This is one of the few complete K-12 math curricula available. The first grade level seems daunting to many with its extensive teacher's guides, but that changes in second grade. Consistency is a key to good math instruction, and the AOP LIFEPACS certainly offer a consistent approach. That isn't to say there's nothing dynamic about the presentation of material; the authors adjust instruction according to material covered.
Many parents prefer AOP math to any of the other LIFEPAC curricula. Math is something that kids just need to learn how to do, and you can try to make it exciting but if they aren't grasping concepts you're wasting your time. While some of the other AOP subjects are considered fairly boring, the math curriculum seems to do its job and keep students at grade level. These books are also easy to adapt according to your child's actual level; they might be in sixth grade, but if they're at a higher level, just give them the seventh grade workbooks.
How Do These Work?
For each grade there are ten consumable student worktexts, each focused on particular topics.There are two teacher guides for grade one; for all other grades there is a single teacher guide. The grade 1 teacher guides contain extensive notes and instructional suggestions to help teachers understand and present the material. While there are teacher's notes in the other guides, there are fewer and fewer as the course progresses. Teacher guides contain answers to all the problems, though not all solutions.
First grade is not self-taught. This level requires a lot of teacher/student interaction, especially as the primary elements of all mathematical study are being introduced. There is plenty of teacher support in the teacher guides. The workbooks for this grade include cartoony color pictures, though some parents like to supplement with outside materials to keep their kids' interest.
The later grades are more easily self-taught, though some teacher involvement is still necessary. One of the keys to this series is constant review. Concepts presented early on are reintroduced in later grades to make sure the student remembers how to do them. For some parents, this is confusing as the texts seem to jump around needlessly; for others, it is the only way to ensure their kids understand and retain the information they're learning.
The course covers everything a normal math curriculum covers: beginning with counting and numeral identification, it progresses through basic arithmetic functions, algebra, geometry, and trigonometry. This is a fairly standard program—nothing vital left out, nothing too silly left in. All in all, kids will learn what they need as far as testing goes, and by the end of twelfth grade they should be ready to progress to college-level courses.
Our Honest Opinion:
Some math programs really jump out at us, either because of their unique approach or ease of use. AOP math isn't the most distinguished curriculum we've seen, but it does the job. A lot of parents complain that their kids find it boring, but it isn't any more boring than most other math courses, even the really good ones (e.g. Saxon or MCP). If a math program provides competency to students, its "fun factor" should be a secondary consideration.
Since AOP doesn't integrate their various subject curricula, it's easy to use just one of them on its own. Math is no exception, and it could easily be worked into a broader, more eclectic curriculum. Some parents don't think it moves fast enough (or slow enough) and prefer to use the workbooks as supplementary drills in conjunction with a more evenly-paced, thorough program. Others use it as a remedial course for students who are behind, catching them up and then switching to a different series. Either way, your kids need to learn math, and there are worse ways for them to do so than by using AOP's curriculum.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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