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Math Relief Review by Heidi Shaw

Videotaped Instruction by Leonard Firebaugh
Keyboard Enterprises
5200 Heil, #32
Huntington Beach, Ca 92649
(714) 840-8004

Mr. Firebaugh sent me sections of his Algebra video program some time ago and it has taken this long for me to put into words what I have experienced with this program.

I like it. There, simple, but not really. Like this program those three words can mean a lot more than they seem to at first glance. This algebra program has explained certain concepts to me that I have never understood; and have never been able to teach confidently to my children.

While examining this program we were continuing with our regular math curriculum. I have three children still at home and one who has just finished grade 11 math through the local community college. Now, these kids have managed to 'get through' their studies but I have to tell you, there have been some unpleasant moments. I wish I had had Keyboard Enterprises Algebra course years ago. It would have helped in SO many ways. Let me explain.

There are three phases available. Each one covers about twelve weeks of study.

The course comes complete with all the instruction (about 12 hours per phase) on video, as well as the printed worksheets, lessons, tests, answers, and solution keys. The very neat thing about this course is that it comes in three phases, each very thorough and very complete. Each phase includes approximately 50 lessons, each broken down and indexed by topic. The beauty in this is that you can use the topics presented to help you and your child understand the concepts and you can use it by itself or with ANY math curriculum. I so wish I had access to this program when I was trying to explain factoring to my sixth grader. And then again when my 11th grader was trying to comprehend quadratic formulas and his book was just not helping him enough. All I could do at the time was say "quad, what??" I know that if he had some video instruction it would have been so much easier to understand. All you need to do with Mr. Firebaugh's program is look up the concept you are struggling with and pop in the videotape. The explanations are clear and straightforward, there is no busy stuff going on in the background and he speaks slowly enough that you can keep up with the thinking process without having to rewind.

The cost of the program is very reasonable for a video program and you have your choice of purchasing each phase as you need it, or all three together. Phase one and two cover all the concepts needed for a full year credit in Algebra 1. Phase three then goes on to prepare the students for higher math and it also contains the final exam for the General Algebra topics.

I like the division of topics, I like the pace that is set and I love the fact that the kids can learn on their own, with or without you being present. I highly encourage you (as does the author) to take part with your kids; they will enjoy the process a lot more with parental participation. Even if you have a program that is not presenting problems, but your student is just not progressing, you will enjoy this course just for some variety. You can jump right in wherever you are in your text and study some concepts with Mr. Firebaugh on video. As a tutoring tool this program is also excellent. All kids tend to hit a bump in the road at some point or another and this program can help you over the hard stuff! Even if you are a natural whiz at math, you may need a breather so you can focus on some other subject or child for a while. You can safely provide this program to your kids with no worries about 'missed topics' or 'gaps'. Algebra 1 covers it all and very thoroughly.

As a core curriculum, I think you would be very well served. I didn't have all the videotapes to review but Mr. Firebaugh sent me one tape from each phase, with about seven lessons on each tape. The instruction is very complete, I didn't have any questions afterwards and there are worksheets for each lesson. Also answer keys and solutions so you can see how the problem was solved, not just what the answer was. I also like the way the worksheets are done in a hand written font. It just makes it much more personal and easy on the eyes.

Three different quality levels are available. All levels contain the same subject matter it just depends on the quality (tape speed) you prefer. I think if I were going to use this for more than one child I would invest in the 'better', or 'best' quality tapes. We tend to be pretty hard on our stuff in this house and then I would be assured of many years of use. My older children balked a bit at first because they were not used to being 'instructed' by anyone other than me. However, after they realized they really understood these concepts, they were wishing they had the whole course.

-- Product Review by: Heidi Shaw, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine