I was gifted a year long membership of IXL in exchange for an honest review. I was actually eager to try this out because it is a product I have heard so much about IXL Learning programs, but never used personally. My one child is very gifted in math, however does not like to take the time to memorize facts. Understanding the concepts is great, but fact mastery is key to success in math. I thought this could be a good tool for pushing that along.
It turns out he was very excited to begin working on the program. The first few sessions he was beaming with pride. I had him begin specifically where I thought his skills needed improvement. Since we have a math text that we are using, I did not begin at the beginning of the grade level. He said he enjoyed that it was like a game and awarded prizes when you succeeded.
Gaming Our Way to Mastery
The game like atmosphere seemed to be a boon for getting him to really buckle down on his facts and practice for an extended period of time. However, the desire to beat the game, so to speak, became too much. The one day he spend 3.5 hours just trying to complete the level so he could get his ribbon. It ended in tears and me restricting his use for a few days.
That said, the program is most definitely thorough. It could be used as a complete math program without any supplementation. I enjoyed how it kept track of his progress and sent me emails detailing how long he used the program and what level he had acheived. The reports helped me gauge how much he was investing, and how much the program was helping him. I think this is a positive element for acountability.
We Aren’t that Common
One stumbling block for our family was that the material on IXL is based on Common Core curriculum standards. Our homeschool does not do common core and so even though we were sticking to fact mastery, there were entry methods that really through him. For instance, Common Core math teaches students to add and subtract left to right. However, with our traditional textbooks, we do it right to left. Both yield the same answer, but my son had to write down his answer and then enter it in. He adapted to this but it added to how long it took for him to acheive his 100 correct answers.
Beyond the Numbers
IXL features far more than just math, though. There are a collection of subjects for grades pre-K through college. These include language arts, Spanish, social studies, and more. I was truly impressed with how much was available for students. This is a program that can serve the entire family and is perfect for homeschooling because students can do each subject at their level of mastery. This means a child could be in 4th grade math, 6th grade language arts, and 2nd grade for science if need be. Flexibility and personalization are my main focuses in our homeschool, so I applaud IXL Learning for providing that.
I am thankful that we had this opportunity to try out the IXL program. I am always looking for ways to outsource my children’s learning in ways that support their strengths, bolster their weaknesses, and encourage self directed learning. Personalized learning is very important to me. IXL does meet this criteria, and is perfect for adaptive learning as well.. I think that we will continue to use it for basic skill building and explore some of the other features as well in deciding what to do next year. There are many positives to this program, and I think it is worth the look if you are struggling to teach your child in any of these areas or have a child who is hard to motivate. It’s amazing what a little award icon can do for motivation!