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Calculus Without Tears: Lesson Sheets for Learning Calculus (Volumes 1 & 2) Review by Courtney Lawson

Berkeley Science Books
Far Rockaway, NY

Calculus Without Tears: Lesson Sheets for Learning Calculus are 8½ x 14-inch spiral-bound lessons and practice books that teach calculus to students who are as young as fourth grade. Volume 1 is titled "Constant Velocity Motion," and Volume 2 is titled "Newton's Apple." 

Volume 1 is divided into five chapters: "The Mathematics of Motion," "Functions and Graphs," "Velocity," "The Area Under a Curve," and "Differential Equations." By the end of Volume 1, the student will know the basics of calculus and will have solved a few differential equations. Volume 2, which focuses on motion and change, is divided into five chapters: "The Physics of a Falling Object," "Graphing Solutions to Differential Equations," "The Derivative of t 2 ," "Integrating Linear Functions," and "Differential Equations." Both books are designed to be completed at the rate of one lesson a day (there are typically 14-15 lessons per chapter), and the author expects each lesson to take around 30 minutes. 

The lessons are written to the student and are meant to be read and understood by the student. The numbers used in the practice problems are easy (the only requirement to begin is "decimal arithmetic"), so the student will be able to learn the calculus without getting hung up on the mathematical computations. Each lesson begins with a written explanation of the concept, followed by example problems and then exercises for the student to work. 

These volumes are interesting but cumbersome. The 8½ x 14-inch size is awkward, and there is no readily available answer key. There are checksums that allow the student to check his or her own work, but nothing additional is available for the teacher. I am not mathematically inclined, but I am raising boys who are. I would like a little more handholding for myself, because otherwise I won't know if they are learning from these books incorrectly. That said, if your children are interested in math, and if you are comfortable these lesson sheets, Calculus Without Tears would be a fun supplement for your children to work through. 

Product review by Courtney Larson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2011