Friday, July 22, 2022

My Child's Go-To for Math Learning {A Homeschool Review Crew / Math Essentials Review}

Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew. 

Some folks need their math learning to be unfold with a straight-forward, simple approach. I've got a kid like that and that is why we chose to review and use
 Mastering Essential Math Skills, Pre-Algebra Concepts from Math Essentials - a 120 page, softcover worktext written by "America's Math Teacher" Richard W. Fisher.

Like other Mastering Math Essential books, 
Pre-Algebra Concepts offers a concise, self-contained, easy-to-follow math program which includes a system of Review Exercises, Helpful Hints, Practice Problems, and Problem Solving (word problems) which can help students master, maintain, and reinforce math skills through consistent. incremental practice and review.

Each lesson in the book is meant to be completed in about 20 minutes and can be accompanied by free online video tutorials.

Topics included in the book are:

  • Positive and Negative Fractions
  • Positive and Negative Decimals
  • Exponents
  • Square Roots
  • Order of Operations
  • Properties of Numbers
  • Scientific Notation
  • Ratios & Proportions
  • Percents
  • Number Theory
  • Number Lines
  • Coordinate Planes
  • Slope of a Line
  • Graphing Equations
  • Solving Algebraic Equations
  • Algebraic Word Problems
  • Probability
  • Statistics

Our Experience

One of my children is veering away from homeschooling in the fall to try out technical high school. There, my child will have to take a traditional Algebra course. In order to ensure readiness for this, we decided to move through Mastering Essential Math Skills, Pre-Algebra Concepts so that the child can solidify foundational Pre-Algebra skills and have them fresh in mind for the fall.
This is what my child has to say about the Pre-Algebra worktext so far:

The Pre-Algebra book is a very thin book which makes it less foreboding. It does not make you think, "Oh my goodness. This is going to take for-e-ver to do," which is good.

When you got to a lesson, the page is split into multiple sections. The first one is Review Exercises so that is several questions about skills you've already learned.

After that review section, there is a Helpful Hints section which basically quickly goes over what you need to know to complete the problems in the lesson. You could probably just use the Helpful Hints to teach yourself without the online lessons, however, I would recommend using the online lessons because they are fairly quick and easy to follow.

After the Helpful Hints, you get two sample questions which someone else can go through with you to help you understand things better, or you can go ahead to do them by yourself. Then, there are the rest of the exercises for the lesson of the day.

At the very bottom of the lesson page there is a Problem Solving question. I sometimes miss these word problems. I forget they exist even though they are clearly on the page.

After all of the lessons in the book, you can find practice problems for each topic.

After those, there is a final review test. Then, there are Solutions (a answer key), a glossary, a list of symbols and their meaning and charts for multiplication, commonly used prime numbers, squares and square roots, and fractions and decimals.


Overall, I think that this is a good and easy program to follow with, however trying to access the online lessons does take multiple steps, signing in with your account password and signing in for the videos. I would like to see an easier process if possible in the future.

I would definitely recommend this book to people who want a compact way of going through Pre-Algebra and for students or parents who don't have or want a ton of time working together. This resource can be mostly self-paced with the video lessons.

Math Essentials is my choice for Middle and High School learning because it reviews what you have already learned so you don't forget it, teaches you in non-overwhelming increments, and there is no fluff.

Would I Recommend It

Mastering Essential Math Skills, Pre-Algebra Concepts from Math Essentials is a resource I would recommend with the following notes:

  • The lessons are concise and broken into parts. Each lesson is self-contained and written to be completed - sans video - within 20 minutes and, with the video, in perhaps a bit more or less, depending on the child. The program can also be used with a 15 minute timer. Since each lesson page is divided into Review Exercises, Helpful Hints, Practice Problems, and Problem Solving, it is easy to take break when a 15 minute timer goes off no matter if you have finished a lesson or gone onto the next one. Then, you can set another timer if you wish. Doing so can help children with focus while avoiding overwhelm.
  • If you have someone with dyslexia or vision issues, please note that the like other Math Essentials books, this one has little text and plenty of white space around problems.
  • A notebook of whiteboard could be helpful. Despite white space on the clean, no-nonsense pages of the worktext, students like mine may find that there is not enough space for to work out problems. Copying problems onto scrap paper, into a notebooks, or onto a small whiteboard one by one or in groups of 2-4 at a time to figure them out is an easy solution for this.
  • The online videos are helpful, but not necessary, depending on your child's style and the time you have on hand. A parent with some math skills could easily "teach" the lesson at hand using the Helpful Hints and sample problems. A child with some understanding of prior math skills could self-teach doing the same. Or, the video lessons can take students step by step through the material.
  • If you have a child that likes to cut corners, you may wish to tear our the answer key. Having the key IN the book is a blessing for kids, like mine, who wish to self-pace and self-correct, yet will come to you when help is needed. For others, the included answer key may be too much temptation for cutting corners.
  • For those with children who have memory issues, the glossary, symbols list, and tables at the end of the book is helpful. My child appreciates these in the Math Essentials books and has, at times, used them to check that basic facts and figures are being remembered correctly.
  • It really does get the job done. The child I have been using this worktext with truly appreciates the Math Essentials way of making math no-nonsense in book form and learns from it.
  • It recognizes some children need a bit more practice. Starting on page 66, the worktext has additional practice problems organized into sets of 20 problems per type, which can be quite helpful for students who need extra practice or want to go back to revise skills after learning other ones.
  • It does not leave you hanging. Starting on page 89, there is a Final Review. This, of course, can be used as a final test to see if students have gained mastery of concepts. It could also be used as a pre-test to indicate which skills and topics a student might want to focus the most on.
There are no bells, whistles, nor gimmicks with Mastering Essential Math Skills, Pre-Algebra ConceptsRather, like other Math Essentials worktexts, this one provides clear, concise, and well-designed review, practice, and application of math skills which can lead learners to greater confidence and success.

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Math Essentials

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Simply go to, then use the coupon code:


Thank you, Math Essentials!  Enjoy your free 3-month trial!

Master Math

Other Homeschool Review Crew families reviewed one of two Math Essentials titles. Click through to find links to all of each blog and social media review.

You may also wish to see our prior reviews of other Math Essentials products.


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