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9yo dislikes AoPS prealgebra

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My 9yo did Beast Academy 3-5 and loved every minute of it.  He cried over running out of BA.  Now he's slogging through AoPS prealgebra with so. much. complaining.  He likes Alcumus and thinks the online videos are pretty neat, but he hates the book, hates writing out the problems, hates the formatting, hates the whole presentation in fact, and says he wishes he could just have BA back.

 
This kid who has loved everything math since toddlerhood is suddenly not enjoying it.  I want to get him back into that happy math place again, but I also hesitate to switch him from AoPS.  
 
Is there something just as good that might be a better fit?  (What????)  Or is it going to get better at some point?  Should I have him push through this?

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My DS9 switched to Jacobs Algebra for a couple of months and he was flying through it -- it was a real confidence boost. Eventually, he missed the challenge of AOPS (he was tired of the challenge, which was why we switched in the first place) and he is now happily back to Pre-A.

 

I have found that forcing him to push through a math curriculum when he is frustrated never goes anywhere good in our house. I have a variety of decent quality materials that he can choose among -- like Jacobs, serious programming courses, etc. I think he sometimes gets this idea that something else will be easier/more fun/better, but we always end up back with AOPS. The variety and change is good, though, and helps him regain perspective. He is young still and way ahead of the public school sequence, so he has plenty of time to experiment and try things out.

 

Since the writing, not the the content, seems to be a real sticking point for your DS, what if you offered to scribe for him? -- Maybe not every problem or every day, but just to lighten his load a bit? Sometimes I'll just format DS's page for him with the section number, problem numbers, etc. so it looks a bit more like a workbook. I think it's a huge step to go from the workbook format where everything is nicely laid and the problem information is right above the working space to a blank sheet of notebook paper and a separate book to consult.

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I didn't like it either!  And neither did my kid.

 

He ended up liking MUS Algebra 1 (we used that as our "pre-algebra").  He also liked Saxon A1 and up. Saxon is rather dry, but he liked that.

 

The Zaccaro books are fun.  Fred is fun, but I didn't feel comfortable using it as a stand alone. 

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I worked through the book myself and did not like it. DD had done Singapore through 6B. So we tested through Dolciani prealgebra and just hit the few areas where she needed a bit more practice (some of the C problems are interesting and fun). Then we went right into Foerster Algebra 1 which has been a huge hit here.

 

I also help with writing. I usually write the problem in her notebook neatly in pen and she solves it. Then we check it. It takes a lot of my attention but this approach has been working well for us.

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Just wanted to second Life of Fred with some other spines. Dd(my oldest) did the advanced Singapore which essentially took care of math through pre calc when combined with Fred. Ds did a mixture of everything but all of Fred. Somewhat topic based combined with his programming. We do own some AoPS but they only dipped in to selected areas and did those their way. Loved Alcumus. Discovered Alec's at some point and both zoomed through that. Both are "fine" with 5's on math APs etc. Did well in competition math. Have math degrees.....not everyone likes the AoPS way. Find something he does enjoy and is willing to complete. Math is fun! :)

 

I never tried Jacobs but did own a few Lials. I tended to buy cheap used.

 

Eta.....you might want to let him go through the Key to Algebra books as stress relief. My kids loved those books because they were write in. They are more prealgebra......

Edited by mumto2
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Is there something just as good that might be a better fit?  (What????)  Or is it going to get better at some point?  Should I have him push through this?

 

 

Maybe not quite as rigorous as AoPS but solid and way more engaging is Elements of Mathematics. My DS did levels 1-7 after not caring much for the first few chapters of AoPS Pre-Algebra.

 

He's actually back doing a few chapters in AoPS Pre-A (square roots and the geometry ones) not covered by EoM so far and he is still finding it "meh".

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My son didn't like the AoPS prealgebra book either.  I think he would have liked their algebra book, but his (brief) experience with prealgebra soured him on AoPS forever.

 

It would be wonderful if AoPS were to come out with a more kid friendly version of their prealgebra book.  Maybe BA 6 and 7 or something.

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He likes Alcumus and thinks the online videos are pretty neat, but he hates the book, hates writing out the problems, hates the formatting, hates the whole presentation in fact, and says he wishes he could just have BA back.

Writing out problems - my kids only wrote down answers for most problems, save them the writing fatigue especially DS12. His quota for writing out problems was like 3 per week for the AoPS online class when he was 10 and that was typing in latex which was easier than writing for him. So writing would have been the stumbling block for DS12 regardless of curriculum anyway. Despite his writing issues, DS12 had no problems writing lengthy proofs when he has to.

 

hates the whole presentation - does your son prefers graphic novels style? Mine prefers reading encyclopedias to graphic novels, they like reading the BA but it was once and done. Mine would reread wordy books but graphic novels have always been once and done. So if your son prefers graphic novel style then it’s easier to eliminate what curriculum might not work.

 

hates the formatting - what aspect??? For example both my kids like white space. So the thick Campbell Biology appeals to them because of the wordiness and decent white margin even though they have no interest in Biology. Miller Levine Biology was too colorful for my DS12 and not wordy enough. DS12 is more picky than DS11 for formatting but he is more tolerant now than at 8 years old.

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Writing out problems - my kids only wrote down answers for most problems, save them the writing fatigue especially DS12. His quota for writing out problems was like 3 per week for the AoPS online class when he was 10 and that was typing in latex which was easier than writing for him. So writing would have been the stumbling block for DS12 regardless of curriculum anyway. Despite his writing issues, DS12 had no problems writing lengthy proofs when he has to.

 

hates the whole presentation - does your son prefers graphic novels style? Mine prefers reading encyclopedias to graphic novels, they like reading the BA but it was once and done. Mine would reread wordy books but graphic novels have always been once and done. So if your son prefers graphic novel style then it’s easier to eliminate what curriculum might not work.

 

hates the formatting - what aspect??? For example both my kids like white space. So the thick Campbell Biology appeals to them because of the wordiness and decent white margin even though they have no interest in Biology. Miller Levine Biology was too colorful for my DS12 and not wordy enough. DS12 is more picky than DS11 for formatting but he is more tolerant now than at 8 years old.

 

He prefers texts with color, larger fonts, and lots of pictures, diagrams, tables, and charts.  White space is not necessary, but he balks at large blocks of text without interrupting pictures or big paragraph breaks.  He enjoys graphic novels, though he won't ever reread them.

 
I'm considering using AoPS preA as a spine for me to teach him classroom-style without him using the textbook at all.  I could make him worksheets based on the exercises...  I'm imagining this would be a LOT of work on my part, though, and our money-time balance atm is such that I might prefer just buying a different program for him.

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Maybe not quite as rigorous as AoPS but solid and way more engaging is Elements of Mathematics. My DS did levels 1-7 after not caring much for the first few chapters of AoPS Pre-Algebra.

 

He's actually back doing a few chapters in AoPS Pre-A (square roots and the geometry ones) not covered by EoM so far and he is still finding it "meh".

 

How is it more engaging? I'm curious.

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We had a similar situation - after flying through Singapore, my kid really hated AoPS pre-A. We stuck with it, and over time we've made some changes. We do all (or almost all) problems, including challenge, but I quit stressing over trying to do a lesson a day - if it works, fine, if not, so be it. We do the end of chapter reviews over 2-4 days, depending on how long they are. At one point, we took a break and worked through the Jousting Armadillos series. In the end, we spent more than 1.5 years on pre-A and 1.5 years on algebra. But, we spent a month at a time working with the other series. During this semester, as we finish algebra, we're doing AoPS 3 days/week and Life of Fred 1 day/week (we do co-op all day on the 5th day, so we only do math 4 days/week). If I had realized what a difference this would make, I would have arranged it differently from the beginning. Like my son, yours is young, so there is no rush to get through things quickly.

 

For us, it was difficult to move from 'I can do all of the math intuitively in my head' to 'Some problems are complex enough that, if I don't write things down, I'll lose a negative sign and miss the whole thing'. Taking things slowly and learning from different books (which teach the same concept in different ways, has really helped to cement the knowledge in my kiddo's head. His (and, because I've helped him, my) understanding and comfort level with algebra, exponents, etc, is far better than mine was after I finished taking these classes. I guess all of that is to say that, knowing what I know now, I'd add LOF or JA - maybe do them exclusively for a while, or maybe do them alternating days with AoPS. As my kid has gotten more mature (now in 6th grade), AoPS has been less stressful and I think is more often a challenge rather than a frustration.

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What chapter is he working in?

For some kids, nine may be a little young to have a good fit with this text.  It can be a tricky age.  Working on a white board buddy-style is certainly one good option, if you don't go elsewhere.  And/or socratically, with your help, as you describe above (personally, I think it's written perfectly for this).  Or go to something else and then come back to it later.

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So, does anyone know, would it work to switch to Jousting Armadillos (+/- the two other books in the series?) and then move on to AoPS Intro to Algebra when he's older and more mature?  Or would it be better to do JA, then return to AoPS preA?

 

I'm now tossing around the idea of having him do JA (+/- the next two books) with Jacobs' Human Endeavor to hopefully make math fun again, then try to jump back somewhere into the AoPS sequence.

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What chapter is he working in?

 

For some kids, nine may be a little young to have a good fit with this text.  It can be a tricky age.  Working on a white board buddy-style is certainly one good option, if you don't go elsewhere.  And/or socratically, with your help, as you describe above (personally, I think it's written perfectly for this).  Or go to something else and then come back to it later.

 

He's about 3/4 of the way through chapter 3 and moving very slowly.

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So, does anyone know, would it work to switch to Jousting Armadillos (+/- the two other books in the series?) and then move on to AoPS Intro to Algebra when he's older and more mature?  Or would it be better to do JA, then return to AoPS preA?

 

I'm now tossing around the idea of having him do JA (+/- the next two books) with Jacobs' Human Endeavor to hopefully make math fun again, then try to jump back somewhere into the AoPS sequence.

 

AOPS is very textbookish and it probably works better if a younger kid used it with a parent rather than on their own. Mine started on it quite young and I worked with him for the first 5 chapters before he took off on his own.

 

I think that it is a good idea for your son to do JA and then, you can assign the challenging problems from AOPS PreA to see if he can handle them. If he gets them, move on to Jacob's. If he struggles, then use the AOPS PreA book to review the parts that he needs the review for. 

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Mine tried AoPS pre-algebra when she was a little older--11 (6th). It didn't work for her at all after the success of BA. Honestly, we didn't like any pre-algebra programs (and we tried them all) so it ended up being a very odd year. When she was 12, we did Forester's algebra, and in hindsight, I should have just moved to algebra instead of that weird pre-algebra year. She really didn't need it because so much review happens in algebra. But, even after finishing Foerster's last year, I decided I wasn't that happy with it and wanted to solidify her more conceptually. So, we switched back to AoPS for algebra, and suddenly she loves it and is doing it completely independently. I even showed her the corresponding Crocodiles book (book in JA series), and she gave it back saying that it was too easy.

 

I don't know why she suddenly loves algebra--the text is different than pre-algebra, but she's also more mature, or maybe it's just a deeper review of concepts she did with Foerster. Who knows, but I was surprised by how much she likes it this year (she's 13 now, 8th).

Edited by deerforest
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Have you tried working through it with him? I didn't just hand DS the book - I orally summarized what was written and then he worked the problems. You could even work through the problems together and have him do the exercises himself (with you scribing?). Just ideas if you do want to continue with AOPS.

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We were there at age 9 and switched to JA and LoF for a year.  AoPS was just really different because of all of the reading.  I have a verbally gifted kid and not a spatially gifted kid so it seemed like it would be a good fit, and it just wasn't.  After a year of JA and LoF, we made our way back to AoPS and I'm still not sure it's a good fit!  We may switch again because he's not loving it at all and it's a pretty intense curriculum to just trudge through.

 

It's not for every gifted kid, and that's ok. :)

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I was going to ask the same as Black Eyed Suzan:  Is he working through it independently?  My kids were older when they started AoPS PreA, but I read the books out loud (and I still did through AoPS calculus!) and write out the problems on paper as we go along.  

 

I thought chapter 1 was the toughest because we are reteaching the 4 operations, but with greater rigor and generality, which can be a tough slog.  But number theory is really fun.  But my dds couldn't do it on their own and they were much older than your son at this level.   

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I was going to ask the same as Black Eyed Suzan:  Is he working through it independently?  My kids were older when they started AoPS PreA, but I read the books out loud (and I still did through AoPS calculus!) and write out the problems on paper as we go along.  

 

I thought chapter 1 was the toughest because we are reteaching the 4 operations, but with greater rigor and generality, which can be a tough slog.  But number theory is really fun.  But my dds couldn't do it on their own and they were much older than your son at this level.   

 

Yes, he's been doing it independently, except for the occasional starred problem that he's asked for help on.

 

When we return to lessons next week after Halloween break I'm going to try working the section problems on the board Socratic style and write out the exercises on graph paper so they have more of a worksheet presentation.  I also plan to change all the word problems so that they fit in the BA universe.  Maybe I'll draw a crappy imitation of Grogg in the bottom corner or something, lol.

 

Hopefully this works, because I showed him the samples of JA today and he said he'd rather do AoPS.

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It was not a good fit for my son. We switched to Jacobs for Algebra and Geometry and it was much better. Using Lials for Algebra 2

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Mine is now 9. My plan is to go for JA first as soon as we finish with Beast 5 which should go quickly because we already completed SM5. I have the AOPS pre-A text and may pull it out to use alongside.

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We were there at age 9 and switched to JA and LoF for a year.  AoPS was just really different because of all of the reading.  I have a verbally gifted kid and not a spatially gifted kid so it seemed like it would be a good fit, and it just wasn't.  After a year of JA and LoF, we made our way back to AoPS and I'm still not sure it's a good fit!  We may switch again because he's not loving it at all and it's a pretty intense curriculum to just trudge through.

 

It's not for every gifted kid, and that's ok. :)

I'm curious about this, but don't know if the following question is a tangent or not, but I'm wondering if anyone can weigh in why AoPS is really considered "the best." In particular, I have little love for the algebra/trig/calculus/analysis track, and I would've much preferred to do a program that was good and solid, but not super intense, and then move on to "fun" topics (e.g., NT, combinatorics, etc.) much more quickly (had I known then that they even existed). I'm just wondering about the pros and cons of such a plan, I guess?

 

ETA: I know that no program really is "the best" for every student. I just meant that AoPS seems to be plan A for most folks - unless it doesn't work out for some reason and then they go to plan B. 

Edited by 4kookiekids
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I'm curious about this, but don't know if the following question is a tangent or not, but I'm wondering if anyone can weigh in why AoPS is really considered "the best." In particular, I have little love for the algebra/trig/calculus/analysis track, and I would've much preferred to do a program that was good and solid, but not super intense, and then move on to "fun" topics (e.g., NT, combinatorics, etc.) much more quickly (had I known then that they even existed). I'm just wondering about the pros and cons of such a plan, I guess?

 

I appreciate tangents and am curious as well.

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In particular, I have little love for the algebra/trig/calculus/analysis track, and I would've much preferred to do a program that was good and solid, but not super intense, and then move on to "fun" topics (e.g., NT, combinatorics, etc.) much more quickly (had I known then that they even existed). I'm just wondering about the pros and cons of such a plan, I guess?

Can’t answer for AoPS being the best part since any curriculum (regardless of subject) that my kids can self study and occasionally bug me would make me happy to pay up and buy but still won’t be considered the best. The word “Best†just feels so superlative.

 

Besides AoPS volume 1 & 2 books which we didn’t buy, you can also supplement any math curriculum with old math circles materials (I use U of Waterloo’s materials because it’s free on their webpage), old AMC8/10/12 and AIME questions and solutions free on AoPS website. We also watched all the Numberphile and Computerphile videos.

 

Young math book series introduces many fun topics to young children. https://www.librarything.com/series/Young+Math+Books

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I'm curious about this, but don't know if the following question is a tangent or not, but I'm wondering if anyone can weigh in why AoPS is really considered "the best." In particular, I have little love for the algebra/trig/calculus/analysis track, and I would've much preferred to do a program that was good and solid, but not super intense, and then move on to "fun" topics (e.g., NT, combinatorics, etc.) much more quickly (had I known then that they even existed). I'm just wondering about the pros and cons of such a plan, I guess?

 

It isn't the best for everyone.  Just today I was tutoring a gal in PreAlgebra.  Here's a quote from today on page 125:

 

"Our explanation in Problem 3.28 not only tells us how to find the prime factorization of the least common multiple of 24 and 90.  It also tells us that this prime factorization must be included in any common multiple of 24 and 90.  That is, any positive common multiple's prime factorization must have 2 raised to at least the 3rd power, 3 raised to at least the 2nd power and 5 raised to at least the 1st power.  Also, any multiple of lcm[24,90] must also be a common multiple of 24 and 90."  

 

That's pretty dense stuff, even if you are familiar with the problem.  While reading this, I had a piece of scratch paper out and was circling exponents in the prime factorizations of 24 and 90 so it was clear what the paragraph was trying to communicate.  I suspect it's a rare kid who can slog through something like this without some guidance.  

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We made it through about 2 sections last year and then switched to Math Mammoth 7th.  We never did finish that completely and just skipped to Algebra (using Lifepacs)  It's much better. 

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My DS did AOPS Prealgebra last year as a 9 yr old. He hated it at first too. Then I started having him watch the online videos first then doing the problems. It helped a ton and by the end of the year he loved the program.

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I did AoPS Prealgebra with my oldest at age 9. We spent two years on the book, and we worked it together. After about chapter 5, he started to work it more independently, iirc. He just needed hand holding up to that point.

 

My current 5th grader (just turned 11 last week) is almost done with chapter 2. He hates school in general and is a total bear to work with, but he does like the problems in AoPS as long as he doesn't have to do the writing. He has autism (high functioning) and dysgraphia. So I tend to alternate who does the writing. I'll write the first problem. He writes the next one. We work together, talk a lot about the problems, and watch the videos online (those are fabulous!). I doubt I'll be able to hand this book off to him ever. Maybe by high school he'll be able to do one on his own. :p He LOVES the math itself though. He had been doing MM6 and was bored to tears. He loves finding the "trick" to make the problems super easy in AoPS, and he's really quite good at it. Today, he figured out a difficult problem before I did! And I'm a mathy engineer. ;)

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