Some hate it. Some love it. We really, really love it.
Before I go into my review, let’s first discuss what Khan Academy is and why we chose this program for our young, eager kindergartner.
Khan Academy is a FREE online learning center whose mission is to provide best-in-class education for anyone, anywhere. Khan Academy provides practice exercises, thousands of instructional videos narrated by its founder and a personalized dashboard aimed at empowering learners to move at their own pace. Khan Academy is a not for profit that relies on its community of volunteers and donors to push their mission of providing FREE education.
So, why Khan Academy?
Honestly, we were hesitant at first with starting our kindergartner. So many thoughts crossed our mind – will she understand? Is it too early? Will she be able to focus? Will the program be overwhelming? At first, we wanted to just stick to the basics and pull out the worksheets and a pencil. We did NOT and we are HAPPY that we didn’t. What did we have to lose? Nothing. The program was completely free and all we needed to do was create an account and get down to business.
To sum it all up, we moved forward with Khan Academy because it required NO INVESTMENT and we figured we didn’t have anything to lose. As parents, we were looking for a program that did not replace the education that our daughter is receiving in school but instead supplemented her in-class learning while challenging her as well. Khan Academy is doing just that for us.
Here’s it goes…our review of Khan Academy
Let me first start by saying, our daughter is a typical, average 5-year-old kindergartner who “gets it” academically. Meaning, she completely understands all of her work and rarely struggles with her assignments. For the most part, she can complete her assignments without any help for mommy and daddy. As stated above, as parents we were looking for a supplement and a challenge for a child who is academically “on schedule”. Also, it is important to note that we have been actively using Khan Academy for 30 days and spend a total of 30 minutes every other day (excluding weekends) using the tool. The ONLY topic that we’ve been focusing on is EARLY MATH designed for grades K – 2nd. Here are a few things that I’ve noticed in our first 30 days:
- Parent – sign up was easy and seamless. I created my parent/coach account and then created a child/student account. This gave me the ability to track our daughter’s progress and coach her if necessary.
- Parent – I was able to designate which mission our daughter can take. This gave me control and ease of knowing our daughter was focusing on what we wanted her to focus on.
- Our 5 year old daughter can easily log in and log out of her account. We have her credentials next to our home computer and have ‘pinned’ the site as an icon on our home screen. She knows what to click on and where to login without any problems.
- Dashboard is easy to understand. Our daughter can tell within seconds what is required of her. She can identify if there are any mastery challenges available, she understands how to practice skills, and she understands the graphical display on her mission progress. The #1 thing that excites her is obtaining reward badges and designing her own avatar throughout the mission. She really gets a kick out of this and is very proud when she makes an accomplishment!
- Khan’s videos are basic, yet engaging. Nothing fancy like cartoons to distract a young learner but enough animation and color usage to get the point across.
- Khan explains everything in detail and the animations help to better understand. There are only 2-3 videos that my daughter did not understand, but those were more difficult concepts that required me to resort to that paper/pencil to assist her.
- Mastery Challenges are easy to navigate with the ability to watch a video for additional information, seek a hint to solve the problem or indicate that particular problem is far beyond what she understands. Our daughter understands she is taking a “challenge” and really aims to get all points by not getting answers wrong.
- Reading of the problems in the mastery challenge can be a little challenging for a kindergartner. The approach we use is for my daughter to try to read and understand the problem being presented first and then ask mommy or daddy to help her understand. We help her because we would hate for her to get a problem wrong because she couldn’t read 1-2 words in the problem and actually knew the answer. There were also times we had to break it down or use another explanation so she can understand what is being asked.
- We never give her the answers. We make it very clear that there will be problems that she will not understand. We encourage her to try the problem and mark the problem as too advanced for her. We leverage Khan’s model that You Can Learn Anything just by trying and challenging your brain.
- iPad app – we haven’t had the need to use the app at this point but we plan to use the app soon.
My Daughter’s Progress…
In 30 days, here is a review of where my daughter is at on her Early Math Mission:
- 47% progress completed
- 44 skills mastered
- Earned 14 badges
- Needs practice with 6 skills – which we will focus on more throughout the remaining mission
Tips & Tricks
- #1 Tip – JUST GO FOR IT! Get on your computer, create an account and START. You really don’t have anything to lose and the learning program is really FREE. I thought our daughter may be too young, but she is thriving.
- Keep a pencil/scrap paper nearby. We used this to draw circles, take notes, etc. My daughter preferred this method rather than the online feature that’s standard.
- For younger kids, ditch the calculator and get an abacus! Personally, I hate calculators and rarely used them when I was in school. We use the Melissa & Doug Classic Wooden Abacus
- Encourage your child to struggle. Yes, I said it. Let your child try his/her best to figure it out without YOU jumping in! It amazed me to see our daughter understand advanced math concepts. She probably didn’t get it the first time nor the second, but the third time was usually a charm.
In summary, I highly recommend Khan Academy for early learners and particularly the Early Math Mission. We will continue this mission until our daughter is 100% complete and plan to share our thoughts throughout the process. If you have any recommendations or hints while we take our journey on Khan Academy, please do share. We also love questions (*hint*)!
With love + caffeine,