The best way to guarantee success in math is to make it exciting. You start with bright and interactive materials, concentrate on laying the foundation for conceptual understanding with simple and clear instructions, and offer enough opportunity to practice in a playful and strategically designed manner until the understanding is complete. Repeat with the next concept. Does it sound exhausting? Yes, it does! And even though I love nothing more than putting together lesson plans and practice ideas for my children, sometimes I just need a break. And since my son is turning 8 this spring, I decided that he is now old enough to start using some online programs.
When I heard that A+ Interactive Math was about to introduce Math Mini-Courses and I can be a reviewer I jumped at the chance. The variety of courses was staggering: from Elementary Addition and Fractions to Multiplication, Advanced Geometry, Probability and everything in between. I decided to start in the beginning to ensure that we don’t have any learning gaps and received a free access to two mini-courses: Counting and Identifying Numbers (15 lessons course) and Early Elementary Addition (17 lessons course).
Counting and Identifying Numbers mini-course concentrates on reading, writing and identifying numbers up to 100, as well as skip counting (by 2s, 5s, 10s), reverse skip counting and the concepts of more and less. Elementary Addition mini-course introduces addition using objects, tables and regrouping, adding two and three digit numbers, addition without carrying numbers and more. I love that besides video lessons, you can also print lesson in pdf form, print additional worksheets and tests/exams.
Every lesson is structured in a predictable and convenient fashion. Let me demonstrate it to you using the example of Lesson 10: Skip Counting by 10.
Each lesson starts with an explanation of a concept. The explanation is delivered in a clear, pleasant voice. The words appear on the screen as they are being spoken.
The concept is demonstrated in a visual way.
At the end of explanation kids are given a choice: to listen to the lesson again or to start using the material in the lesson by practicing.
The lesson ends with an interactive test. It’s a mix of multiple choice questions and questions where the answer has to be typed in. (Note: Don’t forget to click frog’s belly to make the answer count).
If the wrong answer is given, there is a detailed explanation of the correct answer and a child gets a chance to try the same question again and only the last answer counts.
So the good thing about this approach is that even if a kid answers incorrectly, he can have a satisfaction of getting 100% on the test anyway.
The whole lesson takes about 15 minutes and each lesson can be repeated as needed before moving on to the next concept.
How we used it
Originally I intended this course for my 7 (almost 8) year old son, but when my 5-year old daughter saw how much fun he was having with it she cried giant tears of sadness. And who am I to stand in the way of good education? I let her do it. So, both my older kids did the program not collaboratively, but independently. Each lesson took about 15 minutes.
Prior to using the program we agreed that it would be their responsibility to pick the good time each day to do the program. We added math to their schedule five days a week and once they completed each day’s lesson they could cross it out from their to do list.
What we thought
I like to think that my primary focus in teaching mathematics to my children is teaching them to think mathematically. However, you won’t get far without a specific set of mathematical skills. This online program does an excellent job in teaching the basics in easy to understand and engaging fashion. I have very high standards and I waited for a long time before introducing my kids to the computer programs. I feel completely satisfied with my choice.
A+ Interactive Math offers lessons that are short and to the point. There is no time to get bored and let the mind wander to a new LEGO project or backyard fort adventure. The material is presented in a fashion that is very similar to how I usually present information to my kids. But this was the first time my kids were exposed to multiple-choice questions and my son especially developed a sudden obsession with getting 100% on each test. I like that children are given freedom to move at their own pace, practice when they feel like it and having the satisfaction of knowing they mastered the subject.
I loved that my kids could do their lessons completely on their own. Perhaps the first two lessons they had a couple of questions, but after that they did everything on their own. If they didn’t understand the lesson, they clicked to listen to it again. If they got a wrong answer, they listened to explanation and tried again.
I was prepared to feel very guilty for delegating the job of teaching my kids math to a computer, but I liked this program so much I actually felt nothing but relief. And I can reassure you that all that freed mental energy was put to good use. While my kids were doing independent math I put together a couple of math work stations, which I can’t wait to share with you.
All in all, my kids enjoyed doing Math Mini-Courses and I will buy additional courses in the future. I’m particularly interested in Elementary Geometry and full curriculum books per grade.
Other Schoolhouse Crew members reviewed this product. You can see what they thought by clicking the image below.
Not sure where to start? A+ Interactive Math offers a free math placement test. This program will not only determine your child’s current grade level, but will also create an individualized lesson plan to target problem areas! You can try a DEMO here.