by Janelle Knutson

For many homeschool parents, the upper grades can bring on a wave of anxiety as they try to figure out what they need to teach their child. Math is one of those areas. When is your child ready to move from the foundational math he’s been doing in the elementary years to pre-algebra? When do you offer instruction in geometry?

Image prealgebra and geometryOne of the benefits of homeschooling is being able to educate your child at the pace that is best for him. Knowing the grade level that students usually take various subjects is helpful, but knowing when your child is ready for the new information is even more important.

A Closer Look
A knowledge of what pre-algebra and geometry cover and what concepts your child needs to know before taking these courses can be helpful in determining whether your child is ready to tackle pre-algebra or geometry. Let’s take a closer look at these two math courses.

Pre-algebra prepares the student for more difficult concepts in algebra by covering topics such as negative numbers, integers, properties of operations, exponents, factorization and the manipulation of equations. Is your child ready for more abstract math concepts that will be taught in pre-algebra? Have they mastered basic math skills including addition, subtraction, multiplication and division? Are they familiar with fractions, decimals, variables and inequalities? Do they have a basic awareness of exponents and a grasp of basic geometry like finding the perimeter and area of shape
s? Can your child recognize math patterns and do word problems? All these things lay a solid foundation for success in pre-algebra.

Pre-algebra is usually taught in 6th or 7th grade but your child may be ready sooner or later. More important than grade level is your child’s ability to handle more complex math concepts since math builds upon itself. If you still need more assistance in determining if you children are ready for pre-algebra, you might consider having them take a placement test. Check with the curriculum provider you are planning on using to see if they have a pre-algebra placement test your child can take.

Now what about geometry? Geometry is the study of the properties and relationships of points, lines and shapes with an emphasis on proofs. Sound confusing? Some kids love geometry and some can’t wait to finish the course! Either way, there are some basic concepts that your child should be at least familiar with before starting a geometry course.

Does your child have a good grasp of basic math skills including multiplication, division, fractions and decimals? Are they aware of the different categories of shapes and are they familiar with two- and three-dimensional figures? Can they recognize parallel and perpendicular lines? Do they have a good grasp of basic algebra and how to do algebraic proofs? Are they able to prove something?

Geometry is usually taken after the student has successfully completed algebra 1 and before taking algebra 2. Some math curriculums integrate geometry into algebra 1 and 2 so an additional year of geometry is not needed. Make sure to check with your curriculum provider to see what order they recommend.

Janelle Knutson is a wife and homeschooling mother to six children. She is the owner of Janelle Knutson Consulting, a homeschool consulting business dedicated to assisting and encouraging homeschool parents. She enjoys speaking at homeschool events, MOPS groups, and women’s events when she isn’t busy caring for her family. You can find her blogging at