10 years, hehe...

 

I really wish that I could put my hands on the chart I drew up for math. It would be fun to scrapbook that along with a list of what really happened.

 

I have also justified expensive purchases with "well I'll use if for all three kids" only to find that it didn't really fit even one of them well.

 

Ruth Beechik has an essay where she writes about the Third Curriculum Syndrome with reading. This is where you keep switching curriculums. By the time of the third one, the kid is mature enough to take on the lessons of how to read. So you're convinced that this is THE curriculum that works. Only to find that it doesn't work for the next kid.

 

On the other hand, I LOVE AoPS and am really happy that we did move over to this approach.

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These are wise comments.

 

:iagree: with all the PPs, though my experience is more limited (partway through the prealgebra).

 

Dd started the prealgebra as a brain-stretching experiment and I'm happy with her growth in that regard. In her case (learning style and/or age), the discovery method is probably not the most efficient way to go. She's been working in the '85 Dolciani this week instead, and it seems downright easy by comparison, LOL (that's NOT to say that I think it will be easy in the long run, but it breaks the lessons down into much, much smaller bites than AoPS). Dolciani allows me to see that she really gets each little bite. For example, Dolciani takes probably double the number of lessons to teach solving equations than AoPS, and the direct instruction is extremely clear. (She still works slowly *sigh*, though I think that's just *her*, slow handwriting and daydreaming; she did not need help with the exercises). Up until ch 5 in AoPS Prealgebra, she was able to do the discovery with some leading questions from me, but suddenly in ch 5 she just didn't "see" it. I would like to have her do some of the exercises from AoPS at some point - it will be interesting to see if she finds them easier after learning the lesson by direct instruction elsewhere. I find myself kind of torn.

 

Oddly enough, this experience doesn't tell me for certain whether AoPS will be a good match for my ds8 when the time comes (it won't be for the other ds8 - he'll do great with direct instruction but he'd be easily frustrated by the discovery approach - then again, I could be wrong!). I think it might be, but we have a huge age issue combined with a language processing issue, so a number of other factors are involved.

 

AoPS Prealgebra is probably just the ticket for a portion of very bright kids who are bored to tears in PS, and finally get to break out a bit come middle school. However, it seems to me that the way it's written doesn't necessarily lend itself to younger learners, who are learning math well ahead of grade level, particularly if their reading/language skills are not on quite the same level as their math skills.

 

The AoPS books aren't bad, but they are geared toward competition tricks... No matter what the concept, the main problem is finding the clever way to regroup and reduce it before carrying out the operation.

 

My view is not that they teach tricks, but rather that they teach mathematical concepts as tools for working the problem, and figuring out the best way to use the tools in a problem the student hasn't seen before is an excellent way to develop deep understanding of both the concepts and where those concepts fit in the big picture (as well as problem-solving in general). For this, I love AoPS :001_wub: and really, really could have benefitted from that as a student, to the point where I might have gone down a different life path (if I'd have gotten over the discovery aspect :tongue_smilie: which I believe is partially, but not necessarily entirely, wedded to the aforementioned tool/big picture teaching).

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DS11 is in pre-algebra right now.

 

He is just using AoPS as a light supplement to his main program, Life of Fred.

 

As a kid who loves math, he definitely prefers Fred, but will knock out a section of AoPS a day, every other week just for variety. The AoPS books aren't bad, but they are geared toward competition tricks... No matter what the concept, the main problem is finding the clever way to regroup and reduce it before carrying out the operation. This is a good skill to have, but be aware that it is a major theme of the problem sets in comparison to the operation being introduced. Be sure your kid doesn't miss the forest for the trees.

 

I don't know which AoPS books you have been using, but that is so far from the reality of our experience w/AoPS that I am puzzled by where it even comes from. Spending hours upon hours solving a few calculus problems has absolutely nothing to do with clever competition tricks.

 

I have a few strong math students, especially our oldest, who is now an engineer, and our ds that is a 10th grader. Our 10th grader understands "mathematical theory" (I am not a mathematician, so I don't know if that is the correct term I am actually meaning to communicate) at a completely different level than our oldest ds. OUr oldest is a master at "applied math," don't get me wrong. He excels. However, ds's theoretical mathematical reasoning is significantly more developed. The strength of his reasoning has been developed by AoPS.

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I also agree with the previous posters about AoPS not being for every child.

 

My oldest is a special breed. My youngest is a strong math student, but does not like the severe frustration that AoPS is going to give him. He will likely use a different (but still quite good) text like Forresters. Also from what I have heard, the online algebra class is MUCH more intense than the prealgebra class and requires 10 hours or more per week to keep up. And lastly,keep in mind that for most students the Algebra book takes longer than a year to complete. So it might not fit into a tidy box of 1 math per year.

 

I personally HATE AoPS. The discovery method stinks as far as I am concerned. I remember using the discovery method in chemistry when I was in High School, and I hated it then. If you use the AoPS book without the discovery portion (as I have been doing to keep up with ds) it takes the very long way around to explaining anything. I could understand the material so much faster if he would just GET TO THE POINT!

 

AoPS is as much about the process and the actual math you are learning. Make sure that your dc likes the discovery method before settling on the book.

 

Ruth

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I do think it is geared toward kids who like the challenge of really thinking through complex problems. Some of the problems take hrs to figure out.

 

I personally would never take the approach with AoPS that is often discussed on this forum. I would not use it with a student that needs to be taught the material. My personal POV is that AoPS is designed specifically for the student that needs and wants to struggle and work through concepts on their own. Giving occasional hints that do not give away the process that they are supposed to be discovering is not the same as working with them on the problems. I think a lot is lost from the program with direction/teaching/assisting. (I think Ruth's description is probably the most intervention I would personally want to see.)

 

I also think that this is a program that is better w/maturity vs. pushing younger kids ahead into it. The program is hard. It is meant to be. It is meant to challenge. W/o the maturity to accept that joyfully and as the fun of it, students are being short-changed from the program's beauty.

 

 

 

:iagree: The bolded part especially. I've used AoPS with my youngest son off and on. He is very math adept, but has moved into math-lazy territory. So we're off AoPS right now. We've used Pre-algebra, geometry, algebra, and number theory. I would never, never use it with a student who wasn't "mathletic" (as defined in a previous post). If your student loves number games he will enjoy arriving at the solution to a problem in AoPS on his own. The thrill that gives him is what keeps him going. It is an extraordinary program but if you can't give your student a little direction (steer in a direction) it will be incredibly difficult and frustrating for an average math student.

 

Often my son just didn't see some small thing that was impeding his arrival at the answer. So I would ask a question, "did you notice ..." or "what are the rules for ..." and those would give him the "Ah, I didn't catch that" moment which would lead to the answer.

 

AoPS would be a huge jump from MUS (which I used with my 3rd son). Before transitioning directly into AoPS, you might do some Singapore math first. Our experience with MUS is that it is a great hand-holding program. AoPS is the complete opposite. AoPS is a "throw you over the cliff" program that expects you to fly.

 

I haven't used Foresters, but I've used other solid algebra programs with some of my other boys. None of the ones we've used compare to AoPS - it's a beast in its own class :D

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The AoPS books aren't bad, but they are geared toward competition tricks... No matter what the concept, the main problem is finding the clever way to regroup and reduce it before carrying out the operation. This is a good skill to have, but be aware that it is a major theme of the problem sets in comparison to the operation being introduced. Be sure your kid doesn't miss the forest for the trees.

 

:confused:

Not our experience. We have used Intro to Algebra, Geometry, Intermediate Algebra and now Precalculus - and these books do not teach "tricks" but teach a very in-depth understanding of the concepts. In fact, they offer the most thorough discussion of concepts I have seen in a math text.

In a situation where you need higher math to solve an actual problem it is, btw, absolutely essential that you do all regrouping and simplifying before attempting to carry out the calculation; this is a valuable and necessary skill. Anybody who spends hours each day doing math for a living will attest to that :)

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AoPS is not teaching tricks; they're teaching tools. You will irk AoPSers if you say tricks! :)

Many of the math competitors use a whole slew of resources, too. AoPS is very popular, though.

If AoPS is not a good fit, there are other good resources available: Gelfand's books, Kiselev for geometry, the Japanese math books for grades 10-12. I think you can get some of those over at the AMS (American Math Society) website. My son has only worked through some of Gelfand's stuff, but a few of his math friends have used and liked the others.

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AoPS Prealgebra is probably just the ticket for a portion of very bright kids who are bored to tears in PS, and finally get to break out a bit come middle school. However, it seems to me that the way it's written doesn't necessarily lend itself to younger learners, who are learning math well ahead of grade level, particularly if their reading/language skills are not on quite the same level as their math skills.

 

:iagree:

My dd just completed the Pre-algebra I online class. There is no way I could have given her the book at age 10 and had her work completely independently. She works the practice problems on the whiteboard with me guiding her through the process rather than reading the text herself. She then works independently on the exercises that follow the lesson. I use the same process with my middle son. My oldest prefers to work completely independently, but he is 15.

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Derek, you're new to the boards, so I'll just give you one little bit of advice: every curriculum gets a heyday here for a while. Earlier it was Lials. Before that it was RightStart. Before that... AOPS is awesome, I have the pre-algebra, and like it. As in *I* like it. Doesn't really fit my kid (who gets certain things, doesn't care to grapple with others), and it's NOT a mainstream text. So if you're new to the boards and have come on looking for the BEST text for your bright students, this is not on the mainstream list. This is for the 1-2%, the really extremely out there kids who would really rather think about why than solve a ton of problems to get it over with. It's not something you make them do but something they internally crave.

 

It's not necessary to pick the most out there curriculum for the most math-gifted to teach your dc algebra and give them a good education. It's great that it's out there for the kids that need it, but it's NOT the mainstream choice for the majority of kids. If you have Foerster and aren't finding it to be what you want, Dolciani is a bit more theoretical, still mainstream. (It's what I was taught with.)

 

As for my dd (bright, doesn't particularly care about math, good at problem-solving), I've rebought Foerster. I bought and sold it earlier based on *my* taste. Now I'm hoping that it will work for her as it may fit *her* personality and bent. AOPS is just like the samples. You might find it helpful to buy a number of these texts and just look at them yourself. Or sometimes the library can get them for you. It's the transition from theoretical to which program has the parameters that fit this particular child.

 

This is some of the best advice I've heard yet. Thank you for sharing your perspective. It helps to hear these words of experience. I *am* new to the board and when I saw all this excitment about AoPS I thought it must be great. But the more I research it, hear from various families and look at samples including Alcumus online I am beginning to think it may not be the best fit. Although it works great for some, I think the type of student described who thrives with it is not necessarily any of our kids.

 

I am also struggling a bit with the fact that we started them with MUS which they really like. However it is not the most rigorous I'm finding. I did buy some suppliments recently such as Singapore CWP. However I think I got the wrong level as they are *really* hard. I was warned afterwards that this would be the case and that getting the earlier year may be a better option. The thing is they are presenting problems based on techniques which I don't think MUS would ever cover. So I would probably need to order the Singapore textbooks as well to really teach the concepts tested in CWP.

 

At this time I am thinking AoPS is just too much of a jump from MUS = opposite ends of the difficulty spectrum. I think meaty direct instruction coupled with its associated problems will be plenty for them to chew on and wrestle with as they enter secondary math.

 

Thanks again for everyone's input. I feel like I have a clearer picture of AoPS which helps me in making the best decision for our children. :D

Edited by dereksurfs
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Okay, so fortune-tellers out there, who can predict which pre-algebra curricula is going to work with my son? :tongue_smilie: I will be "trying out" the following:

 

1. Lial's Pre-Algebra

2. Dolciani Pre-Algebra

3. AoPS Pre-Algebra

 

Here's my son in a nutshell:

1. loves structure and an orderly approach. Has learned to approach math problems, particularly word problems, neatly and logically, and enjoys applying this step-wise approach to complicated math problems. If he does not understand how to approach a complicated word problem, he accepts guidance and then learns to apply that knowledge to subsequent problems.

 

2. gets math concepts very quickly, and has only needed my help in SM/MM a handful of times over the years. I have needed to help with some of the harder SM CWP; usually this consists of a couple of "guiding comments" to get him to that "Aha!" moment.

 

3. Hates fluff. Likes to get right to the point. Really likes Henle Latin, for example.

 

4. Is not the child who sits around "doing math for fun". He enjoys math when we do it, though and enjoys the challenge of Alcumus.

 

5. Liked SM math, and likes MM too, although he thinks it's very easy. Like I said, he prefers straightforward math--did not mesh with LOF, for example, nor does he like MCT (while I was reading it to his younger brother he said, "What in the world is this guy talking about??" :lol: He adores sentence diagramming--something about the logical laying-out of the sentence makes him happy.

 

6. He is patient, and does not get frustrated easily. He's willing to work at problems.

 

The more I think about it, the more I think AoPS Pre-A will not be a fit for him. Based on my list above, what does the HIVE think? :lol:

Edited by Halcyon
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Okay, so fortune-tellers out there, who can predict which pre-algebra curricula is going to work with my son? :tongue_smilie: I will be "trying out" the following:

 

1. Lial's Pre-Algebra

2. Dolciani Pre-Algebra

3. AoPS Pre-Algebra

 

Here's my son in a nutshell:

1. loves structure and an orderly approach. Has learned to approach math problems, particularly word problems, neatly and logically, and enjoys applying this step-wise approach to complicated math problems. If he does not understand how to approach a complicated word problem, he accepts guidance and then learns to apply that knowledge to subsequent problems.

 

2. gets math concepts very quickly, and has only needed my help in SM/MM a handful of times over the years. I have needed to help with some of the harder SM CWP; usually this consists of a couple of "guiding comments" to get him to that "Aha!" moment.

 

3. Hates fluff. Likes to get right to the point. Really likes Henle Latin, for example.

 

4. Is not the child who sits around "doing math for fun". He enjoys math when we do it, though and enjoys the challenge of Alcumus.

 

5. Liked SM math, and likes MM too, although he thinks it's very easy. Like I said, he prefers straightforward math--did not mesh with LOF, for example, nor does he like MCT (while I was reading it to his younger brother he said, "What in the world is this guy talking about??" :lol: He adores sentence diagramming--something about the logical laying-out of the sentence makes him happy.

 

6. He is patient, and does not get frustrated easily. He's willing to work at problems.

The more I think about it, the more I think AoPS Pre-A will not be a fit for him. Based on my list above, what does the HIVE think? :lol:

 

Your son has the EXACT same personality as my daughter. They're the same age, probably same abilities and we're using the same math program. I'm on the exact same search that you are on.

 

Here's what I'm thinking...

 

Singapore's Discovering Mathematics...or

 

I'm looking at finishing MM and just starting Jacob's Algebra 1. I'm trying to get more info about it, but it looks like a big chunk of the book is actually review or pre-algebra.

 

AoPS is not going to be a good fit for that kind of kid (IMO). My daughter tried LoF and was extremely irritated by the wordiness.

 

Also, I'm not trying to perpetuate an urban legend, but I'm trying to stall my daughter in math for a year. I heard that kids score higher on the SAT when they start the higher math sequence later. My daughter wants to be a veterinarian and I'm thinking she needs a really solid SAT score.

 

There is soooo much math enrichment stuff out there for that level and I think she would have a blast if we took a year off. There are even hands-on algebra courses out there (according to the cuisinaire rod catalog :tongue_smilie:).

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1. loves structure and an orderly approach.

2. gets math concepts very quickly

3. Hates fluff.

 

4. Is not the child who sits around "doing math for fun". He enjoys math when we do it, though and enjoys the challenge of Alcumus.

 

5. Liked SM math, and likes MM too, although he thinks it's very easy. Like I said, he prefers straightforward math--did not mesh with LOF, for example, nor does he like MCT (while I was reading it to his younger brother he said, "What in the world is this guy talking about??" :lol: He adores sentence diagramming--something about the logical laying-out of the sentence makes him happy.

 

6. He is patient, and does not get frustrated easily. He's willing to work at problems.

 

 

Except for #6, this would describe my DD (she is a perfectionist and gets frustrated easily, but has learned to work through it). We did not use SM, but Saxon, and they both found it too easy and boring. She loves structure and systematic approaches, is not interested in competition math.

For her, AoPS has been an excellent fit.

 

It also fits my DS, who is a bit less systematic more more intuitive; he too does not sit around doing math problems for fun (but enjoys math during his mandatory math school time).

AoPS works well for him too.

 

I really think you will not be able to tell until you have tried it out and given it some time.

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I heard that kids score higher on the SAT when they start the higher math sequence later.

 

Though it may not be true for all kids, I have heard parents report that their kids got a bad math score because they were accelerated in math took algebra and geometry very early. Those kids evidently should have done a review before they took the SAT.

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Halcyon, I think it's very hard to predict, especially where younger ones are involved. The bottom line is that there's no way to be sure unless you try (and no one knows your ds like you do).

 

It may be possible to take a run through AoPS Prealgebra after finishing another prealgebra - there are sections that could be skipped (nothing to "discover"), maybe just doing the chapter review, and other sections where concepts are taken deeper (now that's what I'd call enrichment!). In many cases, the exercises will be more difficult than those in the student's prior prealgebra, and there are always the challenge exercises. I wonder if that might be a way to put off starting algebra, for a few months at least, if for some reason that were desirable for a young, advanced homeschooler. Perhaps, for a young student who struggles with AoPS Prealgebra, doing a regular prealgebra first and then taking a run through AoPS Prealgebra afterward would be a way to transition/prepare for AoPS Intro to Algebra.

 

After one week of the Dolciani prealgebra, I can confirm that it is an extremely straightforward, step-by-step approach. Yesterday was an interesting experience - I thought we'd sandwich a couple of lessons together but it turned out the first one was more difficult for dd than I would have guessed. It was about writing equations for word problems. Now, dd was able to look at the word problems and tell me the answer very quickly with or without a little scratch calculation. In a few cases, a bar diagram would solve it in a snap. But, that was not the goal. She wasn't even supposed to calculate the answer - she was supposed to write the equation with a variable - and apparently she really needed this lesson! She is not typically a sequential step-by-step learner, but being forced to do that was good for her, as a math-language translation exercise. She was still challenged, though in a different way from AoPS (ugh, here I go again, second-guessing...).

 

Also, for those interested in old math books, I found another Dolciani prealgebra called "New Edition", published in 1977 and 1981. (I ordered one, cuz I don't have enough prealgebras :lol:.) I'm hoping it's somewhere in between the '73 and the '85 in terms of presentation. From the cover pictured on amazon, it might even be the one I used back around 1980.

 

There's something about AoPS that I've been wanting to say in these recent threads that I haven't quite been able to explain, and perhaps I'm not ready to yet. It really is the opposite approach, big picture-to-details instead of step-by-step. Some of the problems involve pulling together a number of concepts at once. My dd is definitely a big-picture-first person. - perhaps her brain isn't quite there yet in development, not ready for THAT big of a picture lol, and she'd do better with it in another year. (Anyone know how many AoPS users are afterschoolers? Dd might go to a school next year.) Ds8 is even moreso a big-picture-first person, as in, he has an even greater capacity, spatially-speaking - I wonder whether AoPS would be appropriate for him at an age that didn't quite work for dd. Oh boy too much thinking out loud here....

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Your son could do one program and then another of the same at some point. That's what my son did -- NEM algebra and then AoPS algebra. I know others here have done something similar with their children. I think if we had started him with AoPS first, he would have been flustered. Because he had a good grasp of algebra already, working through AoPS was a lot more fun.

 

One of my mottoes is: Success begets success. I try to set the bar of challenge high enough that my son can jump over with a bit of effort. It's been a great way to build his confidence.

 

As for the fun factor, my son and many of his friends did not begin to think doing math was fun until about 7th or 8th grade. Your little guy is 9, so it's not surprising that he doesn't sit around working problems in his free time. I suppose some kids do but mine didn't (!), although math was a favorite subject even in the younger years.

 

That leads me to... contest math. MathCounts, the AMC-AIME-USAMO-IMO, Mandelbrot (high school), ARML (high school) can be terrific motivators (or not). In our experience, the other kids have been very nice and supportive of one another. If you find groups like that and your child responds well, that might be good to add at some point. I think initially it helps if you make it clear that this is really less about *winning,* and more about motivating kids to study a bit more math.

 

Well, those are my two, maybe three, cents of advice. :)

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Derek, your thought process is right on track. Now I want to say this nicely, but you have to teach the child you have. It's not your job to teach someone else's child or figure out what would work for Regentrude's (who are admittedly quite high), etc. Your only job is to look at YOUR children and figure out what will make them thrive. And if you saddle them with something that is too big a step or is too hard or overwhelming or doesn't fit their gifts/bents/personalities, all you're going to do is ruin your time and their lives. You have to look at your kids.

 

So your kids? I see you saying they're happy with MUS but you want to step it up a bit. I don't think it was nuts to supplement with SM. That sounds like a very good idea. Some people will alternate curricula, doing say MUS during the school year and SM during the summer. That might work great for you. If the Singapore methods aren't the way you naturally think of math or were taught math, then yes it would help you to go back and get the texts. The CWP (or whatever they call them now, mine are CWP) books *do* explain the basic theory on the problem-solving at the beginning of each chapter. It's imperative to back up till your in stuff that's easy. Like back up all the way to the level 1 if needed, kwim? Just do it. If you back up that much, the concept clicks, and then they can apply it to harder problems. So that's where I'd start, just with the first level of CWP, and see if any lightbulbs come on.

 

Now the other thing you might not know is that results with math are *not* only driven by the curriculum. It's the kid and how the kid responds to the math. So you'll see people slam TT as the worst, lamest, most inadequate math curriculum on the homeschool market (other than a few others that are considered so low as to be leperous, haha), and then you'll have someone else on the boards turn right around and show how their very bright dc used that curriculum and tested just fine into the next level of math at the community college, has had no problems, was well-prepared, blah blah. The difference is the student and his innate ability, obviously. And just to be clear, there are people who use SM CWP and find them horrendously hard, never have it really click, and there are people who have never used SM who can naturally do the problems. It's not just the curriculum.

 

What level of math are you doing right now? For elementary and middle grades, the BJU math is very solid, a nice middle of the road program, and easy to teach. It has a good approach to concepts and understanding but the extras that most students need (plenty of practice, colorful worksheets, etc. etc.). Math Mammoth is another step up, incredibly good, straightforward to implement. It might be an interesting option for you to look at. Maria Miller (the author of MM) has TONS of samples on her site, so you can try it with your kids and see their reaction. It's an alternative to Singapore if Singapore isn't doing it for you. I think she's starting her sale again. She sells the materials both by subject and by grade level, so it's easy to use as a supplement with your current approach.

 

I don't know if she said this in your thread, but 8Fills has the older version of the MUS algebra 1 that she uses with her kids as a pre-algebra before Foerster. So it's not like you can't keep going and get to where you want to be. Math though is one of those individual things where no one can really help you. It's just you looking at your kids, trying the materials on them, and seeing what you think. Use your best judgment, and you'll be fine.

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(Anyone know how many AoPS users are afterschoolers? Dd might go to a school next year.) Ds8 is even moreso a big-picture-first person, as in, he has an even greater capacity, spatially-speaking - I wonder whether AoPS would be appropriate for him at an age that didn't quite work for dd. Oh boy too much thinking out loud here....

 

I don't know the exact number, but at least a few in my son's high school use AoPS supplementally.

We also afterschool. For math, we began using Saxon in 2nd, then switched to Singapore, NEM, then started AoPS around middle/junior high. Now my son's in high school and is much busier. Fitting in AoPS is trickier, but he's keeping with it just because he likes it so much.

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I don't know the exact number, but at least a few in my son's high school use AoPS supplementally.

 

We also afterschool. For math, we began using Saxon in 2nd, then switched to Singapore, NEM, then started AoPS around middle/junior high. Now my son's in high school and is much busier. Fitting in AoPS is trickier, but he's keeping with it just because he likes it so much.

 

Thank you for answering this. I wonder how many use it for core courses, as opposed to the other books. If your son did the algebra, for example, was it at the same time he was taking algebra in school, or after? (or before?)

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Thank you for answering this. I wonder how many use it for core courses, as opposed to the other books. If your son did the algebra, for example, was it at the same time he was taking algebra in school, or after? (or before?)

 

He began AoPS algebra before it was taught in school. His elementary school let him work on his own in the back of the room at his own pace. Initially my husband taught him, but because dh is one of those painfully verbose lecturers (I can attest to this, LOL), my son began teaching himself and checking his own work so he wouldn't have to listen to Dad's explanations.

 

His high school uses other texts. Ds has already done most of the typical high school math sequence using AoPS, so math is one of his snoozer classes -- but that's okay. Everything else keeps him on his toes. His math teacher also lets him work on AoPS during class which is nice.

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Anyone know how many AoPS users are afterschoolers? Dd might go to a school next year..

 

My oldest has been taking AoPS online classes for four years. His perception, based on the open chat between the kids before the class officially starts, is that most of the kids in the online classes are afterschoolers.

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He began AoPS algebra before it was taught in school. His elementary school let him work on his own in the back of the room at his own pace. Initially my husband taught him, but because dh is one of those painfully verbose lecturers (I can attest to this, LOL), my son began teaching himself and checking his own work so he wouldn't have to listen to Dad's explanations.

 

His high school uses other texts. Ds has already done most of the typical high school math sequence using AoPS, so math is one of his snoozer classes -- but that's okay. Everything else keeps him on his toes. His math teacher also lets him work on AoPS during class which is nice.

 

My oldest has been taking AoPS online classes for four years. His perception, based on the open chat between the kids before the class officially starts, is that most of the kids in the online classes are afterschoolers.

 

Thank you both - it is very encouraging to know that afterschooling with AoPS might be a realistic possibility (for the right kid, of course lol).

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Derek, your thought process is right on track. Now I want to say this nicely, but you have to teach the child you have. It's not your job to teach someone else's child or figure out what would work for Regentrude's (who are admittedly quite high), etc. Your only job is to look at YOUR children and figure out what will make them thrive. And if you saddle them with something that is too big a step or is too hard or overwhelming or doesn't fit their gifts/bents/personalities, all you're going to do is ruin your time and their lives. You have to look at your kids.

Yes, I've pretty much come to the same conclusion. Even kids that eventually go into STEM careers aren't necessarily going to be studying AoPS Algebra in 6th & 7th grade. :tongue_smilie: That's pretty much the extreme end of one spectrum of study.

 

So your kids? I see you saying they're happy with MUS but you want to step it up a bit. I don't think it was nuts to supplement with SM. That sounds like a very good idea. Some people will alternate curricula, doing say MUS during the school year and SM during the summer. That might work great for you. If the Singapore methods aren't the way you naturally think of math or were taught math, then yes it would help you to go back and get the texts. The CWP (or whatever they call them now, mine are CWP) books *do* explain the basic theory on the problem-solving at the beginning of each chapter. It's imperative to back up till your in stuff that's easy. Like back up all the way to the level 1 if needed, kwim? Just do it. If you back up that much, the concept clicks, and then they can apply it to harder problems. So that's where I'd start, just with the first level of CWP, and see if any lightbulbs come on.

I will probably order the earlier years of CWP to try them out. However while they do explain *some* of the concepts and problem types, they don't explain all. A perfect example of a seemingly simple Q is the second one in Chapter 1 of CWP5. "A two digit number is three times the sum of its digits." Nothing in MUS or CWP covers splitting a number into separate parts and then solving for an unknown, especially prior to Pre-A. This seems similar to what I've seen with AoPS -> throw something out there which has never been taught, then try to figure it out. That's why I'm thinking Singapore may go over things like this in their textbooks.

 

...

I don't know if she said this in your thread, but 8Fills has the older version of the MUS algebra 1 that she uses with her kids as a pre-algebra before Foerster. So it's not like you can't keep going and get to where you want to be. Math though is one of those individual things where no one can really help you. It's just you looking at your kids, trying the materials on them, and seeing what you think. Use your best judgment, and you'll be fine.

 

Yeah, I am looking at MM and CLE, however I've noticed some do fine with MUS as their spine to certain points such as 8Fills. Another big consideration is that I don't want to be switching curriculum back and forth, especially midstream if it seems to be working. Our younger daughters (6,7) seem to be doing alright with MUS. And it has a completely different scope and sequence than most other programs. So supplementing would probably be better. I may look into other things to supplement if CWP isn't the best fit, maybe MM. They have a lot of nice subject specific self contained books - Blue Series. I'm on Maria's mailing list. So I've heard about the big sale coming up. It may be a good time to pick up some these books just to compare.

 

Thanks again,

Edited by dereksurfs
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Well, I think we'll be diving into Pre-Algebra this summer...it seems there's no fortune-telling consensus on what my son will enjoy :lol: He tends to be quite compliant in that he'll do what's put before him, but I'll be able to tell if he's getting frustrated. I do appreciate the poster (either this thread or another) who mentioned that if AoPS Pre is meant to be done pretty much independently, and if your child can't do it independetly it's either not right for him/her or he/she is just not ready yet. I also like the idea of doing a year of Dolciani or Lial's and then spending some time on AoPS Pre-A once he's gotten the feel for higher math. The poster who wrote that success begets success: yes! I need to keep this in mind, and find that fine line between challenge and frustration. I tend to err too much on the side of "challenge" sometimes.

 

I'll let you know! :)

Edited by Halcyon
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Your son could do one program and then another of the same at some point. That's what my son did -- NEM algebra and then AoPS algebra. I know others here have done something similar with their children. I think if we had started him with AoPS first, he would have been flustered. Because he had a good grasp of algebra already, working through AoPS was a lot more fun.

 

One of my mottoes is: Success begets success. I try to set the bar of challenge high enough that my son can jump over with a bit of effort. It's been a great way to build his confidence.

 

As for the fun factor, my son and many of his friends did not begin to think doing math was fun until about 7th or 8th grade. Your little guy is 9, so it's not surprising that he doesn't sit around working problems in his free time. I suppose some kids do but mine didn't (!), although math was a favorite subject even in the younger years.

 

 

That leads me to... contest math. MathCounts, the AMC-AIME-USAMO-IMO, Mandelbrot (high school), ARML (high school) can be terrific motivators (or not). In our experience, the other kids have been very nice and supportive of one another. If you find groups like that and your child responds well, that might be good to add at some point. I think initially it helps if you make it clear that this is really less about *winning,* and more about motivating kids to study a bit more math.

 

Well, those are my two, maybe three, cents of advice. :)

 

 

Great insights. Thank you.

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Derek, don't know if you know this, but the Math Counts and Math Olympiad materials (the latter sold on the AOPS website, right?) are much more accessible to a broad spectrum of kids. Don't know the ages/grades of your kids, but if they're at 3rd-5th or up, they're probably ready.

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Oh that's nice to know. I have wanted to try those.

 

Absolutely! The materials overlap. The math counts stuff that I bought has a really nice format. I've taken it in the car and used it for fun quizzing with kids. It has the problems and solutions for the set all on one page and nice large print. The math olympiad book is a bit different. It is a perfect bound book (the other is spiral) with small print, sets of problems on each page and the answers in the back. I'd have to go back and look at my stuff to remember how many problems were on the pages for each type. Point is, the math olympiad book is a good value and the math counts is a very easy layout to use. With the math olympiad book, I went through and copied the pages and inserted paper between to create a workbook we could actually write on. Maybe they intended them just to be read? I don't know. The one thing I wouldn't bother doing is buying both. They seemed pretty similar. (Say I, watch somebody come and disagree. :) )

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I don't really agree on the not right unless totally independent thing (I only have limited experience with it though so take that with a grain of salt). Granted, it's not what I'd call ideal in a classroom setting as is, but with one on one I don't see the big deal. I do it with DS. I don't get up and teach it. We work through together. He reads some, I read some, etc. We watch the videos and do the alcamus. It works out.

 

 

 

:iagree:

I am not sure what is meant by "independent" though. Does "independent" mean that the child is handed the book and the parent has no involvement? If that is the case, maybe that has more to do with the ages of the other posters' children rather than the program itself? Maybe not?:confused:

 

My 15 year old works in AoPS completely independently, but he also works in his AP Chemistry and Latin completely independently as well. My youngest has not reached the maturity level where she can work in any of her subjects complete independently, but in my mind that does not mean that the curricula I have chosen for her is not a good fit.

 

If a child could not solve the vast majority of exercises and review problems completely independently (without any parent input), then I would think that AoPS would not be a good fit. At least with my two younger kids, they would be completely overwhelmed if I simply gave them the book and told them to read and work the example problems themselves.

 

I know that I am also in the minority, but I don't think that prior exposure to a topic somehow ruins the AoPS discovery approach. AoPS goes so much deeper than other curricula that I have seen, that I think it is actually better to have some prior math "hooks" to hang on to.

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We went the AoPS route with our middle daughter, but NOT with our eldest daughter.

 

Our middle daughter use/d Geometry & Intermediate Algebra for now. She is my "different" child, though. Her interests are math, sciences, and drawing (of a more technical kind + interested in architecture). Recently she became interested in economics and started to watch Yale lectures on game theory - now she wants me to get her the suggested textbooks to work with them. The rest of the "school" she gets done with, but every couple of months we wage a war about her being so invested into her own interests to the exclusion of everything else, if only she were allowed to do so (but she is NOT). But, yes, I suspect this is the type of student that AoPS and AoPS-like (if there is such a thing) materials are created for - kids who are not only good at math, but for whom this is a passion. This child is highly likely to go into a STEM field, has a high intrinsic motivation as far as math is concerned, and she does it because she wants to go above and beyond.

 

My eldest daughter, who is now at school, is not an average student either, but she was never "AoPS material", so to speak. Even if she has the cognitive capacities for doing AoPS, she lacks the passion for it. She is a good math student, she often worked above grade level, but math is a get-it-done subject for her and I see little point in making her go above and beyond. Her math textbooks have always been whatever were the standard "grade" or "grade ahead" school textbooks and now she uses whatever her (French) school uses, I do not even know what she studies in math now. She is smart enough to figure out whatever they throw in front of her, but she never eats it up with passion the way her sister does. Because of that, she is just not an ideal AoPS candidate. Yeah, I could "make" her do AoPS if she were still homeschooled, and she could probably pull good grades being a smart girl, but it would come at a "cost" (in terms of time, effort, and perhaps even our relationship) that neither I or her are willing to pay. So, at the end of the day, she will probably end up with a perfectly average math education.

 

While AoPS is certainly not a magic bullet for every child - it is basically aimed at a top few percent of kids - there is nothing "mystical" about it, either. AoPS is simply math instruction comme il faut. A child does not have interest or stamina to study EVERY academic area "comme il faut", unless their academic load is very limited - most children study most academic areas for the purposes of general education, and that is a fine and reasonable goal in itself. AoPS is not general education math, it is for kids who want MORE, and as such, it ought not be a blanket standard or a "default procedure".

We chose a few, *for us*, culturally important areas to do "properly", and then as our kids' interests developed they added their own. AoPS is not "worth it" for us to be our default standard. If the kids want to go above and beyond, fine; if not, they can settle for a typical high school program and sequence.

 

So, I have one of each - a kid for whom AoPS is God-sent, and a kid who could care less and does just as well with whatever is the required math of the program she is enrolled into.

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