The past two years have been a bit of a roller coaster for our family. I'm sure it's like this in most families. Events change the course of the day-to-day events whether it be sickness, a loss in the family, business that picks up, or athletic endeavors that take over. Regardless of the reasons, as I was assessing my 8th grade daughter's math level over the Christmas break, I didn't feel like she was in position to be ready for high school math.
Honestly, I take the full blame for the struggle. I let life get in the way, and I expected her to continue progressing in math on her own. While she was making some progress, she was also growing in her frustration that she could not understand the concepts on her own. This really slowed her down, and I could see her desire to do math diminishing. She needed help, and I needed to help her.
I have reviewed Mr. D's Math in the past, but this time I purchased the course on my own. This review is solely based on our experience with the product and our love of Mr. D's Math.
How We Found Ourselves "Behind"
Oh the second child...or third or first. It is just so hard to give them all the attention that they need. I had done pretty well in keeping up with my oldest in his math. He's also more of a self taught math person. I can just give him the book and he can track with the instructions and complete his lessons in a timely way.
Why did I think every child would respond in the same way?
While my daughter is gifted in reading and writing, math has always been more of a struggle for her. When we were learning multiplication tables, she had a hard time holding them in her head. This should have been a red flag for me, but I was distracted by life, and if I'm being honest, I just wanted her to be able to do her math on her own.
Since she is starting High School next year, I really wanted to make sure that she was in a good place to feel successful in math. It's not that she's "not a math person" it is just that she doesn't like not knowing how to do it. In her frustration, forward progress faltered, and we found ourselves behind.
Strategy for High School Success
Math is a tricky thing. Since it builds upon concepts previously taught, it is not an easy subject to jump around with different curricula. I needed a plan for success that would carry us all the way through. This has been my strategy for ensuring a strong math foundation:
1. Pick a plan that Works For You and Your Student
Since everyone has different strengths and weaknesses, make sure that the math program you select works for you. Ask yourself some important questions:
- What kind of learner do you have? Are they visual or auditory learners? Does the program that you are selecting offer different options for different types of learners?
- What kind of time do you have to work with them? Are you hoping they will be able to complete it all on their own, or are you going to be able to help them with it?
- Does your plan offer materials that will give them all of the credits they need to graduate? We have tried another online math program that works great for younger students but is only a supplemental program for the higher levels of math. You kinda want to make sure that your program will carry you all the way through.
2. Stick with the Same Program for 4 Years
While all math curricula teach math, they employ different strategies and courses of study. You can't just stop one program when it doesn't work and start another. It can really frustrate your student further by making them feel even more confused with a new system.
Sticking with the same program is crucial to ensuring that all math concepts that need to be covered are sufficiently covered. I want my kids to leave home feeling confident to tackle any math course they might take in college. By sticking with the same curriculum, they will cover all the basics of higher level math.
3. Don't Forget That I Am Their Primary Teacher
Even if I select a program that has an online component, video tutorials, or a live tutor, I am still the one that cares the most about my child's education. I cannot disconnect from the process. Whenever I engage with my kids in math, they always do better.
Why is this true? Even if I am just listening along, I am able to help translate what the tutor/tutorial/text says and cultivate a conversation with my child to help manage their confusion. If I can keep their confusion level down, they will be able to make better progress in learning what they actually need to learn and not practicing bad habits.
I am the primary teacher, and therefore I am responsible for their education. I don't want to leave them to fend for themselves, but I also don't have to do it alone!
Mr. D's Math to the Rescue
A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to review Mr. D's SAT Math Prep course and I loved it. As I watched him manage his online classes, I loved how engaged he was with his students and how he discussed math with them. This was exactly what I would want from an outside resource, but my son was already set with Saxon Math. Since he didn't need help, I tucked Mr. D's Math away as an option for my daughter in the future.
When I was making plans for my daughter's high school math strategy, I decided that I would look into Mr. D's Math again. His Algebra I course recommended a Pre-Algebra course. Since my daughter wasn't feeling confident with her current math, we decided to jump into his self paced Pre-Algebra online course in January to prepare for Algebra I in the fall.
Wow! What a difference it makes when you find a program that fits so well with your student. Not only has my daughter's interest in math re-awakened, but she's able to spend more time on math and make more progress in her studies than she was previously able to do. She's highly motivated to finish this course by the end of May, and in two months time, she has already made it through the semester exam.
Why We Love Mr. D's Math
First of all Mr. D loves math. You can tell in the way he talks about it that he really enjoys sharing his love of math with others. His enthusiasm for the concepts is contagious. We watch a video and then complete course work. After the course work, there is a short quiz to test the student's mastery of a concept.
Additionally, he provides online, interactive instruction - perfect balance of humans and technology. I have loved sitting with my daughter and listening in on the lessons. She enjoys understanding what is asked of her and getting the right answers! It is highly motivating to continue.
We jumped in and started the Pre-Algebra course for a couple of reasons:
- Prepares her for Algebra I
- Gets her familiar with Mr. D's vocabulary for math
- Builds her confidence back
I sit with her myself to learn these things as well. It's been a great opportunity to gain understanding on her math strengths and weaknesses. By helping her order her thoughts in math, I am also reducing her frustration level which has really made a marked difference in her endurance with math.
If you're not sitting in and watching your student do the math, you have access as a teacher to the grade book. This is a great way for parents to check in on student progress, and have a record of their work for future transcript or portfolio purposes.
In the Fall, we plan on joining one of Mr. D's live classes. They meet online once a week and then they complete course work throughout the week. I love that my daughter will have the extra help and accountability for staying on track with her math.
Currently my daughter is hoping to study nursing when she heads to college, so she really needs a strong foundation in math. It's not that she didn't like math or wasn't good at it, we just hadn't found the right teaching method and curriculum to fit her learning style. Mr. D's Math is perfect for her.