I always have parents telling me that they have tried it all and they feel resigned and a little hopeless. I hate when that happens.
If math curriculums have been a sore spot in your homeschooling experience, here is the “Mr. D” List for choosing the right math curriculum for your family.
- Stick with it
I have travelled across North America, stationed myself in Hawaii and questioned select educators in Europe to research a broad range of math programs. I wanted to learn how they are constructed, how inclusive they are and how the concepts are delivered. What I have discovered however, is there really aren’t major differences between curriculums’ content, only in how they’re structured. What I did learn, is that the schools with the highest performance percentages remained consistent with their curriculum. The school system used the same textbook series middle school through high school to create consistency and promote higher comprehension. When students first begin a new program, it can be difficult to adjust. But if they tough it out long enough, something wonderful happens. Our brains begin to adjust to the new learning style making it easier to comprehend. So if you feel like your textbook isn’t working for you, ask yourself “have I given it enough time?” You’d be surprised how much you grow and develop in the course of a school year.
- Compare your high school textbooks against entry-level college textbooks
It is critical to have a solid mathematical foundation before entering college. College professors spend little time reviewing concepts with the hopes that you already have a strong grasp on what was covered in high school. When choosing a high school curriculum, it might be helpful to browse through the table of contents of your current math book and compare the topics to an entry-level college textbook. If there are some concepts missing, it might be best to invest in a different textbook.
- Don’t make a decision based on the price
When finding the right curriculum, money should not be the main consideration. Obviously it plays a role, but if you are either looking to score a bargain or spend as much as possible for the “top of the line” curriculum, you might be disappointed in the results. Always keep in mind that price does not entirely reflect quality. Be sure to collect your research and don’t make the mistake of letting price be the deciding factor.
- Decide what your end goal is for your education
Whether you plan to attend college, vocational school or complete high school and go right to work, it’s important to align your education with your future goals. If you are still unsure, then assume you’ll attend college and study with that mindset. By choosing the highest and broadest level of math, it will leave your options open and help you cultivate a deeper understanding for the concepts you’re learning. Knowing what you want to do is key to deciding what curriculum to use. That may also mean completing a little homework on the vocation you’re eying to learn what kind of math skills or education levels are required. Of course, there is nothing wrong with changing your mind, but it’s important to actively look towards the future and plan accordingly. In my own life, I would have never thought I would become a math curriculum creator. I did however want to be in business for myself and play music. But when the time came, I had to decide what would be my profession and what would be my hobby.
- If you make a curriculum switch, be sure you didn’t miss anything.
Math is important and colleges need to know you’re on par with the nation’s average. Their only uniform measure of knowing you didn’t fall asleep during most your high school math classes is how well you perform on the SAT and ACT. As of March 2016, the SAT is changing to include a higher level of math expectancy. If a student has a solid comprehension of Algebra I and Geometry, they could score well on the old SAT. But the new SAT requires students to be proficient in Algebra I, Geometry and Algebra II. By moving to a new curriculum, there’s a chance important concepts could be overlooked if the new curriculum assumes the content was already covered in a previous course. For example, in my Algebra II course we cover logarithms and matrices. If a student comes to my Pre-Calculus course without covering these concepts, it can serve as a challenge for the student. While this isn’t a deal breaker, the start of the semester can be a little rocky. Fortunately, I provide plenty of review videos and extra practice for anyone in need of a refresher crash course.
So in review, when deciding on the curriculum that best fits your style, it’s important to keep in mind all the variables that will determine your success in the long run. And as always, happy calculating!