Last week I purchased a TI-84 Plus calculator for my son. He is taking both Pre-Calculus and AP Statistics. His AP Stats teacher said it was a requirement to have a TI-84 for the course. So being a good parent I went ahead and purchased the TI-84 ($120) and took his TI-83 back into my inventory. At first I was a little skeptical of getting a TI-84 when the TI-83 is more than powerful enough to handle the course material. However knowing and trusting my son’s math teacher I know she plans on using the unique functions of the TI-84 (that the TI-83 does not have) to enrich the course.
As such I feel that the TI-84 was a good investment for my son’s education despite knowing that he could learn AP Stats just fine with the TI-83. Are you confused about what calculator your homeschooler needs for math? If so here are a few simple guidelines that should help you.
Scientific calculator- Casio FX300 for example
Price range: anywhere from $10+
Description: has all the basic functions, trigonometry functions and log functions- does not have a screen to graph functions
Courses: this type of calculator is fine all the way through Pre-Algebra and most of Algebra 1
Graphing Calculator– TI83 for example
Price range: anywhere from $70+
Description: has all the basic functions and lots of advance functions (many of which you will not use). Has the ability to graph functions and can run basic programs like a computer.
Courses: a graphing calculator can have a lot of value in Algebra 1 but it’s not essential. However when your child takes Algebra 2 it’s a real must that they have a graphing calculator.
Advance Graphing Calculators– TI84 for example
Price range: $100+
Description: does everything a basic graphing calculator can do however has much more powerful features. These calculators can factor polynomials, run advance programs and can connect to your computer.
Courses: these type of calculators may be necessary for AP Math courses and they are must for those that are in college majoring in engineering or science.
As you homeschool math your child will need a good calculator- the type of course depends on what level of math they are studying. More advance calculators should last your child through most of their education even through college. So buy wisely but don’t feel that you need the most powerful “wiz-bang” calculator for your child to be great at math- remember the most important calculator is the one between our ears..