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Current Students and Parents
Thank you for allowing us to be a part of your education! We're very excited to work with you.
The AoPS Curriculum and Online School will likely be very different than the previous schooling experiences you've had. This handbook is an enormous document that you probably don't want (or need) to read cover-to-cover before class. Instead, we encourage you to use this as a reference as questions come up throughout the course. Below, we've outlined a quick guide about what you need to know right now.
What Students Need to Know
AoPS is an online school with very unique goals, so things will be a bit different than you may be used to. However, the basics are still the same: go to class and do the homework.
Go to class
When it's time for class, you'll need to visit the classroom. Go here to get a glimpse of what to expect.
You will be expected to work in class, and you'll get the most out of class by completing any reading assignments before class. The core principle of our classroom is that students are the ones driving the conversation, solving the problems, and making the discoveries. Please also ask questions at any time! We're here to help.
If you can't attend class, be sure to read over the transcript.
Do the homework
You will encounter a few different types of assignments on the class homepage. We have a lot to say about the Homework, but you may want to look over class homepage a bit before reading all those details.
Be prepared—it will be tough. It's not unusual for students used to getting 100% on every assignment before AoPS to answer just 50-60% (or even less!) of the problems correctly at the start of their first AoPS course. By providing problems you will struggle with—and even fail to solve sometimes—we are presenting you with an opportunity to develop deep problem-solving and critical reasoning skills. Read more on this page.
It's good to ask for help! Your class has a message board for asking questions and interacting with your instructor, assistants, and classmates between classes. We want to help you, but we need you to speak up when you need help. Every day your class doesn't run, you can attend Office Hours on your class message board: AoPS staff members will be on each message board to answer questions from 4:00-5:00pm ET (1:00-2:00pm PT) and again from 7:30-8:30pm ET (4:30-5:30pm PT).
In general, our most successful students start by completing any reading assignments before class, then attending class or reviewing the transcript, and then finally attempting the homework. Within the homework, we recommend Alcumus first (if your class has it), then the Challenge Problems on the Homework tab, then the Writing Problems (when available). Read more on this page.
The My Goals tab is a tool to help you schedule and complete your assignments on time.
What Parents, Guardians, and Teachers Need to Know
We want your student to succeed in their class, and you can help us with that. AoPS may be a totally new process for you, or you may have done this before. In either case, we've collected the short list of things below to know right away. We also encourage you to browse other relevant parts of the handbook throughout the course.
Stay plugged in
Each week, we want to update you on your student's progress in class and let you see the feedback that your student is seeing with our Parent Tools. There's a form we sent you when you signed up that will let you sign up for these reports, or you can fill out this page. We encourage you to use your real email address for these—we'll only contact you through this address to send these reports or in the rare case of an urgent conduct issue where we want to be sure to include the student's parents. If you find the emails annoying, you can turn them off. You'll still have access to the data on our website whenever you want it.
Get them to class
Your student will receive an email reminder the day before each class. If this is your first class, your student may want to log on a little early to make sure everything is working. There are instructions for that here.
Help them learn to fight
Successful people need to learn to struggle. A lot of our students arrive at AoPS having no idea what it is like for math to be hard. Our kids come to us knowing very well how to succeed. We want to teach students how to fail and how to learn from those experiences. Students learn best when they're working near the edge of their abilities, but that can put a lot of the stress on their parents. We've elaborated on this philosophy and collected some advice for you here.
Knowing how to help is also a real art. (For example, it can be hard to toe the line between giving just enough guidance and doing a student's homework for them!) We've included a special note about some of our guiding teaching principles in the How To Be A Good Tutor section of the guide for students who get stuck.
Help them ask questions
Asking questions is hard. Many students have trouble overcoming the fear of admitting they do not know everything. Even after we get past that point, students often expect the conversation to begin and end at, "I don't know how to solve this problem." "Oh, the answer is 73 and here's why…" That's not teaching, and they won't see that from us. We're going to force students to figure out what they do know, and push them to find the next steps. It can get frustrating, but there is a point.
The class has a dedicated message board on which students can ask for assistance with the class work at any time. Every day we'll host Office Hours on the class message board: AoPS staff members will be on each message board to answer questions from 4:00-5:00pm ET (1:00-2:00pm PT) and again from 7:30-8:30pm ET (4:30-5:30pm PT).
Check on their homework
There are several things that students need to do for this class. You can really help your student out by knowing how the homework is structured, and what the general expectations are. The homework releases about a week before class and is due 8 days after. Most classes also have a checklist on the class homepage (we call it the My Goals Tab) that's really helpful for deciding what to do when. We'll explain these pieces to the students at the end of the first class, and they can see them on the class homepage.
These pages go into more details about the homework in each courses: How to Work Through The Material and Homework Overview.
The Parent Tools described above can also help you track your student's progress on the homework.
Thanks for making it to the end of this message, first of all. There's a lot of stuff to take in. We'll break it down into smaller chunks for the students so they know exactly what parts to focus on and when. We'll send them emails over the course of the class (approximately weekly), telling them how they're doing in the class. You can subscribe to these too if you want, through the parent system we mentioned above, but please make sure your student is seeing them too. They really help.
If you need to reach course staff or administrators for any reason, please visit our Getting In Touch page.