Many public schooled students come to high school-level math lacking the foundational math concepts they need to succeed. This is largely due to the fact that public schooled students are encouraged to use calculators from an early age yet the student may never understand the meaning of important math concepts.
As homeschool parents, it is critical that our students have learned these foundational math concepts until they are able to work with them easily.
The concepts of which I am speaking are addition & multiplication facts; percentages, fractions, & decimals; and what math function to substitute for words in a word problem such as “and”, “more than”, “more”, “is”, etc. The time to make sure these facts are firmly impressed on your child’s mind is the Middle School grades. During these grades, you will fill in any gaps your child has in these areas. Fortunately, lots of materials exist to help you (see below).
Here is an example of the simplest of Algebra word problems: “Three of the same number and six is twenty more than that number. What is the number?”
Now, I will rewrite the question and underline each word that represents a command to perform a particular math operation: “Three of the same number and six is twenty more than that number. What is the number?”
Would your child know what to do with those underlined words? “Of” means multiply; “and” means add; “is” means equals; “more than” means add. So the equation would look like this (if we call “number” N): 3 x N (or 3N) +6 = N + 20. The answer is 7.
On my website, wwwChrisDavisRecommends.com (under the drop-down menu for ages 11-13) I have placed some good, and inexpensive, materials to help you determine if your Middle School child has grasped the math concepts necessary for entering higher level (high school) math. If not, these materials will get him ready. As for math problem words, simply google “math clue words” for a long list of freebies you can use to help your child get “inside” the vocabulary of word problems.
For extra credit, here is a little brain-teaser for you and/or your student:
The following is written as a simple addition problem. Rewrite it as an algebraic equation and solve for ABC if A, B, & C are different numbers each being less than 10 and greater than 0. Don’t put your answer in the Comments box, below (so you won’t give it away to others). Instead, send me an email with your answer and how you solved the problem. Send it to ChrisDavis@PioneerHomeschooler.com
Here is the problem. Solve for ABC:
Now, visit my website www.ChrisDavisRecommends.com to see what I recommend for every grade in every subject (with an additional list of books especially for boys).