So, why am I featuring an old homeschool product review for my Throwback Thursday post? Well, because this is one of our absolutely all time favorite products that we have ever reviewed with the TOS Review Crew. Aleks Math has been a lifesaver when it comes to John Allen and high school math. We used Aleks Math for a little while in middle school during and after this review. Then, when we were struggling with Algebra a couple of years later, John Allen remembered Aleks Math and how much he enjoyed it. Sure enough, it was a great success for his high school math and we have used it through Algebra, Geometry and now Pre-Calculus. This is my original review from six years but the prices haven't changed and, although the one month trial isn't available, there is still a free trial option. Enjoy the review and know that we probably love it even more now than we did back then.
Friday, 21 August 2009
Topic: Homeschool Product Review
Topic: Homeschool Product Review
I have always been skeptical of online homeschool curriculum. I don't know why really. I guess I like the personal interaction that I have with my child. At least when I am teaching, I know what he is doing and keep track of his progress. I have used different computer programs to supplement my child's education, but have not found a program that I feel can do as good of a job teaching as I can with personal one on one time with my child. Until my son tried Aleks Math!
I have always liked math, and enjoy teaching it to my children. The oldest, John Allen, doesn't necessarily like math, but continues to plod along, learning what he needs to get by. Thankfully, homeschool curriculum tends to be advanced, so he is learning more than most kids, but has never made any great leaps in his learning, nor, really liked it. I was pretty sure that Aleks Math would be the same way. Boy was I wrong!
This math program is for grades 3-adult, but an advanced first or second grader, or even a very advanced kindergärtner could use it as well. I signed John Allen up for the "Middle School Math Course 3" which is for a 7th grade student getting ready for pre-algebra in 8th grade. To insure privacy, John Allen was given a login name and password for whenever he signs in to continue working on his math studies.
The first thing that he did was take a pre-test to determine what he knew and didn't know. The immediate results told us that he knew 11% of what this course covered. The program is set up so that a student doesn't need to relearn things that he already knows. Will he have to review those things? Yes, but he won't have to go through a class where something he already knows is tediously taught step by step. If he were in a regular class, he would have to do this for all of the students who still need to learn those concepts. Even in a one-on-one homeschool environment, we would have to look over each lesson and try some problems before determining whether or not to move on to the next lesson. Aleks does all of that for you.
Next, we were presented with John Allen's pie. However, the "pie" isn't something that he can eat, but a pie graph that tells what John Allen already knows and still needs to learn. His pie was divided into six slices Whole Numbers and Integers; Rational Numbers; Measurements, Proportions, Percents and Probabilities; Variable Expressions and Equations; Functions and Graphs; and lastly, Geometry. The darker portions of the chart represent how much he has learned, and the lighter portions tell how much he still needs to learn. As he progresses through the course, more and more of the pie will become darker until, hopefully, sooner or later, the pie will be completely dark, which means he has completed this course. When John Allen presses on a piece of his pie, it gives a selection of topics that he is ready to learn. He can press on any topic, and begin the teaching process.
The teaching process is very user friendly. A screen will appear with a problem or a group of problems on it. You simply choose an answer from a multiple choice list, or put the correct answer in a box using your keyboard. They are very encouraging and tell you nicely to try again or congratulate you and ask you to try another problem. When you have answered several in a row correctly, they will end that particular topic and encourage you to try another. After going through this with several topics, they will give you an assessment to make sure that you have truly mastered that topic. Occasionally you will press on a piece of pie that will tell you that there are no topics for you to learn in that area until you master one or two topics from another slice of the pie. Of course, with some things, you have to have a pencil and paper handy to figure a problem with, but that is really all of the outside equipment that you need. They even have an online calculator that they allow you to use with some types of problems! Every thing is easy, efficient, and very encouraging! They even send the parent a weekly progress report or, they give you a password to check on his progress any time you want.
I must admit, that when we were first given a one month trial to evaluate this product, we were on vacation and not able to use it right away. Then, when we were finally able to begin, we were given another math review program to evaluate as well. All in all, John Allen has probably used this program for about two and a half weeks, for only about half an hour a day on average. Which is much less than he would normally spend on math, but we had to make time for the other review program as well. I tell you all of this because after only about 9 hours of use, John Allen now has 22% of the course mastered! He has doubled his knowledge! If he were to keep up at this pace, he would finish this course in only half a year! All without fuss - he actually likes it! In fact, he asked if we could sign him up for the whole year.
If you would have told me a year ago that this would happen, I would have thought you were joking. Now, I am sold on this product. I heartily recommend Aleks Math. But, don't take my word for it, sign up for a free month's trial today and see for yourself. Just click here:
Aleks Math can be used as a complete math program or as a math tutor for students who are struggling in a regular math class. Although Aleks may be a little more expensive than a regular homeschool math curriculum, it cost a lot less than a math tutor or one of the tutoring centers that you could take your child to. And, when you think about the gas that you could spend to take your child to a tutor or center, it makes the price a little more bearable. They give you several options for purchasing. It can be purchased month-to-month for $19.95 per month, or $99.95 for six months, or $179.95 for 12 months. Family discounts are available for 6 and 12-month subscriptions when purchasing for multiple students. We're already planning on signing John Allen up for another month and see where it goes from there. He actually asks to do math now. This is the happiest I have ever seen him when it comes to math. And, as they say, you can't put a price on happiness!