I have a few sayings that my kids swear they will put on my gravestone someday. The biggest one is “practice makes perfect.” I am not sure why they find this one so annoying, other than I happen to say it a lot, because there is nothing that could be more true. It seems that my kids need more practice than others, and so I am always on the look out for fun ways for my kids to practice their skills. That is why I was so excited to be picked to review IXL Learning, which is one of the most comprehensive practice programs I have personally ever encountered. We received an annual membership of IXL for all three of our kids. Here is what we found…
A Little Bit About IXL
IXL is a comprehensive learning tool that allows students literally unlimited practice with several key subjects including language arts, math, science and social studies. You will find practice concepts in all areas including pre-K to twelfth grade, so this really can work for your whole family. They even have Spanish, so if your child is looking to learn a foreign language, they are in luck.
The best feature of IXL Learning is the sheer amount of practice they have available for students in each and every area they offer. I personally have never seen the end, and I am pretty certain there is no end to the practice questions that could potentially come your way.
For kids that find the word practice to be a bit of a dirty word, rest assured, this practice is fun. It is built with sort of a hierarchy and a leveling system so that the student starts out with easy questions. Over time, your student will build to the more difficult questions and concepts until the IXL Learning algorithm thinks he or she has mastered that skill.
Along the way, the student can earn three ribbons – red, blue and green. Once they master the skill, they earn a medal and can unlock certain prizes.
Parents receive regular emails with student progress including time spent, skills mastered, and suggested practice. Each time a student logs back into IXL, he or she is first greeted with suggested practice to help guide them with where to go next in their practice. IXL seems to use past performance to guide the learner along in their practice journey.
IXL even works on mobile devices using the IXL app. It even works on our family’s Amazon Fire Tablets. The only feature that does not work on mobile is the Spanish lessons. You can, however, access them on mobile directly from the website.
The Areas That Maybe Could Be Improved…
I happen to have a son that is a bit of a perfectionist, and will do anything in his power to avoid incorrect answers. IXL does not have instruction, at least not in the typical sense of the word. They do have testing to see where a student should begin, but they do not have areas with videos or written instruction on a particular skill.
The only way to receive actual instruction is to get an answer incorrect. Then IXL does an amazing job of telling you what you did wrong, why it is incorrect, and how to get the answer correct the next time around. This really threw my son for a loop at first. But, once he realized that getting an answer incorrect did not hurt his score or prevent him from getting a ribbon, he was fine with getting things incorrect once in a while.
My thirteen year old loves languages and was super excited that he could learn Spanish through IXL Learning. I do want to caution you that the instructions are also in Spanish, so this can be a bit alarming for perfectionist kiddos such as my own.
However, I assure you that the explanations when an answer is incorrect are all in English. Again, he got used to this fairly quickly, and this has actually encouraged him to try and figure out the Spanish instructions on his own. To be honest, he even changes his online video games to Spanish to see what he can figure out.
A Little Bit About How IXL Works
Since IXL does work a bit differently than some other online curriculum choices you may have, I thought it might be helpful to show you how it works. They are pretty wonderful and offer a certain number of questions per day for free to try it out. But, I will show you what the program looks like beyond the free questions.
The first place to begin once you have a membership is to get your students set up. Each student gets his or her own unique login that is different from each other and from the parent. The family account will have a separate login that you may want go keep fairly generic so that older kids can independently login without having to ask permission each time.
Once everyone has their logins, you will want to head to the Diagnostic area to see where each student falls in their learning. This will help you determine where to get started. If you are simply using this as an extra practice tool, you do not need to do this. It can be helpful in narrowing down what skills need practicing as there are a lot of skills available.
As your student begins to practice, he or she will begin earning incentives. There are three levels of practice. The first is the easiest, which will earn the student a score of 70 and a red ribbon. The next level is more intermediate in nature. Mastering this level will earn the student a score of 80 and a blue ribbon.
The final level is where the most difficult questions come into play, and the student can earn a score of 80 and a green ribbon. Just a few more correct answers and the student will earn a score of 100 and receive a gold medal. At this point, you can be rest assured that your student knows that skill very well and can move on.
Please note that each type of question holds a different weight based upon difficulty. This means that some incorrect answers will increase or decrease the score just slightly. Whereas, other questions will have a more drastic affect on the score. For kiddos like mine, this can be alarming and may take a bit to get used to. I have actually placed a sticky note on the screen to block out the score when it was becoming a bit of a distraction.
Parents will feel very involved as their kids practice their skills. I get several emails per week regarding where my kids are at with their practice. It even alerts me if my student has not accessed IXL Learning in a while. There is a parent area where you can see all sorts of diagnostics as it applies to your child’s learning. This is one of my favorite parts, as with online learning, I can feel less involved. With IXL Learning I can see literally everything my kids are doing.
A Little Bit About How We Used It
My daughter is an English language learner and quite behind in her learning, so she is using IXL Learning for both Language Arts and Math at the pre-K and Kindergarten levels. She needs lots and lots of practice, so this works well for her. She uses the program for 30 minutes of Language Arts practice and 30 minutes of Math practice per day.
Sometimes she answers over 200 practice questions before mastering a skill, and other times she answers 20 or 30 questions and has the skill mastered. She doesn’t seem to mind answering as many questions as it takes, and by having a time limit, it prevents her from getting bored or frustrated.
My 16 year old son uses IXL Learning just for math practice. He actually has been using IXL Learning for a few years, and IXL has played a big part in him being on grade level for math.
He has dyslexia and math is hard. IXL Learning does quiet well for kids that have learning difficulty. He loves the immediate feedback and the ability to just keep practicing. If he gets an answer incorrect, it backs up and reviews simpler concepts until he can move on freely and master the skill.
My 13 year old son is using IXL Learning for Spanish. Since he is using this as more of a fun elective, he practices when he has time. But, he loves IXL Learning’s Spanish practice, and he spends most of his tablet time doing just that. He is super excited to report that he can have a simple conversation in Spanish in just a few short weeks.
Seth (age 13)
“I like the amount of practice, the graphics are pretty cool, and the explanations are really great to help you along. I wish there was more instruction and that the questions would be in English. All-in-all, I am having fun learning Spanish with IXL Learning.”
Ruth (age 16)
“I like to practice my math and reading. It is fun, and I like the ribbons and getting a medal.”
Zachary (age 16)
“IXL Learning helps me be able to have more practice besides what the school gives me. “
“This program is great because it can be for the whole family and meets kids where they are. The amount of practice available is truly remarkable, and kids don’t seem to get bored with IXL Learning.”
Review Crew Thoughts…
You don’t have to take our word for it though. Other families on the Review Crew have also been working hard to bring you a great review. To see these reviews simply click the link below.