Wednesday, January 13, 2010

TOS Crew Review -- MathScore

Math is one of those core subjects that all students need to study. It is also one of those subjects that often elicits groans from its prisoners, I mean students.

Fortunately, there are many great resources for helping your child through math while reducing their discomfort and maximizing their benefit in the process.

MathScore provides students a place to learn their math, enhance their skills, attack their weak points, and build their mastery of basic math, computation, and applications of these skills.


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Product: MathScore.com
Details: A web based program that allows students to work on math skills online. The program awards them with points for building their math skills in both speed and mastery.
Price: $9.95 per month for first child (introductory rate, after two months this goes to $14.95), $5 for second, $3.95 for third. There are other discounts for ordering for multiple months.

What we loved . . .
  • Flexibility -- You can choose and switch levels as you desire. You can decide which topics to work on. The kids don't have to be stuck on something frustrating, or stay on a topic that bores them. They can do a little and return later. Or, if they like to do one topic and complete it, that is possible as well.
  • Tracking -- I would receive a daily email automatically that would summarize the student's work. This would let me know the topics they worked on, the level of mastery achieved, and how much time the worked (as well as how much time they spent idle in the program). I really like that I knew not just how much time they spent on it, but also how much time they spent engaged with the worksheets.
  • They encourage rewards -- They don't have any built in rewards (games, characters, etc.), but they do encourage you to recognize your child's achievement. When they reach that 100 level saying they have mastered a topic, don't let their hard work go unnoticed. They do earn "trophies" that are displayed on a page that shows their progress.
  • Variety of approaches -- Your child can choose to either simply begin the "worksheet," follow a mini-lesson, or try some sample problems depending on their level of comfort in a given topic.
  • Free resources as well -- Their website has free math worksheet generators and lessons available to everyone.
  • Timed lessons -- Some kids might not do well with these, although they start pretty generous, but for my daughter they really helped her stay on track and not let herself get distracted. If she ran out of time, she had to work on that level again.

Some considerations . . .
  • Might be difficult to use as a complete math program. They do present that as an option, but I prefer to use it as a supplementary program or as a break from the regular math book.
  • The scoring confused me a bit. To master a topic they must reach "100." There were too many classifications of accomplishment for me to really grasp -- rating, points, percents, etc. I wasn't quite sure why they had so many different ways of presenting the same information. It was like reading a standardized test result.
  • If you have a particular goal for your child in math, you might need to spend more time with them. Since they do have a fair amount of free reign once logged in (they could choose grade 1 material if they feel like it), you will need to guide them and make your expectations clear if you want to make the most of their time on the computer.
  • No frills. This program does not come with a lot of extras. It gets the job done efficiently, but when my daughter first tried it out she said it was "boring." Now, when I let her try it for a couple days in place of her regular math text it became "fun." So, I guess it depends what you compare it to.

MathScore meets a definite need in developing a child's mastery in mathematics. It makes it easy for the parent to track progress, and provides tools for helping a child learn and excel at a variety of levels. I think it is reasonably priced, especially for families with multiple children. This might be a great tool if you are looking for something to supplement your current math curriculum or to help students retain knowledge during those longer breaks from school.

For more TOS Crew reviews on this product, check out the TOS Crew blog.


Disclaimer: This web based program was provided to me free of charge from MathScore.com as part of my participation in The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew. I received no additional compensation and the opinions expressed here come from my personal experiences and sincere thoughts.

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