By the time a student is ready to learn higher math concepts like pre-algebra, many parents worry they may not be able to teach the more difficult problems. Fortunately for homeschoolers, there are a variety of tools, curriculums and tutors to help students learn and parents teach.
Pre-Algebra Curriculum that Is Simple to Use
It can be difficult to choose a single curriculum with the many choices available to today's homeschooling families. Not only are there programs specifically designed for homeschool families, such as Math U See and Teaching Textbooks, but there are more traditional texts available like those that are used in the schools. There are even a few online programs available. Although each of these different types of curriculum have their advantages, there are a few Pre-Algebra products that require less parental knowledge of the subject and less prep time. These include:
Time4Learning offers interactive lessons online in many different subjects. For the upper grades, they have combined pre-algebra and algebra into a single level. Students will go through lessons that clearly explain concepts, try out practice problems and take quizzes and tests. There is very little for parents to do. If a child does not understand the concept, he simply goes back through the lesson, plays related games and works problems until the method becomes clearer. The site even tracks which assignments have been completed, grades everything and offers the ability to print out a report. Students can repeat lessons as many times as they'd like. Time4Learning is a secular program.
Switched On Schoolhouse Pre-Algebra
Switched on Schoolhouse (SOS) is another program that is simple to use because the lessons are on the computer and the student simply works through them and repeats as many times as necessary until they understand what is going on. SOS is a Christian, Bible-based curriculum. Similar to Time4Learning, the lessons are interactive and grades on all assignments and tests are tracked for the parent. Instead of being accessed online, however, SOS only requires a computer to work.
Math U See
Those students who do better with a hands-on approach to learning will do well with Math U See's pre-algebra. Although parental involvement is a bit higher with this program than the other two mentioned above, the concepts are easy to understand. Some parents have reported on homeschool curriculum review sites that their own math skills have improved while teaching their kids with this product. Math U See also offers online classes for parents who are still uncertain about teaching this topic.
Teaching Textbooks Pre-Algebra
For students who are visual learners, Teaching Textbooks is an excellent pre-algebra option. The program was designed for homeschoolers under the assumption that the teaching parent doesn't have any knowledge in Algebra. As a result, Teaching Textbooks has been described as very 'parent-friendly.' Parents will appreciate the added explanations on how to work problems - every problem has solution worked out in language the student can understand. The program comes with a CD-rom, which has multimedia lessons for each concept taught in the books. The books are reusable, so if you have younger children, this will save you money.
As the student works through a lesson, the program will correct any wrong answers, reteach the concept and retest. Grades are recorded for everything, making tracking easy for homeschooling parents.
Saxon Algebra 1/2
Saxon is an extremely popular math program with homeschool families because of it's ease of use. If your child has used Saxon for proceeding grades, or if your child is transitioning from a school that uses Saxon, you may find this the easiest math curriculum for your family. Saxon Algebra 1/2 can be taught with a DVD program, which is available through Digital Interactive Video Education (D.I.V.E), bringing a math teacher into your living room through technology. They also offer online resources like additional worksheets and activities. The teacher resources section on their site gives parents calculator activities and record-keeping tools. Parent will appreciate answer keys, solutions manuals and that odd questions have the answers listed in the back of the book.
Tutors for Homeschool Math
If you are already using another math curriculum and don't want to switch, or you still feel your child needs additional help you can't provide, tutors are an excellent option for homeschool. You may be able to find an older high school student in your local homeschool group that is supportive of homeschoolers needs and will tutor your child for a reasonable price. There is also the option of using local learning centers like Mathnasium and Sylvan. Every parent has areas of strength and weakness. Whether you only need help on a few of the more difficult concepts, or you need a tutor for everything math related, hiring an expert can help fill the gaps you might not feel equipped to teach.
There are some tools that will help you with your quest to make sure your children understand pre-algebra. You will find free worksheets, math calculators and tips on how to solve math problems easily.
- Helping with Math has a long list of free printable worksheets for extra practice.
- Algebra Help offers free math calculators that will solve the problem and also show the student step-by-step how to work the problem.
- Cool Math helps students by offering explanations of common pre-algebra concepts and giving free study tips.
Since pre-algebra prepares students for high school and the more difficult levels of math they will encounter there, you will want to be certain and utilize as many elements as you can to help your student have a solid foundation in this subject. A curriculum that your child can understand is only the beginning. Extra practice, drills, fun games and tutoring can round out his math skills.