Monday, March 5, 2012

K5 Learning--A Real Teacher's Helper

Sometimes there is a season in your life when the picture of all of your children seated around the dining room table working diligently together on a Bible lesson does not bring a contented, warm feeling to your heart. Instead, it makes you get all jittery and anxious, because for whatever reason, you just can't manage to do that right now. It might be pregnancy, illness, care of a loved on, packing for a move, unpacking from a move, lack of support, lack of confidence, or the need to hold a job. Whatever it is that makes you worry that your kids can't still be homeschooled during this difficult time, there are answers other than putting your kids back into the public school system. Online learning is one of them.

Or maybe you have a student who seems to need just a little more practice on some targeted skill areas. You can see there is something they are just aren't sure what. Perhaps you are NOT a homeschooler, and you feel your child is not getting enough practice in certain subjects at school, and you want a reliable and easy way to ensure your child receives extra help every day...but the cost of a tutor sounds like something you can't possibly afford. For these reasons, and many more, there are affordable solutions. Yes, you can find FREE! online resources and build yourself a fantastic program from the ground up. But you will have to do all of the research, work, teaching, and grading yourself. If that sounds a bit daunting to you, then consider the option of checking out K5 Learning.

K5 Learning is a company dedicated to meeting the needs of parents of Kindergarteners through 5th Graders in regards to providing abilities appropriate educational enrichment in the areas of Language Arts and Math. 

There are four main teaching areas: Math Facts Drill, Spelling, Reading, and Math. The Math Facts Drill uses adaptive technology to help kids quickly recall the basic facts of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The Spelling program has a 150,000 word database and drills your child one word at a time, coming back to that word in subsequent lessons until the word is mastered. The Reading program covers phoenemic awareness, sight words, phonics, and comprehension. The Math program covers everything from numbers and operations to algebraic thinking and statistics.

When you sign up for K5 Learning, you will be asked to request an assessment of your child's abilities (or you can start at the very beginning without the assessment...this is fine if you have a child who is very young). Once your child has completed that assessment, you will be notified via email of your child's performance and he will be placed at an appropriate level within the K5 curriculum. If you have problems with your student's placement (I felt Cowboy's performance was a bit under par for him as the lessons he was getting were a bit simple for him), you can call their customer support line and they will talk to you and make adjustments accordingly (I did call and they did adjust).

Your student will sign on each day to see a screen which allows them to choose from doing their math and reading lessons, a math facts practice, or a spelling drill. If you choose math and reading, your student is given the option to complete a Reading Lesson or a Math Lesson. Optionally, the parent can be more involved by selecting certain lessons (in areas of student weakness) that need to be completed. These are called the math or reading "assignment" and appear on the same page. Thus, your student could have four lessons to complete in those areas daily, along with the math facts and spelling drills. That's a lot of practice! You don't have to do all of them every day, but the option is there, and of course, your student can do more if he wants to.

Parents can log in via the Parent/Teacher screen and check on their student's progress. They can also adjust the Assignment lessons daily or weekly, using the bank of over 3,000 tutorials.

Each lesson is clear, colorful, and interesting to the students. The animation is pretty good (in other words, while it is simple, it's not so simple that it detracts from the program). Every lesson my kids completed was done verbally (in other words, the computer talked to them the entire time, so they did not have to guess at what to do if the directions were too difficult for their reading level...that was a bonus). During lessons, the students are asked to "play a game" from time to time that is educational, not entertainment. My kids see any time on the computer as "fun" so it wasn't difficult to convince them that this program was something they liked to do, instead of "work." 

What We Liked About the Program:

  • Mom: I liked that it was not a bunch of time-consuming "fluff." Every lesson was obviously tied to a useful objective. The lessons were not random, they were very structured and goal-oriented.
  • Mom: I appreciated the ease of adjusting the lessons, via both the computer and the helpful customer service representatives.
  • Ladybug: This program is AWESOME! I love it. I want to keep doing it. I think it teaches me a lot every time I play it. I really like the reading and I am great at spelling.
  • Cowboy: I like K5 Learning. It is fun for me. I like the math the best. I liked that I could click on the stoplight and stop whenever I wanted to, but not have to go back and do the old parts over next time.
  • Firefly: I like it. It was a little bit hard, but Cowboy and Ladybug helped me. (Mom says, "She is under the target age, but we decided to try it anyway to see how it went. She does all right, and does not get too frustrated, however, she would be better able to do it alone in a few months to a year.)
  • Mom: As a family, we have tried quite a few online programs, and I have to say that this one is the most solid. I discovered that I prefer that completing lessons is not tied to playing games (that was distracting). My kids are happy just doing the learning activities. They don't need more games.
  • Mom: I really appreciated being able to see where the kids were academically courtesy of the online assessment. They were right on grade level, which is what I hoped, but it was comforting to see it on paper (or rather, on the computer screen).
Our overall feel for the product is that it is a wonderful answer as a supplement for almost any child who enjoys working on the computer. I would not have it be my main curriculum (it was created as a supplement for After School Programs, not as a stand alone curriculum), but for a child who could use some extra work on a topic, well, out of all the other programs I have tried, this is the one I would pick to use.

In fact, we may consider keeping Ladybug on it for a while since she could use a little bit extra work in some areas of reading to boost her confidence level (in addition to reading aloud, which she already does). However, the pricing is a bit steep at $25 a month for one student ($15 for additional children) or $199 per year ($129 for additional students).

You can sign up for a free trial of K5 Learning and see for yourself if this program can provide the help you were looking's a real teacher's helper.

See what others on the TOS Review Crew had to say about K5 Learning at the TOS Homeschool Crew blog.


Disclaimer: I received a brief free trial of this program in order to review it. No other compensation was provided. All opinions expressed are our own.

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