Can an App Save Our Math Lessons? Smartick Review: A Homeschool Review Crew Post

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

School started back up in August and I wasn't quite sure how much the girls' math skills had atrophied over our long break... Turns out it was a lot. This was something I'd never dealt with before! Suddenly there were temper tantrums accompanying every single math lesson because all three had magically forgotten everything they had learned over the past year.

I was exhausted dealing with it. There had to be some easy way to get those skills back! So I pretty much jumped at the chance to let them try Smartick. Smartick is an app that helps them review math skills while automatically tracking progress and offering more practice in problem areas.

The girls started the program in mid-September and have been using it almost every day since then. Not because I'm making them... Because they love it SO much! Part of it is probably that we limit screens pretty severely, so this is more screen time than they've ever gotten. But also, it's just a really well-done program. The rewards are exciting, the functionality is intuitive (particularly for my kids who really had very little fluency on tablets or computers), and they're just so proud of their progress! They earn "ticks" for every session completed, with extra ticks earned for a streak of correct answers, for going back and fixing any mistakes, or for playing games in the "virtual world."

Now, I could probably do without the virtual world. It's what gave me misgivings to begin with, because it's easy for the kids to just click around and spend forever changing their outfit & hairstyle, playing games, and generally fooling around. Then I went into settings and discovered that I could cut off access to the virtual world completely, or make it so it was only available on weekends. Score! So I changed the settings, and now the girls only have access to the virtual world on weekends, which annoyed them for half a second until one of them pointed out that now they could save up their ticks for longer and buy more expensive pets and outfits in the virtual store!

I asked my eight-year-old about her experience with Smartick, and here's what she had to say?

Would you say Smartick is hard, easy, or medium? It depends on what section you're doing. Sometimes it's easy, sometimes it's hard. Most of the time it's just medium.

The problems are intended to be on the lower range of a student's ability level, to help build confidence. As they increase their skills, the problems gradually get harder. My girls occasionally had trouble with new concepts, particularly ones that involved some level of fluency on the computer or tablet that they didn't really have!

Do you think you've gotten better at math since you started doing Smartick? I... think so? I don't know.

I've noticed all three girls have been answering their regular math problems a lot faster than pre-Smartick

Do you enjoy math more now that you're doing Smartick? I like doing math in Smartick much better than my regular math! My regular math feels a little bit easier now. But a lot of the stuff I'm doing in Smartick isn't the stuff I'm doing in my math workbook.

Smartick does a pre-test in the first few sessions to assess a student's skill level. Since we were just at the beginning of the school year, I think this resulted in my girls all starting out at a much lower level than what they're currently doing in their math curricula. It's possible to chat with support to iron that out, but since their regular math speed and fluency has improved anyway, I'm not concerned.

One interesting side-effect of using this program is that it's become a motivator for everything in our house! It's such a privilege for them to be able to have screen time every day (previously they got 10 minutes a week, so this has increased their screen time dramatically, but I haven't noticed ill effects), so if they're slacking with their usual schoolwork, chores, or general obedience, they lose access for the day. We had been having major problems with the girls acting crazy in their room after the lights were out, and all we had to do was threaten to take Smartick away one time and we went from needing to intervene 3-5 times each night to not needing to intervene at bedtime at all.  

I mentioned removing access to the virtual world, but the girls found a loophole! Apparently they can still do as many tutorials as they want even when they can't access the virtual world. I still only allow them to do one per day, and I'm about to start assigning them particular tutorials, because I know which skills they need to work on, and I like the methods Smartick uses to teach these concepts!

Every day I get an email for each student, detailing what type of problem they did and what kind of accuracy and speed they had. I worried that they would speed through the problems just to get to the virtual world or tutorials, but they're motivated to get extra "ticks" so they really have been trying hard to get long streaks of correct answers, and share their progress with each other.

We've really enjoyed using Smartick, and I do think it has helped a lot with everybody's math skills! As a family that generally tries to avoid screens, I think the novelty has been huge for the kids, and even more than a month in, it hasn't worn off! One child in particular (the earliest riser) wakes up cheerful now, gets dressed, eats her breakfast, and gets started on her math and handwriting solely so she can do Smartick as soon as we've finished up the rest of our schoolwork for the day. Now to figure out how to find a way to motivate myself to get dressed as soon as I wake up...

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Math Enrichment Program {Smartick Reviews}
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1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the review! I hadn't heard if this and will be looking into it.


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