For my latest review, I was given an opportunity to have my children use the ALEKS math program. ALEKS is an acronym for Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces, and it is a web-based program that offers practice in math facts (i.e. addition/multiplication etc.) as well as full math courses for grades 3-12.
Our experience with ALEKS was VERY good. Signing my children up was easy, as was managing their activities through the parent account page. I was able to assign quizzes, receive scores, adjust time on the Quicktables (more on that later) as well as email my “students” 🙂 My older son really enjoyed sending me an email everyday! Once you chose a level for your child, they are given an assessment to determine what they already know. From there, they are given a pie chart that includes the different areas of mathematics (algebra, geometry, decimals etc.). Children are able to click on the pie chart and choose a topic to work on.
For example, my older son really needed to get some work in on algebra and geometry, so I told him to focus on those areas. Each day, I had him complete 3 or 4 lessons on something within those topics. Each day, he would log on, and choose something to work on (i.e. “area of a paralellogram”). He would attempt a problem, and if he didn’t get it, he could click on the “explanation”. This took him to a page that gave him a detailed explanation of how to solve the problem. He would then be given additional problems on that topic until he had “mastered” it.
The explanations are in written form (as opposed to video), so if your child has difficulty getting something just by reading it, you may need to be in the room to go over that part with him/her. However, the explanations do include a lot of visuals, and actually solve the problems step-by-step, so I found that my son did not need a lot of help from me!
This is an image of the pie chart students use to determine what they are going to work on:
And this is a picture of what one of the explanations look like:
Each week, I scheduled a “quiz” for my son based on the problems he had worked that week. After the quiz is finished, students are able to review the problems they got wrong. I thought this was VERY helpful because my son was able to see his errors, and recognize whether he messed up on a simple calculation, or if he was doing the problem wrong. ALEKS also sends an email to the parents each week, letting you know about your child’s progress. The details of their reports was very impressive! They list what your child already knows how to do, what they need to work on, and how far they have gotten.
This is a screenshot from a report you can access about your child’s quiz:
For my younger son, the best thing about Aleks was the Quicktables. It is another part of the program that allows your child to practice their basic math facts. My youngest is a 4th grader, and I have been pulling my hair out trying to get him to master his multiplication and division facts! Seriously, we’ve tried flash cards, timed tests, recitation, etc. etc. and NOTHING has worked so far. However, in the month that we’ve been using ALEKS, he has moved to a 70% proficiency level on his multiplication…and all with no stress from me! 😉
Students are first given an assessment, to determine what facts they already know. Then they are shown the multiplicaiton table (above) which shows them which facts they have mastered and which they need to practice. Each day, my son would learn 3-4 new facts. Children work on a particular fact (i.e. 6X8=48) and then practice that fact while also drilling the ones they already know. The problems are shown on the screen, and the children are given a few seconds to type in the answer. If they get it wrong, or don’t answer, they are taken back to the multiplication chart, shown the correct answer, and given the chance to complete the problem again. I will say that the initial response time of 3 seconds was too short for my younger son, who is not adept at using the computer keyboard just yet!! However, parents can adjust the time allowed when they log in, and I did extend the time for my son. What he really liked about it is, as you move up in your mastery level, kids are given the opportunity to play “games” with the math facts, like the one here:
Like I said, he is currently at 76% mastery of his multiplication facts since we started using ALEKS about 4 weeks ago, so to me, this program has been a HUGE help!
ALEKS costs $19.95 PER student PER month, or you can pay $99.95 every 6 months, or $179.95 for one year. They do have a family discount rate for homeschoolers, that allows you to pay less for each child you enroll. This may seem costly, and honestly, this year, it may have been outside of my reach, but I think I would pay month to month if I needed to, to allow my kids to access parts of this program. You could definitely use it in conjunction with, or as a supplement to, a program you are already using (which is what I did).
The link to the ALEKS website is here:
The people at ALEKS have also given us a chance to share a 1-month free trial to new users! Click on the ALEKS button under the Blog Cruise picture on the right of my blog to access it!
Overall, I thought this was a great math program, and my kids really enjoyed it!