Should your homeschooler move on to Algebra 2 or Geometry after Algebra 1?
An important decision for homeschoolers to make is deciding whether their child should take Algebra 2 or Geometry after completing Algebra 1. While most schools follow the sequence of teaching Geometry after Algebra 1, there are curriculum programs that combine Algebra 1 and 2, typically as a two-year program preceding Geometry.
In this article, we’ll explore the content covered in Geometry and Algebra 2, and what the factors should be considered when making this decision. I’ll provide recommendations based on my own teaching and tutoring experience.
What is covered in Geometry?
Geometry encompasses a broad range of topics, including fundamental definitions, angles, lines, and shapes, as well as distance, similarity, and transformations. Students learn about three-dimensional figures, proofs, circles, and trigonometry. The curriculum focuses on understanding point, line, segment, and angle relationships, along with essential properties like parallelism and perpendicularity.
Moreover, students learn to measure distances between two points on a coordinate system and explore the unique properties of circles. Trigonometric functions are introduced to solve problems involving angles in triangles or polygons.
What is covered in Algebra 2?
Algebra 2 is an advanced course that builds upon the concepts learned in Algebra 1. It delves into linear equations, polynomials, exponential and logarithmic functions, matrices and determinants, trigonometry, sequences and series, and probability. Algebra 2 also introduces new topics such as conic sections, transformations of graphs, and imaginary numbers.
By studying Algebra 2, homeschoolers can strengthen their math skills with more challenging problems and develop a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter. Furthermore, this knowledge better prepares students for college-level courses, such as calculus, while also fostering problem-solving skills applicable to various areas of life.
Years of teaching high school math and tutoring the SAT/ACT puts my vote strongly for having students take geometry after algebra one. My conclusion is based on the following three reasons:
- SAT/ACT Exam Preparation
- Avoiding Algebra Burnout
- Pre-Calculus Readiness
1. SAT/ACT Exam Preparation:
Most students take Algebra 1 during their freshman year of high school, and around their sophomore or junior year, they begin taking college placement exams like the PSAT, SAT, or ACT. Success in these exams significantly impacts college admissions and scholarship opportunities.
Since these placement exams test students on core Algebra 1 and Geometry skills, it’s crucial for homeschoolers to complete Geometry before attempting Algebra 2. Failing to do so would leave them ill-prepared for many of the questions on these exams–for this reason alone I would strongly recommend parents have their homeschooler take geometry before algebra 2.
2. Avoiding Algebra Burn Out:
Before students begin Algebra 1, they usually complete a pre-algebra or an equivalent course. These courses provide a solid foundation of basic algebra skills to prepare students for high school-level Algebra 1. Upon completing Algebra 1, students would have studied algebraic concepts for two years.
Opting for Algebra 2 immediately after Algebra 1 results in a third consecutive year of algebra, which can lead to boredom and burnout. To keep students engaged and interested in learning math, it is essential to introduce variety in their coursework. By choosing Geometry after Algebra 1, homeschoolers can break the monotony, foster interest, and maintain enthusiasm in mathematics.
3. Pre-Calculus Readiness:
Upon completing Geometry and Algebra 2, students will be ready to tackle pre-calculus-level courses, which may include advanced algebra, college algebra, or pre-calculus itself. Many of these courses also incorporate trigonometry. Proficiency in algebra plays a pivotal role in achieving success at this level, with only a small portion of the curriculum focusing on geometry.
Therefore, having completed Algebra 2 before starting a pre-calculus course ensures that students have a fresh understanding of algebraic concepts. On the other hand, if a student transitions directly from Geometry to pre-calculus, they may not have engaged with intense algebraic problems for a year, making it a challenging way to begin their pre-calculus studies.
What’s the right decision?
Ultimately, the decision to choose Algebra 2 or Geometry after Algebra 1 rests with you as the homeschooling parent. While some students may succeed by taking Algebra 1 and 2 back to back, it’s important to consider the potential risks. Unless there is a compelling reason to combine Algebra 1 and 2, I would play it safe (and in my opinion, smart) to follow the traditional sequence of Algebra 1, Geometry, and then Algebra 2.
By prioritizing Geometry after Algebra 1, your child can enhance their preparedness for the SAT/ACT exams, avoid algebra burnout, and ensure a smooth start to pre-calculus. While there are no guarantees in life, following this path increases the likelihood of success in college-level math.
As an experienced high school math teacher and SAT/ACT tutor, I firmly believe in the benefits of taking Geometry after Algebra 1. Throughout my teaching career, this sequence has yielded the best outcomes for students. It equips them with the necessary skills, knowledge, and confidence to excel in college-level math courses.
If you have concerns about choosing the best path for your child’s math education, I encourage you to utilize our placement tests to assess their readiness for the next course. Additionally, please feel free to reach out to us for additional guidance. We are here to support you and your child in making informed decisions about their academic journey.
Remember, every child is unique, and it is important to consider their individual strengths, weaknesses, and goals when deciding the optimal path for their math education. With careful consideration and a focus on their long-term success, you can provide your homeschooler with a solid foundation in mathematics that will benefit them throughout their academic and professional pursuits.