Parents often ask us which math curriculum is “better,” Saxon or Art of Problem Solving (AoPS). We offer both at the Well-Trained Mind Academy because they are both excellent programs–they just approach the teaching of math differently. Saxon and AoPS have the same goal: to teach your student how to understand mathematical concepts, and how to master problem-solving procedures.
Procedural Approach vs. Conceptual Approach
Saxon Math relies on example and repetition. It is “procedural” in nature. Your student will be presented with a new concept, shown how to understand it through a series of steps, and then will practice the concept over and over. AoPS is primarily “conceptual” in its approach. “Conceptual math” is shorthand for mathematics instruction that begins by discovering the reasons why operations work the way they do.
Which is a Better Fit for Your Student: Saxon or Art of Problem Solving?
Obviously, all students need both procedures and concepts. However, students who need more support and step-by-step instruction should consider the Saxon classes while those who have a strong mathematical inclination and are able to grasp abstract concepts a little more easily will probably flourish in the AoPS classes.
If your student is somewhere in-between, you might want to give our version of AoPS a try. We use the same curriculum as the classes offered by the Art of Problem Solving website, but we make them more accessible to learners. In our AoPS classes, students are asked to prepare by reading the new material before class, but then they work through new concepts with the instructor during class time, making use of Socratic dialogue to master the ideas before being asked to complete the assignments. We offer one-on-one help when needed and we progress at a slower pace than the AoPS website classes because we spend additional time making the material accessible and clear.
Setting Your Student Up for Success
Both Saxon and AoPS math classes at WTMA will provide your students with strong mathematical skills. No matter the curriculum, our instructors will give your student the support needed for dependable math learning. And know that by just taking the time to research different approaches to math acquisition, and taking the time to think about the program best suited for your student, you are doing an awesome job setting your student up for success!