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Since DS15 started homeschooling 4 years ago, he's happily used Life of Fred for math. Got through LOF Advanced Algebra this year. However, his recent standardized test scores suggest that he simply hasn't internalized algebra concepts with much confidence and is no longer able to self-teach and get the same results he got with the earlier LOF texts. (I suspected this day would come.)

My go-to math program is Saxon 2nd/3rd edition (integrated geometry); I used it as a kid, and DD13 has been getting great results with it since switching from LOF 2 years ago. But with DS, I'm a bit uncertain where to begin. I think it would really crush his confidence to have to start over from Algebra 1 in 10th grade. I know that the earlier Saxon texts do a great deal of review/re-teaching of concepts from the earlier grades; does Algebra 2 continue that pattern? He's a STEM-oriented kid and tends to grasp concepts quickly, so he wouldn't necessarily need tons of drill/repetition; just more than Fred is giving him, and taught with a more systematic approach.

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My DS is just finishing Algebra 2; he finds the book easy enough, but he has done Saxon since 4th grade. He did say the last 5 lessons were a handful.  I would give him a placement test and go from there.  If he tests lower than you expect, the best option would be to start in that book.  But if he is resistant to that, have him challenge each test in whatever book he tests into and pick up at the point where he scores below 80.  But I would not frame his problems as a failure; emphasize to him that you want him to be able to handle college math, and that this is a reinforcement in order to shore up his skills.

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I'm going to be teaching it for the second time this next year.  It does assume some basic geometry and algebra basics, but I think I would start there anyway and see how he does.  You can always go back and have him review a particular concept on Khan academy.  I am also fine with the book taking 1.5 years- you may need to slow down toward the end of the book.  

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Saxon expects students to naturally 'internalize' algebra-- so if your son is lacking in this area then it may be a difficult transition and he may do better with a more traditional text.

Notation of word problems will be a HUGE adjustment-- and they expect the student to remember the method from Algebra 1... the 'how to set it up' part is not included in Algebra 2.  Another issue will be in the 'review' problems seen as the MAJORITY of problems in the early problem sets-- NO instruction will be given for these within the Algebra 2 text-- again it is assumed the student use the Saxon Algebra 1 text and the Algebra 2 text simply continues on from that.  It is not impossible-- but it does make it difficult as the student cant simply go back to a single chapter/lesson in Saxon Algebra 1 to catch up on something-- the lesson increments are spread throughout the text!

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I am planning on switching my girls to Algebra 2.  They haven't done Saxon before so to get them used to the terminology and the level of output, I have started them on Algebra 1.   I am alternating their test day with a prep day.  So essentially they are covering 4 chapters on a prep day (mostly reading and getting used to the Saxon terminology) and on the test day I expect at least 80% and I keep my eye out for misunderstanding vs computational mistakes.   Once they start having difficulty, we will slow down.

The Algebra 1 book has about 120 lessons.  We cover 10 lessons/week on average, so in 3 months they might be done and be familiar with the Saxon style.  No biggie if it takes longer because we are building a foundation.

Perhaps you can take a similar approach to build the Saxon foundation?

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I love the Saxon Algebra 2 (with geometry) book and taught it twice online with the Virtual Homeschool Group co-op...however it may not be the easiest transition. I agree with Jann. It takes a long time to get through that particular book (129 lessons + weekly tests).

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Thank you all for your helpful advice! I wasn't receiving notifications on this thread somehow 😄

I do like the idea of the "test challenge" approach. I think I have the Saxon Alg 1 materials in a box somewhere from my childhood, so it wouldn't affect the budget, and that way he could get into Alg 2 with more confidence.

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  • 1 month later...

Algebra 2 continues the pattern of constant review.  I would give him the Saxon placement test and also have him test through the tests in the Saxon Algebra 1 book.  Use the results you get from these two evaluations to place him properly in Saxon.

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