Math can definitely be one of the more intimidating subjects to teach children, especially upper-level courses. As homeschoolers, we often do so without the benefit of professional teacher instruction. However, ScienceandMath.com has developed a series of instructional DVDs that feature teacher lectures, like those found in a classroom setting, which students can watch and learn from in the comfort of their homes. My family has had the opportunity to review one of ScienceandMath.com‘s DVDs, Algebra 1 Tutor : Volume 1 with the accompanying Fractions Thru Algebra Companion Worksheet CD, for the past few weeks with excellent results. These products, which cost $26.99 for the Algebra 1 Tutor DVDs (or$23.99 for the download) and $21.99 for the Companion Worksheet CD, are an affordable alternative to private instruction or tutoring. I am pleased to share our experiences and review of these products with you.
About The Program
The Algebra 1 Tutor: Volume 1 is a 3 DVD set with a total of 10 lessons, which make up 7 hours of instruction. The DVDs are intended for those in 7th grade and up, but I believe they might also be suitable for younger students who are advanced in math, which is the case with my kids. The lessons are taught in a traditional way, with an instructor lecture and examples explained on a whiteboard. The Companion Worksheet CD includes over 600 pages of worksheets that correspond to each lesson, which can be printed out and completed by the student. Solutions, with explanation, are also included on the disk, making grading convenient, as there is no need to buy separate answer books or teacher manuals. Although this DVD set is titled, The Algebra 1 Tutor, they can be used for more than just tutoring purposes. The lectures are very thorough, allowing the DVDs to be used as a tool for review or reinforcement, or even as a primary curriculum as well.
How We Used The Algebra 1 Tutor DVDs
My oldest son began the program alone, but by the second week, my younger son had joined in with him. We began each week with viewing one lesson from the DVDs. Both boys watched the entire lesson, and took notes on the lecture material. I like the fact that note-taking skills can also be practiced and improved in this way. I then printed out the worksheets which corresponded to the lesson, which were then completed over the remainder of the week. If one of my sons hit a snag, or was unsure of a concept, even after reviewing his notes, he would then just pop in the DVD to watch the topic explanation again. There are no separate tests, as the worksheets themselves are what “test” students’ mastery of the concepts.
What We Loved About This Program
- The most obvious benefit is the ability to watch lessons as often as needed in order to understand the material presented. Sometimes kids can whiz through some concepts, but need a bit more review in others. These DVDs offer students this flexibility.
- Each lecture covers one main topic, which is then broken down into smaller concepts. It is easy for students to review only those topics in which they need further instruction.
- There are no overly long segments covering multiple large topics. I think the lessons were long enough to explain each topic, yet short enough to be easily absorbed.
- The teacher speaks in a very easy, conversational way. Neither of my boys felt a distance that can sometimes happen during video lectures. The teacher spoke plainly, without an overuse of difficult terminology. He spoke directly to the camera, engaging the boys each lecture.
- The program is very customizable so that students can go faster or slower as needed. An entire lesson does not need to be viewed in one sitting, but instead can be broken up over the course of a week, or longer if necessary, and parents can assign any number of problems from the worksheets that the student would feel comfortable in completing.
- ScienceandMath.com has won several awards, which gives me confidence in their ability to do an excellent job of teaching my sons.
Our Final Opinion
My sons are in 5th and 6th grade (by public school age standards, that is) and both excel in math. They have already done fractions and decimals, and had done some pre-algebra concepts. I would consider these DVDs a perfect fit for children who are on a similar level. The first lessons do an excellent job reviewing pre-algebra level material before introducing more advanced algebraic concepts. Even the more advanced concepts are presented by the instructor in way that is very easy to understand. Because of this teaching method, my sons never felt intimidated by the material. In fact, it is the teaching style that prompted my youngest to want to join in the learning with his older brother in the first place. After catching one segment of the second week, he claimed, “Hey, I understand that! That’s easy!” He then grabbed his notebook and requested that we start the lesson over so that he could follow along as well. THAT is good teaching!
Both of my boys enjoyed these DVDs, and learned a LOT from them. During our use of the DVDs, it was our only math curriculum in use, and I think it was definitely sufficient as such. I would highly recommend this to any homeschool family, or even to those who don’t homeschool, but might have children who need a bit of extra help or practice in math. There are several levels of the DVDs available, with others in the works, so almost any family can benefit from the use of these DVDs. If you are looking for superior math instruction at an affordable price, I highly recommend ScienceandMath.com! Please check out their website, or follow them on Facebook.