When to Outsource Math: Thinkwell Review {A Homeschool Review Crew Post}

Monday, November 18, 2019


I complained earlier this school year about the girls' difficulty with math, and I think we're doing a lot better now. I have the opposite problem with John Paul, who is 10. I can't get him to do math slowly enough. It has ended up costing a ton in curriculum materials, much of which he ends up not needing and blowing through extremely quickly. So this year when I got him his Geometry course in August, I expected it to last us at least until December. Then Thinkwell offered an online Geometry course, and I thought that might be a good way to supplement his current program. Then in the couple of weeks between the offer and the link being sent, he finished Geometry!!! Thankfully, they were able to switch and send us access to Algebra 2 instead. (Thinkwell lists this chronologically as coming before Geometry, but in my experience, Algebra 2 has always succeeded Geometry)

John Paul started right away with his Algebra 2 course, excited to jump back into polynomials after the trigonometry and proofs he had finished up with in Geometry. He was very pleased to be working on the computer, because he hopes to learn computer programming as soon as I will let him have more access to screens (for now he does his coding on graph paper, poor deprived child). The online lectures and practice problems allowed for immediate feedback and grading, and he eagerly completed as many lessons as I would let him!

Even my younger children clustered around the computer for every online lecture, fascinated by Professor Burger. They lost interest as soon as the video ended, but the concepts seemed to be sticking for John Paul.

We realized the course wasn't entirely intuitive after he was well into the second chapter and I asked how he had done on any tests and quizzes... He hadn't taken them! They were listed separately from the lessons and practice, so John Paul hadn't noticed that he needed to click a separate section to be assessed. Once he figured it out, he blew through all of them quickly, correcting the occasional wrong answer after finishing the quiz. I appreciated that when he got a problem wrong, he was given a similar problem to try again with, instead of the exact same problem.

Overall, this has taken a big load off of me, because I don't have to do any grading or try to explain concepts that I haven't studied in nearly 20 years. I wish the program emailed me his progress so I didn't have to log into the Thinkwell portal to access that information, but I imagine that's something they'll be adding in the future.

Our previous math program had videos on DVD, and we misplaced our DVD player, so the lessons just... Didn't get watched. Having everything available online is a huge help, although we still have a lot of work to do in terms of learning how to use technology properly. Evidently having computer access inspired John Paul to change the computer background, reorganize the photos, and change the sounds. I suppose it's a good thing he doesn't know any computer programming yet, or who knows what else he might have done...

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