Art of Problem Solving
- All Grade Levels
- Complete Year Long
This is a review of Beast Academy's 4th grade program. My son is in 5th grade and math is a stronger subject for him. Another SEA mom warned me that Beast is very challenging and "for future engineers," but I liked the format and Luke is pretty good at math, so we went with it, buying the 4th grade curriculum due to the challenging nature of it.
After almost-finishing the first book, I have to agree that it's very different and *far* more challenging than the average math curriculum. It's not just that it teaches more advanced math, it's that the mathematical thinking it teaches is way beyond what I was doing until about Algebra II in 11th grade. I'm sure some of you are snickering and thinking "it's not THAT hard." But this is my perspective, as a former "gifted student" who was never especially gifted in math. For example, it teaches base-2 numbers in the first quarter of 4th grade, and before the end of that quarter it's asking kids to figure out the exponents on multiple numbers to result in a particular product, which requires a lot of multi-step thinking and a long time to finish any one problem, assuming you aren't a child who is pretty highly gifted in math.
To sum it up, when I was in 5th grade, this math curriculum would have killed me.
I actually really like it because of the approach they take of using puzzles to develop mathematical thinking and offering these challenging questions, but I'm switching things up now and beginning to use it as a supplement for my son rather than his regular curriculum. Which is exactly what this other SEA mom told me she ended up doing.
By contrast, I ordered the Horizons (I know, I know) 5th grade math workbook, and it is DRASTICALLY different and not just because of the Bible verses scattered within. It's arithmetic. Learn to multiply, learn to divide, here's a little geometry. My kid honestly needs this, because division scares the heck out of him even though he can do it. I'm mostly going to be using Khan Academy now, with the Horizons workbook as extra practice, but I just thought it was a big deal how different the two approaches are.
I think Beast is great, but if your kid is not especially gifted in math or if YOU are not (or you are math-phobic to any degree), be forewarned. Despite the comic books and excellent explanations, most kids are going to need a parent to explain points of confusion or help them correct their errors, and truthfully I looked at some of the upcoming pages and thought, "I have no freakin' idea!"