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kristin0713

how important is doing Algebra 1 in 8th grade

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I was planning on having my DD do Principles of Mathematics 1 & 2 for 7th and 8th grades, then Algebra 1 in 9th. But I was just talking to another homeschool mom with kids graduating high school / in college who said that she wished they had done Algebra 1 in 8th which she feels would have prepared them better for high school math and the PSAT's.  Ugh, this is messing with my plan.  My DD is doing fine in math but is not "mathy" and I feel she could benefit from the extra time and slower approach to pre-algebra over the next two years instead of doing a year of pre-algebra in 7th and then Algebra 1 in 8th. She is currently in Math Lessons for a Living Education Level 6.  Thoughts?

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It depends on your child and your goals and her goals. Not all kids are ready for Algebra 1 in eighth grade and unless you are wanting or needing her to get to Calculus or above in high school, I wouldn't worry about it.

 

Most kids do fine on the PSAT with Algebra 1 in 9th grade. It's usually the fact that they haven't had geometry yet or have only just started geometry in 10th grade that messes with their math score. If she's not mathy, I wouldn't worry too much about trying to rush her. Maybe supplement a little PSAT geometry prep in 9th grade. That's what I would do with a non-mathy kid.

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Do what's right for your daughter. Some kids are ready for Algebra in eighth grade and some aren't. It won't help her on the tests if she struggles with it. I've had one kid ready for Algebra in 7th grade, one that is struggling through it in tenth grade and three who did it in ninth grade. Just go at the pace your dd needs.

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You can't change a child's rate of mental/physical maturity.  Can't do it.  Trust me. :)

 

Some kids are ready for the abstractness of algebra in 8th grade (or even earlier)--some kids need a longer, slower, more gentle approach.  

 

Fortunately, there are a variety of Algebra options available.  Look over the pinned thread on the high school board.  Ask questions. 

 

I would not slot a child into ____ math just because he is in ____ grade or because ____ person thinks so.  Teach the kid in front of you, at a rate that he can understand. 

Edited by Zoo Keeper
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There is absolutely no point in rushing math. Algebra 1 is THE most important math course your DD will take to prepare her for higher math and sciences. Whether a student gets to calculus in high school does not matter; what matters is a thorough mastery of algebra 1. And you achieve that when the student is ready and has a thorough grounding in prealgebra.

 

I am a physics professor. Of the students who struggle with math in my courses, almost all have insufficient mastery pf prealgebra and algebra, and it hurts them. Take whatever time you need. The fact that another student was ready for algebra in 6th, 7th, or 8th grade is irrelevant for your child.

Edited by regentrude
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Agree with regentrude.

 

My students fail precalculus and precalculus because they don't understand fractinos. 

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Kiana... How is it possible not to understand fractions by precalc... these people are maxing out their homework and extra credit points, I tell you what.

 

OP: By the SATs, your daughter will have finished Algebra and with a solid foundation will be much better prepared for the math required either for engineering, or for a "softer" profession like nursing, or even if she wants to do business or political science, for macro-economics.

 

The only doctor in my graduating class in HS did Algebra I in 8th grade, ironically. All us mathy kids ended up in weird research-like professions, or people-related professions. One is a pastor, one is a kindergarten teacher, one is a phys ed teacher! But she was diligent. High school. Community College. University. Medical School. One by one she ticked off all the boxes. Math snob that I was, honestly I was surprised because somehow at 30 I still had in my head that high school achievement = innate achievement? Or something? I honestly don't know. I was surprised that she was an MD. Shocked at my own surprise, I was able to reflect on my expectations of myself and realized how little acceleration matters to a hard working, determined, and generally well-educated individual.

 

So, while I understand parenting regrets, I think your friend is wrong. Knowing the material is more important than acceleration.

 

But I feel you. I don't want my kids behind in math either. It's hard to find confidence in these decisions.

 

 

 

Edited by Tsuga
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If she's ready for algebra in 8th, then you should do it then. If she's not, then you should not! It's much more important for her to have a thorough grounding and really understand the material than to rush through it. That way leads to critical failure.

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After asking for advice and reading a lot on the boards, I opted to do a second year of pre-algebra for 8th grade. It was absolutely the right decision. While we could have moved forward, I feel it would have been a year of struggling through Algebra in 8th grade. Now I feel like the pre-Algebra skills are rock solid and I am confident that this child is going to handle algebra with ease. Earning an A+ this year and having everything finally click after another run through the material has dramatically increased math confidence in our house.

 

It was hard to feel 'behind' but it was absolutely the right decision for this child and I am glad I didn't rush into algebra. I feel like the high school math grades will be much stronger now and there won't be so much time spent struggling. Some kids just need more time to mature and more time for review in math.

Edited by CaliforniaDreaming
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When I was in school (back before dirt was invented, as I tell my kids), it was "normal" to do Algebra 1 in 9th grade, and anything earlier was accelerated. I'm not sure we have done any favors to students by trying to make it "normal" in 7th or 8th instead (and I've seen it sadly turn some kids off of math and make them feel "less than" because they weren't ready). I never once felt my kids were "behind" in math for doing it in 9th. I felt they were well-served by that, and felt I was way back when too. If a student is ready sooner, go for it, but I don't think it should be this big fear that the student is "behind" or isn't good in math if they don't do Alg. 1 in 7th or 8th grade. You can't rush brain growth!

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Dd didn't do Algebra 1 until 9th grade because I didn't feel she was quite ready, but I did make sure she knew it very well. She is in her third year of college, on a full tuition scholarship, and made As in all her college math classes and chemistry for nursing. She never even took pre-calculus. She did College Algebra and Statistics. 

 

If she had been going into an engineering field, I would have felt she needed to get through pre-calculus and even beginning calculus in high school. 

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Kiana... How is it possible not to understand fractions by precalc... these people are maxing out their homework and extra credit points, I tell you what.

 

Calculators that do fractions. 

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Really needed to read this.

 

 

Me too! Very helpful and encouraging. 

Thank you Regentrude, Merry, Mom 31257, California and others who posted!

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I was planning on having my DD do Principles of Mathematics 1 & 2 for 7th and 8th grades, then Algebra 1 in 9th. But I was just talking to another homeschool mom with kids graduating high school / in college who said that she wished they had done Algebra 1 in 8th which she feels would have prepared them better for high school math and the PSAT's.  Ugh, this is messing with my plan.  My DD is doing fine in math but is not "mathy" and I feel she could benefit from the extra time and slower approach to pre-algebra over the next two years instead of doing a year of pre-algebra in 7th and then Algebra 1 in 8th. She is currently in Math Lessons for a Living Education Level 6.  Thoughts?

 

My DD is currently in 9th.  We're doing Algebra with Mr. D Math, and she's doing wonderfully.

 

We tried doing Algebra in 8th using CLE, but it was a total bust.  DD is a very linear person (like her Engineer Dad).  The abstractness of Algebra completely threw her for a loop.  She couldn't wrap her brain around it.  We even got a tutor for her over the summer.  While she made some progress with the tutor, we just didn't feel comfortable with having her move on.  Therefore, she is repeating it this year.  

 

Best decision we ever made.  She's got a 98% with Mr. D and says she's actually "getting it"!  If you feel your kids need the extra time--TAKE IT!

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I agree that taking algebra in 8th won't help with standardized tests.  The only advantage I see is that taking algebra in 8th grade puts your student on track to be taking calculus in senior year.  If that's a goal.  Calculus can be saved for college if needed.  

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Calculators that do fractions. 

 

:huh:

 

In our schools they are not allowed to use calculators  until they are past algebra. No calculators in primary school except possibly in experimental schools. We are an average state, educationally speaking, and while I'm in a great district it's primarily economic. My nieces and nephews go to another much less affluent district with worse scores and they absolutely are not allowed to use calculators until high school except for math "projects". The curriculum is about the same based on my estimation, based on what the kids talk about (they compare "what are you doing in this grade... oh we did that in November, you're already doing that, wow" or vice-versa).

 

You wouldn't get into the calc track without knowing fractions. You'd be stuck in the vocational-equivalent track. They track math at middle school.

 

I'm freaked out at the idea of learning fractions with calculators. In our school, the kids learn fractions using fraction tic-tac-toe (like, you have to get fractions in a row to add up to a certain number, hard to explain and equally hard to play, but I'm proud to say that none of the 5th graders beat me which would have been humiliating), using manipulatives, and of course, good old worksheets. Calculators. That makes me sad but it explains a lot.

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I think there are kids who understand fractions to a certain point, but can’t manipulate them well because they don’t know their times tables well.

 

I don’t really know what is going on with math here..... my 3rd grader’s class seems to be doing very well with math, but my 7th grader’s class is full of kids who are lost and the teacher is artificially adjusting the grades by throwing out test scores when the class does too poorly, and giving extra credit packets.

 

My son has a 90 now after doing an extra credit packet.

 

I don’t trust the teacher anymore (my first time ever not trusting how he has been taught math at school) and am checking to make sure he understands the material.

 

I think he’s on track to take Algebra in 8th grade, but I also think there are easily kids in his class getting Bs who don’t understand the material very well at all, but do the homework and extra credit packets.

 

I have been pretty disappointed with it.

 

Anyway at this point I think it would be very easy for a parent to think their child is doing well in the 8th grade Algebra track, based on grades, but not realize they are not doing as well unless they are really checking on how they do and looking at tests and quizzes.

 

My son has had some quizzes (more early in the year) where he clearly didn’t know how to do the material.

 

The teacher also skips around a lot, and I have always trusted teachers in the past who skip around, but I don’t trust this one.

 

I don’t even think it’s that the teacher is flawed, I think she may be in a situation where she is supposed to cover material that many kids in the class are not prepared for.

 

I’m not sure, though. I am taking a 12-year-old’s impressions for most of this so I am not sure how factual it really is.

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We did Algebra I (all five kids) in 9th grade because it didn't occur to me to do it differently.  It was never a problem at all.  I think they were all at the perfect age to learn it.  None of them majored in math but they all got top scores in their required math and science classes in college.

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I'm freaked out at the idea of learning fractions with calculators. In our school, the kids learn fractions using fraction tic-tac-toe (like, you have to get fractions in a row to add up to a certain number, hard to explain and equally hard to play, but I'm proud to say that none of the 5th graders beat me which would have been humiliating), using manipulatives, and of course, good old worksheets. Calculators. That makes me sad but it explains a lot.

 

Some math curricula encourage calculator use beginning in early elementary school. These kids never develop any number sense and are completely calculator dependent for any arithmetic.

I see the fallout in my college students. Some reach for the calculator to multiply a number by TEN. 

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These replies have been SO helpful to me!  I'm going to stick with my plan and have her do Principals 1 & 2 for 7th and 8th.  She is doing great with fractions and knows her multiplication facts cold.  But knowing her, I think she will benefit greatly from a longer pre-algebra approach.  Thanks everyone!

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Grateful for this board and this thread.

 

It's a helpful reminder to hold those math plans loosely and teach the kid in front of me.  Also, Calbear's post (see other forum post) about kids at this stage and the preteen emotional upheaval is my reality right now. What kid will I have in 8th grade? Who knows??  =)

 

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Don't rush through math. It's important that she understand it before she moves on. I just talked to a friend this morning at church who is a Chem Professor at a local junior college and her biggest gripe is kids coming to her who don't understand math. They don't even understand their algebra. She told me the other day some kid gave a measurement in inches as a decimal. Now, granted, they are not homeschooled. They are kids who are just passed on through the public school system whether they understand the math or not. But, the point is, take your time and make sure she understands what is going on. 

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Don't rush through math. It's important that she understand it before she moves on. I just talked to a friend this morning at church who is a Chem Professor at a local junior college and her biggest gripe is kids coming to her who don't understand math. They don't even understand their algebra. She told me the other day some kid gave a measurement in inches as a decimal. Now, granted, they are not homeschooled. They are kids who are just passed on through the public school system whether they understand the math or not. But, the point is, take your time and make sure she understands what is going on. 

 

I agree with everything you said, but I do not understand why the bolded would be a problem. Of course you can express inch measurements in decimals; it may not be customary to do so, but there is nothing wrong mathematically in doing it.

Edited by regentrude
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I agree with everything you said, but I do not understand why the bolded would be a problem. Of course you can express inch measurements in decimals; it may not be customary to do so, but there is nothing wrong mathematically in doing it.

Because inches are in 16ths (or 8ths or 1/4ths) and would require a conversion, which a person could do, but this kid didn’t. He just counted the spaces past the inch and instead of say 4 3/8†he wrote it as 4.3â€. Also, my friend requires all measurements in metric, since it is a science class. Edited by KrissiK
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My oldest DS waited and did Algebra 1 in 9th grade.  He is not super "mathy", and he needed 8th grade to reinforce concepts he would need for Algebra 1.  He ended up doing GREAT in Algebra 1 in 9th grade, which was a HUGE confidence boost for him that even carried over this year into Geometry.  

 

Second DS really loves math and does well, so we are going to try Algebra 1 next year for 8th grade.  If it becomes frustrating or turns out to be more than he is ready for, we will repeat it in 9th grade.  

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Because inches are in 16ths (or 8ths or 1/4ths) and would require a conversion, which a person could do, but this kid didn’t. He just counted the spaces past the inch and instead of say 4 3/8†he wrote it as 4.3â€. Also, my friend requires all measurements in metric, since it is a science class.

 

ok, that is wrong :)

 

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Because inches are in 16ths (or 8ths or 1/4ths) and would require a conversion, which a person could do, but this kid didn’t. He just counted the spaces past the inch and instead of say 4 3/8†he wrote it as 4.3â€. Also, my friend requires all measurements in metric, since it is a science class.

Oh.... That's a problem for sure. ðŸ˜

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Really needed to read this.

 

Me too! This thread has done my over-thinking and -analyzing brain a lot of good. :)

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