Many homeschoolers do a great job teaching their children elementary and middle school math. However homeschooling parents often struggle on how to transition their children from middle school math to high school math starting with algebra. With so many curriculum options parents can get overwhelmed and confused on how to put together a great algebra course for their child. From years of helping homeschoolers with my TabletClass.com program I find there are 4 things to consider when you’re ready to homeschool algebra.
1. Understand How Important Algebra Is To Your Child’s Future Success
I’m going to take a risk here but as an experienced middle and high school math teacher I would say algebra is the most important course your child will NEED. The concepts in algebra set the foundation for so many areas in mathematics and college exams like the SAT/ACT. For example high school geometry requires a strong understanding of algebra so if your child is weak in algebra they will most likely have a difficult time in geometry. Also I have found a strong correlation of success in algebra to success in more advance courses. I can go on and on but trust me algebra is an “extra important” course that requires homeschoolers to really focus on putting a great plan together.
2. Not All Algebra Courses Are Created Equal
When selecting your algebra material to homeschool keep in mind that algebra courses can vary tremendously. What I mean is that just because a course has the name “algebra” does not mean it will cover a proper comprehensive curriculum. I often talk to parents that use popular homeschool algebra courses only to find that their child’s skill level is really at a public school pre-algebra level. My advice is to use your state’s curriculum standards to help you evaluate your options. You want to make sure a course covers not just many topics but covers each topic in a deep manner. As a general rule the more intense a course is the better it will be for your child. So even though your child might prefer an easier algebra course they will only find themselves playing catch-up in future more advance math courses.
3. Don’t Rush This Course
Most homeschoolers plan a full academic year (9-10 months) for their child’s courses. However I strongly suggest that you commit an entire year to algebra- at least 10 months and maybe even more until your child has MASTERED the material. Even if your child is a quick learner and can finish the course in less than 10 months you don’t want to take a risk to advance to another course until you’re absolutely confident that your child has retained the material and has mastered core skills. So from a planning perspective don’t feel like your child will be falling behind if they need 18 months to master algebra. Believe me if your child has mastered algebra all future math courses will go faster and better.
4. Learn From A Math Teacher
Lastly when you select an algebra program try to find a course that is taught by an experienced classroom teacher. Video courses are excellent but if you are only using a textbook than try to seek out a professional teacher for additional support. Algebra can be pretty complex and experienced master teachers have the inside know how to help students make the connection to comprehend the material. Remember your child will be transitioning from middle school (more arithmetic based) to algebra (variables, equations, systems, etc.). A textbook can only go so far to help your child learn algebra so having the support of a professional math teacher is critical.
I love homeschoolers because they work hard and are totally committed to education. So many families have proven that homeschooling works. As an experienced math teacher it’s a pleasure working with homeschoolers all over the country. The curriculum is never the most important part of education. It’s the committed parent and teacher that empower students to succeed. So no matter what the course, algebra or world history nothing is more important to success than your commitment.