As a homeschooling mom, you know that there is a trade-off between effort and flexibility. Buy a boxed curriculum and a lot of the work is done for you. But, you don’t have as much freedom and flexibility to set things up your way. Sure you can tweak the program, but the more you adapt, the more effort is needed from mom, right?
A wise homeschool mom makes careful choices about the best places to invest extra effort and the best places to make use of something already prepared to save time and energy. In our homeschool, exploring and discussing new math concepts is definitely something that has worked better in a hands-on, mama-curated style.
But when it comes to math review, I love taking advantage of online programs. It’s actually been less stressful for the kids to find out immediately that they missed a problem in an online activity than to think they are done with a worksheet, only to find they have to make half a dozen corrections.
What if you could combine both the ease of a ready-made review program with the flexibility of tailoring the activities to exactly the skill level of your student? Mama, meet The Smartick Method!
Independent Practice, Individual Pacing
Of course, we know that nothing beats a mama’s personal involvement. But there is only so much mama to go around! Smartick has been a great way for us to get in some extra math review without a lot of time invested from mama, and yet still have a level and pacing that’s just right for each child.
As you set up each child account, Smartick will ask for a few details, such as age and whether or not the child is reading independently. The first few sessions of Smartick are designed to measure the student’s knowledge and ability in order to place them properly. (You may want to talk through this with your student so that she will know to expect some problems that feel too easy and some that feel too hard. This is necessary in order for Smartick to gauge the student’s placement accurately.)
A Few of My Favorite Things
Here is a little glimpse at some screen shots from Smartick and some of the things we like best about it! I am really impressed with the engaging interaction that is available in both the desktop and mobile app interface. In the example below, you can see how Luke had to complete a pattern by choosing both the correct symbol and color.
Also, note that the pattern he’s matching is in reverse order from the pattern he’s creating. Smartick hits every skill and concept from so many different angles in gradually increasing complexity. Students build on accomplishments, stretching their mental capacity as they go! Everyone from our preschooler to our middle schooler is benefiting from this practice.
A Smartick Session
Sessions are limited in time and average about 15 minutes each. The green circle that makes its way around the avatar in the top right shows students how close they are to completing their session. Once the circle is filled in, students finish up the activity they are working on and are done!
See the energy bar on the left? At every mark, students earn a “tick”. They also earn three bonus ticks for filling up the entire meter and, if they have more time remaining in their session, can earn extra ticks. Here are some other ways they can earn ticks:
- 3 ticks whenever they complete their sessions three days in a row
- 5 ticks whenever they complete a whole week of sessions without missing a day
- 1 bonus tick for a session with no mistakes OR
- 1 bonus tick for correcting all mistakes in a session
- 10 ticks on their birthday 🙂
On Beyond Computation
When you think of math, you may think mostly of calculation and arithmetic. However, Smartick addresses so many aspects of mathematical thinking, such as logic and categorizing. Younger students choose labels for groups of objects. Older students choose labels for two sides of a ven diagram or for layers of a concentric circle. Notice that some of the labels are “positive” (“foods”) and some of them are negative (“not red”).
In case you were wondering if your student will know how to complete problems like this, let me reassure you that it’s amazing how quickly they pick up these new formats. Pre-readers and early readers have the option to click on the purple speaker button next to the instructions in order to have them read aloud. Whenever they click on a category label, the program announces the meaning of the label, such as “not yellow” or “not a mode of transport”.
Keeping Mama in the Loop
In order for Smartick to accurately measure student ability and pace, it’s important that they work independently during their sessions. However, that doesn’t mean that Mama won’t know what’s happening!
Whenever one of my kiddos finishes a Smartick session, I immediately get an email detailing the percentage of right and wrong answers in their practice session. I can click a link in that email go right to the “tutor” (parent) page in Smartick and see a detailed report of what they missed.
In addition, I can click on any particular item to see the entire problem in full, what answer my student gave, and what the correct answer should be.
I can also see what progress each student makes in each of the various areas of study.
What to Do with Ticks
Once a session is over, students are released into their own little adventure world. This is where the “gamification” of Smartick comes into play and students earn in-game rewards for careful math practice. Here are some examples.
Unlock parts of the map one at a time.
Upgrade his or her avatar with accessories and even pets!
Win awards and purchase accessories for his bedroom.
Challenge friends to a contest or test their skills in solo games.
If you’d like to get a peek into what a session of Smartick looks like, you can check out a Facebook Live I did with my five-year-old!
Continuing the Learning
Smartick has just recently added tutorials, accessible both from the tutor and student logins. These are more than just videos, as they include both instruction and interactive responses to the learning.
Take a Sneak Peek
I shared a glimpse into Smartick with my Facebook followers. I've edited the best parts to share with you here! Take a look!
Your Turn to Play!
There is so much more I could share, but I bet you want to try this out for yourself, now, don't you! Click HERE to begin your free trial. By using this link, you'll earn yourself 25% off your first subscription when your free trial ends!
More Math Month Goodies!
This post is a part of our annual Math Month celebration - a round up of resources, giveaways, printables, and math tips! To learn more, click the image below!