I’ve been experimenting with how to approach maths with my boys and to be honest none of them have stuck. Often they would get on with what I had challenged with them, but there was something really niggling at me that it just didn’t feel right. I’ve tried books. I’ve tried a couple of online sites.
The latest one I tried was IXL. I chose it partly as a comfort factor that the boys would be practicing the curriculum topics. It keeps track of their progress and achievements which gives me the ability to prove to the ‘education authority’ that they are doing ‘work’. But the more we used it (over the past month), the more I disliked it.
It reminded me of school. (It was boring). It was incredibly repetitive. Their scoring system was incredibly frustrating too – one wrong answer would take away a bunch of points, meaning they would have to do even more questions to reach the ’100′ goal. I found the frustrating the small amount of times I helped them through some questions.
It just didn’t feel right. So I asked them if we should ditch IXL. And they said yes. So we have!
In it’s replacement we are going to be using Khan Academy. The great thing here is that the technology and videos are so far ahead of anything that IXL or similar could achieve. It also covers much more than maths. We started using it with much fun last week – exploring the games and programming. My boys successfully managed to manipulate numbers to get the characters in already created games (in this case DarkJumper) to do different things – like jumping faster, higher, lower, etc. Along the way they figured ways of hacking/cheating to get the highest score and managed to crash the application (by using numbers in the program that were too big).
There are awards/points/badges in Khan Academy too though I think they are implemented in a much nicer way. It’s also great that Khan Academy is free. Yay.
Our first experiences are good and the plan in the new year is to make this a daily habit. Ideally spending 1 – 2 hours on Khan Academy. The rest of the day is then free to do *whatever*.
I also plan to get stuck into it. Doing activities they are doing and also learning more about programming.
After making my decision to go with Khan Academy I also happened to come across this video where the founder of Khan Academy talks about his story. It makes my decision to use it feel even more right.