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No matter how much you or your students hate it, Pre-Algebra is a necessary part of any homeschool course of studies. A good pre-algebra curriculum for your homeschooled student will make the elementary concepts of algebra understandable and salient to your student. Pre-algebra should be taught once the basic math curriculum has been completed, and foundational math concepts have been mastered. This usually occurs anywhere between sixth and ninth grades. Such pre-algebra curricula should include the study of:
- Variables and Integers
- Factoring and Fractions
- Rational Numbers and equations
- Ratio, Data Analysis, and Probability
- Right Triangles and relationships between angles
- Perimeter, Area, Volume
- Linear equations
You will want to check your state standards to be sure that any curriculum you select will meet the state standards for pre-algebra. Each state has a listing of standards that should be met within a pre-algebra course offered in that state. Finally, if you're still unsure, check your local community college; they often post their syllabi online and this will list the topics covered.
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When it comes to homeschool math, two programs stand out as being outstanding in this field: Saxon Math and Singapore Math. Saxon Math is great for students who need a lot of repetition and Singapore Math is better for students who are more analytic/conceptual minded. Saxon Math's pre-algebra text is Saxon 8/7 and Singapore Math's pre-algebra text is the Primary Mathematics 6A and 6B. There are other pre-algebra curricula in which you may be interested. Bob Jones' Pre-algebra (Christian curriculum), Horizons Pre-Algebra, and Glencoe Pre-Algebra are alternative choices that could be perfect for your family.
- Saxon Math: ($92.95 for student book, tests, and solutions manual) - covers most of the topics of pre-algebra and offers students a lot of opportunity for repetition and practice.
- Singapore Math: ($64 for 2 texts, 2 workbooks, and 2 teacher's manuals) - pre-algebra concepts are woven throughout the workbooks in the "Primary Math" series. 6A and 6B introduce students to algebraic expressions.
- Bob Jones Math: ($166.50 for student text, teacher's edition, tests, activity book, and solutions) - pre-algebra concepts and Biblical quotes are woven together in this program.
- Horizons Math ($84.95 for the set including student book, tests and resources book, and teacher's guide) - engages students with pre-algebra by connecting pre-algebra to real world math and preparing them for standardized testing.
- Glencoe Pre-Algebra ($104.35 for the set including the student text, workbook, and tests) - a public school textbook that presents a secular approach to pre-algebra.
While other curriculum choices do exist, you will find that the above five will fulfill just about any need your student has. If possible try to view these different texts at a homeschooling meeting, curriculum fair, or library to make sure that the book is right for your student.
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One of the most fun things about homeschooling is building your own curriculum for little to nothing. There are many great free resources that can help you to do this. When you are building, or supplementing an existing, pre algebra curriculum, it's important for you first to look at the above list of topics. You may also wish to study the tables of contents of the above pre-algebra texts. Once you have done that, you can then go searching online for free pre-algebra homeschooling curriculum. Here is a list of websites that are a great benefit to homeschoolers looking for free pre-algebra curriculum materials:
- Free-Ed.Net Pre-Algebra Curriculum provides a comprehensive, free, pre-algebra curriculum that features instruction, videos, exercises, and quizzes that will keep your student sharp.
- Schmoop's Pre-Algebra course is an outstanding option that provides step-by step instruction on each of the pre-algebra topics outlined on the first page of this article.
- The Mathematics Enhancement Program features a diverse number of resources tailored to pre-algebra learners including text instruction, lesson plans, and exercises.
It is not too difficult to locate free pre-algebra homeschool curriculum resources. The above resources are excellent, but you can also find worksheets online and games online in order to supplement your student's learning at websites such as Glencoe.com and Edhelper.com
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Real World Math
When incorporating any math curriculum into your homeschool, it is important to ensure that you also add real-world math to the mix. This way, students can begin to build the bridge from their mathematics curriculum to their every day lives. Real-world math involves teaching students to solve mathematics problems that you find in every day life. Family Math: The Middle School Years, Algebraic Reasoning and Number Sense Is a great way to add some real-life math into your curriculum. Other ways to do this include having your student figure out the cost of a hypothetical grocery list, figuring out room layouts and how much paint would be needed for a room, and converting recipes.
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Finally, it is important that students do something mathematical five days a week for at least an hour. Here's a sample schedule; you'll want to adjust it depending upon your curriculum and your student's progression through the curriculum:
Monday: Teach a new pre-algebra lesson, go through text examples
Tuesday: Student works through the workbook assignment for the lesson
Wednesday: New lesson, do text examples together
Thursday: Student works through workbook assignments
Friday: Review quiz and real-world math
Once you have successfully incorporated a pre-algebra homeschooling curriculum into your day, you will know whether your student needs more or less time on each topic. By having your student complete a brief weekly review quiz, you can be sure that he or she will keep his or her material in mind.
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Wise-Bauer, S. and Wise, J. (2009) The Well Trained Mind 3rd Ed. New York: W.W. Norton & Co.
Image courtesy of sxc.hu/gallery/ugaldew