As I mentioned in another review, growing up, I loved math. I have always done very well in math and even have a degree in accounting. Unfortunately, I am not such a great math teacher. I am not able to articulate why the problem is solved the way it is. It has often caused a lot of stress in our family. I get frustrated because the kids aren’t getting it. They get frustrated because they aren’t getting it. And both of us feel like failures.
I recently had the opportunity to review Math Essentials’ newest textbook, No-Nonsense Algebra. The book is a 280 page paperback text and sells for $27.95. There are 10 chapters in the text that encompasses a full year of high-school algebra. The number of lessons varies with each chapter, but at the end of each chapter there is a chapter review.
One thing that I really appreciated was the items placed in the back of the book. The glossary contains helpful terms and an explanation on what they are. For instance, if your student (or yourself) forgets what a greatest common factor is, you can find it in the glossary along with a simple explanation on how to find the greatest common factor. There are also several handy charts such as a prime numbers chart, a square/square root chart, and my favorite, a chart with important formulas.
How It Works
Each lesson has an introductory section that explains the lesson. The student then watches an online video that corresponds to the lesson (each lesson has a corresponding video). There are a few examples in the book to show how the problems are solved. The student then works through the exercises and a few review problems from previous lessons.
I would like to preface my thoughts by saying that I really think math programs (especially for high school level math) need to work well for both the student and the teacher. I don’t think there is a one-size-fits-all math program that can be used with every student and achieve the same results every time. So just saying a math program is really great is relative.
Personally, I like the fact that if my son doesn’t understand a concept he can watch a video that further explains the concept while showing examples of the problem. This would also be great for visual learners or students who need to learn independently.
The lessons are very short and concise. My son really liked that there were not tons of problems to do everyday (usually 10-20 plus 4 for review). Honestly, I am a little concerned that this may not be enough repetition–just not sure though. I don’t really know how much repetition is ideal to cement the concepts in their minds (and really I think it probably depends on the student). So I think it would be nice if there were additional problems that could be given to the student if they did need more help.
I would have also liked more word problems. Again, probably the math lover in me, and maybe this is the fluff that has been cut out of the math program so that it is indeed no-nonsense. I just want to make sure that my kids know how to apply the concepts they are learning.
I will leave you with one last thought on the No-Nonsense Algebra. I did not get one complaint from my son as he worked on it. And for those of you with kids taking algebra, you know that is a good thing!
Other products by Math Essentials
Along with the algebra text, I also received Mastering Essential Math Skills – Fractions book. The math skills books are designed to help your student master a specific skill. There are eight different math skills books, each one covering a different topic. I requested the fractions book because this is an area that I felt needed some improvement in my son’s coursework.
Sometimes it is a lack of understanding in the basics of math that can cause a student frustration in the more complicated math lessons. By spending some extra time on a specific area, it can have a drastic effect on their overall math comprehension.
The math skills books are not meant to teach a new skill, but rather sharpen and enhance skills already learned helping the student to master the skill. This is done by spending 20 minutes a day, having the student work a few review exercises, followed by approximately 10 focus problems and one word problem. The math skills books are very simple to follow and understand, don’t take too much time to complete, and are a great addition to other math programs!
Special promotional offer for orders placed in June, July, or August:
Any order that includes Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 1, OR, Mastering Essential Math Skills Book 2, OR, No-Nonsense Algebra, will include a free copy of Geometry (A $14.95 value) plus a free Homework Kit (A $4.99 value).