Homeschool Math Curriculum No-Nonsense Algebra
A couple of years ago, our homeschooling co-op offered Algebra as an enrichment class. No-Nonsense Algebra was the designated textbook. Super Hero was still too young then, so he didn’t take the class. Well, when the Crew offered us this very book for review, my ears perked right up.
What We Received
We received the book by award-winning math teacher Richard W. Fisher, No-Nonsense Algebra. You can learn more about this and the rest of his math programs for elementary through high school at Math Essentials. No-Nonsense Algebra retails for $28.95.
What to Expect
This program lives up to its name. It offers a clean, straight-to-the-point, indeed a no-nonsense approach to algebra. The book contains no fluff or any extra info aside from what’s really necessary. No distractions with additional boxes, graphs, or other cutsy doodads. Sometimes less is more, and this is quite the case here.
The book begins with a short introduction that explains to the child how to use the book, and how to get the most of his algebra study. There are 10 chapters, offering about 4 to 20 lessons each. On average, each chapter holds about 10 lessons. Except for the first 10 or so lessons —with valuable pre algebra review— each lesson appears in a double page spread. Here’s what each lesson offers:
- Introduction, with short, succinct text explaining the point at hand. Helpful Hints with bullet points close the introduction.
- Examples. Several examples with a break down of each step. One step per line, with additional remarks if necessary.
- Exercises, about 14 to 18 exercises.
- Review, 4 exercises. An important way to solidify and keep previously learned concepts fresh.
An answer key appears in the back of the book, which the child is to consult after each exercise session. Plus, there is a glossary of terms, and an entire collection of videos. Each lesson in the book has a corresponding video lesson.
How We Used No-Nonsense Algebra
What I like most about No-Nonsense Algebra is how Mr. Fisher tackles an exercise step by step, one per line. It makes the concepts so much more clear, and easier to understand. Super Hero, however, doesn’t seem to agree with me. As a rather mathy kid, he tends to do it all in his head avoiding writing things down. Of course, as he progresses in math, he’s learning he can’t just pop answers like that anymore. He must solve them in his notebook. Thus, I totally appreciate Mr. Fisher’s model: one step at a time, one step per line. I hope it will help reinforce this good habit in my son.
Super Hero’s gradually taking in the value of such methodical approach. I’m glad to see No-Nonsense Algebra using it consistently throughout the book (and videos.) Oh yes, about the videos, since Super Hero’s using No-Nonsense Algebra as a supplement, he hasn’t watched video lessons. Not yet anyway, as he’s only gone through the beginning (pre algebra) lessons. That’s good news for this program. He finds the concise explanation quite good enough. As he moves forward, I anticipate he’ll want to take advantage of this fabulous resource.
I do like No-Nonsense Algebra. It reminds me of how I learned algebra in high school myself. With a clean, uncluttered, to-the-point approach. Algebra was, in fact, one of my very favorite classes in high school. I suspect its approach (and of course the teacher) had much to do with it.
I must add that although I appreciate No-Nonsense’s methodology, it certainly does not offer a rigorous algebra study. There are no proofs or no explanations as to why a formula, or a method, is so. For the student who likes to dig deeper, to probe, or to know the ins and outs, No-Nonsense Algebra is bound to come short. This program tells the child how to do it, and as I’ve tried to get across, it does so with great ease. I doubt, however, it provokes any ‘aha moments’ by leading to recognitions or discoveries that could make math so compelling and satisfying.
Of course, I understand not every child has an inclination for math. And that not every child may wish to pursue a field demanding a strong math background. If that’s the case, then No-Nonsense Algebra may be a perfect fit. After all, do we all really need to know, say, why Pythagoras states that a² + b² = c²? Exactly!
Still, for children interested in engineering, computer science, or other such fields that require advanced math studies, No-Nonsense Algebra’s lack of depth will likely not give them the head start they’re wanting.
In a Nutshell
In Super Hero's Own Words
I think he explanations are good, the examples are good, and so are the exercises. I like it!
I’m glad I had the opportunity to use No-Nonsense Algebra. I understand now why it was used at our co-op. It serves children in all math levels. It covers all the bases, most certainly! Yet, this program might not offer enough challenge to children with aptitude for math, or who find math intriguing.
Want to Learn More?
As I always say, reviews are great. I’m grateful for the folks out there who take the time to share their valuable opinions. So many wonderful resources have so enhanced our learning thanks to their reviews. I wouldn’t have learned about such gems otherwise. If you feel the same way, read my fellow Crew members’ reviews. You can also visit Math Essentials at their facebook page. It’s nice to check it out if you’re contemplating No-Nonsense Algebra, or any of its math products: