In the beginning of the Homeschool Revolution, the choices were limited to private school and public school textbooks, with no teacher’s guides or curriculum manuals. Today, however, we are bombarded with a multiplicity of curricula, much of which can be expensive, overly burdensome and overloaded with busywork.
Here are a few choices for Secondary School mathematics that may be helpful to parents who have little or no background in higher math.
CK12.org – This is a cooperative online project, a bit like Wikipedia. The purpose is to make free, Open Source textbooks available to students, families and schools around the world.
The content is overseen by a group of educators who work to maintain quality and educational integrity. Users can edit chapters, though this is monitored. It is also possible to write one’s own textbook.
For high school mathematics, this is a homeschool parent’s dream. The texts are generally well-written, and most include a video lesson to reinforce the concepts. The illustrations are pertinent and useful. Lessons may be accessed on computer, or printed out for study. Chapters are labeled with state standards. If parents register, they may have a teacher’s guide emailed to them in PDF format.
All of this is free. Totally free.
Khan Academy – This site provides the videos for some of CK12.org’s flexbooks. A wide variety of mathematics lessons are available on video, from basic arithmetic to college-level math. The lessons are done on whiteboard, with a pleasant male voice guiding the student through the steps of various problems and solutions. Happily, early algebra is shown using concrete examples, which helps solidify concepts in young (and adult) minds. A very good free resource for any math student, no matter what curriculum they use. Some science courses are also available.
Life of Fred – This is definitely the most creative choice in the bunch. Each middle school to high school mathematics book is based around the humorous story of a child prodigy named Fred, who is a preschool-aged math professor. This is the only math series that your child may read for the story!
The mathematical concepts are presented well. Homeschool solutions manuals are available. This is a perfect choice for the more dramatically-inclined student, and with Khan Academy videos for occasional reinforcement, it is a very complete program. It can also be completed in a much shorter time than the usual textbook programs.
Hot X – This book by mathematician/actress Danica McKellar is a good antidote to the common misconception that girls are mathphobic. Basic algebra concepts are related to the lives of teen girls – friends, clothes, future careers, and so on. The tone is friendly, and they come across very well. This book makes a great add-on to any curriculum. It also contains great encouragement for girls who want to achieve their dreams on their own terms.
Some girls may find it excessively ‘girly’, but most will enjoy the novel approach. The fact that the author is both an academic and a television star may be a plus.
Today’s homeschooled teen has many more options than were available in the past. They’re more user-friendly and often low- or no- cost. Happy learning!