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Alice

Calculus question- especially about self-studying

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This  has probably been asked and answered here a bunch of times but everytime I do a search I end up with threads about people whose kids are in Multivariate Calculus in 4th grade and I end up feeling depressed becuase I’ve clearly failed my son. 

My son is a rising senior. He loves Math and will likely be a Math major. Almost certainly something STEM related. He has used AOPS since Pre-Algebra and loved it. He has always self-studied instead of doing the online classes. For one, the online classes seem too fast and also we haven’t wanted to do a class at night (he is a swimmer and gets up at 4 am to swim so an evening class is tough). He is going to do Calculus this coming year. 

For some reason, I’m having doubts about him continuing with the self-teaching. I think I feel guilty because we’ve gotten to the point where I really can’t help him. It’s been that it’s hard for me to help for awhile but in the past six months or so I really am useless. He’s independent and doesn’t seem to mind the self-teaching....I just worry that he’s maybe not learning as well as he could. I’ve looked into online Calculus options and the only one that I see that uses the AOPS text is the WTMA. For some reason, they call their class Calc AB where the AOPS people say their text could be for Calc BC. I’m not sure why or really if it matters. He doesn’t really want to switch texts as he really likes AOPS. 

Options...

*Continue with self-studying. I did think about hiring someone locally as a tutor who could maybe look at proofs and meet by Zoom or Skype or something to just go over concepts and questions. I guess if it’s online it wouldn’t have to be local. 

*Take a non-AOPS Calc BC class (meaning one that doesn’t use the AOPS text). 

*Take the WTMA AOPS Calc AB class and either just do the AB exam or figure out the gaps and have him self-study. 

I’m not sure if AB vs BC really matters. Since it’s the end of his senior year, colleges aren’t going to see the score anyway and after the debacle of this year’s AP exams (we were one of the people who couldn’t submit an exam) I’m not really sure how much AP exams are going to matter in the next year or so. 

Mostly my goal for him is to have a great experience with Calc. He loves math and I want him to really enjoy it. I’m not really looking for him to do well on the test in order to score highly for credit on the AP exam. But I do want him to really learn at a deep level. 

Anyone with thoughts on that somewhat convoluted story? Anyone whose kids self-studied and thought it was great? Or who had terrible experiences and they wished they hadn’t? 

 

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AB is the equivalent of cal 1 and BC is the equivalent of cal 1&2.

My ds took AoPS cal class (yrs ago.  He is a grad student now) and loved it.  My other kids have taken cal either DE or Thinkwell's course.  

In terms of self-studying, you could have him pair the AoPS text with a course like Thinkwell's.  Then he would have a teacher but also the complex problems to mentally work through in AoPS (or he could just do AoPS and have Thinkwell as a back up for topics he needs more help with.  I think I paid $68 for a yr's subscription to cal 1&2 for my sr this yr.)

Edited by 8FillTheHeart
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My son self studied with Saxon and it went well. I did get him the DIVE DVD.  My daughter is going to be self studying using MUS next year. It can be done.  

I do think it’s a good idea to have access to someone who can help if your student gets stuck. I love your zoom idea. 

Its often recommended that students from any school background retake calculus in college. I did. My ds’s bff who also self studied did ( and flew through, so self studying didn’t hold him back) 

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Are you set on calculus text? I am asking because if you are flexible, Bluetent has an amazing calculus teacher. That class is rigorous and your DS could always add AoPS text afterwards to get more theoretical side. I know lewelma said her kid also did two rounds through it - one with more traditional text and one with AoPS. Just to bring in an alternative solid and rigorous course, don’t discount Bluetent! 

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DS15 thought online classes were lonely after doing them from 6th to 9th grade. He started dual enrollment calculus in 10th grade and love the classes. Dual enrollment for us is free.

Would your child like to be in the swim team at community college and take calculus there? I know a boardie’s son that did that and is now in college. He can self study the AoPS calculus book for enrichment. 

How much non-standard Math has he done? My DS15 who is thinking of triple majoring (math being a potential major) found discrete math hard but appreciate that he has to think. He did AoPS counting & probability as well as number theory. 

DS15 went from prealgebra to calculus with AoPS books. His prealgebra and intermediate algebra books were the most worn out. DS14 stopped at precalculus with AoPS books. DS14 has always wanted to major in engineering or computer science and his best subject is physics so not surprised that he went with Larson textbook for AP calculus. He is more likely to major in physics than maths. 

 

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My dd also did AoPS from PreAlgebra through PreCalculus.  She switched to PAH AP Calculus BC because we feared she wouldn't have enough practice and preparation with just the AoPS book.  The class was okay, and she got a 5, but she didn't love the class, being an AoPS kid.  

I am teaching another AoPS kid calculus now, using the AoPS textbook.  In addition to the book, I have access to 3000 practice problems that the College Board makes available to calculus teachers.  It's terrific because I can filter the problems by topic, so I can give my student 20-100 practice problems  along with each corresponding AoPS lesson.  I also have a bunch of old AP calculus exams dating back to 1998.  So he'll get the fun proofs from AoPS, but also get enough practice to develop muscle memory and solve problems quickly.   IMO the AoPS textbook alone isn't sufficient preparation for a 5.

If your son is an AoPS kid then the BC level of calculus should be fine.  People make a big deal out of calculus, but it really isn't all that hard.  It's interesting and fun!  

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19 hours ago, Roadrunner said:

Are you set on calculus text? I am asking because if you are flexible, Bluetent has an amazing calculus teacher. That class is rigorous and your DS could always add AoPS text afterwards to get more theoretical side. I know lewelma said her kid also did two rounds through it - one with more traditional text and one with AoPS. Just to bring in an alternative solid and rigorous course, don’t discount Bluetent! 

I am flexible but he is not. 🙂 H'es a pretty laid-back kid so the fact that he really wants to stick with AoPS makes me want to honor that wish. 

Thanks everyone else for weighing in as well. Typing up the question helped me think about it. I talked to ds and he wants to use AoPS mostly like he has been and then we are going to look for a tutor who can work with him a bit. I think in reality the tutor is more of a crutch for me than a necessity. It just gives me peace of mind but I think he would actually be fine self-studying. I have someone in mind who was a homeschooler who majored in Math and I believe is interested in teaching. I mostly want someone to correct proofs and who can meet with him on some kind of basis to go over questions. 

@Arcadia he hasn’t done a ton of non-standard Math. He worked through the Intro to Counting and Probability book back in 7th grade and really liked it. He is planning on taking Statistics this year and possibly working through the Intro to Number Theory book. Thanks for the DE suggestions. It isn’t free here and is fairly pricey. Also, I’m not sure how covid-19 is going to affect DE this coming year. We had thought about him taking some DE classes on the community college campus but if they are just going to end up online, I will probably go with online homeschool providers. From reviews I’ve seen online of the local CC, they didn’t transition well to online.  And there definitely isn’t a swim team for CC...that would be awesome if there were. 🙂

@daijobu If I went through the process of getting approved as an AP course at home, would those be problems that I would have access to? 

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