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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

TOS Review: ALEKS Math (revisited)


I've reviewed ALEKS math once before, in January of this year. At the time, I wasn't horribly impressed. Yes, I mused, the program was thorough. Yes, it seemed like it would get the job done. But no, it wasn't my first choice for a math program.

And you know what? It still isn't. If it were up to me, I'd take a stack of games scattered all over the living room floor. I'd have my little brood carry their own calculators to the grocery store. I'd let my kids tinker with running a business of their own.

And I do all of those things. But for some families, for some children, for some seasons of life ... it's not enough.

Right now, I am doing the delicate work of balancing the education of five little people. I have a child who is gearing up for high school far faster than I'd anticipated, a "just give me the worksheet so I can get this over with" learner, a daydreaming 7 year-old who would rather spend his day mashing pastels into new colors, a 2.5 year-old who can't speak in two-word sentences with any consistency and a 15 month-old who clings to my skirt asking, "Whas' dat?" of everything and everyone.

I am busy. I am very, very busy.

And I need something like ALEKS math.

More appropriately, Atticus needs something like ALEKS math. It's no-nonsense approach fits his analytical personality. It tells him what to do, how to do it. He does it. Feedback is forthcoming. And then ...

He is done.

Box checked.

Next assignment, please, Mom.

((sigh))

I never envisioned myself as the kind of homeschooler who would happily hand over an element of her child's education to a computer program. But, alas, here's the truth: Atticus is good at math. He enjoys it, to a point. He has no patience for my fumbling, manipulatives-based instruction. ALEKS gets the job done, and at the end of the day, we are both satisfied.

ALEKS is not a graphics-driven program. There is nothing warm and fuzzy about it. It is math: straight-up. As such, the parental feedback is excellent and data-driven. Want to know how long it took your child to figure out that concept? How many additional skills he needs to tackle? How far he's come since taking the initial assessment? It's all there, in an easy-to-access, user-friendly format. ALEKS even provides a link to your state's standards for the child's grade level, so that you can compare progress. A free trial is available to see if it's a good fit for your family.

As I said in my last review, I prefer warm, fuzzy math experiences. ALEKS itself is neither warm, nor fuzzy. It is just math. But I guess if I serve it up with a kiss on the forehead as I walk by, I'm accomplishing both, right?


1 comment:

Cory & Kris Thede said...

My 12 year old [as of tomorrow] has also found ALEKS to be much to his liking. No talking about something he can understand in one example. Fill in that pie and move on.