One of the great things about being on the TOS Homeschool Review Crew is that sometimes we get to try out products that we've never heard of before, and other times we get to try products that we have wanted to try out for some time. This time is was a case of getting to try out IXL as a full subscription instead of as a daily freebie limited to twenty problems as we have always used it in the past.
IXL is an online math practice site for students Pre-K through Algebra. Used in more than 150 countries around the world, IXL lines up with state Standards of Learning and the Common Core Standards from 2010.
Here is how we've used it in the past. The kids would take turns signing on and doing twenty problems every few days to work on different math skill areas. The great thing about IXL is that each grade level covers many different skill areas, from 99 in the Kindergarten level to 261 in the 6th grade level. You can also move freely about the site, from one level to another, so your child can practice skills on several levels during the same session.
We tried out the Pre-K through the Second Grade programs. Ladybug (age 8) and Cowboy (age 6) used the program regularly. Firefly (age 4) used it a few times with help.
The subscription program works by setting up an account for each subscribed child under one parent account. Your child signs on as often as you decide is necessary, and then works on any number of skills in the grade level that you assign. The program is not designed to take your child through a pre-determined order of skills. Therefore, it is up to you (or your child) to decide what skills need to be worked on on any given day.
You can choose skills to practice that you covered in a regular math program that day, or that you feel they need to work on from previous lessons, or that your child worked on in a co-op or school class recently, or from particular state standards, or you can let your child decide what they want to learn.
This worked well for us as my kids love math, love computers, and have a blast doing anything that earns them rewards. Yes, rewards. Another great feature, besides the many skills offered, and the ease of finding the skills according to standards or levels, is the Reward screen for each grade that displays "ribbons and medals" your child has earned by completing a certain number of problems, achieving a particular level of mastery, or for working on a skill for a set amount of time.
My kids (ages 4-8) LOVED this and it inspired them to work tirelessly some days to achieve more stickers. Other times they were surprised when a particular day's practice earned an unexpected reward. It may not seem like much, but kids appreciate seeing a tangible record of their achievements, and even this simple idea of offering "stickers" for various accomplishments motivated mine. There is a separate reward screen for each grade level, so if your child works on more than one level, he will have multiple boards on which to earn rewards.
He will also see a continuously updated listing of how many problems he's answered, how much time he's spent on math practice, how many skills he's mastered, how many prizes he's earned, and how far to go until the next prize is awarded.
For those students who prefer something for their notebooks or portfolios, you can print up reward certificates when various skills are mastered or achievements are reached, as well as access a family report that shows all of your family members' progress, including proficiency, time spent on practice, and any trouble areas. Weekly email reports are also sent.
One feature about IXL that I especially appreciated was the speech icon (a speaker) next to the problems, so that if you had a child who needed to hear the problem read, they were accommodated. My kids used this feature a lot at first, but as they used the program more, they relied on it less and less. This was due to the fact that a side benefit to having to read to complete their math problems (and of being able to hear the words in the problems read to them at the same time as they attempted to read them alone), their reading confidence and skills improved. Each academic area has its own vocabulary and this program helped familiarize the kids more with math vocabulary.
IXL is available for $9.95 a month for a single child or for $79.00 a year per child. You can add additional children for $20 each, once one is subscribed. Each subscribed child will be covered for all grade levels, so they can move up and down as needed. That's a pretty good deal for endless math practice of over 2000 different topics!!
If you don't know if IXL is for you, then please do try the 20 free practice problems a day for a while. You won't get access to any of the reward screens and the program will not keep track of your child's progress, but you will get to see if your student likes the program. I know mine sure did, and when our trial period is over, we will be considering purchasing a teacher's subscription.
Check out more reviews from other members of the Crew at the TOS Homeschool Review Crew Blog.