Wednesday, December 17, 2008

ALEKS, a TOS Homeschool Crew Review

I first heard about ALEKS (Assessment and LEarning in Knowledge Spaces) at a night out for moms who homeschool, when I was listening in on a conversation, as one parent asked about help teaching math. A veteran homeschooling mom recommended ALEKS. She said that when one of her children is struggling with math, she signs them up for a month of ALEKS, for just under $20, and she is able to pay month-to-month as needed. ALEKS allows the child to work at his or her own pace, the mom explained, and she liked the fact that during times when a child might be frustrated with a parent as teacher, that some time on a web based product takes the parent temporarily out of the "equation" and allows the child to practice independently.

What is ALEKS? I'll borrow from the ALEKS web site for a one-sentence description: "ALEKS is a web-based, artificially intelligent assessment and learning system." It's on "on-line math tutorial program".

The set up required that I download some software, and I had some problems using the program after I had done everything the site told me to do, and after I checked and rechecked it. I gave ALEKS a call and reached Pedro, who walked me through some troubleshooting and had us up and running rather quickly. Their customer service gets an A+ from me!

For homeschoolers, the programs range from 3rd grade math through 12th grade, and while I was pretty sure my 9 year old isn't ready for 3rd grade math, I sat her down at the computer for the assessment. My daughter is on the autism spectrum, and we are working on developmental delays in information processing that interfere with understanding academics. Because ALEKS requires that a child be able to read and comprehend instructions and word problems, my daughter is not ready to use ALEKS.

So, I signed up her siblings in order to get a "real life" look at the product, and interestingly, one child really enjoys ALEKS and the other one does not. ;) Go figure.

The child who enjoys ALEKS is ahead of peers in academics and is very self motivated, and saw filling in the "pie" of skills mastered and skills to be mastered as a challenge.

The child who wasn't as thrilled with ALEKS isn't as self motivated and doesn't tackle academic challenges in the same way, although this child was quite capable with it, and would sit down and practice when asked.

I continue to find new-to-me homeschooling products that I will purchase, and that I would enthusiastically recommend to others, and ALEKS is one of those. When my daughter w/ autism is ready for what ALEKS has to offer, we will utilize this program to help me supplement what we are doing at home. I'll sign up a sibling if we hit a stumbling block in math. It's cheaper than human tutoring and with ALEKS, the student gets unlimited access to the program during the subscription period.

In addition to $19.95 per month, ALEKS offers 6-month and 1-year packages, and they also offer family discounts for multiple children.

They believe in their product so strongly, that they generously offer one-month free trials for new users. Check it out! I think you'll be impressed! Get your one-month free trial here.

And, as always, additional review from my fellow Crew members are available to you here.


PaintCrazy said...

I have been using Aleks for about six weeks now for my 10 year old daughter. She LOVES it. It's easy for her to see what she's accomplished and I LOVE the assessments. They tell me exactly what she's learned, how long it's taken, and what she needs to learn next. I can also compare what she's learned against the state benchmarks. For some homeschoolers this is getting a little closer to "public education" than they want to go but I personally like that I can see how she measures up without using standardized

All that being said - my daughter is a high achiever and doesn't need much explanation to catch on. I tried ALEKS for my 11 year old ADHD son with some LD issues and it was a disaster. He's much better off with MathUSee.


Penny said...

I completely left out the part about the reports for parents--one really cool feature! Thanks, Michelle, for reminding me!

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