I am facing the challenge of getting a middle school aged child caught up in math.
There are different routes you can take to accomplish this. You can go topic specific, studying only the problem areas that your child has. This is effective if your child has a few holes, and doesn’t easily “lose” their math knowledge if other areas are neglected. There is nothing wrong with putting aside your regular curriculum for a time, and really honing in on where they struggle.
I have an older middle schooler whom I would like to get bumped ahead a bit faster and don’t want to spend an inordinate amount of time doing it. In the library I stumbled on Basic Math by The Great Courses, and I am so glad that I did. I was able to find a used set and purchased it so I wouldn’t need to rack up library fines.
Basic Math comes with 6 DVDs and a student workbook, covering everything from addition and subtraction all the way up through probability, statistics, and introductory Algebra. It covers, in a basic way, a pre-algebra course. The professor who teaches it is Murray H. Siegel, Ph.D. of Sam Houston University. He is interesting and funny, and holds our attention easily through the lectures.
My son is in the 8th grade, and is on the Autism Spectrum.
He struggles with math, and is extremely slow working his way through any of it. He “should be” in Pre-Algebra this year but has not reached that point yet. No matter how much reinforcing I do, or extra attention we pay to the tough areas, he just seems to plod along through the topics at one set speed: HIS. This works well for him, and usually works for me, but I need to get him past fractions, decimals, and percents by the end of this school year!
Enter Basic Math. Each lesson is laid out to be used over the course of one week. This is by no means a full curriculum unless you are using it solely as a refresher math course for an older student or adult. 30 Lessons cover the following:
- Introduction and a Review of Addition and Subtraction
- Multiplication and Division
- Long Division
- Introduction to Fractions
- Adding Fractions
- Subtracting Fractions
- Multiplying Fractions
- Dividing Fractions, Plus a Review of Fractions
- Adding and Subtracting Decimals
- Multiplying and Dividing Decimals
- Using the Calculator
- Fractions, Decimals, and Percents
- Percent Problems
- Ratios and Proportions
- Exponents and the Order of Operations
- Adding and Subtracting Integers
- Multiplication and Division of Integers, and an Introduction to Square Roots
- Negative and Fractional Powers
- Geometry 1
- Geometry 2
- Graphing in the Coordinate Plane
- Number Theory
- Number Patterns 1
- Number Patterns 2
- Problem-Solving Techniques
- Solving Simple Equations
- Introduction to Algebra 1
We are turning this into a full curriculum for D1, with some modifications.
On Day 1, he watches the lecture on DVD, and works the practice problems as they come up. The DVD tells the student to STOP and work the problem. Once he does that, he lets it play again and follows the solution with the professor.
Day 2, he works out the problems in the Student Workbook. If he gets stuck he can play the DVD again.
Day 3, he works through the appropriate topics on Khan Academy. There are plenty of practice problems there, and he gets to earn points and awards through KA’s system, which he also enjoys.
Day 4, I have him work through another printed worksheet of similar problems, either from Math Mammoth’s Gold Worksheets series or a math website.
Day 5, he can do a second worksheet to reinforce, or do additional practice on Khan Academy.
If he understands the topic sufficiently by this time, then we will move on to the next lesson the following week. We began with Lesson 4: Introduction to Fractions, because this is an area he needs to work on and he’s done long division to death already. 🙂
If you are interested in following a similar course to fill in your student’s gaps, I do recommend that you spend time online looking for additional resources for worksheets and math drill activities to round out their studies. It is my hope that by completing this program, he will be ready for a full Pre-Algebra course in the fall. We’ll see. Even if he’s not, he will be MUCH further along than if we had continued using our current curriculum.
The Great Courses has discontinued carrying Basic Math (although it can still be found on Amazon, Ebay and others), but has replaced it with another title, Mastering the Fundamentals of Mathematics, which covers the same topics.