Thinking about homeschooling Algebra?

By Marco Villegas

mathematics 200Before you begin homeschooling Algebra, you’ll want to know about two critical, foundational skills your child should master first.  I’ll review these skills next, but first I’d like to offer you a word of encouragement, parent to parent.

It is not unusual for parents to feel hesitant about homeschooling Algebra for the first time.  A seemingly common concern I hear from parents is that they feel unprepared for it.  If you’re about to home school Algebra, please don’t feel this way.  You may be more prepared for it than you may realize.  You CAN home school Algebra, especially the traditional first part of it, often called Algebra 1 at the high school or middle school level.

Consider this: as a homeschooling parent, especially if you’re a member of a support group, you are engaged in practical, real-life applications of Algebra concepts.  You use Algebra as part of your planning and budgeting, either to plan ahead, or, if you’re like some of us are, to figure out what in the world happened to the time and money you thought you had!  The point is this: you DO Algebra, so why couldn’t you home school it?

On the other hand, we know that homeschooling is about our children and not about us.  With so many of today’s outstanding homeschooling resources, our personal background may not be as significant in our children’s learning process as their own wonderful and sometimes surprising learning capacity can be.  A good teacher may lead the way, but a great one knows when to get out of the student’s way.  God has equipped our children with a remarkable learning capacity.  Point them in the right path, and they will be able to thrive on it given the opportunity.  Train up a child in the way she should go, especially in Mathematics.

So please relax.  You are surrounded by many other supporting parents, and you can access countless learning resources.  You CAN home school Algebra.

With this in mind, here are two of the critical, foundational skills your child should master before beginning an Algebra course.  The first skill is the ability to perform operations that include negative numbers, particularly addition and subtraction;  for example,

-3 -4 = -7

The second skill your child should master is the ability to factor numbers and expressions, which includes an understanding of prime and composite numbers; for example,

the numbers 2 and 5 are factors of the number 20

You can help your child continue to succeed through the high school and college levels by ensuring that your child achieves mastery of these two skills early on.  Of course there are other critical, foundational skills your child should master, but these two are an excellent start, since they are a part of just about everything your child will encounter from now on, beginning with Algebra.

As I work with high school and college students, among those few who struggle, it is evident that one cause of their difficulty with Mathematics, Algebra in particular, stems from not being able to perform operations with negative numbers, or from the students’ lack of skills with factorization, or both.

When these skills are not truly mastered, the deficiencies become a source of a negative, subtle domino effect that carries through a student’s academic career, causing unnecessary difficulty for the student in every course beginning with Algebra.  Case in point, from time to time I help college students in a Business Mathematics course.  The students who ask for help often struggle initially because, among other issues, they are not able to perform operations with negative numbers, or to factor numbers and expressions.  Since this particular course is essentially an application of principles from both Algebra and Calculus, the situation seems surprising at such a level.  Sadly, however, this doesn’t seem to be an isolated matter.  It seems that many college students have similar struggles, according to faculty and staff.

Thankfully, you don’t have to worry about your child.  Before you begin to home school Algebra, you can help your child excel rather than suffer through his academic career by ensuring that your child achieves mastery of these skills, which, by the way, are relatively simple to learn.  Once learned, you child can achieve mastery through correct, continuous practice.

Here are some simplistic (and I do mean simplistic, not simple nor simplified), but practical and effective ways for your child to acquire these skills.  These techniques rely on practical, working results without a need to know more advanced Mathematical theory.

read the entire article at My Texas Tutor

Mr. Marco Villegas and his family own and for a limited time are providing free, live, expert tutoring for homeschooling families in Texas. You can view a video clip of a tutoring session by visiting



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