One of the hardest things to admit as a homeschool parent, is that your child needs help in a subject beyond what you can give them. It’s even tougher when it’s a subject you enjoy. My oldest has a hard time with math, and I had to admit that I was out of ideas to help her. We tried games, activities, online math programs, and math game apps, but she still struggled. I was doing yet another search around the internet to find something new to try when I stumbled across Thinkster Math.
I became frustrated with other online math programs because we had trouble with the computer automated nature of them. Her assignments didn’t always line up with skills she needed to practice. Sometimes the assignments were far too difficult with little instruction. Other times, she had to waste time practicing skills over and over that she’d clearly mastered.
Then we found Thinkster. It’s an on-line math tutoring program paired with a real tutor behind the scenes. This seemed like the best of both worlds! It has the convenience of an online program packaged with the support of a math tutor who helps guide the process. I was intrigued enough to sign up for a free 1-week trial.
Getting Started with Thinkster
The first step is the grade level assessment so that Thinkster knows which concepts have been mastered and which still need work. The same day we started, I received a phone call from the tutor who had been assigned to us. She asked detailed questions so that she could understand what I wanted my daughter to accomplish with Thinkster. We set up a time for our first online meeting with her for a few days later. Thinkster had already created a lesson plan based on the assessment, so my daughter could start using the program right away.
During the first online meeting, my daughter’s tutor gave her a tour of how the program works and helped her set a goal for how long to work with the program each day. Prior to this meeting, I had already viewed the tutorials on Thinkster’s website so that I could help her navigate the program, but I loved that the tutor went through all of it with her as well.
Thinkster uses worksheets and videos for the student to work through a list of skills based on the assessment. The AI technology can sense when the student is stuck on a concept and needs additional practice. It can even sense when to back up and review a previous concept. It uses this information to continually queue a progression of worksheets. The math tutor can add edit the plan based on what they see needs work. They can also add in parent requested topics. This makes it a fully customizable math program!
What Makes Thinkster Math Different?
You need a touch screen computer or device because space is provided for the student to show their work for each problem. This allows the math tutor to see exactly where the student is having difficulties. Thinkster also analyses how much time the student spends thinking, writing, and erasing while solving a problem which helps it determine when more practice is needed for a concept.
Each worksheet has an video in which a teacher works through the concept. Many worksheets have more than one video. These are accessible before and during the worksheet. All of the videos are available at all times in their video library.
The Artificial Intelligence part of the program actually works! My daughter hasn’t gotten stuck doing worksheets that are far above or below her level. This happened frequently with other math tutoring programs. Thinkster has been able to determine correctly when she’s needed extra practice, is ready for the next level of difficulty in a topic, or needs to review an earlier concept.
The student works on up to 3 different concepts at a time. This keeps the work interesting by not sticking to just one topic at a time. The concepts are determined by the assessment when first starting the program. They are also assigned by the tutor based on what they see needs work. Parents can also request specific topics to go along with what the child is doing in school or their homeschool math curriculum.
Each worksheet has a completion goal time. This is to help determine when the student has mastered the concept. If the student gets everything correct but takes too long, more practice is needed.
A math tutor is assigned to the child (depending on the package). This is a huge deal for us! I love that there is a teacher behind the scenes guiding my daughter and answering her questions. They have a weekly online session to go over any questions about work that was done the previous week and work on upcoming topics. The live session helps the tutor identify additional trouble spots.
The math tutor and student set a goal for how long the student will work in the program every day. This helps the student take ownership of this process. This isn’t my goal, it’s hers.
The reward system awards points for each worksheet based on accuracy and speed. When the student reaches 7500 points they can choose one of several $5 gifts cards. I love this! It’s simple and effective. The 7500 point threshold is easily met each month with consistent practice.
The progress page makes it simple to see what my daughter has mastered, what she’s working on, and which concepts will be coming soon. Although we use what is often considered an advanced math curriculum, the Thinkster progress page has highlighted some skills that her curriculum didn’t cover all that well.
Check out their page that gives a detailed view of how the program works.
Give Thinkster Math a Try for Yourself
Thinkster offers a one week free trial of their full program. The trial isn’t a watered down version as it is with other programs. During that week, you’ll get a chance to talk to the tutor assigned to your child. Your child will also be able to meet with them online.
I signed up for the trail when I knew we were going to have a calm week because I wanted her to make the most of the trial. My daughter was able to spend a lot of time with the program to see if it was a good fit. Once the trial was over, my daughter made the choice to continue. This put the decision and responsibility in her hands.
I wish I had found Thinkster two years ago when I first started looking for help outside of our usual math curriculum. It would have saved us so much time, frustration, and tears. My daughter is making great progress with math now, thanks to this program and her tutor.
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[…] Even though my oldest started having an easier time with math using the above tools in our math toolbox, I still felt that she had a lot of catching up to do that was beyond what I was able to give her. I looked into different tutoring options, both in real life and online. We decided to try an online tutoring service that combines the convenience of an on-line experience with the help of a real math tutor. Thinkster Math also includes several videos for every concept, which is the instruction that is missing from so many online math games and apps. You can find my detailed review of Thinkster Math right here. […]
[…] for our oldest. There’s no shame in seeking out help whenever needed. You can read more about our math tutor experience in this […]