Homeschooling Recap and Thinkwell Math Review

Homeschooling Recap and Thinkwell Math Review

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Thank you so much to Thinkwell Math for sponsoring this post by providing us with review copies of 6th, 7th and 8th grade math programs.

Now that our year of homeschooling is over I wanted to share a bit about how it went.

Going into this home school adventure I knew that there would be challenges that we were going to have to work through. It’s not easy to be a 12/13 year old girl, nor is easy to be the mother of a teenager. Surprisingly spending all that time together was the easy part. I thought for sure I was going to get on her nerves but the opposite actually happened. We grew closer and I really enjoyed her company. She’s a pretty cool kid that has always been more “adult” like than a child.

Although we home schooled we went through a public charter school to do it. We were provided the curriculum to follow and had quarterly meetings with an educator to ask questions, get feedback and just have support from someone that understands homeschooling and teaching.

When the school year started, and after picking up my daughters learning material I should have paused and really evaluated what we were getting ourselves into. I was high on the thrill of all that she was about to accomplish {completing 7th and 8th grade in one year}, and I didn’t really grasp the reality of all that would encompass. It’s quite the undertaking and there were lots of aspects that had to be touched on to accomplish two academic years in one year.

Our first weeks went by very quickly. We set up a portable file cabinet for her to be organized and a work station for her to complete her work on.  We had all the back end stuff taken care of and that was good, but we, meaning I, didn’t take a thorough look at all of the learning material in as detailed a manner as I should have. I was expecting all of the material to be in actual books we would be taking home and supplemented by online extras. Unfortunately her math was completely online and this made it hard for me to be as big of a part of the learning as I wanted to be.

The program we chose also had a great feature where she actually went into school once a week for supplemental instruction in the core subjects. Although they offer these classes to increase subject understanding and test scores, I signed her up for the peer interaction… that was my biggest fear starting a homeschooling year. Would she feel lonely and isolated from her peers? Thankfully she didn’t!

Mid year I sat down and reevaluated how the year was going. Academically she was doing well. The only hint of trouble was in math and I believed it was going to be okay because her math teacher was aware that she was having a slight struggle with some of the concepts. The sad part is that she has never struggled in anything before so I was a bit shocked. She had pretty much tested out of  literature and language by the time she started 6th grade, so these was no issue there. On the other, she still was experiencing issue with math. In the end, she completed both 7th and 8th grade.

As the summer started I had to register her for high school. They asked what math class she would like to enroll in. I asked her prior school for help deciding and unfortunately they were of little help so I had to figure it out on my own. Thankfully the internet exists! And Thinkwell has free math placement tests. These tests saved my sanity. Seriously.

Free Math Placement Test Online

I had her take the free math placement tests starting at 6th grade level through Algebra and Geometry. She got decent scores on all the tests, but not as high as she normally gets. It became clear to me that she was not being taught this past year in a way that she was able to learn from. But I also didn’t know what was the best way for her to learn. Since she was starting school in just 2 1/2 months, we needed to find a program for her to complete over the summer that would raise her understanding of 7th and 8th grade math so that she was ready to go for 9th grade in September.

Thankfully we found Thinkwell.

Thinkwell teaches with video lessons and reinforces with worksheets, quizzes and tests. My favorite aspect was that the tests auto grade. This saved us lots of time, but it also gave her instant feedback on how she was doing. She was able to go back over lessons she felt she needed extra instruction on and that gave her the control and power to really succeed in math.  

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I took these screen shots to show how easy the program is to navigate. Everything is online, but you can order a CD with the video lessons so that you can watch it on the go, even when you don’t have an internet connection.

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At $125 it is an investment. Each purchase gives you access for 12 months and is only for one child. The tests can only be taken once so you do need to buy it again for subsequent children. I felt it was way worth the cost.

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I liked that I was able to log into her account at anytime and see how she was doing. If there was any problem with her understanding any of the concepts I was able to immediately see and act upon it. This was one of the major things missing from the program that we used before. 

The instruct was done in very simple to understand language. I’m not going to say it was fun, because well, it was math… but it made it more enjoyable and took away the stress she was feeling about learning math. She felt comfortable with the program and really breezed through it. She completed both 7th and 8th grade this past summer. That shows how easy the lessons flow as they teach each concept.

The best review is from my daughter herself. She thought it was really easy to use and to understand. She liked that the lessons were clearly labeled  and that she knew exactly what she had to do to get the most out of the program. There was no fluff, it was all focused on learning and the videos explained in multiple ways everything so that if she didn’t pick it up one way she did the next way it was explained.

If we had continued home schooling, she said that she would have wanted to stay with Thinkwell instead of the other program. She said it was MUCH better and she really “got it”. I think that’s HUGE!

After my 11 year old saw her sister working through math this summer she too wanted to do it. She started to work through 6th grade math, which is the grade she is currently in. So far she has only done a few lessons and she too agrees that it’s a really good program. She plans to do chunks of it throughout the year to supplement the work she is doing at her school. She has an A in class right now, but she wanted to use it as a study guide of sorts for her tests throughout the year. If you are in a traditional school environment, this makes a great supplementation if your child is already excelling or  if they need a little help.

I was extremely pleased with Thinkwell Math and I highly recommend it. Thinkwell also has highschool AP courses and I am sure we will be back for those next year to supplement her classes. Learn more about Thinkwell: HERE

As for our year of homeschooling, I have written it down as a success. The first time doing anything is a learning experience and I sure did learn a lot. If I were to do it over again I would have invested more time in understanding all that is involved with home schooling before it actually started and I would have spent more time actually talking to other home school moms to get their tips and tricks. I also would have make sure that the curriculum we were going to use was the right one for my child.

Are you homeschooling? What’s words of advice would you give a new homeschooler?

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