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Attolia

Thinking about AOPS Pre-algebra?

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DS always gets math, the first time, without explanation, and he never misses anything.  His ability to think through math is uncanny.  At a very young age he was already manipulating numbers on his own. I have always limited him in curriculum so that he isn't too far off from his grade level. He is starting Saxon 6/5 (4th grade) and math is so very boring for him because there isn't a challenge.  I was looking at the placement test on the AOPS website and he could easily do the problems they would expect going into Pre-algebra.  I am thinking about adding in the pre-algebra in addition to the Saxon (but cutting back the amount of problems in Saxon because he simply doesn't need that amount of review). Is this a crazy idea?  

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AOPS Pre-A is big and thick and...let’s go with thorough.  It is truly a behemoth of a book.  I can’t imagine forcing myself to tackle it on top of Saxon, much less keeping my 9 year old enthusiastic about that workload. 

In your shoes I would, and did, switch DS completely to AOPS.  This past year my third grader finish Math Mammoth 5 and was just fed up with the mindlessness of it all. He needed a challenge to rekindle his enthusiasm stat!  He dove right into AOPS and hasn’t looked back. I did choose a few select topics in Math Mammoth 6 and 7 that I wanted to cover with him, but we just spent a few days going through  those sections after he completed the first few AOPS chapters. After chapter 2 especially, he was ready to take a brain break for a week to review inequalities in MM7.  But then, a week later, he once again declared that MM was too easy and boring and he was ready to go back to real, challenging math.

Wendy

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It sounds like your kid can do better than Saxon! Drop it and try AOPS. It'll be so much more challenging and hopefully rewarding and enjoyable for him.

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As wendy said, AOPS prealgebra is full fledged curriculum which takes several months (sometimes more than a year) to complete. It is a rigorous and challenging curriculum with online content on AOPS website to support each chapter. Drop the saxon and start on AOPS. 

We have done both PreA and Intro Alg as self study. Our problem is that it takes too long to complete each course at home, so we will be looking into online classes with AOPS for the higher levels. Challenge wise, DS was stumped by a few of the Mathcounts and AMC problems that were included in the challenge portion of the book. But, he enjoyed those challenges. The text itself is not difficult to follow for a child who has previously been exposed to pre algebra concepts. My son did both Singapore Math level 6 and all the beast academy before starting on PreA.

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Thanks ya'll, I didn't realize it was such a large book. I guess, never seeing it in real person, I imagined it more supplemental. So is Pre-A a crazy thought? I could do BA 4 or 5 first? He did BA 3 this year in addition to Saxon but overall it is still just review for him. Occasionally he will get to something that is presented so differently that he'll have to stop and think for a moment but overall he knows the material. In a weird way he actually likes Saxon.  He finds it predictable and logical and clear.  I just feel like he has no challenge whatsoever.  

ETA - I am NOT a math person at all.  I struggled big time with math in school.  

 

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I would definitely do BA5 first before starting Pre-A. We considered skipping part of it since some of the topics in Pre-A seemed like a review of BA5, but they knew what they were doing when they created the sequence and I can see the larger progression they had in mind as DS has worked through Pre-A.  It was also good for DS10 to have an extra year of practice in a workbook before having to write out all of the work. I think BA5 dense enough to stand on its own, but if you continue with Saxon, it might be too much work (I know it would be for my son).

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I don't think AOPS Pre-A is a crazy thought for you.  It is a very, very challenging book, but it is still just pre-algebra, so if he can pass the placement test then he is ready.  The BA books have only been out for a few years, so lots of students have successfully transitioned to AOPS Pre-A from other programs. 

I also don't think BA 5 would be a bad idea.   I would go this route if you think his handwriting, executive function or perseverance need to mature a bit more before he tackles a book like AOPS.  HOWEVER, a big caveat, I really hesitated about putting my son (who has autism, ADD and anxiety) into AOPS because of his weakness in those skills, but when we did make the plunge he really rose to the occasion.  I think in the past he had been treating Math Mammoth and BA as "little kid" math because of their tone and illustrations, and the fact that they were so simplistic for him.  OTOH, he perceived AOPS Pre-A as "real", "grown-up" math, and he treated it accordingly.

A third option would be Hands on Equations.  We did not use any of the physical manipulatives - my son just did not need them.  I first had DS go through the three HoE apps (a few dollars each) which taught him how to balance algebraic equations and gave him lots of practice with multiple variables and positive and negative numbers.  These were a solid resource, but somewhat boring and somewhat repetitive once he got each new concept down.  Next, though, I had him go through the HoE word problem book.  Now that is a great book!  The problems were challenging, but also incremental so as to not be overwhelming.  It offered thorough solutions to all the problems.  It guided the student through solving a multitude of real-life situations and problems with algebraic equations.  Plus, for us, it was the perfect transition from workbook math to notebook math.  DS started by solving each individual question on a small white board...then I would check it and correct his sloppy notation before he continued.  By the end of the book he was happily doing all of his math in a notebook.  Already being comfortable with that skill was a huge boon when he then started AOPS Pre-A.

Wendy

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15 minutes ago, mathnerd said:

Attolia, I just looked it up: AOPS PreA book is 577 pages long.

And while 577 pages isn't really very long for an upper level math textbook, AOPS pages are DENSE with almost no white space.  They do not have cute illustrations, flashy infographics, optional math "activities", pull out boxes about careers in mathematics, or any of the other distractions other books will add to make the math seem more approachable.  AOPS just has lots of interesting math. 

I find AOPS Pre-A an incredibly intimidating book, but also absolutely worthwhile.  We've just been taking it one day at a time, and lo and behold, currently, about 7 months after starting (working on it for ~20 minutes, 6-7 days a week), DS is a little past the half-way point...and most days he still sits down to work on it willingly and fairly cheerfully!!

Wendy

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20 hours ago, wendyroo said:

I don't think AOPS Pre-A is a crazy thought for you.  It is a very, very challenging book, but it is still just pre-algebra, so if he can pass the placement test then he is ready.  The BA books have only been out for a few years, so lots of students have successfully transitioned to AOPS Pre-A from other programs. 

I also don't think BA 5 would be a bad idea.   I would go this route if you think his handwriting, executive function or perseverance need to mature a bit more before he tackles a book like AOPS.  HOWEVER, a big caveat, I really hesitated about putting my son (who has autism, ADD and anxiety) into AOPS because of his weakness in those skills, but when we did make the plunge he really rose to the occasion.  I think in the past he had been treating Math Mammoth and BA as "little kid" math because of their tone and illustrations, and the fact that they were so simplistic for him.  OTOH, he perceived AOPS Pre-A as "real", "grown-up" math, and he treated it accordingly.

A third option would be Hands on Equations.  We did not use any of the physical manipulatives - my son just did not need them.  I first had DS go through the three HoE apps (a few dollars each) which taught him how to balance algebraic equations and gave him lots of practice with multiple variables and positive and negative numbers.  These were a solid resource, but somewhat boring and somewhat repetitive once he got each new concept down.  Next, though, I had him go through the HoE word problem book.  Now that is a great book!  The problems were challenging, but also incremental so as to not be overwhelming.  It offered thorough solutions to all the problems.  It guided the student through solving a multitude of real-life situations and problems with algebraic equations.  Plus, for us, it was the perfect transition from workbook math to notebook math.  DS started by solving each individual question on a small white board...then I would check it and correct his sloppy notation before he continued.  By the end of the book he was happily doing all of his math in a notebook.  Already being comfortable with that skill was a huge boon when he then started AOPS Pre-A.

Wendy

 

15 hours ago, mathnerd said:

Attolia, I just looked it up: AOPS PreA book is 577 pages long.

 

 

Wow, so much to think about 🤣  His handwriting is pretty good.  He missed one problem in the Pre-A pre-test (gave it to him yesterday) and that was because he misread it, not because he didn't understand how to do it.  I am really torn about what to do.  I might need to sit on this for a while.  I considered jumping into Pre-A as a supplement added to a Saxon 6/5 but cut way back on the review problems.  And even spreading out for two years if necessary?  I could also do BA 5 🤷‍♀️ I am going to look into the resource you mentioned, Wendy.  I guess I have some thinking to do 🤣  

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Attolia, pre-algebra content is included in Alcumus. If you just wanted to give the content a try, you could have him play around with the pre-algebra portion of Alcumus (note that there are different difficulty settings, should you need to vary the challenge level). For free. There is also (free) video support for some of the topics.

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Just to update....I ordered pre-algebra at DS's request.  He really wants the extra challenge. I will combine it with Saxon for review but we will test out of the first third of the book (he always does) and then scale way back on review problems.  If I need to stretch out the pre-a for 1.5 years that's ok.  Thanks for your thoughts.  

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