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Need Recommendations for Struggling Student

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My ds(14) will be going into 9th grade this fall, and has hit walls with every math program we have ever used...Saxon, MUS, and Abeka. He has a problem retaining information previously learned.:(


He currently is working in Abeka's Pre-Algebra; I had hoped to review his weak areas over the summer and then move on to Algebra I next year. My problem is that (after reading a prior thread) Abeka may not be a good choice.


1) Would retrying Saxon be a good idea?


2) If Saxon is a good choice, can I use 2nd edition versions? (Algebra 1/2 and Algebra 1)

Or, will there be problems down the line when we get to Algebra 2 and Advanced Math?


Any and all input is welcomed!

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My dd is 17yo and we had quite a struggle with math over the years. There are two programs I would recommend. One is Moving With Math, and the other is Basic College Mathematics by Lial. We did MWM Level C (grades 6 & 7 in one year) and then BCM. If you decide on MWM, you would want to do Level D (grades 7 & 8).


MWM is less intimidating and it has several features that work well for students with retention problems. It includes a daily review set of 5 problems that are keyed to supplemental worksheets so that, if your student starts forgetting something you can see it right away and shore it back up before it is completely lost. The workbooks are attractive to students and not intimidating. Each page has instructions or an example at the top to refresh about what needs to be done. We were able to complete two grades in 12 months. MWM comes with both a one-year and two-year schedule, so it is great for remedial work too.


Lial's BCM was really, really helpful in preparing my dd for algebra. It is very thorough and I like the way it takes a topic and explains it from the very beginning through high school level applications. It has good chapter reviews, chapter tests, and cumulative tests. My dd required quite a lot of adult help to work through it. My dh, who is strong in math, handled that. I'm not sure I would have been as good at helping. My only regret with BCM is that we didn't have a full two years to work on it. If you can allot two years to it, I would recommend skipping MWM and just doing BCM.


My dd wanted to go to public high school for 9th grade, so we had to scramble to get her ready and had only one year to spend on BCM. Algebra was still a struggle for her, and she needed a lot of adult help with her homework, but she was able to get through it. I don't think that would have happened without BCM.

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A friend of mine who was bright in math in highschool and then went on to major in math in college got stumped/behind/struggling with a certain concept at the Calculus level. After seeing and talking with the prof, she realized (with his help) that she wasn't messing up on the calculus, but some earlier skill.


A review text is good, but is your son truly missing out on every earlier concept? Could it be something as simple as not knowing (ie. automatically) his times tables? This will really mess up algebra because you need it for factoring. Another potential problem area occurs with fractions--algebra is filled with all kinds of complex fractions and a simple lack of knowing how to manipulate simple ones will hinder upper level math.


For concentrated practice on important topics related to higher level math, I highly recommend the Key To series: start with fractions, move on to decimals, then percents, and lastly the first four books of Key To Algebra.


These booklets contain good explanations, build logically, provide plenty of practice of *very needful skills.* Plus, there is lots of white space and they are non-intimidating.



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Rather than switching math curriculum, I use the over teaching method to cement learned math concepts. (I do use a mastery math program however) Daily, for 5 days, my ds must tell me how to do an algorithm and then work a problem. Then he must do it once a week for 3 weeks and finally once a month for 3 months. If he makes a mistake on any day it returns to day 1. I also include math terms in this memory work since that frequently messes up my ds. To that I add 3 min. timed drills in a variety of problems.


To Claire's suggested math programs, you might want to add Chalk Dust. It's not geared to students with math problems, but the DVD explainations are good and the student can watch them repeatedly until he understands the lesson. This is very good for certain types of learners who 1) learn well auditorily and 2) don't want to ask for help :rolleyes:


I do have a caution about the Key to... series. There was not enough drill for my ds to learn from them. Also he could work the entire lesson, do well, and have no concept about what he had just learned. :eek: I don't understand how this could happen. The lessons are well designed to guide the student through all the steps, but my ds could. He's just talented that way :D

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