Friday, June 22, 2012

Take a Look at IXL Math

Chances are, if you're a homeschooler, you've seen advertisements for IXL Math.  Have you thought about buying it but weren't sure what it was like?  I know I have.  Now that I've had a chance to use it for a little while, I will share with you my thoughts and what it is like.  It may work for your family; it may not.  At least you'll have a better idea what you'll get if you purchase it.
The IXL website says it is "A Better Way to Learn Math."  It also says, "From the vibrant images that permeate IXL's skills, to the enticing awards and certificates that are hidden throughout the site, students cannot wait to hop on IXL..."  It is a very colorful website, and it is full of different topics based on your child's grade.  IXL Math covers PreK through Algebra.

I created an account as the parent under which I placed all three of my kids with their own secret word to sign in so they could work under their own profile.  They were able to choose a picture from a small collection to decorate their profile.  My daughter chose a horse since she loves horses.  The boys didn't have a choice they liked, so they chose a face.

As my kids worked through problems in their respective grades, they were asked to answer multiple choice questions.  I didn't notice any progression in the difficulty of the problems.  When my daughter worked through place value in fifth grade, it seemed to jump between easy and difficult problems.  When Jacob worked through identifying linear functions in algebra, all of the problems were roughly of the same type.  The thing I disliked most about this program is that no instruction is given.  It seems like it would be better for  a supplementary program after the topics are taught using a separate curriculum.  In my opinion, for homeschooling, this would not be a curriculum of choice.  I would not recommend any homeschooling family to use this as their sole curriculum for math.  If your child needs extra help, this would probably be the way to go.  The only instruction comes from getting a wrong answer.  The correct answer is given, and you can choose to have it explained.  The explanations are good and help in future problems of the same kind, but a child who encounters a problem that they are unfamiliar with can feel overwhelmed.  Even as I worked through some problems in algebra, I was unsure of the answers (because it has been quite a while since I have done algebra).  There also is a lot of computation that goes into some of the problems that could be made a lot simpler and still teach the concept.
IXL Screen Samples
Some screen shots of problems

As students answer questions, there is a bar on the right that keeps track of what they are answering and gives them a score out of 100.  The questions keep appearing until they reach 100.  If they incorrectly answer a question, they lose some points.  Depending on your child's understanding of the math concept, it could take a while to reach 100.  My 7th grader got frustrated with this.  He had difficulty with a topic and had done a lot of problems and was only at 60.  He just quit doing math that day.  When they hit 100, they receive awards.  These awards are virtual items they can uncover once they reach 100 points.  They are things like dinosaurs and evolutionary stages.  My son who was doing algebra uncovered the Cambrian Period.  This would not sit well with most homeschoolers.  My daughter uncovered a skyscraper, a scooter, and a bike.  I personally don't see any use for these types of virtual awards, although I am sure there are children who would get a kick out of seeing what they can earn.

Parents are able to receive, through email, feedback on their child's progress in the program.  That way, they don't need to sit with them the whole time they are working, and they know where they will need to give them extra attention.

IXL is $9.95 a month or $79 a year.  If you'd like to read what others on the Homeschool Crew have said about IXL Math, go here  If you'd like to contact IXL, you can reach them at 855-255-8800.  Their company headquarters is at IXL Learning, 777 Mariners Island Boulevard, Suite 600, San Mateo, CA, 94404.  You can also email them at

DISCLAIMER: I received this product free of charge in order to use it and provide an honest review of it.

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