A couple of weeks ago, my teacher friends and friends with kids in the public school system were talking (griping) about standardized testing week. I have my own issues with standardized testing as it is now, mainly that it isn’t a measure of what students are actually learning. If teachers have to change from “normal” teaching curriculum in order for students to do well on the test, there is a major flaw somewhere. This testing talk led me to search for an adequate tool to evaluate Dietrich’s learning and our progress with homeschooling. I know that he is a smart and capable boy. I also know several of the tools online are linked to expensive tutoring programs and involve lengthy evaluations (which Dietrich does not have any practice in because we don’t do long standardized forms in our homeschool). In my search, I found www.K5learning.com. Following is my review for this program:
- Free assessment offered before you sign up for anything! Free really means free on this website. Credit card information is not required until after the 14-day trial (which begins after your child’s assessment is completed). The assessment measures eight key reading and math skills.
- During the 14-day free trial, your child can use the website as often as you allow in your home, without time limits or restrictions.
- The program automatically chooses lessons based on the assessment scores, but parents can also add lessons and spelling words at any time. The program continuously monitors your child’s improvement and identifies areas of weakness. The parent portal updates in real time so you can see reports as soon as your child is done with a lesson.
- The parent portal also allows you to request another evaluation or change the grade level for your child.
- The video lessons do not say, “Good job” if your child answers incorrectly. Information is given in multiple formats and evaluated in many ways. Drilling, repetition, and memorization still matter in this program.
- This website is completely ad-free. Your child cannot accidentally click anywhere or buy anything. Safety is paramount to K5Learning, just as it is to your family. The website is about learning the fundamentals of education. They go above and beyond to protect children from dangers on the internet.
- The video modules are fun and interactive. Dietrich asks to do school work at random times of the day – like in the evenings and on weekends! He enjoys working on the computer. He likes the interactive lessons. The computer-based lessons seem to be a much better fit for us than workbooks. Though I do still have to help him, typically along the lines of “did you listen to the word?” or “let’s read that to see what the question says.” I think such things are normal for an active six-year-old boy. Dietrich feels like he gets extra time playing games while he works on the computer but in reality he’s doing school work.
- Not only is Dietrich learning about reading, spelling, and math, he’s learning computer basics such as how to log in using a password. He knows that a password is supposed to be private (but for now it is okay that mommy and daddy know). He is even learning when not to say “okay” when a screen pops up on the screen (“Do you want to restart now?”).
- If you are a parent that worries about too much screen time, K5Learning offers printable worksheets and links to other resources that would be appropriate for your child. Dietrich is more willing to do the K5 worksheets simply because of the logo.
- The lessons are taught with very little political agenda or slant. A few of them seem a little preachy about recycling and conservation, but schools started pushing that agenda many years ago. I remember it being frequently talked about during my elementary school years. I don’t disagree with these ideas – I disagree with the extremes to which politicians are willing to go to push an agenda, often sacrificing the very students they claim to be serving.
- We’ve been going through a difficult time of transition and it’s wearing on the whole family. K5Learning allows Dietrich to do school work while I focus attention on Madilynn or take care of laundry or cooking. I don’t rely 100% on K5Learning to do the job of teaching my child, but I am thankful that I finally found a tool that restores some balance to our school days and decreases the arguing about school exponentially!
Homeschooling is an adventure, a challenge, a power struggle, and a rewarding time all at once – at least in our family – and I would recommend the K5 hammer for every homeschooler’s toolbox.