Math -- We're Stuck -- Again

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First, let me say I know a lot of this is my fault.

My son was doing Saxon Algebra I. He didn't really like it, but he was doing okay. Then he hit a "wall" around lesson 40. He just didn't "get it." We were spending so much time on math, we weren't getting anything else done. So I would say, "Well, put it down for awhile and do something else and we'll come back to it." Coming back to it was days -- weeks? -- later, because we were both just sick of it, and then it was like starting from scratch because he had forgotten what he *did* know. (Yes, this is my fault.)

He also didn't like doing the problems. He says they are boring and he hates doing the same thing over and over.

So I got "Life of Fred" as a supplement. I read about it here and checked out the website. I thought it would give him different examples and "little tricks" to help him apply what he's learning. He likes it a lot better, and he was breezing through the beginning of it -- I know because it was review -- and now he's hit another wall.

The problem is that "Life of Fred" doesn't have a solutions manual. So when he has a problem, all we've got to refer to is the answer. The problem he got stuck on last week I am at a total loss to help him with -- and it's a basic "d = rt" thing. I know there are people who could help me with that specific problem, but I'm trying to find something that we can do ourselves.

I spent quite awhile going back through the chapter trying to figure out what to tell him -- *I* just got more and more confused.

I liked the solutions manual with Saxon. *I* could understand the problems and help him work through them. But *he* wasn't getting it from the text. "Life of Fred" is fun, but once we got stuck, we got *really* stuck.

So I guess I've got two questions --

(1) I don't want him to go on until he "gets" what he's stuck on, but I don't know how to help him with it? Should we just move on and hope it comes to him? To me, this is a recipe for disaster -- I can imagine it would only get worse, not better.

And (2) Is there a better option for us? I've been looking at MUS and requested the demo. I don't mind spending the money for something that works, but I feel like I'm just jumping around, trying this and trying that and we're not getting anywhere and we're more than half way through the school year and I'm starting to panic -- though my head tells me to settle down because we have all kinds of time and he *is* working on other things and is ahead on them, so we'll have the time at the end of the year . . . blah blah blah

I don't know what kind of a learner he is -- I don't know what I'm supposed to be looking for?

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Hitting the wall around lesson #40 in Saxon algebra seems to be pretty common, from the posts I've seen in the past. Life of Fred is great for review, and can make a nice supplement, but it's not really beefy enough for a spine, at least IMO.

MUS algebra would be a good possibility, as would Lial's Introductory Algebra (with DVTs and solutions manual). Chalkdust might be a good choice too if your son doesn't mind watching the video segments. Whichever program you decide on, be sure you have a good solutions manual that can take your son step-by-step through problem solving. Also, if your son is like my dd, plan to keep up with whatever program he is working on so you can help each step of the way.

My dd is 17yo now and in public high school. I will say that there was *no* math program that made it easy for her. To get through Algebra I in her block scheduled school (had to complete the course in half a school year), she averaged 3 hours a night on homework just for algebra *and* had her Dad's help a lot of the time. Some children just need a heck of a lot of work to absorb math beyond the basic math level.

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A hint if you want to give Saxon another try: When you "hit a wall" with Saxon, the best way to get past it is to start over -- either go back to the very beginning of the book, or go WAY back into lessons where he was having no trouble -- at least 20 lessons back. Then, just work through the lessons at the usual pace. Whenever we've used this technique, our sons have gotten back to the "trouble" lessons again without even noticing, and breezed right past them without any problem. Many people have reported success with this method.

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Hitting the wall around lesson #40 in Saxon algebra seems to be pretty common, from the posts I've seen in the past.

Thanks, Claire -- this is really good to know.

Thanks for the other info, too. It's very helpful.

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A hint if you want to give Saxon another try: When you "hit a wall" with Saxon, the best way to get past it is to start over -- either go back to the very beginning of the book, or go WAY back into lessons where he was having no trouble -- at least 20 lessons back. Then, just work through the lessons at the usual pace. Whenever we've used this technique, our sons have gotten back to the "trouble" lessons again without even noticing, and breezed right past them without any problem. Many people have reported success with this method.

Thanks, Janet -- I hadn't thought of this. I think he would be discouraged "going backwards" at first, but if it does "click" he'd definitely see that it was worth it.

What I'm wondering, though, is if we spend, basically, a year and a half on Algebra I, how would I credit this? One credit this year and a half credit next year? Or . . . ? Do you have a suggestion?

Thanks!

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Is it possible that using Key to Algebra alongside would help? I am doing it with dd this year except she is using pre-algebra. I kind of wish I had waited until she was in algebra to use it as it definitely goes beyond pre-algebra. But it is working very well to have things approached from more than one angle.

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Thanks, Janet -- I hadn't thought of this. I think he would be discouraged "going backwards" at first, but if it does "click" he'd definitely see that it was worth it.

What I'm wondering, though, is if we spend, basically, a year and a half on Algebra I, how would I credit this? One credit this year and a half credit next year? Or . . . ? Do you have a suggestion?

Thanks!

I think that Algebra 1 is worth only one credit, even if it takes a year and a half to complete. But you might consider working through the summer to finish Algebra 1 so you don't have to take much -- if any -- of next school year to do so. You can actually skip the last 20 or so lessons anyway -- I consider them "extra", and not necessary to go right into Algebra 2.

I don't know if your son will feel as mine did, but the "ah" factor of going back to a point where the book is easy for them always overcame any disappointment they may have felt about going backward.

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Is it possible that using Key to Algebra alongside would help? I am doing it with dd this year except she is using pre-algebra. I kind of wish I had waited until she was in algebra to use it as it definitely goes beyond pre-algebra. But it is working very well to have things approached from more than one angle.

Thank you for mentioning this. I did check out the website today, but there was a problem and I forgot to go back.

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Thank you for mentioning this. I did check out the website today, but there was a problem and I forgot to go back.

http://www.christianbook.com has the table of contents and sample pages. Rainbow Resource does too but CBD has more. If it just a topic or two that he is stuck on, you could maybe just do that book.

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I think that Algebra 1 is worth only one credit, even if it takes a year and a half to complete. But you might consider working through the summer to finish Algebra 1 so you don't have to take much -- if any -- of next school year to do so. You can actually skip the last 20 or so lessons anyway -- I consider them "extra", and not necessary to go right into Algebra 2.

Thanks, Janet. We're already planning on doing summer school, so that won't be a big deal. I just hate to see him doing work that he doesn't get credit for.

I don't know if your son will feel as mine did, but the "ah" factor of going back to a point where the book is easy for them always overcame any disappointment they may have felt about going backward.

I hope so! Thanks!

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What about teaching textbooks. It explains every problem in the book. I didn't like MUS's Alg 1. They don't use the traditional math notation for that level.

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Thanks, Janet. We're already planning on doing summer school, so that won't be a big deal. I just hate to see him doing work that he doesn't get credit for.
The thing is, no matter how many credits you decide to award, colleges will still see that they were to complete Algebra 1. That's what they'll be looking for. Awarding an extra credit or 1/2 credit for it isn't going to make any difference really.

Our oldest son (not homeschooled) struggled with algebra. He ended up taking 2 years to complete Algebra 1 -- his high school offered it as a 2-year class for struggling math students. He earned 1/2 credit for each year. I haven't heard of too many other high schools that offer Algebra 1 as a 2-year class, but it certainly met our son's needs at the time.

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I used Videotext with my math hating son and it worked well for him through Algebra I and II (which supposedly also covers pre-algebra, trig and pre-calculus).

Regena

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Thanks to everyone for all the suggestions. I hope I can get this figured out soon -- I'm just *so* afraid of buying something expensive that doesn't "fit!"

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We have used Saxon Alg. in the past also and may I suggest The Algebra Survival Guide by Singing Turtle Press. It's a wonderful resource to use along side your text. It breaks everything down in teen language. The text comes with a workbook with plenty of practice problems. Rainbow Resource carries it for 25 dollars I believe. My ds loved it.

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Thanks. I'll try that

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