IXL ~ A Schoolhouse Review

Our family recently had the opportunity to review IXL Math and IXL Language Arts from the company, IXL, We received almost instant access to their online program for one full year for up to five students. I used the program with my two boys who are 5 and 9.  Whenever I have the chance I am always eager to try something new that just might help make some of these things we need to learn a bit more fun for my children.

 

 

If you are not familiar this company, IXL provides online math (K-12) and language arts (2nd-8th) programs for children. There are lots of  fun awards and certificates kids can obtain as they complete different parts of the program. IXL also offers reports and e-mail updates so you can always see what your children are working on. This is great for my oldest son who likes to exert his independence but is not always so attentive to the task at hand. 🙂

If you are concerned about being aligned with your state’s standards, you do not need to worry about that with this program.   IXL’s state standards alignments, easily help you to stay on target as you work on  the various topics.

I was so amazed at all the topics that IXL has to offer in this program.  I was so excited for my boys to have the chance to try out some of this stuff. And I had to remind myself a few times that this is not meant as a tool of instruction rather, this is more of a way to practice skills already learned.  This was the one downfall for us since my oldest son really likes to explore different topics but got very easily frustrated with not being able to properly complete certain things. But again, if you are looking for good practice and skill exercise,  IXL would be a great fit for you.  For those things that we did need to practice, this was a wonderful program.  But I have to admit I tend to learn more towards programs that have some tutorial/teaching tools built in (especially for math – which I am a dunce in! lol)  IXL is available for $9.95/month or $79/year for one subject.; each additional child costs $2/month or $20/year. For more details or to purchase a family membership, go to www.ixl.com/membership/family/pricing, and select your preferred membership option to view pricing details.  It really is very affordable too!
IXL has math apps for the iPad, Android, and Kindle.  They have also have a brand new language arts iPad app. I don’t have an iPad, I am hopeful that one will follow soon for the Kindle.   We mostly used the program on our computers and we did download the app for our Kindle.  However we had some issues with keeping the program from freezing up on us. My oldest prefers the Kindle too so we are hopeful we an resolve this so he can use this more on there soon.  As for the website itself it is super simple to navigate for this not so tech savvy mom and both her kids.  If you are considering an app you can see more details about the apps here: http://www.ixl.com/apps
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This gives you a peek into what their math program looks like. Amazing amount of material right?  As mentioned before their math program covers grades K-12.  Again this is a supplemental program, not to be used as a curriculum.  If a question is missed they do share a brief, simple explanation so it is understood why the answer given was incorrect.
My son (5) really liked their Pre-K skills; I think he liked that he could do this on his own, even with very minimal reading skills. He just clicks on the image of the speaker and he gets the audio. He has been quite pleased with himself on this program.
My older son has been working in a variety of areas ranging from the 1-3rd grade. He tends to lose focus easily; we are working on his struggle (which has been mine as well) with perfectionism.  I think the number of problems he had to complete to master something was a bit much for him. But he did get to really master some things and we will continue to use this with him in a supplementary way.  I encourage him to go back a bit, when he is struggling, stop and go back to the basics so we can master those first. Either way this is a good tool to be able to see where he struggles and where he is strong.
Within the Language arts section there is material for the 2nd-8th grades and they do mention that they will be adding 9th and 10th grade material soon. We did not use this with my younger son since he is just learning to read, slowly but with my oldest we started in the second grade level and so far he has done quite well. Again the main issue for him I see, is the amount of material that needs to be covered in each topic in order for him to officially master it. And this is really an issue of focus and attention, for us, that has nothing to do with the program itself.  
The main issues we did have with this, that made it a bit more difficult for my kids to really enjoy was that drills can go a bit long and this causes lots of frustration especially in my older son.  The concept is considered “mastered” once 100 points are accumulated.  Until then they have to keep reviewing, until they get  that 100 points.  At some times my son would get just one wrong but it would take away a ton of points.  Getting one right only gives them about 1-2 points per problem.  While this does almost guarantee mastery of a topic, its something that we really struggled with since there were times he needed to just be done but he was too concerned about losing the points he already had.   As you can imagine this can be a disaster. It is awesome though that when they do get one correct, there are lots of fun pops up that offer kids plenty of positive encouragement.  There is even a prize section, or map, where they can see fun things they have earned as they fill in each square by mastering the different topics within each grade level.  Cute stuff!!!!
 As for me, I loved the fact that I could go to one place and get a full report on what my boys are, or are not, doing. In one spot I can see what they are working on; the time spent on each activity and ho they are progressing in the level they are in. I can also export and print these things, if I want to have a physical copy of their progress. And we can print out certificates for the boys as they go along. Those are ALWAYS fun to have taped to the wall or stuck on the fridge for a time as a reminder of how hard work pays off. It is so nice to be able to see their progress as they move from one skill to the next.  A surprising bonus was that with all this additional material, it gave my oldest son a bit of encouragement to learn different concepts (like some geometry) that I probably would not have thought of introducing him to just yet.  I have to say anything that increases a child’s curiosity, bringing them a greater desire to learn, is a wonderful thing, in my book. We thoroughly enjoy this program and will be continuing on joyfully!
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