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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this website.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that IXL is a comprehensive tool that provides math and language arts practice. While the content does extend to younger ages/grades, it's at around the fifth-grade level that the site really begins applying lessons in an extensive manner, with more complicated content. Kids can try the skill exercises for free, but they'll be limited to a small number of problems per day. You must be a member to access IXL's unlimited exercises, tracking, awards, and certificates. Membership fees range from $9.95-$19.95 per month and $79-$159 per year based on the number of subjects your child wants to learn. The site's Continuous Diagnostic tool helps identify what students already know and what they need to learn. Pre-K and other young children may need support and verbal directions from a parent or teacher. There are parent resources on their site. An app is available for iPad, Android, Chromebook, and Kindle Fire devices. The Android and Chromebook versions cover the same four areas as the site, but the Apple-friendly version includes only the math and English curricula, while the Kindle version has just K-6 math.
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What's it about?
IXL offers more than 7,000 practice modules on Common Core pre-K through high school math and language skills. It also features language arts, science, and social studies for second- through eighth-graders. Kids repetitively practice one lesson at a time, earning certificates and virtual awards that reflect their favorite animals, foods, places, and hobbies for completing work, and they get step-by-step explanations for incorrect answers. After registering, parents can access progress reports to evaluate kids' strengths and weaknesses.
Is it any good?
This academic skill-building site/app gives kids a chance to partake in independent practice and focus on areas where they need or want to improve. For example, at the sixth-grade level, IXL presents 320 math skills practice activities. Parents can view kids' scores for various skill exercises, the questions they answered, and other specific information to differentiate instruction for their child. The "Trouble Spot" report can be very useful in quickly identifying where kids are having a hard time and where they need extra help.
IXL's practice-and-drill approach may not thrill some kids, and some could feel they need to focus on getting the answer right every time, instead of viewing each exercise as a learning experience. But the questions -- which range from basics such as counting to geometry's perpendicular bisector theorem, as well as a range of grammar and vocabulary items -- offer consistent progression; they increase in difficulty once kids reach the challenge mode. Kids also get detailed feedback if they answer incorrectly, along with the chance to continue with the same skill to try to apply what they've learned. This can greatly improve their comprehension of difficult concepts. Adding tools like a virtual sketchpad would be great, and the subscription cost, which kids will need for full access, may be a deterrent for some parents. But overall, IXL is a comprehensive learning resource.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how practicing skills leads to confidence and accuracy. What's a skill you struggled to learn that you possibly could have studied with the help of a site like IXL? How did you feel when you improved? What other skills would you like to improve?
How can you use the math skills you're practicing in the real world? When do we use addition in everyday life? How about algebra?
Kids can see an explanation if they enter an incorrect answer. Does your child feel stressed out if that happens? Talk about why it's OK to not get things right sometimes when you're learning something new.
- Subjects: Language & Reading: reading, vocabulary, writing clearly
Math: addition, algebra, arithmetic, counting, division, equations, fractions, functions, geometry, graphing, grouping, measurement, money, multiplication, numbers, patterns, probability, ratio, sequences, shapes, statistics, subtraction
Science: astronomy, biology, chemistry, ecosystems, energy, plants, weather
Social Studies: geography, government, historical figures, the economy, timelines
- Skills: Self-Direction: work to achieve goals
- Genre: Educational
- Topics: Numbers and Letters
- Pricing structure: Free to try, Paid (Kids can access 10 free questions in each overall subject area per day. A core subjects subscription is $19.95 a month or $159 a year; a pre-K to 12th-grade math and language arts subscription is $15.95 a month or $129 a year; an individual math, language arts, or Spanish subscription is $9.95 a month or $79 a year; and Spanish exercises can be added to any other package for $5 a month.)
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