Topic: Homeschool Product Review
Bet your wondering where the "umpteen" came from. That was one of my mother's sayings.
Anyway - yes, I'm about to reveal another secret. Of course, these days I don't remember what secrets I've revealed and what secrets I haven't. You may already know this, but, for eleven years in Florida, I was an educational therapist. I worked with kids who had learning disabilities. Of course, when you are in the teaching profession, especially in a teaching field that works with some type of disabled child, you are constantly going to inservices and seminars. We went to a lot of seminars on the brain. They were fascinating. I could tell you some hilarious stories - those, however, I will save for another post.
There is one fascinating tidbit that I will tell you now - you can improve your IQ. Many people will tell you that you can't, but that is simply not true. It can be done. It's not easy, but you can do it. Isn't that neat to know?
Now, even though Big IQ Kids isn't a website that claims to improve you IQ, it certainly can improve your learning. And you'll have a good time doing it to boot (another one of my Mom's favorite sayings).
Although the Big IQ Kids website has a lot of fun free things to choose from, I'm going to focus on the four special areas that you get when you purchase a Premium Membership - Spelling, Math, Vocabulary and State studies.
Now, before I start, let me tell you that we had mixed reactions to Big IQ Kids in our home. Joshua loved it, but this was not John Allen's favorite at all. It may be because John Allen is going through a teenage "hate anything that has to do with school" stage or it could be because Big IQ Kids really does challenge you.
The first thing that you do after you've created an account is to make your own "Big IQ Buddy" if you want. It isn't required, but is a lot of fun to create. After that your child is ready to go. When you register your child, you put in the grade level, so everything is set for whatever grade you choose. One thing that was a little inconvenient was that you can't choose a different level for different subjects. Joshua, for example is on different levels for spelling and math, and he has limited experience with working with states. I would have liked to have chosen different levels for different subjects, but I found that it really didn't matter, because the Big IQ website uses an artificial intelligence program that can gauge how your child is doing. After the first couple of lessons with each subject, the program automatically adjusts to fit your child's needs. It won't move on to something new until your child has mastered that particular level.
Another really neat feature is that you can customize each program to match what you are learning. If you have a separate spelling or math curriculum, for example, then you can plug in the words or problems that you are working on in the separate program. So, you can either customize Big IQ Kids or you can use their already set program.
I hadn't been using a preset spelling or vocabulary program for either John Allen or Joshua, so that wasn't a problem. I also found that the math that they presented to Joshua was exactly what he was already doing so I just switched to using Big IQ which he really enjoyed. John Allen's math was a bit different. He had already learned the things that they presented, but needed to review those concepts, so instead of customizing his math, I just used Big IQ kids as a supplement to his regular math program. The state program was a plus for each of them. Joshua is just now learning his states, etc. and, although, John Allen already knew most of the things in the state program, it was a good review for him.
I really like the set up of this program. You have your own personal tutor that is pictured right on the screen. They talk to you and their lips actually correctly form the words. This may not seem like a big deal to most folks, but to a person who can't read well, or even a person who can't hear well, this is a real bonus. The only drawback is that the voices are very "computery". You can tell they are computer generated. The pronunciation is clear, but, although it isn't monotone, it isn't flowing like an actual human voice.
With the spelling, they give you a list of words - Joshua's list was 10 words - that are phonetically similar (dad, lad, bad, etc.). They then give the words very much like the way that a classroom teacher would give the words - say the word, use it in a sentence, say the word again. However, Big IQ Kids has a lot of fun online activities that they give you to help review the words such as "Word Scramble", "Spelling Bee" and even a spell your words with a Robot feature! Joshua really loved doing those activities.
The math program is very similar to a math drill. For Joshua it was working with addition and subtraction. They would give him a list of 20 addition problems that he could either answer using the numbers on his computer keyboard, or clicking on the correct answer using the on the screen keypad, then switch to 20 subtraction problems. They also have printable worksheets that you can print out and use with your child.
In the state/geography section you learn the usual things like the location of the state and the state capital, but you also learn a lot of facts about the states such as major cities, industries etc. They even teach you some fun facts. Did you know that Pennsylvania is considered the weather capital of the world just because of that silly groundhog that appears once a year?
The vocabulary section was probably the most difficult for Joshua. Along with asperger's syndrome, Joshua has ADHD, which makes it very difficult to focus on something if it takes a long time. When Big IQ Kids presents a new word, it is very thorough. They give the word, use it in at least two sentences, give at least two definitions, then give antonyms and synonyms for the word. After that, they spell the word and encourage you to spell it as well. That was just too much for Joshua. He got lost in the process. John Allen did much better, but (typical teen) didn't necessarily like the tediousness. Personally, I think it's good for him .
The format is very easy to use. I sat down with Joshua to assist him in using it the first time. After that, he was able to maneuver around with very little difficulty. John Allen was able to use it with no help from the start.
Another thing that I really like is that your "tutor" is very encouraging. It never rushes you and gives a lot of "kudos" when you ddo well. AND...each time you complete a lesson, no matter how well you do, you are rewarded with a coin. The coins can be used to play fun online games. You can either go and play the games right away, or save your coins to play games that cost more than one coin to play. The online games are also educational but fun. Both boys really enjoyed them and each had his favorite games to play.
Now, I must say that you can get each of the above things for free on the website, but the premium version has many, many extras that I feel are well worth the cost. The website has a really good comparison of the free version and the premium version.
Which brings me to the big question. How much does all of this cost. Well, you can purchase a premium bundle of all four of the above things for $19.99 a month or $99.99 for twelve months. Each item, except for the US State program, is also available separately to purchase per month or per year if you only want a premium membership for that particular subject. The state program can only be purchased in the bundle or separately per year. There is also a one week free trial that you can choose to see if you like it or not. At any rate, go to the website to check out some of the really neat free things that they have to offer. You can find out more about Big IQ Kids by clicking here or on any one of the hi-lighted links above. And, as usual, others on the TOS Homeschool Crew used Big IQ Kids and you can find out what they had to say by clicking here.
Now, since this is a wonderful program to use as a supplement for a child that learns in a traditional classroom or for a child that is homeschooled, I won't say "Happy Homeschooling", but I'll close by saying "Happy Home Educating"!
As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was given a one year premium membership to Big IQ Kids to try out and give an honest review on my blog.