Friday, March 25, 2011

Helping Your Children Get A's

One of the latest reviews our family has had the opportunity to review is called BigIQKids.  This is an online educational program that covers four areas designed specifically for grades K-12. We were graciously given two premium memberships for the review process.  So I signed up both my 2nd grader and my K5.
The Program:
The four areas that BigIQKids concentrates on is Spelling, Math, Vocabulary and US Geography.  Their purpose is to help your child become as well as keep your child a 100% A+ student.  BigIQKids has not only a free membership, but also a Premium membership.  You can read about the differences in the two memberships here.
You are encouraged to have each child log in daily and do their lessons (in each area.)  Each lesson should take about 15 minutes and your child will not be advanced to the next level until they have reached a mastery level on the individual level they have been working on.  They also have built in tests and quizzes that help make sure that a real 'mastery' has been reached.

Another cool feature is that the lessons can be customized.  That means you can make the lessons match your own curriculum or you can let the program just "be."  And as the teacher you will want to keep up with your child's progress.  So BigIQKids sends email reports to you with the details about your child's learning experience. You can also check out how they are doing in each of the programs under Reports. If you would like to learn more about each of the four areas of study you can read more about those here.  For pricing, please check out their pricing page.

BigIQKids has also created an immediate built-in reward program.  After each lesson you earn a game coin which can be used right away or accumulated to use later.  The games are arcade-like.  Once your child has earned their first coin they can go and create/design their own 'avatar.'

Our Experience:
Both of the girls had fun with this program.  Ari was able to use it mostly on her own.  She liked many of the features.  In the math section it has a side panel that can be used for 'scratch paper' and she would use that occasionally, when she had forgotten to grab her notebook.  She also loved the games.  She would tend to collect as many as she could and then use it on her favorites (which I think was the "dress-up" game.)

Audrie also was able to use the program, although not all of it.  Since she isn't yet reading (we are working on that though) she couldn't really do the US geography or vocabulary at all.  She mainly focused on the math and spelling.  I would generally be in the room with her while she was working on the spelling one to make sure she was understanding what the word was.  She told me tonight that the math was her favorite part. (and this picture depicts multiplication, but Audrie wasn't doing multiplication. ;) )
My Thoughts:
All of the instructions are done audibly by one of their 'tutors', Alexis or Jake, which can be either a pro or a con.  It is helpful for someone who is not a reader or a struggling reader.  The con is that the 'voice' is computerized and sometimes it is difficult to determine what has been said.  This can be a problem during the spelling or vocabulary portion where you need to hear the word in order to answer the question.

The games have advertisements all over them, which I would prefer not to have available, especially as a premium member.  That's part of the reason for "premium."   The accidental click of a mouse on an advertisement could really cause some issues. Furthermore, most of the games are just silly and not terribly educational.

Another thing that seemed redundant was the customization.  You had to do it in each area separately.  I wish there would have been just one location to access all your customizable features.

Overall this program has it's place, especially if you have a struggling student in any (or all) of these areas.  I don't think that I would have paid for this program, but I definitely would have taken advantage of the free portions to see if this would be a good fit for my child and family.

I hope you all take some time and check out what other Crew members thought about BigIQKids.

*** I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of money for any of my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences with the products and services that I receive.***

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