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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Review: MathScore

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As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a free 6-month subscription to MathScore for review purposes. I received no other compensation. This review reflects the experiences of me and my family.

There are lot of math programs out there. Games with funky graphics and cyber prizes. Music and sound effects. Sometimes it takes a half-hour to complete 10 minutes worth of work because of all the doodads. One reason Steven Yang created MathScore was to provide a more meaningful learning experience, with the emphasis back on what is being learned, so no, you won’t find any computer memory intensive games or fancy graphics. What you will find is a solid program designed to reinforce your child’s learning.

Designed as a supplement, MathScore is not intended to be an all-inclusive math curriculum. The idea is to provide your child with plenty of timed practice for topics he has already learned. While full comprehension of a topic is necessary, ultimately you want automaticity for math facts. I expected the program to be essentially timed drills of math facts, addition, subtraction, multiplication….advanced multiplication, you know the drill. I was surprised when I discovered topics like basic word problems, counting money, telling time, inverse equations…and this was just the first grade. In 3rd grade you’ll also find weight conversion, decimals to fractions, perimeter, and more. Wow, it makes sense, though. With true mastery, you should be able to find the answer very quickly without having to “ponder” how to do it.

Topics are selected individually, either by you or the student, so you only use the topics he needs practice in and that you’ve actually covered. Each topic has a mini lesson (a page he can read that explains the topic---this can be used as a refresher), sample problems and then several “worksheets” to complete to show mastery. The number of worksheets varies by topic. Answer input is simple: type in the number then hit “enter” or “tab” for the next problem. If a student is showing mastery (no mistakes and easily completes the worksheet in the time allotted), the program will offer the option of skipping levels. You can choose whether you want your child to skip or go to the next level.

If your child answers a question incorrectly, they will not find out until after they’ve completed the worksheet. The program will then show them the problems they got wrong with the correct answer and the answer they typed in. Once they have received an 100 rating in a topic, they get a mini-fireworks display. And after meeting certain criteria, they will begin to collect “trophies” in their awards tab. It’s just enough to keep them working at it, but not enough to distract from the job at hand.

As the parent, you will have an account where you can monitor your children’s progress. You can see which topics they have completed, and which topics they are having trouble with (in case some re-teaching is in order). You can also add “padding” to the amount of time your child has to answer problems (useful for typing difficulties), change the grade level, and even clear topics if you want your child to start over again. MathScore will also email you a weekly activity summary showing the time spent and worksheets completed.

Overall, I’m pretty impressed. Our oldest is very anti-worksheet. Ok, he’s anti-written math work, period. He loves to do real math, and that’s great for showing understanding, but it doesn’t give as much practice as I would like. MathScore might be the answer I’m looking for. Since he’s typing in the answers, he can’t complain too much about writer’s cramp, ahem and we can concentrate just on the topics he needs to practice. And he can just do a worksheet or 2 a day, and get some extra practice in without feeling like he’s doing a bunch of extra work. I’ll be updating you on David’s progress with MathScore over the next several months. Our daughter, Mary, is not really ready for this program. Although she is doing 1st grade level math, her reading skills are not strong enough for her to be able to benefit from this type of program and she feels too pressured when there are time restraints.

MathScore is a monthly subscription service:

  • $14.95/month for the 1st child (home users get $9.95/month for 1st 2 months)
  • $5/month for 2nd child
  • $3.95/month for each additional
  • or pay for 9 months in advance and lock in a $9.95/month rate for the 1st child for as long as you subscribe!
  • further prepayment discounts are also available.
  • Click here for a 2 week free trial.

One neat feature: you can “freeze” your account when you go on vacation and just pick up again where you left off.

For more reviews of this product by other homeschoolers:

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