In the few short years that my children have been a part of the public elementary school system, I have been disheartened by the cutbacks to classroom services and supplies. Teachers are expected to teach character traits, such as respect and integrity in addition to a jammed-packed curriculum, to an overflowing classroom of students without the assistance of aids. In many cases support services for children is harder to come by and the wait times to see a publically funded specialist, like an Occupational Therapist, can take many months, if not a year.
Extending and supporting our children’s learning outside the classroom is a must in today’s world. My children have been blessed to have some passionate teachers who have gone above and beyond what is required of them. Their dedication to the students is evident in the thought out extension activities that they post on their updated class website and the materials sent home.
However in my experience, it has been dependent on the teacher and I learned the hard way, at my child’s expense, there are times when a parent needs to step in.
My oldest son was never taught the correct way to form his letters or sound out consonant blends. His teacher was too busy trying to corral the rogue children in his kindergarten class who were in need of additional support. Her time was spent managing behaviour and my quiet, unassuming, child slipped through the cracks. All around it was an unfair situation.
I took matters into my own hands:
I put to use my degree in social sciences and education.
I leaned on my short experience as a classroom teacher.
I reached out to former colleagues and friends who are teaching.
I researched how to best support my child at home.
I stopped making excuses and stopped worrying if the teacher would like me.
The great news is, is that there is a plethora of resources available on the Internet. The time consuming act of weeding the good from the bad is a considerable downside.
While I have found many successful (and more than a few flops) ways to further my children’s learning, I wanted to share with you a math website that earns a gold star in my book.
Math IXL is an interactive math website that breaks down the math curriculum units based on your child’s grade. Each segment has modules that build on the concepts previously learned. For example the grade 3 money unit looks like this:
- Count coins and bills – up to $5 bill
- Which picture shows more?
- Purchases – do you have enough money – up to $10
- Making change
- Inequalities with money
- Put money amounts in order
- Add and subtract money amounts
- Add money amounts- word problems
- Price lists
As the student works through the modules they receive a score and an encouraging email each week graphing their success. The parent also receives a weekly report outlining the amount of time the student spent during the week on math practice and the scores. Areas of weakness are easy to identify and similarly, improvement is tracked.
My boys enjoy this math program immensely. In the few months that they have been practicing with IXL, they have improved their skill level, their confidence has increased and they have become more computer savvy.
Some critics point out that the modules are improving rote mathematical skills and not necessarily developing higher-level critical thinking. While that may be true, I believe there is a value in knowing the facts before one can draw more abstract conclusions. Regardless, I don’t need the critics to weigh-in. The only proof that I need is seeing how much more confident my son is when he sits down to complete his math homework.
* I have not received any compensation for recommending this program. It may not be suitable for your children. The math modules are based on the curriculum of your home province/country and currently there are more than 150 countries the program services. There is a cost – roughly $11 per month for two users.