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Did we do Algebra too soon? My son is struggling!

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Dear Carrie

Did we do Algebra too soon? My son is struggling!

We previously used Horizons math up through level 6 with great success. However, 50 lessons into Horizons Pre-Algebra, we realized this was not working. The program threw in new concepts with inadequate explanation. So, we switched to Videotext. We completed Module A last year (grade 7). Now, we began this year (grade 8) with Module B. My son was a very good math student who was quick to grasp concepts. But now, he is struggling and demoralized. So, I picked up No-Nonsense Algebra. We went back and did the pre-algebra chapter and have now been redoing all topics we covered in Videotext. No-Nonsense is a simpler presentation. I think I prefer the rigor of Videotext. Did we dive into Algebra too soon? Should we have waited for grade 9? He has so many changes in his body now! I think it complicates his clear thinking. Any advice?


“Ms. Please Help Me with My Son’s Algebra”

Dear “Ms. Please Help Me with My Son’s Algebra,”

Math can really be something in finding the perfect fit, can’t it! I’m so glad that you came and asked some questions about Videotext, as no one should ever feel alone in this area. It helps so much if we can encourage one another on this journey! I do think from what you’ve shared that a big part of the struggle you’re having comes from jumping from Horizons 6 up to Videotext. While it is true that a typical 6th grade math text will teach many of the concepts needed in preparation for algebra, it is also true that the grades after grade 6 really help cement those concepts prior to heading into formal algebra. In that aspect, having a year of 7th grade math is so helpful!

If your son is doing well with No-Nonsense Algebra, he can keep going with it now, and then use Videotext for grade 9.

So, it makes tons of sense to me that the No-Nonsense is a cleaner fit. This is simply because it is more straight-forward and “no-nonsense” in its presentation, which is where your son is likely at in his mathematical thinking right now. If your son is doing well with No-Nonsense Algebra, I would just have him keep on going through it and set aside Videotext. If I’m understanding correctly that your son is an 8th grader, then if you desired you could go back to Videotext after completing No-Nonsense and use the Videotext as your formal high school algebra experience.

If your son is not doing well with No-Nonsense Algebra, he can do Rick Fisher’s Pre-Algebra.

Or, if your son is not doing well with No-Nonsense Algebra, then I would look at doing Pre-Algebra right now instead. Rick Fisher also has a pre-algebra program (with video lessons) that you could do instead right now to firm up needed concepts. It is likely that is what your son is missing. It is also can be a maturity issue, as analytical thinking doesn’t develop as early as we’d like sometimes with puberty in the way!


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