Should Students Take Algebra in the 7th Grade?

Should Students Take Algebra in the 7th Grade?
The Editorial Team October 18, 2012

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Whether you are a parent or a teacher, there are many concerns you may have about math education in the middle grades. One of the most common of these concerns is at what age should kids start learning algebra? The debate on this topic concerns whether kids should learn algebra in seventh, eighth or ninth grade. There are certainly arguments to be made for all sides. Learn more about the pros and cons so you can make an educated decision when it comes to your kids or the children in the classes you teach.

When Is The Best Time To Teach Algebra?

The reason it is important to find the perfect time to teach algebra is because this type of math is so different from the standard math taught in the early grades. Math is concrete early on, 2 + 2 = 4. It can be easily replicated using counting tools. However, algebra requires complex and abstract thought.

The abstract thought process required for algebra is why this type of math has traditionally only been introduced to students age 12 or older. However,  many educators now believe that it is important to get kids thinking about algebra early. This means that starting algebra in the 7th grade is not so implausible.

Students are often ready for these lessons much earlier than one may realize. Teachers and parents who are willing to take the time to explain the abstract concepts and help these concepts become more concrete for the students will see that their students will understand. Even though algebra is not quite as simple as basic math, it is based on the same concepts, which makes it easy enough for most students to transition from basic addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to simple algebra equations and inequalities that use those calculations.

The important thing to remember is that curriculum instruction is all about creating the lesson to match the skills and needs of the particular students in question. This means early algebra lessons need to be perfectly formed for the students’ age and ability level. This is one reason why many schools advocate having students in different math levels that are not just grouped by age. This will help children become better prepared to learn algebra early on, while the other students who need to learn at a slower pace can continue with basic math.

Deciding what age to begin teaching algebra to children is a complicated matter. Even more complex is evaluating the different methods of teaching. However, whether you are a parent or teacher, take the time to introduce algebra into your children’s lives. The basics of algebra are as simple as arithmetic and you only need to teach children to think in a non-abstract way. Every time you teach these pre-algebra lessons, you are helping to prepare children for the day when they have to study the subject in earnest.

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