As homeschool moms, we are charged with teaching our kids EVERY subject, even the ones that are tough for us. Thankfully, the same popular publisher that makes homeschool math materials for students also makes resources for parents who may need some help remembering from way back when! Enter: Math Refresher for Adults.
Math Essentials has put out this book teaching math for adults that is perfect for those of us who need a little help figuring out these concepts so we can help our kids with their own work. Now, my oldest is going into 2nd grade and still working on math facts (a tedious process, in her eyes), so for me, this book will come in handy in a few years. But no matter where your child might be in the progression of math skills, from the most basic up through college level, this book allows you as the parent to better understand the math skills your child is learning.
I started college as an engineering major. I didn’t last long but truthfully, it was due to my own fear and not any reason based in reality. You see, engineering students take complex math courses like differential equations, and that totally freaked me out.
I subsequently switched my major to business administration, so the highest math course I’ve taken is “calculus for business majors.” And I relied very heavily on a graphing calculator (TI-86 anyone?). I used that calculator for trigonometry and statistics in high school also. My math game is not very strong at all! And it’s been…awhile…since I took these classes.
In retrospect, if I had had more confidence in my math abilities, or if there was a book with math for adults for my parents so they could help me when I was in high school, maybe I could have gone through that engineering program. I’m not a person who has regrets and believe everything happens for a reason, but if this book could help me give that confidence to my own kids so they can truly master their math work, it could be life-changing for them. Instead of having a parent who says “I have no idea how to help you with that” and talking down about their own math abilities, I can be the parent who pulls out that Math Refresher book and says, “Give me a few minutes while I jog my memory.”
How I Used It
I sat down with my daughter while she was doing her own math work and started at the beginning. It starts with the very basics and teaches a new concept (or adds to the previous one) on each page. First is basic addition, then more complicated addition, then it moves on to subtraction, multiplication by a single digit, then by two digits, and so on. Each page has space so you could do the work right on the page but Mr. Fisher recommends writing them separately as it serves as a better reinforcement.
The book also has review problems, an extremely short how-to lesson (“helpful hints”), sample problems, and room for notes as well as your answers. The problems include different ways of writing the same thing plus word problems. I find it to be a great mix and just enough instruction to serve as the refresher it’s intended to be.
Sadly, I started struggling a bit when I hit fractions. Ha!
I want to mention that I wasn’t really paying attention to the instructions because I wanted to see how far I could get without needing any help. Well, I hit a part that made me glance at the “helpful hints” section and it had instructions that I was totally unfamiliar with. I went back a couple pages to figure it out and saw that he was teaching a way to subtract fractions that I’d never seen before.
I redid the same problems I had just done and it saved so much time doing it his way. You can teach an old dog new tricks after all. I even self-corrected a question I had done wrong. His way involves much less figuring, so there is less room for error.
Another thing I noticed in this process is that I’m not very neat when writing things out. It caused me to make a few silly errors. But this helped me be aware of this and now I can also bring this up with my kids as I’m teaching them math in the coming years.
I didn’t realize it at first (because silly me was too gung ho in getting started and didn’t read the front matter of the book before diving in), but there are videos that go along with the lessons. One of the reasons I wanted to do this review was because I’ve heard positive things about Mr. Fisher, the author, and his regular books and lessons for kids. (The other reason I wanted to do this was to vet this publisher for the future for use with my children as they are NOT Common Core aligned, which is important to us.) He has over 30 years of experience teaching math.
There are two websites listed in the front of the book so you can access these videos. One does require a password, which I believe is only accessible if you purchase the book, but the others are freely available on his site. I found the videos to be straightforward and Mr. Fisher is so encouraging in his teaching methods. The videos are short, about 3-8 minutes long. I found that I understand more of the algebra concepts now after perusing the videos.
I’m also glad I went back to read through that bit at the front of the book because I found something that gave me a chuckle.
I recommend, in general, spend no more than an hour or so at a time on math. There is no sense in reaching the point of diminishing returns. -- Richard W. Fisher, Math Refresher for AdultsClick To Tweet
I recommend, in general, spend no more than an hour or so at a time on math. There is no sense in reaching the point of diminishing returns.
— Richard W. Fisher, Math Refresher for Adults
The book has a few extras that I thought were nice, aside from the video helps. Each lesson uses proper terminology, such as “divisors,” “mixed numerals,” and “two-step equations” so you’ll know what they’re talking about when you see it in your child’s math book. There is a glossary in the very back as well.
Each section has a review page with 20 problems that cover all the concepts presented in that particular section of the book. Furthermore, there is a “final review” that has 20 questions from each section of the first parts of the book so you can review all of that before moving on to pre-algebra.
The book then dives into algebra concepts and after that comes another set of practice problems that cover everything in the pre-algebra/algebra section (20 problems per concept). Lastly, there is a final review for this part of the book, similar to the review that covered the first sections, with 100 questions total.
The solutions are all in the back of the book, including for the two final reviews. At the very back of the book after the glossary, there are some cheat sheets that detail important math symbols, a multiplication table, common prime numbers, squares and square roots, and fraction/decimal equivalents.
Phew! There is so much included. All of these are in the table of contents so you can easily find what you’re looking for. I trust that this is really all I will need to brush up on my math skills. This not only allows me to help my children when they come across these math concepts in their studies, but it will give me the confidence I need in my own math skills so I don’t feel inadequate, to be frank.
PIN IT FOR LATER! Continued below….
For the Future
As I mentioned, I didn’t make it too far before needing a little help. But it was super easy to get caught up, identify where I was going wrong, and learn a new way of doing things. I will continue working the problems and as things get more advanced, I’ll stop skipping around so much and start doing every problem on the page, and add in the review questions for extra practice. I hadn’t been doing them since it’s clicking for me pretty quickly after a few problems in each lesson.
When my oldest hits high school level math, which might be sooner than I think since she seems to have excellent math and logical capabilities, I will pull this out and re-teach myself what I need to know in order to help her. This goes all the way through pretty much everything I learned in high school, including statistics.
I would recommend Math Refresher for Adults for homeschool parents who are unsure if they are qualified to teach math to their kids. I firmly believe we are capable of teaching our child anything, if we can get the resources we need. This confidence is especially valuable to moms with kids going into their high school years. Brush up now so you can be of your best abilities in teaching homeschool math to your older kids. I am looking forward to trying Math Essentials in the future for my children as well.
Please check out the other reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew! It’s not too often we get to review something just for us moms. 🤗