Many times I look at homeschool math products with an eye towards both homeschool parents and parents of children attending a brick-and-mortar school. I actually first heard of IXL when a friend told me that her children's private school recommended it for practice. After using the program for several weeks, I think it would be great practice for any student.
* IXL is a very thorough math curriculum. It covers every math concept that I can think of and then some. Lauren's kindergarten topics included skip counting, money, graphs, measurement, comparisons, geometry, and much more.
Brennan primarily worked in the fifth grade materials, and he was sometimes practicing math concepts that he hasn't done previously. I don't know if I should be embarrassed that there are topics on his list that I don't recognize or happy that he'll be introduced to more than I remember from my math classes.
Addison looked at the 258 topics in the algebra section and declared that it covered at least as much as she learned in Algebra 1. It also included a lot of material from her High School Geometry course.
* In some cases, it took a skill that we had already covered and made my child apply it in a more difficult situation. For instance, Brennan has studied fractions and has solved for unknown variables in an equation. I'm not sure he had previously combined the two concepts into a problem as difficult as this one.
* IXL offers great record keeping for a parent. When I was traveling a few weeks ago and the kids were working on IXL at their grandparents' house, I received email updates like the one below:
I can also log onto my account and see exactly what each of my children has been working and if they have logged on for the amount of time I assigned. I can see which specific skills each child has worked on, and if I want to, I can see specific problems that they missed (including what wrong answer they submitted).
* IXL is intended to provide math practice, not necessarily math instruction. If the student does not know what they are doing for a problem, they can click on an explanation after answering the question wrong. The explanation was enough to help my children remember what they may have forgotten, but I'm not sure it was detailed enough to help them grasp concepts that were new to them. Thankfully, I'm fairly confident in my own math ability and could step in to help with the explanation if needed.
* The online format encourages my older children to try to work all the problems in their head instead of using scratch paper, even when the problem is clearly to difficult to be done without writing down some of the intermediate steps. I try very hard to get Brennan to show his work when he does his regular math assignments, but the computer practice seems to reinforce his idea that the only thing that matters is getting the final answer.
Overall, IXL is a great addition to our regular math program and really, to any math program. I like the way that it provides practice for concepts that we've already covered, fills in the gaps when we haven't covered a specific skill well enough, and stretches my children to apply their math skills in challenging ways.
A subscription to IXL.com costs $9.95 per month or $79 per year for a single student. Additional students are $2 per month or $20 per year.