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  1. #1

    Default Need advice for math enthusiast Grade 6 and beyond

    Hi, I'm hoping for some advice. My son has recently become very interested in math. We're finishing up 5th grade (homeschool) right now, and I'm uncertain how to proceed with him in this area. He is desperate to jump ahead and get to the stuff that interests him (algebra, trig, calculus) but I don't want to skimp on his foundation and mastery of all the pre-algebra stuff. At the same time, I don't want to bore him to tears. From what I've gathered looking through typical middle-school curriculum maps, it looks like a LOT of repetition in grades 6-8 and I'm afraid boring him to tears is exactly what will happen if I follow a typical public-school sequence and pacing. Does anyone have any advice for an accelerated approach to transition him to Algebra? In our "formal" math for school we have done Singapore Primary Math 1-4, and having looked through 5, I think he's just going to skim through that over the summer because he already understands most if not all of it. He has been technically a year behind because he hated arithmetic so much (boring), but this year it all just "clicked" and he rocketed ahead and is HUNGRY. He does a lot of reading & viewing of mathematical stuff online for fun, has integrated math into his coding, and is delving into stuff I don't understand even though I did AP calculus in high school (but that was decades ago, so heh I don't remember much). I'm not sure HE really understands what he's doing, but the enthusiasm is genuine, and I want to encourage him while making sure we don't skimp on his foundation & mastery of skills as we go. It seems like for an accelerated math path, starting algebra in 8th grade is fine, but what do people do in 6-7? I've read that Singapore after 5 is no good, so I'm not sure where to go from here, and don't want to spend 2-3 years covering material that we could condense into 1, if we had the right materials for a pre-algebra course. Any thoughts? Thanks!!

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  3. #2


    Singapore 6 was crap, made not by Singapore, but “Singapore inspired”. They make a middle school product, but we just went to a standard high school Algebra 1 text after a lackluster semester of Dimensions. We can go at our own pace, and paused to spend a little more time on stuff (like order of operations, exponents, calculating sales tax, discount prices, etc.).

    Youre ahead of the curve, theres no reason you have to race or slow down.

    AOPS is apparently rigorous, and made for mathy kids, but I took a look at their text-heavy tome and ran away. Too much for my 6th grader!

    Have you entertained him with the DragonBox app yet?
    Homeschooling DS13, DS6.


    My spelling was fine, then my brain left me.

  4. #3


    Quote Originally Posted by alexsmom View Post
    Have you entertained him with the DragonBox app yet?
    I didn't know what that was so I went and took a look at it-- I think he would be put off by the overtly "kid-friendly" feel to it. He's really, I dunno, almost "offended" by stuff that is geared towards kids with goofy graphics and stuff. He's super picky about that stuff (he has Aspergers) and will reject all sorts of things based on the artwork alone. This makes it REALLY difficult to find stuff that is age-appropriate, challenging, but not a turn-off because of being "for kids". He has been reading a lot on the "" site and I've noted that one of the reasons he likes it is because it's very "clean" in the way it just presents the information. Not too dry, but not dumbed-down.

    This is not to say that he rejects all cartoony stuff. My brother bought him a set of nonfiction comic books in Manga style on a range of STEM topics (calculus, statistics, physics, etc)... I think they were all titled "The Manga Guide to..." and he LOVED them. They were extremely nerdy and intelligent (a good thing).

    Anyway. Thanks for confirming that Singapore is a dead-end-- I almost feel as though he's ready to just dive into Algebra I, and maybe just fill in the blanks with some free stuff from EngageNY or something. I can't figure out why 6-8 seems like 3 years of ratios, decimals, probability, and review geometry. ??? Why does that need so much time? Is it because most kids just aren't ready, developmentally, for algebra until they are older?

  5. #4


    Oh and to respond to another point-- it's not that I feel I need to rush, just for the sake of being "ahead" or to get through it-- it's more that he just wants to learn more, more, more... it's almost like it's become his new obsession. He's also very eager to get into more advanced science-- chemistry and particle physics especially-- and he needs more math for that. So it kind of sucks to have to put that off until he's older, but I don't want him to have to feel roadblocked every time he comes across a complex equation with symbols he's not fluent in yet. On the one hand it's exciting that he has so much enthusiasm at such a young age, but it's also hard to convince him to take his time and build up his knowledge patiently. So I want to make sure he continues to build a strong foundation in math, and not just rush through it, but at the same time I don't really understand this long transition through pre-algebra and feel that for a motivated kid it could be seriously condensed... but I've never taught this area before, so I want to make sure I'm not being stupid about it, in wanting to condense it.

  6. #5


    Quote Originally Posted by alexsmom View Post
    AOPS is apparently rigorous, and made for mathy kids, but I took a look at their text-heavy tome and ran away. Too much for my 6th grader!
    Ok, I hadn't seen this series before, and this may be an amazing find. Thank you. I'm going to show him the online excerpts tomorrow and see if it tickles his fancy...

  7. #6


    You definitely want AoPS. I'd dive right into their pre-algebra - it's excellent and thorough and will challenge him. They also run a free site with math competition problems called alcumus - it can track the student and give successively harder problems. In fact, he might enjoy math competitions in general - Math Kangaroo is one of the easier, more friendly ones to start with.

    If for some reason AoPS doesn't suit him, there are other challenging math publishers and plenty of challenging online classes, but that's definitely your first stop. If you're hesitant about teaching him going forward, AoPS does online classes.

    Too bad he'd be put off by Dragonbox. I loved it myself - the puzzles were fun and by the end getting them in the right number of moves is challenging and it gave my kids a good foundation in algebra mechanics when they were younger. But I like puzzle games. Still, for a "serious" kid, it's not necessarily the first thing that comes to mind anyway. AoPS also makes a younger kids series that's also extremely challenging - but it has a comic book as the text, so I guess it's good he's already outgrown it anyway!
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  8. #7


    I'm in a quandary, mostly because you feel your son's math foundation is not quite solid. It IS possible that while moving forward, your son can solidify his skills. You would probably know, because at some point he'll need those to continue moving forward. AOPS is also good for a kid interested in math.

    However, I'll tell you what my son ended up doing.

    By 5th grade, DS was already getting bored with the middle school math repetition. He flew through the three Saxon middle level books in a year. So through 6th-8th grade, he completed algebra, geometry, algebra 2, trig, and statistics.

    Starting in high school, we were lucky enough that admissions at a satellite campus of Purdue allowed our kids to start taking dual credit courses early. Normally, they want the kids to be juniors. However, if a potential student scores well enough on the SAT test, they'll make exceptions. So my son took "College Algebra" there in 9th grade. Having been a math teacher myself, it's the equivalent of Pre-Calculus at a high school. In 10th grade I found a discrete math book that he worked through as it seemed relevant to his interests in programming. Eleventh grade had him enrolled in Calculus 1 and Calculus 2 back at Purdue, followed by Calc 3 and Differential Equations/Linear Algebra in his senior year.

    I realize he's an outlier. But he would have been so bored had we held him to his typical grade level math. He still did grade level work in most other subjects, and we did NOT graduate him early. However, having so much college credit (he also took other courses) allowed him to transfer a ton of credit and easily pick up a math minor.
    Last edited by inmom; 05-22-2018 at 01:30 PM.

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  9. #8


    My son loved Singapore 7/8 Dimensions. We hadn't done grade 6 or any of the earlier Singapore materials, so I don't have that to compare it to. There was a lot of overlap between Singapore Dim 7/8 with Algebra I and HS Geometry, but it is mixed together, and it is Common Core friendly. If you have issues with that, then it may not be for you. We may have the opposite issue that you have, though, as my son needs something to be visually appealing to him, for it to work, and he doesn't mind if it looks childish. We already finished Singapore 8 earlier this term, so through the end of the year, we will be finishing Khan Academy Algebra I.

    Whatever math we do, we always do Khan Academy concurrently, which may be a good idea for you if you are worried about foundations. The mastery challenges occasionally make you redo work you have already mastered, so it makes sure you have retained it. I find this helpful, because you don't need to be using a program that spirals, to get practice doing older work.

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Need advice for math enthusiast Grade 6 and beyond