Thursday, June 21, 2012

K5 Learning Review

Several weeks ago I shared how I was given the opportunity to try K5 Learning.  Although it is an "after-school" program, I knew it could be a good supplement to our homeschooling.

What is K5?
K5 Learning is an online study program for students in Kindergarten through 5th grade, and is designed to build reading, math and study skills.  For more FAQ type information, check out What is K5?

How does K5 work?
There is a separate parent and student login area, so children have a user-friendly, add-free dashboard, that is very simple to navigate.  The parent dashboard allows you to see your child's progress and view reports.  It is recommended that you begin with the assessment so that lessons can be adjusted to reflect their skill level, meaning they can't just work the easy lessons and are challenged appropriately.  Parents have the option to select the grade level for lessons as well.  It is recommended that students work in short lessons (which I agree with) twice a week, or more if desired.

The Assessment
I requested both the reading and math assessments, just so I could see where they would place him.  The assessment said it could last anywhere from 30-45 minutes, and I felt like that's much too long, but both only took about 20 minutes each, which is still over our typical time limit, but not unbearable.  The segments were short, varied and there were short games between some of them.

These are not true diagnostic assessments to determine an accurate grade level, and K5 makes that clear.  They are to find an approximate level to place the student for lessons.  I can look at Elliott's results, and get an approximate idea of his reading and math skills.  The assessment also lists individual skills, so I know which areas are my child's weakest or strongest points.  

Reading Placement (Instruction)
 Phonemic Awareness Low 1st
 Phonics Low K
 Sight Words Low 1st
 Vocabulary Inter. K
 Reading Comprehension Low 1st

Math Placement (Instruction)
 Number and Operations Low 1st
 Measurement Low 1st
 Geometry Low 1st

Above Grade Level: student is placed at the next highest grade level.
At Grade Level: student is placed at the appropriate ability level.
Below Grade Level: student is placed at the appropriate ability level.
Mastered: student is exempt from instruction. Student has scored the highest level in Phonemic Awareness, Phonics or Sight Words.

From these charts, I know that he is above grade level in all individual skills, and that his lessons will be at the next highest grade level for each one.  I feel this is beneficial for parents who are using K5 long term to improve skills or fluency.

The Lessons
The lessons are age/skill appropriate and seem about the same as other similar websites. For instance, if the lesson in on sight words, it will show a word, say it, and then give a sentence and illustration. The student is to click on the appropriate word. This repeats about 4 or 5 times before moving to the next word. Math lessons on number order might ask you to place numbers in order, reverse order, or to complete a dot-to-dot. The lessons vary, so you aren't completing the same type of questions over and over, though I didn't notice a way to save a lesson. If we stopped, we had to start it over completely, and this frustrated the 5 year old. Perhaps I overlooked something, though.

There's also sections on Spelling and Math Facts, but we didn't get to them. I did look through them myself, and I assume they would be great for slightly older students who are working on fluency, but we just aren't that far along yet.

He likes the lessons well enough when I suggest them, but not enough to ask for them. It breaks up the monotony, but I agree with K5's suggestion that the lessons should be used as a supplement only a few times a week. Otherwise it might become too much, especially for a child that likes variety.

On a side note, the graphics and lessons have a very "young" feel to them, so if they are similar in upper grade levels, I imagine that older students might feel that it is babyish.

Parental Wishes
I don't have any real complaints about the program, except that sometimes it becomes repetitive with the instructions. For example, if the program thinks the student is taking "too long" to answer, you may hear the audio start repeating the instructions/question. By this time Elliott was trying to click the answer and it was still talking, thus preventing him from answering. This was also a problem in one particular type of lesson where it repeated the question for EVERY single example, even though every question was in the same format. This was also a little frustrating for a 5 year old.

Overall I enjoyed the program, but I would like to get a little further into our reading and math before I decide if he needs a supplementary subscription service. If the time ever comes for that, though, K5 Learning is definitely one I would consider.

Disclaimer: I received a complimentary six week trial of K5Learning in exchange for my honest review. The opinions expressed are mine and mine alone.

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