Thursday, 7 November 2013

IXL-Practice that feels like play

IXL Logo photo ixllogofixed.png IXL is an on-line educational practice site that I have had the opportunity to review. Its motto is Practice that feels like play. In the UK, this covers maths from reception to year 12. Year 13 is being prepared. In the US, IXL also includes language arts for children in 2nd to 4th grades which would be UK years 3 to 5. This isn't yet ready for the UK market and doesn't show up on the website seen from here.


I was delighted to have this opportunity as UK IXL  is aligned with the UK National Curriculum for maths. This is important for us as the children will need to take UK maths exams. It is also unusual in that it covers maths from Reception to year 12 (ages 4+ to 16+) so was suitable for all three of my home educated children. The site states that year 13 maths is coming soon.

We tested years Reception, 2 and 9.

 Each year is divided into topics in line with the National Curriculum.
Signing up was simple and each child was given an avatar and had to chose a log-in word.
They all have access to the whole range of age work although we only used the sections from what would be the children's school year. However, the ability to move around is useful and I'm sure that Youngest Son may be using the year 1 soon.

Each section is divided into subsections, for example, in year 2 under time there are 20 subsections from days of the week to problems with elapsed time. In each section, the child works on questions with scores up to 100 although I didn't find any with 100 actual questions. If the child makes errors, it seems that they answer more questions than if they sail through. Once an error has been made, an explanation appears and the child has to click "Got it" before proceeding.

There are virtual awards that the children discover after completing a certain amount of work or time on the programme. For parents, there is a reporting page which shows how long a child has spent working, proficiency assessment based on correct scores and more. What I found useful was a weekly e-mail with details of each child's progress.

The first three years, that is up to and including year 2, have an audio function that  the child can use to read the questions to them.

What did we think?
We found IXL helpful and plan to continue using it.

Reception: I worked with my son often inputting the answers for him. It was particularly beneficial for counting practice to 20 and meant that I didn't need to find multiple sets of almost 20. I think that he has now stopped forgetting 15!

We tried the money problems but I found that teaching a child of four, at home, it was much easier and clearer to provide real coins to identify.

Much of the Reception maths curriculum can be covered by talking to a child at home so we don't intend to slavishly do every unit but appreciate that once he has finished these skills, he can just start year 1.

Year 2: We used this for a mixture of independent work and work with me. It has been helpful to have something to re-enforce topics. This week, we are working on telling the time and the practice provided by IXL has fitted in well and can be co-ordinated with that day's work.

The counting and number patterns unit is long but has led to definite improvement in skip counting and using number lines. Yes, I could provide much of this but it wouldn't be in so many formats or so attractively produced.

Whilst there is an audio option, the written information is clear and not over wordy.

I certainly plan to continue using IXLwith Younger Daughter on most working days.

Year 9: Middle Son was able to work completely independently and used the programme for revision. The difficulty that I can foresee is that it obviously doesn't enforce writing out working. However,as he starts to work for exams, IXL is a helpful way for ensuring that he doesn't forget knowledge.

IXL is available either with a monthly payment plan or as an annual charge. A monthly plan is £7.99 and an annual fee £59. Using the annual fee, each additional child can be added for £20 per year. Please note that the US pricing arrangements are different.

To read more reviews of IXL do visit the Schoolhouse Review Crew site.

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  1. Thanks for this very helpful review, I've been waiting to hear your opinion! I've always used the skills lists on IXL to get a rough idea of what we should be covering. Aaron enjoys Mathseeds but there isn't enough content to keep him going for much longer, so I think we will subscribe to IXL.

    1. Glad it has been useful. It certainly covers a fair range and, I guess, up to year 13 by the time you need it!

  2. I might have to look at that as I think J needs some maths help. I have a question that is not related to math but is related to homeschooling. Can you tell me a bit about using the library there. Do you find it helpful, is it easy to get books that you need for school? We use the library here quite a bit. Thanks,

    1. Libraries vary, ours is quite large and I go once a week with the younger children. I find it is useful for picture books and background books for art, history and geography. Our library seems to have several children's "cook around the world" type books which have been helpful. It also has an on-line catalogue, however, it isn't so useful for chapter books as so many seem unsuitable. It also doesn't have many books published in the US. We use Five in a Row and have only found three of the books in the library. I know that some US home educators have found our library system a bit disappointing for this reason. There is an inter-library loan system. In my experience, it has worked well for books which are stocked within the borough but not at all well for books from elsewhere.
      It is worth joining and investigating your local library. Most libraries don't have fines on books taken out on children's cards.
      Feel free to ask if you want to know more.