Math Essentials, founded by math teacher Rick Fisher, strives to make teaching math easy and practical for parents. His award-winning series includes middle school and high school level math products. For this review, I got to use the No-Nonsense Algebra and the Mastering Essential Math Skills Geometry books with my boys.
First, let me say (as I have mentioned before), upper level math is one of the areas that stresses me out. I did okay in high school algebra, but it wasn’t easy, and geometry might as well have been an alien language!! Therefore, I am always looking for math programs that are clear and easy to understand, and hopefully offer some type of supplemental support when necessary.
No-Nonsense Algebra meets these criteria. The workbooks are very well done, with clear, concise instruction and helpful examples. The lessons are (mercifully) short, with about 10-20 practice problems, depending on the lesson, and a few review problems as well. At the end of each chapter there is a chapter review. I found these helpful, because if I found my son (a 9th grader) struggled with remembering how to do a certain type of problem, I could simply review that section with him, and then use another source to provide him with additional practice problems. The solutions are also located in the back of the book, which is great because you don’t have to buy a teachers guide to get the answers!
However, the best thing about this program, to me at least, is the fact that when you buy the books, you are given access to a website that has video lessons for each chapter!! Seriously, I have looked at DVD and online based math programs before, and most of them are very expensive! I am so grateful to Rick Fisher for creating an affordable program that allows parents access to this kind of support. We found the videos easy to watch, and very clear in their instruction. Most of the time, my son would watch the video on his own and complete the lesson without any problem. If he struggled with a particular concept, I would watch the video too, and then go over a few problems with him. This method has worked for us very well, and my son really seems to be “getting” algebra, and not hating it at the same time!! No Nonsense Algebra is an excellent math program for use with your high schooler.
The Mastering Essential Math Skills Geometry book is a great supplemental or introductory Geometry tool for middle school students. Again, the instruction is clear and concise, and includes daily review, instruction (in the “Helpful Hints” section) and a short number of practice problems. This would not be a complete Geometry program for a high schooler, but it would be great for review or practice. Alas, there are no videos for this one, but perhaps Mr. Fisher would be willing to create some (or just make a high school Geometry course similar to No Nonsense Algebra 🙂 ). I used this book with my middle school son as some extra practice. I appreciated the clear instruction, which made it easier for me to explain concepts to him, he liked the short lessons!!
Now, for the best part about Math Essentials: the price!! No Nonsense Algebra costs $27.95. Period. That’s it. I’m serious!! $27.95 is all you pay for the book (which includes the answers) and access to the videos!! I have yet to see another program that offers ALL of that for anywhere close to that price!! The supplemental Geometry book will cost you $11.95 (again, very reasonable!) and Math Essentials also has supplemental books for other areas, like problem-solving, whole numbers, etc.
To check out all the Math Essentials has to offer, click here:
** Disclaimer: I was given free access to this program for the purpose of writing this review. All opinions expressed are my own.