Earlier this school year my son finished Singapore 5 and started Art of Problem Solving Pre-Algebra.This course takes a little different approach to mathematics. It has you solving problems before teaching you how to do it. The whole process of puzzling out the problems is designed to help you really understand what you are doing. Once you complete the problem it shows you how to do it. Usually it shows you how to do the problem more efficiently. It is not a flashy looking book at all, but it is packed full of juicy problems. It is also quite wordy. The wordiness is a good fit for my auditory-sequential learner while the puzzling out the problems approach should be a good fit for my visual-spatial learner.
I was having my son work through the book on his own, but some of the problems are quite difficult. I’ve since started working through the problems alongside him. He enjoys it much more when I work with him. We challenge each other. I must admit that I am really loving this course. I never enjoyed mathematics in school. It was all rather boring, but this course makes each problem like a puzzle. Some problems take us around 30 minutes to figure out. When we get stuck, the solutions manual lays out step by step how to solve each problem. We typically spend about an hour each school day on math and just do what gets done in that time. Now, I don’t usually have an extra hour of time laying around to have one-on-one time with my son for math. Because of that, I am currently doing math with both of my boys at once. This gives my son a little head start at completing the problems ahead of me because I may be teaching his brother while he is working through some problems. At this point I’m having him spend time on the learning portion of the chapter independently while we do the end of section problems as well as the end of the chapter problems together. He also does Alcumus independently. Alcumus is an online learning system that is aligned to the text book. The AOPS website also has short instructional videos for most sections in the book. Along with Alcumus they are my son’s favorite thing about AOPS Pre-Algebra.
I chose AOPS because at this point it looks like both of my sons are heading toward a STEM career. AOPS courses will give them a solid understanding. While not designed for homeschool, AOPS solution manuals and lengthy explanations in the textbook provide the support we need to complete the class. They also offer online classes which we may use in the future.