Math Curriculum FAQ

Math Curriculum FAQ’s

  1. Can I use your program with both of my children?

  2. Do you recommend that I take the course along with my child?

  3. With two children, I wonder if I should have them work on it at separate times or should I have them go through this together?

  4. I need to show my assessor completed work at the end of the year.  Is there a paper trail to show progress?

  5. How easy will this be to take what you teach and apply it in a classroom setting?

  6. I like the idea of the calculator, but I wonder if it is also good for them to know how to do it manually?

  7. Do you explain the “why” in your program?

  8. Can your program help my high school daughters?

  9. Is there a guarantee?

  10. Are Tiers 1 & 2, covered in the Practical Math Foundation, the only tiers available at this time?

  11. How would I count this course as credits for required reporting?

  12. Are there any scholarships available for tutoring?

  13. Why is this program different from other online or video based math programs?

  14. What should I do to get the best outcome for my child and overcome both me and my child’s fears?

  15. What does a really good, successful public high school math teacher think about the current standard curriculum?

Q1: Can I do your program with both of my children?  I have a freshman and senior, both are at a pre-algebra level.

A1: Yes.   This is where we start all post elementary students of any age. If they already know some of the topics then it will be a good review of those. However, it is very rare that they don’t learn something new, or in a much better way. Similar triangles are a very common example. This vital topic often is not covered adequately in a typical geometry course. Too much emphasis is placed on proving congruency theorems. There are many other examples too.

Q2: Do you recommend that I take the course along with my child?

A2: Yes, if you have the time and interest. It is not necessary, but it might just help you too. Your responsibility is to be a coach and cheerleader and be sure they aren’t having a technical problem with the system. And, as they get their Badges of Completion with each section completed, give “cheer” and recognition for their success.

Q3: With two children, I wonder if I should have them work on it at separate times or should I have them go through this together?  My youngest is stronger in her basic math skills she’s also the “little sister.”

A3: Work separately. This is a “self-paced” program, which is one of the vital pedagogical principles of SPIKE. (Watch that video to fully understand). DO NOT compare them or let them “compete.” They can help each other if they want too, but do not let one of them tease or taunt the other. Recognize each of their achievements and progress. They will most likely proceed at very different paces.

Q4: I need to show my assessor completed work at the end of the year.  Is there a paper trail to show progress?

A4: Yes. Our Leaning Management System delivers the videos and quizzes and keeps track of their individual progress and gives you reports on these at all times. You will know exactly what they have done and achieved.

Q5: How easy will this be to take what you teach and apply it in a classroom setting?  

A5: It’s impossible to say. It all depends on the classroom, the teacher, and the course. As you know from the SPIKE discussion, it is very difficult for any teacher to teach a group of students due to the self-pacing requirement for success. Furthermore, many classes taught today in our schools are loaded up with irrelevant and difficult material and, worse yet, sometimes even that is taught very poorly.

Q6: I like the idea of the calculator, but I wonder if it is also good for them to know how to do it manually? 

A6: Rarely. Most algorithms do not really shed light on the underlying concepts or principles, and many times there is no practical algorithm anyway. Furthermore, the calculator speeds up the calculations by a factor of 100. This is why we can teach your student so much practical math in just a few months. It would be totally impossible without the calculator.

Many math teachers have been taught that the manual algorithms enhance the student’s understanding of the concepts. This is untrue nonsense. For example, just think of the manual way to take the square root of a number like 237.25.   I defy any teacher to explain how this can help any student understand square roots.

Furthermore, NO employer will pay an employee to perform manual arithmetic calculations. For example, would you multiply 492 x 14.7 manually? How much longer would it take you to do this compared to calculator? And, you must do it twice in two different ways to check your answer.   How about the area of a circle with circumference 73.2 inches? It should take one minute with a TI30Xa calculator the way we teach it, with a check. How long would it take you manually?

Q7: I have children that need to know the “why” with the way a math problem is worked.  I cannot explain to them the “why” part. I usually say “because”, and leave it at that. Do you explain the “why” in your program?

A7: Absolutely. Good for them. More importantly, why do they even want to know this? How might they use it?

Q8: Can your program help my high school daughters?  Math is not going to be in their future studies or business. One chooses to go into the arts the other isn’t sure what she wants  but tells me it won’t have anything to do with science or math.

A8: I believe any person is better off “matherate,” even if they only apply it in their everyday life. And, after the Practical Math Foundation, a student is matherate. It is also how many organizations, such as the military, evaluate a person’s “intelligence” or “education.”

Furthermore, math is the basis for most modern technical career paths. A student often will consider career paths once s/he realizes that math won’t be an impediment. Many students simply forgo opportunities because of their fear of math, and their false belief that they can’t learn math. The Practical Math Foundation is worth its weight in gold, just as a confidence and esteem builder.

Q9: Is there a guarantee?

A9: Indeed! Have your student learn to use the calculator and go through Tier 1. This should take less than 30 days, easy. If for any reason your student cannot learn this material or doesn’t want to learn it, then cancel the program and we’ll refund your money. We will not allow you to pay for something that does not work for your student.

However, most students get their psychology regarding math right with Tier 1 and are eager to continue. Then it is up to you to cheer them on and revel in their success. There is nothing more wonderful, in our opinion, than watching a student learn and grow in their intellectual maturity and gain confidence. Math is as good as any sport or game in achieving this.

Q10: Are Tiers 1 & 2, covered in the Practical Math Foundation, the only tiers available at this time? 

A10: Tiers 1 and 2 make up the “Practical Math Foundation.”  They are a pre-requisite for the upper Tiers, which are available currently through Tier 6.

Q11: In order to graduate, my children must have completed 4 credit units of mathematics: Algebra I, Geometry, Algebra II, plus one other math course. How would I count this course?

A11: A student will get credit for Algebra 1 and Geometry and Trigonometry by passing Tiers 1 and 2.  Then credit for Algebra 2 in Part 1 of Tier 3 and an additional credit for SAT prep in Part 2 of Tier 3.  The student is now prepared to excel on the SAT and go to college IF the student is not going to pursue a STEM career path.  [STEM is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math.]  In fact, your student will now know more math than 95% of all graduating high school students and adults in the U.S.

Students that think they might want to pursue a STEM major or career path then take Tier 4 where they will get a pre-calculus education unavailable in most high schools in the U.S.  Much deeper treatment of Algebra, Geometry, and Trigonometry and important topics like Complex Numbers is now given.

In Tier 5 they get calculus taught the way it should be today with modern tools, and in Tier 6 they will get differential equations, the workhorses of STEM subjects.  NOW they are ready to compete with international students at any school including the best like MIT.

Q12: I truly believe my child needs one-on-one tutoring. She needs someone to infuse her with hope that she CAN learn.  Are there any possible scholarships available for tutoring? I am a mostly-stay-at-home mom, and finances are extremely tight. 

A12: The fundamental problem is with the Standard Curriculum.  Dr. Del explains why this is the case, and what should and can be done about it in his book Teaching Math. (free PDF at

Virtually all current middle and high school math programs, both text and otherwise, adhere to this obsolete and dysfunctional curriculum.  So far as we know, ours is the first program that honestly addresses and corrects this problem.

Tutoring will not solve the problem.  It may help a student “survive”, but it will not give that child what s/he really needs.  And, yes, a good tutoring program is very expensive.  I would have to charge many thousands of dollars to tutor a single child.  And, guess what, even then I probably couldn’t help the child with the standard curriculum.  No tutor really can for reasons I explain in my book.

Q13: Why is this program different from other online or video based math programs?

A13: First, the pedagogy, or how we teach the math.  We use videos which the student can control by pausing and backing up and re-watching.  These videos are sort of like Dr. Del sitting at your kitchen table and “tutoring” the student.

But, it’s really better than “live tutoring”.  The student is in control of the pacing. There is no time pressure.  The student can pause the video, back it up and re-watch a section. Take a break and come back.  Try the exercises and then if they are having a problem, then they can watch the video again.  This happens all the time.  But, with a live tutor this is virtually impossible for both logistical and financial reasons.

The student is expected to work along with Dr. Del while watching the video and fill in the notes we provide with that video.  Then the student works exercises until s/he understands the topic.  Back and forth, exercises and re-watching the video until mastery is achieved.

In math, you either understand it or you don’t.  There is no such thing as sort of understanding it.  This takes time and repetition which varies for each student.  That is why self pacing is critically indispensable.

The student then takes a short online quiz to verify s/he understands the topic.  Then they move on to the next step up the ladder, or the next topic. And, all of this is recorded in the student’s record which you can review any time.

IF a student works hard and watches the video at least three times and still cannot understand the topic, THEN Dr. Del will give the student an online tutoring session, or create a supplementary video on that topic.  There is NO extra charge for this.  Our goal is for any student to succeed and excel.

If, in a very rare situation, your child is not be able to learn from our program, you can cancel the program and we will refund your money.

And, now, even more important than the Pedagogy, is the Content.

The student is given the math topics in a sequence appropriate for learning.  The standard curriculum does not do this at all.  It is simply dead wrong to present a student a difficult math topic prematurely.  This is a sure prescription for “failure” and leads students to loath math.

For example, our first pass through Algebra has ONLY TEN lessons.  This is all that is needed for practical math problem solving.  Compare that to a typical algebra textbook which will have many more lessons on topics that are difficult and premature for a beginning student.

Of course, we present additional algebra topics in Tier 3 preparing the student for the SAT test.  But, still only a small percentage of the topics typically covered in the standard algebra curriculum textbook or course.

Then in Tier 4, which is for STEM bound students, we cover algebra in a much deeper level than even the current standard curriculum covers.  This is thanks to the powerful tool called Wolfram Alpha.  Now we prepare the student to compete with the international students at a top school like MIT.

So, the combination of Pedagogy and Content are what are required to deliver an optimal math education for students at all levels and with widely varying career aspirations.  This is discussed in depth in many videos on our websites, and

Q14: So bottom line, what should I do to get the best outcome for my child and overcome both me and my child’s fears?


In the final analysis, only your child will determine the success of our program for your child.  Your opinion and our opinions don’t really matter.

That is why we have the guarantee we do.

Enroll you child in the Practical Math Foundation, Tiers 1 and 2.  Let them go through Tier 1 completely.  If they cannot do this in 30 days and really learn from it, then our program will not work for this child and you need to cancel the program and we will refund your money.

If your child thrives on this by the end of Tier 1 we can both be pretty confident your child will do well with Tier 2, and beyond, if s/he is interested.

In fact, it is not uncommon for a child who is afraid of math or dislikes math to do a complete turnaround once s/he starts succeeding.  This can then open up career path opportunities otherwise inaccessible, since all STEM subjects require a very good math education.

Indeed, homeschool parents have an opportunity to do for their children what parents of regular high school students really can’t do. It’s sad for the unfortunate non-homeschooled students.

We are hoping the homeschool community can lead the way for a reformation of our middle and high school math programs that is desperately needed.

And, by the way, current math teachers are the victims of this system as are the students.  They are trapped in a no-win situation by the current standard curriculum, often without even realizing it.

Q15: What does a really good, successful public high school math teacher think about the current standard curriculum?

A15: First watch this TedTalk video on math by John Bennetta public high school teacher.

After watching the video, here is Dr. Del’s commentary:

Yes, the Standard Curriculum is inappropriate for most students as Mr. Bennett says.

However, the limited topics covered in the Practical Math Foundation are of use in everyday real life in many, many arenas, both in jobs and hobbies. In the Practical Math Foundation we cover only about ten percent of the topics covered in the Standard Curriculum. We postpone the unnecessary 90%, but we don’t throw out the baby with the proverbial bath water.

Furthermore, the SPIKE pedagogy we use is unachievable in the classroom, but easy with the modern Internet and computer technologies.

In Tier 3, we prepare the college bound student for the SAT which requires surprisingly little more math topics, but a lot of preparation for trick questions and test taking techniques. Now, you don’t have to be rich to excel on the SAT.

Further yet, for STEM students, in Tier 4, we go way beyond the Standard Curriculum necessary for success in a good STEM school. This is partly due to the use of a modern 21st century tool, Wolfram Alpha and, again, our pedagogical approach to advanced math topics.

Yes, Mr. Bennett is right, games of all types do help students develop their thinking and “problem solving” skills. This, indeed, is a big reason why we treat math as a sport or game and utilize the same repetition and feedback techniques that make games so addictive and enjoyable.

Mr. Bennett, unfortunately, is trapped in a system as are all regular high school teachers with the Standard Curriculum and its concomitant textbooks and tests and classroom pedagogies. No wonder he is so discouraged. I’ll bet most regular high school math teachers would secretly agree with him.

You as home school teacher are not trapped by this insidious system, and our Ten Tier program will allow you to deliver an outstanding appropriate math education to your child regardless of his or her other interests and aspirations. The proof is in the pudding. See Q14.