San Diego Area Math Living Math Class Overview

Algebra 1Geometry and Honors Algebra 2( Pre-Calc) are designed as a 3-year high school math sequence for homeschool students in the San Diego area. Taught bi-weekly, classes are structured like a college course, but at a much slower pace. Pre-Algebra has been added this year and is taught weekly. AP Statistics may be offered if sufficient interest and time allow. Classes are held in the Allied Gardens / Grantville area of San Diego, off the I-15 and I-8 interchange.

Classes and independent study assignments focus on mastering concept areas deeply, and then applying math in context. Most students succeed even if they aren’t “mathy,” if they attend classes regularly and complete a majority of the independent study work in between classes. 

A critical feature of these classes is a positive attitude toward learning and hard work. Students make a commitment to the whole class by regularly attending, being prepared and participating, and learning through mistakes and mutual support of each other. Classes are small and active, with less emphasis on lecture and more on student interaction with problem solving.

Students who fully master this coursework are typically prepared for college calculus and/or statistics by the end of the third year.  

Class format:  Activities are done in pairs or teams to facilitate students being willing to openly discuss questions and observations. Independent Study Day assignments are designed to prepare students for active class time, so that a majority of class time can be devoted to going over questions, discussing various approaches to problems and ensuring understanding of concepts. Assignments are scheduled out each independent study day to assist students in managing their time between classes, and are managed on a class website similar to a college bulletin board system. See sample weekly homework assignment sheet. A portion of class time is devoted to going over homework questions each class period.

Testing is approached as a separate skill, not as the goal of learning itself. As testing will be a feature of college success, some time is alloted to practicing test taking skills, but the majority of time is reserved for productive learning. Grade feedback will be provided to parents to submit to their respective schools. 

Tuition:  See individual class pages (right) for rates which depend on class size and times. Tuition is due by semester, but may be paid monthly, or quarterly by arrangement. Sibling and clergy discounts apply. Tuition credit may apply for in-class parent-helper positions if available. 

Instructor:  Julie Brennan is entering her 21st year of homeschooling her four children with her husband, Don, currently enrolled with Heritage Christian Schools PSP since 2008. A CPA with over 30 years of experience in the accounting and finance fields, Julie brings a unique applied perspective to math that goes beyond the curriculum.  Since 2004 Julie has hosted the Living Math Forum, a 5,000 member online forum devoted to the discussion of a wide range of math learning resources and methods for all kinds of learners, and is the creator of the Living Math website, www.livingmath.netContact Julie Brennan at


Why I teach:

Before I had children, I never considered teaching as a vocation. I had a successful CPA career even as our family grew, and we began homeschooling in 1997. In 2002 my husband and I decided to take a leap of faith and have me leave my career to stay home with our four children. Fifteen years later, we've graduated three, and our "baby" is entering her senior year in the fall.

Through teaching co-op classes for our kids over the years we homeschooled, it became apparent that there was a particular need for "living" math classes at all levels. In the elementary years, I learned how to mentor my kids in math through reading math stories, learning about math history, acting out math discoveries, playing games and exploring patterns in mathematics. This was shared with our local community as well as the larger homeschool community through the Living Math Forum and Living Math lesson plans.

As our children grew and moved into middle and high school grades, however, their needs and the needs of our friends changed. The kids began to need an understandable pathway or bridge to college level math, and to feel that this was attainable for them, that math could be understood and mastered. This is where I've found my passion and energy to be more recently poured into: helping homeschool kids understand high school algebra and higher level math concepts that are critical to success in STEM careers. 

So over the last decade, I've slowly been developing a pathway to guide students from the arithmetic of elementary math curriculums through the concepts of algebra, connecting the abstract ideas with the geometry of graphs ("pictures" that represent the abstract ideas of algebra), to advanced Algebra and Trigonometry, disciplines necessary to move up to calculus or college statistics. No text or curriculum is perfect,so mentoring and working alongside students to gain that understanding has been incredibly rewarding. Seeing kids who never thought they were good at math succeed and go on to college calculus continues to motivate me to do what I'm doing. 

Not every student will go into a STEM career, but this can be a conscious choice, rather than a path they avoid due to lack of understanding or confidence in math. Further, some level of proficiency in advanced algebra and geometry is, for better or worse, a gateway to college acceptance. Performance on SAT or ACT scores are often key factors in attaining financial resources and scholarships that are not available to students who cannot demonstrate adequate proficiency.

I am teaching now because I've seen how much this means to families and students who have not been able to find this in their curricula or other resources. And it is so good to see kids spread their wings and move on to college math courses with confidence and deep belief in their ability to learn. I never intended to be a teacher, but it seems that my life path has brought students into my life, and I couldn't feel more at home with teaching as a second career after raising our family. 

Julie Brennan

March, 2017