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6th Grade: Continue Singapore or switch to AoPS or ???


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My DD just finished 5th grade and with it Singapore Standards 5B. I trying to decide what to do next. We both enjoyed Singapore and she did well on it. She is very good at math but it is not her passion or anything. Does anyone have any advice about if I should do Singapore 6A next, or move to AoPS PreAlgebra, or switch to Dimensions or Math in Focus or something else? I'm not really sure how to decide right now. Thanks.

Edited by nickh
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A few thoughts:

*My rec for most immediate thing to do next would be to finish out elementary SM with 6A/B.  You both enjoy SM, it's going well - there's no reason *not* to do 6A/B. 

*And while you are doing that, you can start thinking about where you want to go for alg/geo/etc.  6A/B probably won't take a whole year - I think middle dd finished it before Feb - and then you can start either the Pre-Alg or Alg book in whatever sequence you've picked out. 

*WRT AoPS, I'd be hesitant about doing it with a student who doesn't have a passion for math (unless they've been really bored with other math programs), because it's pretty intense and if your student doesn't have a passion for math, they might not want to put that kind of time and effort into the subject.  But it's not too expensive to try just to see.  (I tried with my oldest and it definitely *wasn't* a good fit, but I don't regret trying.) Also, if you try AoPS, I'd definitely rec start with Pre-Alg, not Alg.

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We found that Singapore 6 only took 1 semester.  One of my kids did it in the fall and then started AoPS pre-A in the spring.  My other child did the Singapore program for the first half of each semester and did some Life of Fred fractions and decimals review for the other half of each semester.  This chiild is less enthusiastic about academic challenge in general, so we decided to do a mix of Arbor Press and Life of Fred preA materials the next year.  I don't know that the kids learned much new in 6A, but it was a good review for both of them.  

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I have one child who is going through the AOPS series, one who moved from Singapore Standards (only goes up to 5) to Singapore Dimensions (6-8).  If you have specific questions about Singapore Dimensions, I can try to answer them — we did Dimensions 6A /6BB last year, and are in the 1st book of Dimensions 7A now.

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Thanks to everyone for helping me think about this. Here are some more thoughts:

She is very smart and does well with math and every subject. But because things usually come easily to her, she tends to get frustrated when it takes longer to really understand something. So something really challenging would probably frustrate her, but it may be good for her if she gets over that and realizes that she can push through it and figure it out, and it's OK that it's not immediately easy.

She does like puzzling through problems. In Singapore she enjoys word problems the most. The end of Singapore 5B introduced some basic algebraic concepts and she told me that she enjoyed them and is looking forward to more algebra.

I am interested in a curriculum that helps to understand to really understand the "whys" behind math, and not just memorizing the formula or the algorithm. I feel that Singapore has been good about this.

So when I heard about AoPS I thought it seemed interesting.

But as I read about it I'm starting to doubt if it is the right fit for her.

My concern is that, as I said, she isn't passionate about math. Her passion is writing and she enjoys all things language arts. Unless she has a dramatic change it seems likely that she will pursue something related to writing and probably not in math or the sciences.

So realistically, she may not end up doing calculus, and that would be OK. If she wants to focus her time in high school on language then she may not have as much time to spend on math. But I'd like her to understand WELL the math she does know.

I've seen people say that AoPS takes their kid 2+ hours a day. I don't know how common that is, but I could see that being tough for a kid that does well on math but doesn't care that much about it.

But if we don't do AoPS I would still want to make sure she understands the "whys" behind math.

I've also been thinking about my teaching time being more limited with younger siblings coming up behind her. This isn't absolutely required, but it would be nice if whatever we use had more of a "coach" model where she could come to me if she doesn't understand, rather than a teacher model where I explain everything as we currently do in Singapore. That would help me afford more time to spend teaching the younger ones.

Thanks for helping!

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17 hours ago, WTM said:

I have one child who is going through the AOPS series, one who moved from Singapore Standards (only goes up to 5) to Singapore Dimensions (6-8).  If you have specific questions about Singapore Dimensions, I can try to answer them — we did Dimensions 6A /6BB last year, and are in the 1st book of Dimensions 7A now.

I don't know very much about Dimensions but I'm interested in learning more. Can you tell me about some of the differences you find between that and AoPS, and also how it was to move from Singapore Standards (which is what we currently do too) to Dimensions? Thanks!

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We did Singapore 6A and B and the content is similar to pre-A so far but pre-a goes into much more independent problem solving.  More problems that don’t have the same format etc.  It also asks for a lot of verbal explanation which is different to Singapore.  If you want to do AOPS I wouldn’t skip pre-A - we tried with oldest and it didn’t go well.  You could finish 6A & B and then move across.  Or you could move across now.  I’d make that call based on how solid kid is in 5B.

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59 minutes ago, nickh said:

Thanks to everyone for helping me think about this. Here are some more thoughts:

She is very smart and does well with math and every subject. But because things usually come easily to her, she tends to get frustrated when it takes longer to really understand something. So something really challenging would probably frustrate her, but it may be good for her if she gets over that and realizes that she can push through it and figure it out, and it's OK that it's not immediately easy.

She does like puzzling through problems. In Singapore she enjoys word problems the most. The end of Singapore 5B introduced some basic algebraic concepts and she told me that she enjoyed them and is looking forward to more algebra.

This actually sounds like AoPS might be a good fit. If she likes word problems and puzzles, then AoPS is at the very least worth trying. 

 

59 minutes ago, nickh said:

My concern is that, as I said, she isn't passionate about math. Her passion is writing and she enjoys all things language arts. Unless she has a dramatic change it seems likely that she will pursue something related to writing and probably not in math or the sciences.

So realistically, she may not end up doing calculus, and that would be OK. If she wants to focus her time in high school on language then she may not have as much time to spend on math. But I'd like her to understand WELL the math she does know.

I think it's actually quite hard to be passionate about math in the elementary years. Frankly, that stuff's really boring. She may very well surprise you and wind up loving some of the more conceptual and interesting parts of math. Or she may wind up falling in love with some science, after science becomes more conceptual as well. 

 

1 hour ago, nickh said:

I've seen people say that AoPS takes their kid 2+ hours a day. I don't know how common that is, but I could see that being tough for a kid that does well on math but doesn't care that much about it.

How comfortable are you picking and choosing problems? Because if you're comfortable with it, you absolutely don't need it to take this long. 

Realistically, pre-algebra is a retread of previous ideas. If she's solid in elementary math, then very few topics in prealgebra will actually be new, and the point of it will mostly be to introduce her to more formal reasoning and explaining her ideas, as well as increasing her frustration tolerance. You don't NEED to do every single problem to meet those goals. 

I've been pulling problems recently from AoPS Intro Algebra for my DD9. We're not doing all the problems, but I really appreciate it as a repository of problems. You could absolutely do something like that even if you weren't willing to commit to the curriculum, and that would definitely meet some of your goals. 

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2 hours ago, nickh said:

 

My concern is that, as I said, she isn't passionate about math. Her passion is writing and she enjoys all things language arts. Unless she has a dramatic change it seems likely that she will pursue something related to writing and probably not in math or the sciences.

I'm going to disagree with @Not_a_Number and agree with you that based on your description it does not sound like AoPS would be a good fit.   I have multiple gifted math kids and only 1 has been a good fit for AoPS.  He is my ds who ended up with UG degrees in physics and math and pursued physics in grad school.  He spent hrs in his head doing things like thought experiments.  Jogging or playing basketball while his mind worked through possible solutions to a math problem was his idea of fun.

I have a dd who just graduated from college with degrees in Russian and French.  She has always loved puzzles and problem solving, but for her, languages were where her brain liked to use those skills.  She took AoPS alg in 7th grade and absolutely hated it.  She much preferred spending her time on languages and have math a more direct route.

My rising 6th grader is equally gifted in math.  She will be using Foersters alg, not AoPS.  She doesn't have the patience for math like her brother did.  

You have to know your child, their toleration for challenge, and what motivates vs undermines their desire to learn.  I personally would never recommend AoPS for a student not passionate about math.  There are solid math programs out there that can challenge them without the AoPS approach.

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2 minutes ago, 8filltheheart said:

I'm going to disagree with @Not_a_Number and agree with you that based on your description it does not sound like AoPS would be a good fit.   I have multiple gifted math kids and only 1 has been a good fit for AoPS.  He is my ds who ended up with UG degrees in physics and math and pursued physics in grad school.  He spent hrs in his head doing things like thought experiments.  Jogging or playing basketball while his mind worked through possible solutions to a math problem was his idea of fun.

I have a dd who just graduated from college with degrees in Russian and French.  She has always loved puzzles and problem solving, but for her, languages were where her brain liked to use those skills.  She took AoPS alg in 7th grade and absolutely hated it.  She much preferred spending her time on languages and have math a more direct route.

My rising 6th grader is equally gifted in math.  She will be using Foersters alg, not AoPS.  She doesn't have the patience for math like her brother did.  

You have to know your child, their toleration for challenge, and what motivates vs undermines their desire to learn.  I personally would never recommend AoPS for a student not passionate about math.  There are solid math programs out there that can challenge them without the AoPS approach.

I guess I wouldn't give up on it without a try 🙂 . I would hesitate to call my DD9 passionate about math, but she definitely enjoys problems out of AoPS. 

AoPS will also cover some cool stuff that standard programs do not 🙂 . Even if you don't do algebra through AoPS, something like Intro to NT or Intro to C&P might be a good thing to try. My experience was that DD9 loved those topics MUCH more than basic elementary math. Not saying that would work for everyone... but it could be worth a shot. I'd be flexible and be willing to give up on it, though. 

As a disclaimer, I do teach for AoPS 🙂 . I don't use it for my own kids, though -- it's not that I think it's the best possible program. I just think it's hard to predict whether a kid will like it or not just by level of passion! 

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12 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

What made her hate it, if you don't mind me asking? Too frustrating? 

No, not too frustrating bc she is very gifted in math.  Time.  The approach.  She is very pragmatic and said that she just wanted to be taught the whys directly so she could implement them vs going from forest to tree.  She instead spent hrs walking around perfecting her French pronunciations and memorizing long epic poems for fun.  (I have weird kids.  🙂 )

My 6th grader, otoh, would have zero patience for it.  She has big plans every day for what she wants to do and spending hrs on math is most definitely not on the list.  😉  

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25 minutes ago, 8filltheheart said:

I have a dd who just graduated from college with degrees in Russian and French.  She has always loved puzzles and problem solving, but for her, languages were where her brain liked to use those skills.  She took AoPS alg in 7th grade and absolutely hated it.  She much preferred spending her time on languages and have math a more direct route.

My rising 6th grader is equally gifted in math.  She will be using Foersters alg, not AoPS.  She doesn't have the patience for math like her brother did.  

 

I'm wondering what you found worked well for your older daughter instead of AoPS, and what your 6th grader did before Foersters?

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2 minutes ago, 8filltheheart said:

No, not too frustrating bc she is very gifted in math.  Time.  The approach.  She is very pragmatic and said that she just wanted to be taught the whys directly so she could implement them vs going from forest to tree.  She instead spent hrs walking around perfecting her French pronunciations and memorizing long epic poems for fun.  (I have weird kids.  🙂 )

My 6th grader, otoh, would have zero patience for it.  She has big plans every day for what she wants to do and spending hrs on math is most definitely not on the list.  😉  

Ah got it. So the "discovery" thing? 

I also mostly just teach the "whys" directly. I don't use the program. But I do like it as a repository of "out of the box" problems. Especially since DD9 is much more likely to focus well on "interesting" problems than on rote ones! 

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1 minute ago, nickh said:

I'm wondering what you found worked well for your older daughter instead of AoPS, and what your 6th grader did before Foersters?

All of my other older kids used Foersters for alg 1 and 2/trig.  (My oldest ds is a chemE and my college sophomore dd is majoring in atmospheric science, so 3 of my older kids are STEM focused.)   We use Alexander for geometry Elementary Geometry for College Students: Alexander, Daniel C., Koeberlein, Geralyn M.: 9781285195698: Amazon.com: Books.  My 2 recent high school grads both used Derek Owens for precal and then Thinkwell for cal.

This past yr in 5th my dd did what all 7 of her older siblings did for pre-alg, MUS's alg and geo completed in a single yr as pre-alg/pre-geo.  

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4 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

I think it's actually quite hard to be passionate about math in the elementary years. Frankly, that stuff's really boring. She may very well surprise you and wind up loving some of the more conceptual and interesting parts of math. Or she may wind up falling in love with some science, after science becomes more conceptual as well. 

I think @Not_a_Number brings up a good point about pigeonholing very young students into "passionate about math" and "not passionate about math."  I especially hate to see girls directed away from challenging math curricula because they are more globally gifted.  

My daughters didn't display much passion for math.  As far as I could tell, they didn't give it much thought outside of the 30 minutes or so a day we spent on Singapore, and then later AoPS.  But then, they weren't very demonstrative about anything except Sound of Music and their Polly Pockets.  

Just FYI, my kids definitely were not spending anywhere near an hour a day on math, and they were doing AoPS all the way through.  But I was doing a lot of active teaching and explaining.  If they couldn't figure out a problem within the first 10 minutes or so, we'd go over it together.   

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Just now, daijobu said:

I think @Not_a_Number brings up a good point about pigeonholing very young students into "passionate about math" and "not passionate about math."  I especially hate to see girls directed away from challenging math curricula because they are more globally gifted.  

Yes, I constantly see this, and it does bother me. I do think that a good math education can open doors, even if a child isn't necessarily raring to do math at all times when they are young. Plus, it's just so hard to predict what a kid is going to wind up being excited about when they are older... (I think @EKS has a personal story like this.) 

That's not to say that one should push a kid who doesn't enjoy math into curricula that wouldn't be fun for them. I just think one shouldn't assume a kid wouldn't like the challenge just because they aren't calculating things all day 🙂 . It's always worth trying things and seeing what works! 

 

Just now, daijobu said:

My daughters didn't display much passion for math.  As far as I could tell, they didn't give it much thought outside of the 30 minutes or so a day we spent on Singapore, and then later AoPS.  But then, they weren't very demonstrative about anything except Sound of Music and their Polly Pockets.  

Just FYI, my kids definitely were not spending anywhere near an hour a day on math, and they were doing AoPS all the way through.  But I was doing a lot of active teaching and explaining.  If they couldn't figure out a problem within the first 10 minutes or so, we'd go over it together.   

Did they ever wind up passionate about any school subjects? 

We do do about an hour of math a day 🙂 . Sometimes more. But then DD9, while not passionate about math, does think of it as one of her favorite school subjects. 

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My oldest loves math and has done very well with AoPS.  My middle son could not care less about math -- or any school subject, really - and has also done very well with AoPS.  Youngest seems to be more like oldest, but mostly he'd like to finish and go play with his Legos.  I myself really like AoPS and have been very happy with the kids' math learning, so that's what we use for now, at least.

5 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

I think it's actually quite hard to be passionate about math in the elementary years. Frankly, that stuff's really boring.

I think you're on to something here.  Even beyond elementary school -- my DS16 has been an RA for a computer science professor this summer and is just absolutely loving every minute of it.  He's leaping out of bed in the morning, spending every spare minute on the project, etc.  While he is a good and diligent student, this was NOT what was going on during the school year, especially towards the end.  I was teasing him, saying, hey, what's with the getting up at the crack of dawn to work on X's project, while I had to drag you out of bed to do your schoolwork?  He pointed out that unlike his schoolwork, in which he's learning things that were long ago discovered by others ("Isaac Newton figured out all of this physics hundreds of years ago!") with this project he's getting to work on something genuinely new, and that's a completely different experience.

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5 hours ago, nickh said:

My concern is that, as I said, she isn't passionate about math. Her passion is writing and she enjoys all things language arts. Unless she has a dramatic change it seems likely that she will pursue something related to writing and probably not in math or the sciences.

When I was your daughter's age, I was interested in writing and music.  As a teen I added drawing and painting to the list and even considered going to art school instead of a traditional college.  I ended up majoring in biochemistry and my lack of attention to math in high school was a real problem.

6 hours ago, nickh said:

So realistically, she may not end up doing calculus, and that would be OK.

Good students these days do algebra in eighth grade (or earlier) and calculus in 12th (or earlier).  AP Calculus AB is (IMO) easier than precalculus.  To me it is best viewed as a treat, the way algebra is a wonderful treat after arithmetic, and not something to be feared or avoided.

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27 minutes ago, daijobu said:

I think @Not_a_Number brings up a good point about pigeonholing very young students into "passionate about math" and "not passionate about math."  I especially hate to see girls directed away from challenging math curricula because they are more globally gifted.  

My daughters didn't display much passion for math.  As far as I could tell, they didn't give it much thought outside of the 30 minutes or so a day we spent on Singapore, and then later AoPS.  But then, they weren't very demonstrative about anything except Sound of Music and their Polly Pockets.  

Just FYI, my kids definitely were not spending anywhere near an hour a day on math, and they were doing AoPS all the way through.  But I was doing a lot of active teaching and explaining.  If they couldn't figure out a problem within the first 10 minutes or so, we'd go over it together.   

Except I see that as a false dichotomy.  Not using AoPS does not equal not offering students challenging math.  Foersters is a solid math curriculum.  My ds used Foersters and jumped into AoPS in the Intermediate Alg text bc we didn't know about AoPS prior to that (and he had used Horizons prior to alg when he was 10) and he had no problems transitioning to using AoPS.  I think that the idea that AoPS is the BEST is not actually a good representation of what AoPS offers.  It is excellent for what it is.  But, there are other excellent math programs that prepare students for STEM careers.  (My dd who is an atmospheric science major would be offended by the suggestions that somehow she was not challenged in math and not prepared for a science career bc she actually loved math in high school.  My Russian majoring dd also enjoyed math.  Passionate enough about it to want to dedicate more time to it than necessary, otoh, no.)

In terms of your last paragraph, not all parents are going to be able to teach AoPS that way.  (and honestly, I would guess that if students are actually actively taught and having the concepts explained then that actually removes a lot of what is challenging about the AoPS approach.)  AoPS in our family has to be completely independent of mom and with the online class as the only source of help.  Textbooks like Foersters, otoh, I can help with.

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5 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

I think it's actually quite hard to be passionate about math in the elementary years. Frankly, that stuff's really boring.

This a million times!  I honestly can't understand why people are so quick to park it in upper elementary math, which is mostly just totally tedious.  

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10 minutes ago, 8filltheheart said:

Except I see that as a false dichotomy.  Not using AoPS does not equal not offering students challenging math.  Foersters is a solid math curriculum.  My ds used Foersters and jumped into AoPS in the Intermediate Alg text bc we didn't know about AoPS prior to that (and he had used Horizons prior to alg when he was 10) and he had no problems transitioning to using AoPS.  I think that the idea that AoPS is the BEST is not actually a good representation of what AoPS offers.  It is excellent for what it is.  But, there are other excellent math programs that prepare students for

Tru dat.  I've actually never seen Foersters, so guilty as charged.  

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10 minutes ago, 8filltheheart said:

n terms of your last paragraph, not all parents are going to be able to teach AoPS that way.  (and honestly, I would guess that if students are actually actively taught and having the concepts explained then that actually removes a lot of what is challenging about the AoPS approach.)  AoPS in our family has to be completely independent of mom and with the online class as the only source of help.  Textbooks like Foersters, otoh, I can help with.

Actually, I was going to mention that: I think whether AoPS works for a wide range of kids or not probably depends a LOT on the parent. If you can solve basically all the problems in AoPS books, then you're going to have a different experience teaching it than if you find the material difficult yourself. In the latter case, I would guess AoPS would only work with kids with high frustration tolerance. In the former case, I think it works for a wider range of kids. 

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13 minutes ago, EKS said:

Good students these days do algebra in eighth grade (or earlier) and calculus in 12th (or earlier).  AP Calculus AB is (IMO) easier than precalculus.  To me it is best viewed as a treat, the way algebra is a wonderful treat after arithmetic, and not something to be feared or avoided.

Calculus is fun! 😄 I'm pretty sure we have a poster on here whose daughter only decided she liked math (and then became a math major!) at the calculus stage... 

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30 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

Did they ever wind up passionate about any school subjects? 

We do do about an hour of math a day 🙂 . Sometimes more. But then DD9, while not passionate about math, does think of it as one of her favorite school subjects. 

Older dd is planning to apply to med school, with a human biology major she really enjoys, and she tacked on a CS minor because it was easy at Stanford.  She never AIME qualified or anything, but she was solid, and she did nearly all AoPS from middle school on.  

Younger dd has been AIME qualified 5 times since 8th grade.  But she's basically meh about math and everything except her yorkie/maltese that follows her everywhere.  She's is passionate about micro-plastics...and any plastics.  Right now she's looking at a CS major when she enrolls at Stanford.  

  I think about a kid at my high school, the smartest girl I knew, really outstanding in our math class, routinely the #1 student on the AHSME in my small state.  She ended up at Harvard majoring in Russian, continuing at Oxford as Marshall Scholar.   Now she's a journalist.  I don't know why I'm sharing this, but it's interesting where high achieving math students end up.  

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3 hours ago, daijobu said:

I think about a kid at my high school, the smartest girl I knew, really outstanding in our math class, routinely the #1 student on the AHSME in my small state.  She ended up at Harvard majoring in Russian, continuing at Oxford as Marshall Scholar.   Now she's a journalist.  I don't know why I'm sharing this, but it's interesting where high achieving math students end up.

Did she like math or not so much? 

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18 minutes ago, Not_a_Number said:

Did she like math or not so much? 

You know when I was in high school in the 80s, no one really talked about our passions or what we liked or disliked.  Math was hard, but we took pride in its difficulty and in what we accomplished by mastering it.  Nobody liked to study, but we all wanted to get an A.  (An A on an exam was accompanied by a smiley face at the top of our papers.  It is no understatement that I lived for those smiley faces and was crushed if I didn't get one.) 

Some classes were really fun, and mostly it was enjoyable.  Come to think of it, she prioritized debate team over math events, but she was still way better than the rest of us at math.  

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7 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

Actually, I was going to mention that: I think whether AoPS works for a wide range of kids or not probably depends a LOT on the parent. If you can solve basically all the problems in AoPS books, then you're going to have a different experience teaching it than if you find the material difficult yourself. In the latter case, I would guess AoPS would only work with kids with high frustration tolerance. In the former case, I think it works for a wider range of kids. 

I think a whole lot depends on the parent...I tested DD when she started homeschooling and she certainly leaned more math. I tested her this year and she has completely flipped in a most ridiculous way. Guilty!

OP I am approximately the last person in the world to give math curriculum advice but I figured I’d say I managed to get through prealgebra AOPS with my (other) non mathy kid.  

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13 hours ago, nickh said:

I don't know very much about Dimensions but I'm interested in learning more. Can you tell me about some of the differences you find between that and AoPS, and also how it was to move from Singapore Standards (which is what we currently do too) to Dimensions? Thanks!

Standards vs. Dimensions. 

  • Standards home instructor’s guide is much more robust. The HIG explains the concept and teaches you how to teach it. I didn’t need the HIG much, but it was nice to have as a safety net.  
  • Dimensions 6 has a pretty robust teacher’s guide. It’s a large format, spiral bound book that provides pretty detailed notes on the concepts and how to present them. It also has answers to the sample problems in the textbook. Dimensions 6 textbook looks more like it’s for older kids — smaller font, more text on the page, less “childish” formatting. The textbook includes lots of practice problems. The workbook problems are not super challenging. That was ok for us, because we were also doing Challenging Word Problems 6 alongside. However, know that there are some topics in CWP that aren’t covered in Dimensions 6 (like area of a circle, for example). 
  • Dimensions 7 (to my knowledge) does not have a home instructor’s guide. There is a big change in the presentation at this level. The teacher’s book has very limited teaching notes for each chapter — it mostly functions as an answer key (has the answers to the sample problems in the textbook).  In this way, Dimensions 7 assumes much more knowledge on the part of the instructor than Standards or Dimensions 6 did.
  • Dimensions 7 textbook has lots and lots of practice problems. The workbook feels almost superfluous. However, the workbook has some more challenging problems, whereas the textbook problems are mostly pretty straightforward.  For my DS, we’re not using the workbook for now. I plan to have him make a first pass through the textbook of 7A, then move to textbook 7B while doing a few problems each day from the 7A workbook for review. 
  • Dimensions 7A teacher’s book has a confusing layout, but I did finally figure it out after a few days. The first few pages of each section have limited teaching notes (as mentioned above), then the next few pages have answers to the sample problems that are presented in the lesson portion of the student book. Then the pages after that have the answers to the practice problems in the textbook. It’s a little confusing because that’s not exactly the order that the problems appear in the text. It’s hard to explain, but now that you know what to look for, you’ll figure it out if you decide to use it.
  • With Standards, there were all these extra books you could order - Extra Practice, Tests, etc.  I don’t think Dimensions has a test book. Each chapter has an end of chapter review that you could use as a test if you need to test. (I haven’t given DS tests, but that’s another issue).

 

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13 hours ago, nickh said:

I don't know very much about Dimensions but I'm interested in learning more. Can you tell me about some of the differences you find between that and AoPS, and also how it was to move from Singapore Standards (which is what we currently do too) to Dimensions? Thanks!

Ok, part 2. I posted the first part because I’ve lost my posts before and it’s super frustrating 🙂

Singapore vs. AOPS- Both are solid, great programs. 

(Disclaimer - in our family, we have experience only up to Dimensions 7 and the AOPS Intro series)

You know how in some fields, you have theoretical vs. applied approaches? Like theoretical physics vs applied physics? Well, I think of AOPS as theoretical mathematics, and Singapore as applied math. Is one purer or better than the other? Depends on what you want to do with it, right? And what kind of approach you prefer?

Dimensions is very much a parts to whole approach. There is direct teaching of concepts, and concepts build on each other. There is very little discovery learning (where you deduce a mathematical principle by doing a problem).  Once in awhile they throw in a discovery learning problem as an optional supplemental exercise.

AOPS is more of a discovery learning approach. They give the student problems, and as the student works through the problems, they discover the mathematical principle or relationship. 

I would encourage you to look at both to see how you think you would implement each with your DD.  There are samples online.  With AOPS, my DD teaches herself from the book. I am very hands off. If I needed to teach AOPS directly, it would take an inordinate amount of prep time for me because it’s not the way I learned math. For DImensions, I can teach it with minimal to no prep.

hope this helps! Best wishes!

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8 hours ago, 8filltheheart said:

AoPS in our family has to be completely independent of mom and with the online class as the only source of help.  Textbooks like Foersters, otoh, I can help with.

 

RE: AOPS challenge problems --

What @8filltheheartsaid  is true for us as well. Some of the challenge problems in AOPS are just brain busters for me. I don't even understand what some of these problems are asking (and I did very well in traditional math programs).  If DD needs help with a challenge prob and she's not in one of the online classes, I no longer try to figure out what the problem is asking. I used to do that and it would take me half an hour. No kidding. (This is mostly because it's hard for me to keep up with the way AOPS teaches).  Now, I basically pull out the answer key and try to figure out from the key (which I barely understand) how to slowly feed DD bits of info to help her examine her own logic, without giving away the whole thing. After she figures the problem out, I give her the answer key and have her read it to make sure she understands.  More recently, I found a great tutor 😃 to talk through challenge problems with DD until she's back in an online class. If you are math-oriented, you may be fine helping your child with the harder problems, but it would take a lot of time for someone like me.

If DD is in one of the online AOPS classes, she posts her question to the forum. I'm just along for moral support. Oh, and she sometimes asks me to proofread her proofs. My greatest contribution was coaching her on how to effectively participate in an online forum - how to ask questions in such a way as to optimize one's chances of getting a clear answer.

That being said, I know several families who use AOPS books but just don't do any of the challenge problems. You could still learn a lot that way.

If you're considering online classes, here are some potentially helpful things to know:

The AOPS online classes are text only, with no audio or video. I thought DD wouldn't like it, but it somehow works. AOPS ONline class office hours are also text only, so there can be a delay between the time you post your Q and when you get a reply.  AOPS Online classes tend to move at a very rapid pace - content that might be spread out over a full year in regular school might be compressed into a 18-24 week class for AOPS Online.

WTMA also has classes that use AOPS textbooks, but with more direct teaching (synchronous, with audio and I think with video - don't quote me on that), live office hours, and a slower pace (full year).

I'm not aware of any online options for Singapore Dimensions, but I have never looked, as my child who uses Dimensions does better without screen based teaching.

 

I think I made AOPS sound like a bad option, but we love it in our family -- DD wants to do every possible AOPS class over the coming years. I mention all these details because it is helpful to know what to expect, so you can figure out how to set your DD and yourself up for success. 

If you start with AOPS pre-algebra, I believe they have a self-paced class option online. Usually, the first 2 weeks are free (meaning you can drop and get a refund -- double check that to confirm). So you could always try it and see how it goes.

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15 hours ago, nickh said:

 

I've also been thinking about my teaching time being more limited with younger siblings coming up behind her. This isn't absolutely required, but it would be nice if whatever we use had more of a "coach" model where she could come to me if she doesn't understand, rather than a teacher model where I explain everything as we currently do in Singapore. That would help me afford more time to spend teaching the younger ones.

 

For Dimensions, the textbook is written in such a way that some students could probably teach themselves from the text. But even if you teach it, the lessons don't take very long (at least in my limited experience). I would say the lesson portion might take 10-20 minutes for us. I end up sitting with DS for more time because he has some LDs and needs someone at hand for the exercises, too. But a different student could probably do the exercises on their own.

Edited by WTM
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7 hours ago, WTM said:

You know how in some fields, you have theoretical vs. applied approaches? Like theoretical physics vs applied physics? Well, I think of AOPS as theoretical mathematics, and Singapore as applied math. Is one purer or better than the other? Depends on what you want to do with it, right? And what kind of approach you prefer?

I agree with basically everything else you've said, but I'm not sure I agree with this part. I don't expect my kids to become pure mathematicians: all I want them to do is to be able to tackle a wide range of challenging problems. And I do think having a deeper, more intuitive understanding of the math can be helpful for that, even if you don't spend ANY of your time writing proofs. Linear, logical reasoning is a valuable skill even from the applied perspective! 

That being said, I don't exactly use the AoPS method to teach. But I do think judiciously-used discovery can help a kid understand things in a deeper way. 

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Well, @WTM, I can share that my ds who loved AoPS also loves theory.  He was originally pursuing a field in theoretical physics bc that is where his love lies.  Career practicalities made him change courses, but I do see WTM's description of that appeal.

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4 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

I agree with basically everything else you've said, but I'm not sure I agree with this part. I don't expect my kids to become pure mathematicians: all I want them to do is to be able to tackle a wide range of challenging problems. And I do think having a deeper, more intuitive understanding of the math can be helpful for that, even if you don't spend ANY of your time writing proofs. Linear, logical reasoning is a valuable skill even from the applied perspective! 

That being said, I don't exactly use the AoPS method to teach. But I do think judiciously-used discovery can help a kid understand things in a deeper way. 

Agree. I don’t think theory precludes application, and application certainly does not preclude theory. In reality, you have a mix of both in the picture, but weighted more one way or the other.

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10 hours ago, WTM said:

 

RE: AOPS challenge problems --

 

That being said, I know several families who use AOPS books but just don't do any of the challenge problems. You could still learn a lot that way.

 

Yep.  I have students who either bombed elementary math or are just busy or in a hurry, and we skip the AoPS challenge problems, or made them optional.  

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4 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

I don't expect my kids to become pure mathematicians: all I want them to do is to be able to tackle a wide range of challenging problems. And I do think having a deeper, more intuitive understanding of the math can be helpful for that, even if you don't spend ANY of your time writing proofs. Linear, logical reasoning is a valuable skill even from the applied perspective! 

 

Agreed!  I have heard elsewhere AoPS described as being for future mathematicians only, but I don't agree at all.  I think even future law students can benefit from a solid understanding of logic.  But then, I think all students should be taught math from a problem solving perspective, rather than memorizing algorithms.    

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9 minutes ago, WTM said:

Agree. I don’t think theory precludes application, and application certainly does not preclude theory. In reality, you have a mix of both in the picture, but weighted more one way or the other.

I might get a bit philosophical here… but what is it we’re calling theory in this context? 

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22 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

Calculus is fun! 😄 I'm pretty sure we have a poster on here whose daughter only decided she liked math (and then became a math major!) at the calculus stage... 

Yep, that's my daughter. I never would have pushed this child to do an extra challenging math program for math. She barely tolerated it. She loved logic and writing. She also draws well, sings beautifully, and plays piano fairly well. It was not until Calculus that she fell in love with math and it became her passion. And really only did Calculus because she could understand math and it was the next thing.

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49 minutes ago, LinRTX said:

Yep, that's my daughter. I never would have pushed this child to do an extra challenging math program for math. She barely tolerated it. She loved logic and writing. She also draws well, sings beautifully, and plays piano fairly well. It was not until Calculus that she fell in love with math and it became her passion. And really only did Calculus because she could understand math and it was the next thing.

You know, I've never aimed to give my kids "challenging" math, per se... just math they understand well and like! And I've gotten pretty good buy-in from kids so far, including the kids who aren't my own and aren't mathy. 

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7 hours ago, daijobu said:

Agreed!  I have heard elsewhere AoPS described as being for future mathematicians only, but I don't agree at all.  I think even future law students can benefit from a solid understanding of logic.  But then, I think all students should be taught math from a problem solving perspective, rather than memorizing algorithms.    

I find this quite encouraging, because my daughter is just starting AOPS Pre-algebra, though she is also not clearly a future mathematician. What she loves the most is writing, maybe like @nickh’s daughter. We haven’t done Singapore, so I can’t compare them, but she does like the course so far (from the book, taught by my partner), and she said that it would be good for another kids who liked to figure out for themselves how math works. 

8 hours ago, Not_a_Number said:

I might get a bit philosophical here… but what is it we’re calling theory in this context? 

To me, applied math usually has units and you’re using it to solve a particular situation, like word problems or physical-world problems. Theory is abstract, instead, but I don’t think you can apply math without understanding it  well, and a good way of developing that understanding is applying it, so I think the two strengthen each other, or should, anyway. I can only imagine that  Singapore has a ton of word problems etc., to be seen as applied math.

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On 7/29/2021 at 9:45 AM, Not_a_Number said:

I might get a bit philosophical here… but what is it we’re calling theory in this context? 

I don't have a clear definition 🙂. I'm using the word very, very loosely to describe the kind of thought process that attracts a certain type of thinker with a certain area of interest - one that likes thinking about the topic for the sake of the topic (as opposed to one who doesn't care so much about the topic as about how to apply it).  But I can't give you a well thought out rationale for using "theory" vs "application" in academic nomenclature 

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2 hours ago, WTM said:

I don't have a clear definition 🙂. I'm using the word very, very loosely to describe the kind of thought process that attracts a certain type of thinker with a certain area of interest - one that likes thinking about the topic for the sake of the topic (as opposed to one who doesn't care so much about the topic as about how to apply it).  But I can't give you a well thought out rationale for using "theory" vs "application" in academic nomenclature 

Yes... I can see that. But I've also noticed that knowing a subject inside and out (whether you're theory-minded or not) can really HELP apply the subject, too. So I have a hard time separating it. 

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 7/30/2021 at 4:45 AM, Not_a_Number said:

I might get a bit philosophical here… but what is it we’re calling theory in this context? 

I wish I could remember the review site where a teacher claimed AOPS was for remedial students only because it lacked real life problems.

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