Friday, February 25, 2011

TOS Review: MathRider

PhotobucketThere are a few academic struggles that nearly all parents of elementary school children face, regardless of whether those children are homeschooled or whether they attend school. Towards the top of the list is the dreaded "math drills." Even when I found a homeschool math curriculum that perfectly fit my children's needs, I still needed to figure out a way to get from understanding a math concept to automatically recalling the answer. Many parents have made (or bought) flash cards to drill their child. Other parents have looked for an electronic option to make drilling more enjoyable and less time consuming.

MathRider is designed to fill this universal need for practicing math facts. It turns boring math drills into an interactive game in which the student strives to complete the quest and rescue the princess. When you answer questions more quickly and more accurately, you move further along in the quest.

At first glance, MathRider looks like a fairly simple game. As the horse gallops along the path, you answer math questions to allow the horse to successfully jump over an obstacle. MathRider shines behind the scenes. All of the questions are analyzed so that future challenge runs are more closely tailored to your child's needs. It takes into account the child's normal typing speed, correct answers, questions that were answered correctly on the second try, etc. Brennan especially liked the way that the program adjusted to his speed. He said that he felt the need to pay attention and answer the questions, but he didn't feel overly stressed trying to rush or pressured to type it as fast as he possibly could.

Perhaps the best way to let you get a feel for the game is to share their promotional video. As a side note, the first time I really noticed the background graphics was when I watched the video. When I played the games, I was so busy paying attention to the math problems that I barely registered the mountains in the background.

The MathRider program download costs $37; it's currently discounted from its regular price of $49.95. You can install it on one computer, and it works for an unlimited number of riders. That makes it an especially good deal if you have younger students needing to practice addition facts and older students needing to practice their times tables.

My kids didn't think MathRider was any better or any worse than any of the other drill options that we've tried. They weren't necessarily motivated by the quest story line or earning the flag that flies on their homescreen. They only drill math facts because I require it. In the end, though, I think they both achieved faster math facts recollection by completing their quests on MathRider. If you'd like to see what other homeschool kids thought, be sure to check out additional reviews on The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew blog.

I downloaded a trial copy of MathRider for free as a member of the 2010 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, and I received no other compensation. In return, I agreed to give an honest review of the materials and how they worked for my homeschool family.

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