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Are We Ready for Algebra 1?


Algebra 1 is an opportunity for many students to pause and personally learn what they need when facing a subject that does not come easily.

There is a reason I have the word WE in the title. So often, this is where many parents assume they will not be able to support or continue as their student’s math teacher.

However, I suggest this is the best opportunity to hang in there. Modeling to your student how to approach material you feel is challenging might be the best instruction you ever present. In fact, if you find there are times your student ends up teaching you, consider that a bonus! When a student is required to have to figure out how to explain a concept to someone who does not quite “get it”, they understand it more deeply.

Regardless of you and your student’s math confidence, pausing before heading into Algebra 1 will have great benefit.

5 Tips for Algebra 1 Success

1) Evaluate

Success in Algebra 1 requires not only a solid understanding of Pre-Algebra but basic math concepts as well. More than once, while offering Algebra 1 support the student will indicate they thought they were done with fractions and struggled with them previously. This is a perfect time to assess if you or your student need extra support with concepts such as fractions or decimal. You might find our Algebra 1 Readiness Test helpful to pinpoint any gaps.

>> Download the Algebra 1 Readiness Test [PDF]

2) Encourage Showing Work

While mental math is important, you will want to see the process being used. This will also help you identify if there is an area of struggle that needs to be reviewed or if an incorrect answer was merely a careless error. Additionally, if you contact us for a post-evaluation consult, we will be able to more effectively assist you.

3) Assess

Take note of any areas on the assessment where the student either struggled or needed to be reminded of how to complete a problem.

4) Shore Things Up

In any areas you or your student showed lack of immediate recall on the assessment, take the time to lock these concepts in. Take the time to solidify even the most basic concepts. There is no shame in having some missing pieces. The shame would be if you and your student are actually ready for Algebra 1 but struggle due to not having efficient, strong, basic tools for success. Most of the Algebra 1 calls I support are not about Algebra 1, but rather the inability to be able to look at the equations and simplify by applying basic math concepts.

You will find the solutions and corresponding levels/lessons for the previous levels of Math-U-See here. You may find that you only need to use our worksheet generator for practice and review. Print off the relevant sheets and complete just a few problems a day (e.g. no more than 3-4 problems) until they can be solved confidently. If you feel that you or your student need a more in-depth review, contact us for a consultation. We have solutions that are timely and cost effective for these situations.

5) Review

One of my favorite support experiences was with an 18-year-old customer I will call Alice. When she called for support, it was obvious she needed to go back and review some basic skills. She indicated she was just “not good in math” but needed to complete Algebra 1 as soon as possible because her focus was on graduating. I suggested that it was more important to become solid in Algebra 1 to prepare her for success in the next required levels and beyond. I knew without this, that I would likely not be able to offer her much support. She was willing to slow down and work toward mastery of the material. When she couldn’t wrestle it to the ground herself, she would call for support. Math was a challenge for Alice, but she was able to successfully complete Algebra 1 by the end of the school year.

It was a privilege to see Alice develop into a confident Algebra 1 student. Had she not been willing to slow down, review, and set herself up for success it could have ended much differently.

To me it seems as if Algebra 1 is often the transition into the adult world of math and life. It is an opportunity for many students to pause and learn personally what they need when facing a subject that does not come easy.

Also, remember if the two of you can’t figure a lesson out together we are here to support you.

You’ve got this!

Get a free consultation from a Math-U-See expert.



About Sue Wachter

Sue is a Consultative Sales Repersentative at Demme Learning. Sue has been consulting homeschool parents in regards to best curriculum choices for over 30 years. She is a wife, mother and grandmother. She enjoys spending time with her family and teaches art classes. Her goal, whether in art or curriculum support, is to provide tools and inspiration for each individual's next step.


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