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As you search for an online math curriculum, you may come across a program called Smartick. This program guarantees that your child can learn math in 15 minutes a day – all through video games. It seems too good to be true, right? We tried it, and this is our no-holds-barred review.
For a full list of your secular homeschool curriculum options, see our Secular Homeschool Curriculum Guide.
Homeschooling Through Trauma
Let me give you a little background about when we started using Smartick.
In August 2017, our city was hit hard by Hurricane Irma. Our house flooded, and the damage was catastrophic. I was homeschooling my oldest, and he was in first grade at the time.
The damage was so bad that we were displaced for three months, and in that time we moved seven times. Yep, seven times.
One thing you have to understand about my son is that he is on the spectrum. He is very bright, but he also thrives on structure. You can imagine what this time was like for our family and for him. There was no structure at all. We were just trying to make it through each day.
Does this sound familiar? We’ve homeschooled through adversity, and here we are again in 2020, where we are facing the same kind of trauma as a natural disaster – only this one is affecting absolutely everyone, and we really don’t know when it will end.
It was during this time that we tried the Smartick Method. I am giving you all of this background to put our use of the program into context – and to show how it may also be helpful for you during these uncertain times.
Smartick Online Math Curriculum
Smartick is a game-based math program that promises to deliver a full online math curriculum in just 15 minutes a day. They even guarantee results. Their website states that 83% of kids who use the app have improved their math grades.
How can this be true? It seems like a pretty big guarantee for a program that lets your kids play math games for 15 minutes a day.
Can an app really do more than review concepts your child has already been taught – can it actually teach the new concepts?
When we first signed up, I was pretty skeptical. But I figured, why not? We were in a tight spot, and a 15-minute online math program seemed like a great idea. It would be one less thing I had to deal with.
And the program encourages kids to use the app independently, freeing me up to focus on other, more pressing, things that I needed to handle at the time.
Online Math Curriculum in an App?!? 15 Minutes?!?
Before I tell you more about how the program works, you need to consider how math works in a traditional school setting.
Because I know you see 15 minutes a day and think, “that can’t be right.” Kids usually spend 45 minutes to an hour in math class at school!
A Traditional Math Program
Here’s what a math lesson typically looks like in a public school: review, transition, instruct, transition, practice, transition, check. Everything is done in short spurts.
This is the typical cycle of instruction teachers use with pretty much every math curriculum. (I know because I taught it for five years.) While the lessons are different, the routine is pretty much the same each day.
This app works in the same way.
The Smartick Method
In a traditional classroom, much of the lesson is spent during transition time. So while it may seem like kids are getting a 50-minute lesson, if you look at the actual time spent in learning, it is much lower.
With Smartick, your child can experience review, instruction, and practice in 15 minutes – all while receiving instant feedback. All of the transition time is eliminated.
In addition to math, the app works in elements of reasoning, problem-solving, and coding. These concepts help deepen your child’s math knowledge.
How Smartick works… and it does work
• The program assesses your child and starts at his or her level.
• It uses a pretty sophisticated AI program to adjust the program to your child’s ability continually.
• It uses a spiral approach to review and practice concepts, which helps lead to a complete understanding.
• And yes, it’s all done in 15 minutes.
I don’t know why online math curriculum app isn’t completely, insanely popular in the U.S. Our education system has many ingrained ideas about what school should look like and it’s very difficult to break these traditions. Maybe people don’t trust that kids can get what they need in 15 minutes.
I think they can.
Here are the three main reasons Smartick just might be the perfect fit for your family:
If you have a little gamer, he or she is going to love this app. Gamification occurs during the actual lessons, not just as an add-on like so many other programs use. In many apps, kids rush through the lesson to get to the fun part, but with Smartick, the lesson is the fun part.
2. Short – Just 15 Minutes a Day
If you have a kid who doesn’t love math, or who just doesn’t like doing what you ask (welcome to the club), short lessons are key. Even kids who aren’t into math can manage 15 minutes, and then they are done for the day.
3. Easy on Parents
This app is designed for kids ages 4-14 to use independently. In fact, the app encourages parents not to help. You really can hand your child the tablet or computer and walk away.
The app even monitors and records your child’s progress, so you can easily keep up with what he or she is doing. It makes record keeping simple and can serve as documentation to show you comply with the homeschool laws in your state.
Smartick is great for working families, families with multiple kids, emergency trauma-schooling, and short-term homeschoolers who need a product that carries the load of the work.
Give it a try. Who knows? You might even like it enough to make it your full online math curriculum. We did. And working with Smartick through those months of uncertainty kept my son on track.
Ashley helps parents who want to homeschool find the resources they need to successfully teach their children. Ashley is a former teacher, current homeschooler, published author, and designer behind Circle Time with Miss Fox printables as well as the creator of this website, The Homeschool Resource Room.