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Schoolhouse Review: IXL

IXL Logo photo ixllogofixed.png
IXL is an interactive online math program that will help children improve their math skills from learning shapes all the way to Algebra 2. Recently IXL has added Language Arts for grades 2, 3, and 4.
Membership for 1 child is $9.95 per month for one subject or $79.00 per year. Each additional child added to the account will cost $2.00 or $20.00 a year. For both subjects (Math and Language Arts) the cost for one child is $15.95 per month/$120.00 a year.

My family was blessed to receive a one year subscription for both math and Language Arts. We only used IXL math. I love that each child had access all grade levels this worked out great because at times I had a few kids go back some levels with a certain concept they were struggling with. For instance Annette was having trouble with Integers and went back two grades (she’s in 8th and went back to 6th) and completed the lessons on Integers to get a better understanding and practice them.
Once you set up your account your child can click on any grade/level. If you look at the image below and under ‘Pre-K Skills’ you will see lots of medals, well that’s because a few of my kids had so much fun doing Pre-K math (not that I have a pre-k child, sigh). As your child completes and masters the math concept they will receive a gold medal.
IXL Levels
When your child clicks on the math skill they will immediately start their lesson.
IXL Math
In the image above (Ethan’s membership) on the right there is “Time elapsed ” you can turn that off if you feel it will overwhelm or become too stressful for your child. My children preferred to have it because they could see the amount of time they had done math (it will automatically pause after a few minutes and resume once your child answers the question).

If your child answers a problem incorrectly IXL will explain and give an example of how to solve the problem.
IXL Incorrect answer
Pre-k to 1st grade have audio which I think is great so the child can have some independence. I would have liked the audio options for some of the higher grades for those who have struggling readers. This would be great for my 3rd grade son Lance.
When you go the parent account (here is my ‘mom’ button, IXL Mom =)pretty cute don’t you think?).  There is a reports link where you can see how each child is doing. There are all kinds of charts and graphs.
You can check:
  • Status updates:
    Proficiency assessment
    News flash
    Report cards
  • Usage:
    Problems received
    Skills practiced
    Usage log
  • Performance:
    Performance for category"
    Performance for skill
  • Trouble spots
  • Progress:
    Improvement over time
These come in very handy to really find out and see where your child is at with certain concepts and zero in any problems your student may have.

Here it shows what Annette has mastered her Number theory math skills.
Trouble Spots
Ethan’s has a bit more color ;)
IXL Ethan
IXL will also email progress reports. This shows how many hours each child worked and how they did. This is how I found out Caleb, Brent, and Ethan where having fun with the Pre-K and K math too. It was what they considered their ‘fun’ math after they completed their regular assignments.

You will also receive via email News Flashes. These are fun because it will say how many problems or how much time your child has used IXL. You can click on the envelop to view and print an award.
IXL Email
Something fun that the kids enjoyed was earning their awards. They had fun clicking on the question mark to see what they got. Sometimes it was a scooter or a cheeseburger.

The children would receive an award for learning something new, spending x amount of time, or mastering 5 skills in one category.
IXL Awards
Now the big question, “Would you use this as your child’s main math program?”. Before answering I did have each child only use IXL during the review period. We put away all other math programs this way I could see how the children did using IXL and get a good feel for the program.
For my family it depended on the child.

Ethan (5th grade, struggles with reading, wants to just finish school) I think he needs a bit more and IXL would work more as a supplement. The reason being is he he gets frustrated when he misses one and has a hard time understanding what he read. With that said, sitting down with Ethan and going over the concept with him until he understands it then let him continue with IXL would be another way to go.

With Annette (8th grade, diligent, good reader, will seek out the answer) she asked if she could use IXL as her main math program. I asked her if she felt that IXL explained math so she understood it. For the most part IXL did that. She continued to do the lesson until she mastered the concept. There was one time when she just didn’t understand, she would read IXL’s explanation but continued to miss the problems. She had to seek out another math program to ‘get it’. Once she figured it out and understood how to reach the answer to the math problem she was able to proceed and complete her IXL assignment. 

Joshua- (10th grade, diligent, note taker, will seek out the answer) I think Josh works best with an actual book. During the review period I have had him only use IXL and he’s done very well but at times he will spend most of his math hour seeking understanding with a concept that he’s struggling with. I like that he will take the time to figure it out but because he struggles in math IXL for him would be better as a supplement. With that said, he has really enjoyed using IXL and because he needs to master a concept to reach the 100% and to get the gold medal status, it has improved his math skills. He’s mentioned IXL has really helped him in that area by giving him lots of practice.
Sorry if I’m sending mixed signals here but Josh is not your average student. He learns so differently and to be honest I’m afraid to put all our math eggs in one basket with him.

So to answer the question, yes and no. Yes because  IXL covers what a child needs to learn in that grade/level but mom or dad will need to be available to stop using IXL when a child runs into a problem. You can then help your child understand by using manipulative, online free math sheets, or another math program (which many homeschoolers use multiple math programs anyway).

No, because it does depend on the child and how they learn. Like with Joshua and his learning style.
I would also add that with some children like Annette and Joshua they can use IXL independently. With my younger students it’s great because for the most part they can do math all by themselves BUT I wouldn’t consider it a self directed math program. They will need mom/dad to teach them when they hit a wall.

With Ethan he could go days just hopping on IXL do his 30-40 minutes and be done. Other days he’d get stuck and I would sit with him, show him, and then let him loose again with IXL.

Bottom line or should I say “the short answer”, IXL can be used as a supplement to another math program (3 days using XYZ math and 2 days using IXL or use XYZ for 30 minutes then have the child switch to IXL for another 10-15) or as ones main program but go off on bunny math trails when needed. Either way I feel IXL will help my children really master their math. We will continue using it through the school year.

I’m confident enough to let Annette stop her regular math and continue only with IXL as her main math program for the remainder of the year.

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