ALEKS (Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces) is a web-based math program that uses artificial intelligence to customize math instruction to your child's needs. When you chose a course for your child, he is given an initial assessment to determine what skills they've already mastered and what skills they need to learn. When the assessment is over, the computer generates a pie chart that summarizes the student's current knowledge and shows him what topics he can learn next.
Addison's favorite part was these pie graphs. Brennan also seemed motivated to finish working in a particular area so that he could see that section of the pie completely shaded.
Both of my kids appreciated that the program didn't make them spend a lot of time reviewing material that they already knew well. On the other hand, though, they didn't like the way that they would be asked a question, and then they'd either guess incorrectly or admit that they didn't know. I guess they'd like the program to read their minds and stop asking questions when they get to something they haven't learned. They didn't necessarily mind answering, "I Don't Know" in the assessment, but they found it frustrating when they were trying to learn new topics. They prefer to be taught first, and then asked questions.
In terms of the teaching, both of my children had a little trouble adjusting to written explanations (see example below) after spending the past few years working with video math based instruction. Brennan in particular didn't really catch on to some new topics when they were presented. It was fairly easy for me to help him read through the explanation so that he could understand it, but it wasn't always something that he could do independently.
As a parent, I like the broad spectrum of topics covered. From my experience looking at the product, my children were introduced to a lot more math related topics than they have seen with their current math curriculum. If I cared about their standardized test scores, I'd be tempted to get a subscription just prior to testing so that they could brush up and be familiar with all the topics they could see. For older grades, I might purchase a subscription so that I can make sure that they have a firm grasp of all the topics that would normally be included in that course. For instance, when Addison finishes her regular pre-Algebra course in a few months, I might have her use ALEKS as a review and to fill in any gaps before she moves on to Algebra 1.
I appreciated all of the tools ALEKS provides for parents. I could log in to my account and see how long each child worked, find out how many topics they covered, track their progress, assign new assessments, and create quizzes. When I created a quiz for Brennan, I could chose to make it a cumulative review or to have it cover a few selected topics that I want to emphasize.
Parents of older students might appreciate ALEKS college credit options. (You can read more about it here.) This is something that I will consider for my kids when they start taking advance classes. In addition to several math options, ALEKS also offers some upper level science courses. I tried out College Chemistry and found it quite challenging.
ALEKS costs $19.95 per month, with discounts available for six-month and one-year subscriptions. There are also family discounts when you are purchasing for at least six-months.
If you'd like to see what other homeschool families thought about ALEKS, you can find their reviews on The Old Schoolhouse Homeschool Crew blog.
Also, ALEKS has generously allowed me to pass along a special offer to any new users that are reading my review. You can click the button below to request a free one-month trial so that you can see for yourself how it will work with your child. (Normally, their free trial is only for a few days.)
I received a one month subscription to ALEKS for two of my children (and another subscription for me to use) 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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