We had a chance to review IXL. IXL offers Math curriculum for Preschool through 12th Grade as well as Language Arts for grades 2nd through 8th. We had the opportunity to review both the IXL Math and the IXL Language Arts. IXL offers skills that are available for state standards, which I have found really helpful in guiding our learning.
We received a one-year membership for our review. Because we had the opportunity to review it last year as well, we continued our current membership with all three children. This is one resource we have continued to use, and I was definitely excited for the chance to review it again! With an IXL account, each child (and myself) are designated with a specific icon, so even younger children are easily able to identify their account.
For our IXL review we used IXL Second Grade Math with our oldest two children (ages 8 and 6) and Preschool Math with our youngest son (age 4). We use it in addition to our current Math curriculum as it is intended to be practice to supplement and reinforce learning. The kids practice on IXL 3-5 times per week, though our youngest may only practice 2-3 times per week as he is still on a casual schedule.
Computer time here is a great chance for the kids to learn independently, and IXL has made this easier than ever. Previously, there was the option to have problems read to a child in the younger grades, but they have now expanded this to the older grades, which is a great relief for our family with delayed readers. I simply had to change the setting in the account and it works for both the computer and the app. When a question is answered incorrectly, it doesn’t always read the solution, which can be tricky because I need to be sure I’m paying attention to explain any incorrect answers or they will just move on without even trying to understand why they got it incorrect!
IXL offers different ways to approach practice. What we did for this review is instead of just going to their grade and picking skills from their grade, I referred to the Texas Standards (the state in which we’re living), and would choose incomplete skills from that list. This means some of them may be 1st Grade Skills even though they are in 2nd Grade Math because they hadn’t yet completed it on IXL. They were skills they knew, but again, IXL is for additional practice. So we do 1-3 sessions from list of the standards each time we practice.
If you follow my blog regularly, you know I am not one to get overly concerned with standards, but I do find this is a great guide, and I know it is a feature many families would find useful! From this screen I can see what they have completed, what they have started, and what they haven’t yet started.
IXL uses a “Smart Score” system to help them master a skill. They start by answering basic problems for that skill, and as they progress through the skill the difficulty level increases. As they get the answers correct, their Smart Score increases. If a problem is missed the Smart Score will decrease. Once they reach 100 points they have “mastered” that skill. This has been one of my favorite approaches. Sometimes this takes less than 30 problems or it can take MANY problems depending on how much work they need to learn that skill. Generally, I set a time limit (a timer is shown as the child is working on a skill) or have them finish when they master the skill – whichever comes first. This helps avoid frustration for those that may be more difficult.
The IXL 2nd Grade Math really covers a lot of material. There are a total of 247 Skills covered including Counting and Number Patterns, Comparing and Ordering, Time, Addition and Subtraction (one, two and three digits), Data and Graphs, Properties, Geometry, and more!
There is an Awards system in place, which has always encouraged our kids to keep practicing even if the skill is taking a little longer to master! Even if they don’t master that particular skill the first time, they still may earn an award based on time spent practicing and total number of questions answered. They are always getting excited about what Award they may get, and now that they are in a different grade, it is a whole new Award Chart, so it’s even more exciting! The kids love the sea, so they were definitely excited about the theme of the 2nd Grade Award Chart!
Although we started the Pre-K Math with our 4 year old last year, he has really gotten more involved with it this year. The Pre-K Math offers a total of 42 skills. It has 10 categories, and 3-4 skills per category. It covers Shapes, Counting, Comparing, Size, Money (basic coins), Size, Classifying, and Positions. Mastering a skill isn’t quite as difficult for the Pre-K level. Particularly, he doesn’t lose as many points with an incorrect answer. I think this is appropriate given how easily frustrating a little one can get!
We have also been using the Second Grade Language Arts with both of our older children. We use the Language Arts for additional practice 2-3 times per week. Language Arts is a harder subject for our children, but definitely important. Because the Language Arts does not read the problems, this is additional time for me to work with them. One on one lessons are a little harder, though, which is why we don’t use it as often.
I am sure not to intervene with the answer they choose even though it is tempting to ask “are you sure?” I know if I intervene it will defeat the purpose of the the way it is set up for mastering a skill. Overall, it does work out well for us, and this time I’m right there to discuss missed questions so they don’t move on without understanding why they got something incorrect.
The Language Arts does not offer the option to view state standards, so we choose skills based specifically on the grade level. The 2nd Grade Language Arts includes a total of 86 skills. Skill include Sentence Types, Subject and Predicate, Irregular Past Tense, Capitalization, Commas, Letters, Titles, Nouns, Pronouns, and so much more!
Another feature of IXL is the Parent area where I can access reports for all of the children. I can view them as an overview, a proficiency assessment to see which skills they have mastered or which need improvement, performance by category or skill (I often use performance by skill to get a “daily grade” for my personal records because it shows number of answers correct versus number of problems attempted), and more. I can also view their progress, trouble spots, improvement over time, as well as the performance by state standards. I also receive regular email updates when any of the children reach a certain milestone as well as regular updates.
I am really impressed with everything IXL covers, and I love that it has offered our children the chance to have more independent time and feel accomplished. Plus I get a chance to have more one-on-one time with them as well when we work on Language Arts! The thorough reports are wonderful, and I feel like I don’t have to rush and take notes on what was done that day because I know they will be there for me to view at any time!
A subscription for IXL.com is $9.95/month for only Math, $9.95/month for only Language Arts, or $15.95/month for both. A yearly subscription is also available for $79.00 per year for one subject or $129.00 per year for both subjects. Each additional child is $20/year. IXL also offers an iPad app, which we use frequently and love! Plus they just recently added the Language Arts to it!
Many members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew have been reviewing IXL Math and/or Language Arts for a variety of grades/ages, so be sure to check out all the reviews by clicking on the button below!
Michele Ash says
WOW! This Math and Language Arts – IXL Sounds terrific for you as a homeschooling parent! I love how it enables you to pick whichever level you want your children to learn on! I would think it is so hard to keep an eye on 2 children working at their own pace to know when one has made a mistake and moved on! It sounds like you are really impressed by this system! That is terrific! I’m glad that you are able to use this in your homeschooling needs! I was wondering if you had to keep up with the Texas state requirements for schooling in order to progress your child from one grade to the next. Thanks for this Wonderful review and the information on how you are using this! I honestly do appreciate it! Thanks again, Michele 🙂
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Yeah, homeschool laws vary by state. Texas doesn’t have any specific requirements other than teaching the main subjects, but we don’t have to report it to anybody or take any state tests.
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