Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Kindergarten Online Math Comparison

This summer I saw Early Bird try three different math learning programs online: MoreStarfall.com, Mathseeds (off shoot of Reading Eggs,) and Dreambox.

We have been paying for MoreStarfall.com happily for a year and a half now ($35/year.) They have been adding things to it since we first signed up, and it was Early Bird's first introduction to math subjects outside of a few things I did with him. However they are games, not actual lessons. While a bright child could learn from it, they could also pick up wrong ideas if they are doing it without being taught what exactly it is they're doing. It also has multiplication and division games, again without actual teaching, which does not seem appropriate for their target audience (pre-k to 1st grade.) There is also no progression; the kids can pick whichever game they want to play without having to prove they have the skills or knowledge necessary.

1 of 5 Math Categories on More Starfall

We tried Mathseeds when we signed up for the free trial of Reading Eggs. Builder Boy took the assessment test and tested out of it. Early Bird said that he didn't want to take the test and instead wanted to start at the beginning. So he started with them teaching him his numbers and shapes (which he's known since he was 2.) But it was entertaining and fun enough that he didn't mind that it was all stuff that he knew and enjoyed it. He also enjoyed the reward system, getting to decorate his in-game tree house and changing his avatar. The Mathseeds trial period was only for two weeks, as it is separate from Reading Eggs so the codes we used for Reading Eggs didn't apply to it. You also have to pay separately for it, which is only good if you want just one or the other. From what I saw on Builder Boy's assessment test I would be interested in letting Early Bird do it if it didn't cost so much (to us.) I did appreciate that it was progressive, and that the child had to finish lower levels before advancing higher (unlike Starfall.)

I only let Early Bird try Dreambox twice. He really wanted to do what his big brother was doing, but with no manipulatives it really wasn't developmentally appropriate. I do like that for young kids they test their mouse skills before letting them play, to make sure they have the computer skills to even use the program. Early Bird has the mouse/computer skills, but wasn't able to connect what he knows with what they had on the screen. Dreambox is working really well for Builder Boy; Early Bird just isn't ready for it yet.

Overall, I would say that math should not be done on a computer for kindergarten level children. Math readiness skills like number recognition, counting, learning shapes, sorting, and patterns are fine. But when it comes to actual math; combining numbers and such, it should be done in person with manipulatives. This year I am going to start Early Bird on Right Start A and see how he does. It will be my first time teaching a subject on different levels, and I'll have to do it individually. Something new for me to learn!

I don't get paid for linking to or reviewing these sites. All opinions are my own.

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