Being a homeschool mom means facing my greatest fears. Some of my biggest fears circle math. Alright, I might be joking a bit here. However, in all reality, I am just like millions of other people who do not feel confident in their math education and feel inadequately prepared for teaching their children in that subject area. In fact, this fear of math is high on the list of excuses I often get when people give me (usually unsolicited) reasons for why THEY could never homeschool as I do. Or why I shouldn’t dare to homeschool. “But how are you going to teach them Algebra? High school math is just too hard. You’ll have to put them in school for that, won’t you?” Thank goodness we live in a time when someone has solved the math dilemma for us. Recently my family has had a chance to try out a program that should solve everyone’s upper Middle School and High School math problems. My son Ezra who is just nine years old has been using UnLock Pre-Algebra from UnLock Math, and he LOVES it.
Let me share with you a bit of my son’s story. Talking about a child like this is often a little bit uncomfortable. Other people usually think you are exaggerating or you are pushing the child too hard and stealing they’re childhood or some other evil. I usually don’t even REALLY talk about it in the space of this blog. In truth, this kid just blows my general intelligence out of the water, and I often fret over how on earth little old me can meet him where he is and positively and effectively challenge him further. He is working many years ahead of his age in nearly everything. The kicker is he doesn’t understand just how advanced he is. He works at his own pace and his level with little knowledge of where other children his age operate. This presents a different quandary though. Over the years he has met challenge by building a brick wall against it. He convinces himself he is DUMB because he has to work at it a bit. I sat him down recently and drew a little chart to display for him visually what other children his age are doing compared to him. Since then he has eased up a lot on himself and has become less of a perfectionist, what should arrive in our review box just at that time but UnLock Pre-Algebra. Trying anything at the pre-algebra level would be new for him. I knew he was ready, but it still represented a good and strong challenge. Would the program be presented in a way that encouraged him? Or would he crumble in the face of something new and arduous? Time would tell.
Tell Me About The Program
Alright, enough about my son’s story. What exactly is UnLock Pre-Algebra? This is an online Pre-Algebra curriculum consisting of 16 units of study. They begin with the study of Whole Numbers and end with a study of statistics. Each unit is broken into several lessons plus a review and test. One unit can take a couple of weeks to get through depending on the topic being studied. They do provide you with something of a guide to help you pace the program so you can complete it in what is typically a school year. To do so, you’ll want your student to complete four or five lessons in a week. The lessons all include warm-up exercises, a video lesson, problems to practice, and other tasks for the student to complete with titles like… Stay Sharp and Challenge Yourself.
You should check out a sample video lesson below.
The warm-up exercises are usually made of up material the children learned in previous lessons. They are a bit of the review but also excellent for turning on the mathy part of a student’s brain. The video lessons are usually no more than ten minutes long. The teaching style is clear and understandable. Of course, since it is a video, students can rewatch as many times as they find necessary. I love that about video lessons. The practice problems can take 10-20 minutes to complete and cover what was just learned in the video lesson.
The practice problems can take 10-20 minutes to complete and cover what was just learned in the video lesson.
Stay Sharp gives children a chance to practice questions from the entire program thus far. It is meant as a review and maintenance of skills program. I appreciate that.
The Challenge Yourself section is usually a complex word problem. To me, it reads along the lines of… Two Trains left two stations running a million miles an hour, how many oranges in a bag of apples? Haha! To my son, they represent a chance to work his brain. We like to text the questions to Daddy at work, or bring them up over to dinner, to see if my husband can figure them out. Yes, we talk math problems over dinner. Feel free to call us nerdy. (Personally, my eyes just glaze over but hey, what can ya do?)
There are also Reference Notes you can download as a PDF of everything learned in this particular lesson. They are a great resource if you student needs them.
How We Have Used the Program
This one is pretty simple for this Homeschool mom of four crazy kiddos. How did we use it? I taught my son how to log on, and he took the reins and fired away at it. He works on it every day we do school. So far he has completed a couple of lessons every day. He loves it, and therefore he will typically work at it for about an hour. If he only did what was expected of him, he’d be done in about a half an hour so.
How Do We Like the Program?
As I said, my son loves it. However, don’t get the wrong impression. It may seem like it must be effortless for a little nine-year-old to be blowing through it at rocket pace. This program has been a challenge for him. He isn’t getting everything right the first time through. Not by a long shot. However, the program does allow students to repeat the work to achieve higher scores and better understanding. My son now sees a lower score as a challenge to figure out what he’s done wrong and master it. And so he does. I feared this program, which is a stretch for him, would be discouraging. However, it is so well done, with such great immediate feedback and the opportunity to rework the problems until mastery, that he doesn’t feel discouraged at all. He feels empowered to control his learning. Be still this momma’s heart! We have achieved victory here!
Let me show you some screen shots from the program….
Ezra loves this program, and so do I. I don’t have to fear upper-level math! I strongly recommend this program. It can be a great blessing to many homeschooling families.
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If your student is ready to tackle a different level of math then you’ll want to know that Unlock Math offers a variety of other levels as well including: UnLock Algebra I, UnLock Algebra II, or UnLock Geometry. To read more reviews click on the image below.