This post is an unsponsored review of Aleks Math by McGraw Hill Eduaction. There are no affiliate links in this post.
We’ve been unschooling for five years and, for that duration, we’ve tried something a little different for math every few months. My kids have theoretically wanted to stay on top of this subject, but then we bust out the workbook, or program, or game, and they do it for a while before the novelty wears off. Then we take a break while we figure out the next thing. They’ve picked up a lot here and there, but it’s been pretty eclectic, and we were fine with that!
Until this year. My youngest recently discovered, thanks to a really great teacher at a program we attend, that he LOVES MATH. And that he’s good at it! So, he asked for more math this year. His older brother had a different experience: he realized that he finds in-person math classes to be really stressful, that he struggles with math, and that since he’s identified this struggle he wants to focus on this subject more, at home with me.
How can you say no to that?
Enter ALEKS Math
I love it because it’s adaptive, online, and comprehensive. I think it’s really useful for identifying and filling gaps and helping you and your child understand what they do and don’t know. It’s not the cheapest math program out there (you can’t beat free), but it’s not the most expensive curriculum out there, either. I’m homeschooling two kids this year, so with a sibling discount, I paid $169.90 for six months.
The interface is simple to pick up, and the program begins with a tools tutorial to make sure you know how it works. It feels very similar to me to online programs I’ve used for college classes. I do think they even use ALEKS in some public schools, so it’s a good fit for introducing those online class skills (if that’s a priority for your family).
The first piece after that is the initial assessment. Don’t be intimidated! If you have a younger student, there may be a lot of questions that they have no idea how to answer. That’s ok, just click the “I don’t know” option and move along. The material will be included in later lessons. If your student needs to break the assessment up into chunks, that’s fine too! The program will save your spot and you can pick it back up again when you’re ready.
After the initial assessment, you’ll find the most visual and comprehensive analysis of math skills ever. My kids and I took a minute to ooh and ahh at the pie charts showing their math strengths and weaknesses before moving on to the first assignment.
After a few lessons, my kids had roughly the same feedback: they both reported that it was easy to use, the instructions were easy to understand, and the program is always leading you right into the next step with clear directions. They both loved the step-by-step instruction and easy-to-follow path and analysis, so you always know how you’re doing and what’s next.
My more math-adverse kiddo also reported that when he got stuck, it was easy to leave something for a while to work on something else and come back to it later. I asked for negative feedback, and neither of them had any! They haven’t really made use of the videos because the written instructions were so clear, but I went and checked them out. They seem to be on par with other math videos I’ve seen, like those on Khan Academy.
As far as my own experience with the program, I’m super happy because my kids are doing math independently, without tears or anxiety! This is a totally new one for us. They actually shooed me away when I asked if they needed help.
I don’t know if it’s because the novelty hasn’t worn off yet, but I think this one’s a keeper. ⚡️