Wednesday, January 5, 2011

TOS Review: Math Facts NOW!

I've probably mentioned this before, but I've been seriously spoiled by my firstborn.  Read early, learns easily, interested and dedicated...  I figured all kids were like this, but then along came the other three.

If Ryan learned his math facts easily, then Aaron is the polar opposite.  He fights me every step of the way, and nothing I've tried so far has really been "his thing".  I've lamented over and over that someone needs to write a computer (because Aaron learns best using the aural/visual/kinetic environment of computer learning) program that teaches and drills the math facts.  But not just that.  It needs to keep track of what the child is and isn't learning.  It needs to be a lot more than that, but those things are the basics.

And Math Facts NOW! does a pretty good job of covering the basics.

Math Facts NOW! is not a game, it isn't full of sound effects and cheesy music.  It's a straight up math fact drill program that you get to control.  The program can be purchased via online download ($15.95) or on a CD ($15.95 plus $3.95 shipping).  You install it on the computer in less than 5 minutes and then go through a very simple setup.  You can input as many children's names as you'd like, and then you can set up the lessons you want each child to work on.  You can choose from addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.  After that, you choose the numbers you want the child to work on.  Then you get to choose how many seconds they get to input each answer, how many times they have to re-do a problem they get wrong, and how many problems they have to get correct to finish that lesson.  The best part is that you then get to decide whether they earn a reward for doing that lesson, and what the reward is (something you give them).

I like the idea of rewards and it definitely appeals to Aaron as a "learning tool".  We decided that I would assign 25-problems at a time, and each lesson he completes earns him 5 pieces of a LEGO set.  He can try to earn a 50-piece set, or he can work towards a gigantic 1000+-piece set, if he wants.  When he passed the 50-piece set in one day and kept going, I was pretty sure that he was willing to do the thing he hates (work on math facts) to earn the thing he really wants (big LEGO sets).  This is unprecentented!  I couldn't PAY him (yes, embarrassingly, I tried) to listen to the math facts CDs I purchased, and no amount of bribing (embarrassed again) with Nintendo DS or Wii time would induce him to play the math facts games I'd bought.

Anyway, after you set all this up, the child can open the program, select their name, and then select their lesson and get going.  Once they've finished, the program records the lesson results, including the time and date they completed the lesson, how long it took them, how many they answered correctly, how many they answered correctly, how many they answered too slowly and the average time it took them to do each problem.  You can print these results, if you want.  You also have the option of viewing a progress report on each child, which details this same information for ALL the lessons in one place.

Overall, this is a very good, inexpensive tool for children to work on their math facts.  I had just a couple minor issues.  One, when the child gets a wrong answer, they have to input the correct answer a minimum of 2 times before they can continue.  But they don't just re-answer the question, they actually have to type out the entire equation.  If they miss 11+3=, for example, they don't just re-type 14.  They have to type out 11+3=14.  My 11-year-old is not familiar enough with the computer keyboard that typing the symbols is easy for him.  It would be nice if they only had to input the numbers and the symbols were already in place.  The other thing I would like is if each child, once they select themselves as the user, would only see their assigned lessons.  Right now the child selects his name, then selects a lesson, but the lesson list shows ALL lessons that have been created on that computer.  I've "fixed" this issue by naming each lesson with the child's name and a number (Aaron1, Aaron2, etc).  So it would be nice but it isn't by any means necessary.

Interested in finding out more about Math Facts NOW!?  Click over to their website and check out their free trial or click over here to find out what the rest of the crew thought about it.

Disclaimer: As a member of the 2010-2011 TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I received a complimentary download of Math Facts NOW! 2.0 in exchange for my fair, honest and unbiased review. No other compensation was received.

No comments:

Post a Comment