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Tuesday, June 6

K5 Learning Review

K5 Learning

The end of the year is a good time to take stock of skills learned during the previous school year.  What is your student #winning at?  What might s/he need a little extra help with?  Enter K5Learning – it’s an online reading and math enrichment program for elementary-aged students.  It is intended to be a supplemental program and would be perfect for summer school tutoring.  And may I just say - you have to love any program that starts every single lesson with jokes!!

K5 Learning addresses three key areas :
  • Reading has tutorials and activities covering phonemic awareness, phonics, sight words, grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension.
  • Math has lessons, exercises, and games, including numbers and operations, geometry, measurement, time, money, algebraic thinking, and data analysis.
  • Spelling is a simple spelling and vocabulary program, featuring adaptive instruction, automatic word generation, and a 150,000+ word database.

The first thing you’ll want to complete when logging on for your free trial is the assessment test.  The parent will receive a detailed report from this assessment, as well as periodic progress reports on your child’s performance within the program components.  The student will begin tutorials based on level of assessment.  So, if he’s reading at a 4th grade level, but doing math at a 1st grade level, he’ll be placed into first grade math and fourth grade reading for the games, exercises, and lessons.  For the most part, we found the assessment to fall right as expected.

However, as the parent, you have the option of requesting a different level for your child.  If the lessons are too easy (or too hard), the program can be incredibly frustrating and your student may just want to give up.  (Ask me how I know…)  K5Learning has it set up so that you can request a change in level – which we did in the math.  Our math program used different terminology than what was used on the assessment test, and so he scored much lower than was necessarily accurate.
Speaking of math, you must remember that this is a supplemental program.  Without background instruction on the concepts, the student won’t succeed.  This program isn’t designed to teach, but rather to offer more practice and drill.  Remember math fact drills?  They don’t really do those in school anymore, and it’s hurting our children.  This program will help with that….and it even does its best to make math drills fun.  (But life just isn’t always fun, now is it?)

It was the spelling portion of the program that really caused our family fits.  I like the concept of it – basic spelling and vocabulary drill.  If the word is spelled correctly, it goes away; if it’s spelled incorrectly, it keeps turning up like a bad penny until the student gets it right.  This is not what gave us issue though.  (To understand the next part, you have to remember that our youngest has special needs – particularly, speech and hearing issues. )  The computer says the word aloud, and the student it supposed to spell it.  There is no spelling list to study, and you have no idea what words might be used, so there’s not really any context to work from.  We eventually found where you could see a definition of the word, and a  picture, which was the only way either of us (mom included) were able to deduce what was being said.  I’m not sure what sort of voice generator the people at K5Learning used, but you really cannot understand the vast majority of the words being spoken…and that makes them hard to spell.

Eventually, I figured out how to input our current spelling list into the student portal so that we knew exactly which words would be selected from – and that helped a great deal with his understanding, and thus being able to spell them.   Once he was able to get through one successful sitting with the spelling program, his (and mom’s) opinion of this program changed dramatically.  We had finally worked through the kinks with both spelling and math (no real issues with reading, but then again, that’s the component we used the least).  It sounds like a lot, but it really only took us about three days to work through the kinks.  I just want you to know about them, so they won’t take you off guard and so that you have an idea of how to work around them.

One final thing to mention is the worksheets.  The program offers several tailored worksheets, based on your student’s assessment and current performance for extra hands-on / writing practice.  These are suggested at the bottom of the dashboard whenever you log in (after completing one lesson in both reading and math).  You also have the option of searching for worksheets to cover a particular topic.  They are neatly organized and easy to navigate, and there seem to be ample options for all grades (K-5).

To sum, this program seems to offer something that’s missing from today’s school setting (and I’m just as much at fault in our homeschool) – and that’s drill.  Math drill, spelling drill, reading comprehension drill.  Everyone wants something new and flashy, but by glossing over the skills and moving forward, we’re forgetting that those elementary school basics are the building blocks for success later on.  If you have an 8th grader that never fully mastered their multiplication tables, they’re going to struggle with advanced math, no matter how well they understand the basic concepts.  However, if they can whip out the basic arithmetic portion of those advanced calculations, they’ll have it made!

To get a better idea and see for yourself, check out the free sample lessons here.   The samples cover a broad range of topics so that the company can show you all the different ways they help students practice skills.  While you’re there, you should try out the two-week FREE TRIAL.  Two weeks is plenty of time to explore the site fully and determine whether it’s a good fit for your student(s).

See what others are saying about K5Learning at the Schoolhouse Review Crew!

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