Home - HomeschoolMath.net
Free lessons Curriculum guide Reviews Menu
You are here: HomeCurriculum reviews → Harold Jacobs

Harold Jacobs Math books

Grades: 9-12      My Father's World

Elementary Algebra   "Suitable for either classroom use or self-paced study.  Combines real-life examples, carefully structured exercises, and humor to help students learn and remember."
Price: ~$80, instructor's manual $15.

Geometry   "Harold Jacobs's Geometry created a revolution in the approach to teaching this subject, one that gave rise to many ideas now seen in the NCTM Standards and in many current texts.  It uses innovative discussions, cartoons, anecdotes, examples, and exercises that unfailingly capture and hold student interest.  The approach focuses on guided discovery to help students develop geometric intuition."  ~$60, instructor's manual $21

Mathematics: A Human Endeavor (3rd Edition)    "For instructors of liberal arts mathematics classes who focus on problem-solving, Harold Jacobs's remarkable textbook has long been the answer. The current edition is designed to connect with today's generation math-anxious students.  Shows students how to make observations, discover relationships, and solve problems in the context of ordinary experience."  $100, instructor's manual $18

Click here to write a review


Reviews of Harold Jacobs math books

Jacob's Math A human..., algebra, geometry
Time: 8 years, for 3 children

Your situation:I currently have two college students, one who earned a full scholarship, the other a partial. I also have a 9th grader. All 3 started with the Math a Human endeavor book in 7th, to review all of the arithmetic they needed before starting Algebra in 8th, then geometry in 9th.

Why you liked/didn't like the curriculum: Math a human endeavor was a thorough and entertaining review of arithmetic. The kids all enjoyed the challenges of the puzzles and thinking problems.The algebra book prepared the kids to be able to actually use algebra in their science classes. Geometry was a proof based course, and so had lessons in logical thinking as well as geometry. They were quite prepared for Algebra and Trig in 10th grade (not a Jacob's book). I highly recommend these 3 books.

Any other helpful hints: I did not buy the teachers manual or the solutions manual, they would have made my life easier.

Denise Dehnbostel

Review left May 25, 2013
Time: 1 yr

Your situation: I was assigned this text (algebra) to use to teach a group class.

Why you liked/didn't like the book: After reading all the great reviews, I was very disappointed with this text. It is overly simplified and is boring the students to tears. Also, from how simple the lessons and the problems in the text are, you would assume the tests would be the same way. Yet, the tests seem to be oddly more difficult than the text. I have finally found a system that works in that I teach several lessons during one class. This helps students see the bigger picture and keeps the more advanced ones interested.

Any other helpful hints: This is probably the most boring Algebra text I have ever used.

Deb Cooke
Review left December 7, 2011
Time: 1 year

Your situation: We are always looking for the best curriculum we can get our hands on.

Why you liked/didn't like the book: We were always happy Saxon users and still like Saxon, but now we like Harold Jacobs books better. I had read in a classical curriculum catalog that Harold Jacobs Elementary Algebra was the best algebra curriculum out there, so when I saw it at a used book sale, I purchased it for my daughter. It has not disappointed either of us. Never before have I seen a curriculum that focuses on teaching the concepts instead of just formulas and procedures. While going through this material with my daughter, I have learned much. Harold Jacobs Elementary Algebra lessons relate the problems to real life, making them interesting and demonstrating to the student some of the usefulness and relevance of what they are learning.

Any other helpful hints: Math comes easy for me, but I did not have much background in math. My high school teacher spent more classtime reading biographies to us than he did teaching math. In high school, we finished maybe a third of our Algebra texts and at most half of our geometry text. Even though I clamored for more math, we never were allowed any math courses higher than that. So as a homeschooling mom, I have had to study right alongside my daughter. I absolutely love Harold Jacobs books. We have used just the textbook, teacher's manual, tests and answer key. We have had wonderful success with this program. For the first half of the book, I made my daughter do every single problem set. (Not everyone has to do this.) As a result, she has learned and retained the material very, very well.

Toni Woodbury
Review left September 5, 2011
Levels: Jacobs Algebra 1 and Geometry, Algebra 2 with Trig
Time: 3-4 years

Your situation: homeschooling 6 children, oldest is a junior,have homeschooled 11 years.

Why you liked/didn't like the book: I previously used Saxon Pre-algebra with the DIVE cd's and Algebra 1 with DIVE cd's with two of my children. I have homeschooled these boys since the beginning, and they have always had great math scores on standardized testing. After using Saxon, my boys' application scores plummeted, and the boys that had previously enjoyed math began to hate it. I had heard that Jacobs math was fabulous, but I was intimidated by teaching it myself, so I was thankful to find askdrcallahan.com who offers teaching DVD's with the textbooks and solutions manuals. My oldest has completed through Algebra 2 with Trig this way, and is beginning askdrcallahan with Calculus. My 2nd son is beginning Geometry after slowly going through Algebra 1. We are looking forward to seeing the difference in test scores soon, as well as an ACT math score for our oldest.

The videos are not cheesy or unprofessional. They do a lot of fun things to keep up student interest. Askdrcallahan offers "homework help" for those kids who are struggling on their website. If a child has problems, there is no reason they can't get help from him. My children's math application and interest in math have been restored!

Finally, my husband has also been using the entrepreneurship curriculum for himself to start a home based business. He has found it to be very thorough, helpful, and very professional. We intend to also use it with our oldest as part of his economics credit in his senior year.

Any other helpful hints: Use homework help! Encourages self directed learning similar to college. This IS college level/prep math.

Deborah Wielhouwer
Review left July 21, 2011
Levels: Algebra, Geometry and Algebra2/Trig
Time: 6 years

Your situation: 4 boys, all homeschooled, 3 have used Jacob's Algebra and Geometry, my youngest is a bit reluctant, but we will restart Algebra this year.

Why you liked/didn't like the book: I started with the Jacob's Algebra as suggested by a friend, when I found the DVD lessons I was thrilled. My son went through 3 different curriculums. Not one was a fit. His learning style was met with the DVD instruction. It isn't flashy like most of the recent released math programs. He does not do well with the ADD type entertainment. We were so pleased we bought the Geography and the Algebra 2/Trig.

Any other helpful hints: Please understand, Math is not our strength, not one of my boys feel they get it first off. I had to relearn, and work hard to get it. If you go into it thinking math will be easy for everyone, you are wrong. If it is hard, you will need to spend the time needed, and there isn't a curriculum out there than can change that. I would recommend this product to anyone. Speaking to those who have forgot their high school Algebra lessons, watch the lessons with your student. I learned more than I ever did in High School. They even offer homework help.

Kim Mom of 4 Boys
Review left July 22, 2011
Level: Jacobs Geometry
Time: using now

I have been homeschooling for the past 5 years and during that time we have used Calvert and Saxon math. My 10th grader is currently taking Saxon Calculus after using only Saxon and he has been tested and is considered an advanced math student. My 8th grader used Calvert and Saxon until the 6th grade then went on to Saxon Algebra 1. She is currently using Jacobs Geometry instead of Saxon Algebra 2 because she would like to go back to public school and does not want any problems with the fact that she did not take Geometry.

Why you liked/didn't like the book: When we received the Jacobs Geometry text book, we went through it and it seemed a little to easy. Most of it was already covered in Saxon Algebra 1. My daughter completed the first 3 lessons and they were extremely easy. She then tried to take the first three tests without doing the lessons, and she found that they were quit easy for her. She is currently getting an A in geometry without doing any of the lessons and taking only the tests. She has done all this in less that a month and has completed almost all the book. She will start Saxon Algebra 2 in a few days.

Any other helpful hints: This book may be helpful for students having trouble understanding math since it does explaing every lit detail. However, if your child understands math very well this may be to easy for them. For us Saxon has been a much better program.

Review left February 25, 2011
Jacobs Geometry
Time: 5 months

Your situation: We have been homeschooling for 6 years now. Jacobs Geometry was highly recommended so I purchased it along with the Dr. Callahan DVD set. I wish I would have stayed with Saxon.

Why you liked/didn't like the book: The CDs are not very helpful unless you have a good grasp of geometry and proofs to begin with. If you need real instruction on concepts and proofs do not get the Dr. Callahan DVD set. He really does not explain proofs well enough for a DVD situation. Too many questions left unanswered.

Any other helpful hints: This would be fine for someone who really wants to get in there and be self taught and loves math. If you are the parent and do not have a geometry background or if it has been years and you are really rusty, I would skip this particular program. You may find yourself spending many hours teaching yourself first.

E. May
Review left December 15, 2010
Jacobs Algebra & Geometry
Time: 4 years

Your situation:
In our homeschool, we used these two books for our oldest 2 girls after using Saxon math (and prior to that A Beka). Oldest did Algebra 1 in 7th grade, 2nd in 8th. Geometry came a year later, respectively. My 2 youngest are too young for either.

Why you liked/didn't like the book:
My girls were frustrated and bored with Saxon. They were not challenged and we happened upon Jacobs books and were thrilled to find them. The work was challenging and they were able to follow each lesson on their own with a little help from Dad (granted they are both very comfortable with math). My oldest, currently a computer science/electrical engineering student in college, has found math in college trivial due in part to Jacobs' math and his recommendations for upper level courses (from Key Curriculum Press, Forester's Algebra II, Trig & Calculus).

Any other helpful hints:
These curriculums work well with motivated, math-savvy students.

Patt Courtemanche
Saxon vs. Jacobs
Time: 4 years

I used Saxon with my two older girls who are now struggling and terrified of college math; despite high test scores on entry. On the other hand, my fourth grade daughter is DEVOURING math using Mathematics; a Human Endeavor

Saxon did what is was supposed to do. Make sure my girls stayed abreast of other schoolers and pass tests, but when it came to knowing why or when to use the knowledge it is a complete mystery. I recently discovered and sent my college students Harold Jacobs books, and my eldest is seriously considering adding another two years to her degree! She had quit because she had four more classes of math to go through and froze.

Saxon has it's place. I use it when I want my daughter to use some time on her own. Drill, drill, drill - but it's not at the core of our math curriculum. This may be the last year I use it at all.

Tess Petigru
Grade levels used:  9

While trying to find an interesting, alternative approach to using Saxon for math, I read several reviews of Harold Jacob's Elementary Algebra and decided to give it a try with my ninth grade daughter. Math, mind you, is not her favorite subject nor is it mine. I was, however, impressed with Harold Jacob's approach. It seems more light-hearted and not as stoic as some math texts. We are currently about half-way through the book. I have found that I understand Algebra better than I ever have. My daughter is also doing pretty well using this text. Our biggest complaint lies in the fact that at least one problem in the set II or III exercises is a total twist on the topic covered in the lesson and there is not much to rely on to help you solve it other than just looking up the answer and reasoning out the solution. We have to do this at least once in every set. The instructor's manual is pretty useless for explanation. We use it for the set I and III answers only. However, we have been able to figure everything out when we have gotten stuck on a particular problem without getting a headach. With all that said, I do think this is an excellent choice for Algebra. It seems to be more comprehensive than Saxon and much more interesting.

kelly davis

Click here to write a review


Go back to homeschool mathematics curricula list