We love being on the TOS Review Crew and having the chance to bring you all these great reviews! It’s such a blessing to our family and I hope it is to yours, too. Our most recent review is from UnLock Math and they have granted us a year’s access to their program UnLock Pre-Algebra for the purposes of review. I’ve been having my 12 year old son, Drew, working on this program; he’s the right age to start 7th grade here in just a couple of weeks, and I wasn’t sure if he had enough of a foundation to start pre-algebra, but the program is laid out perfectly to ease him in and he’s done well!
I didn’t fail at the upper maths in school, but they also weren’t really my “thing” and I haven’t retained much of it. My sister is a high school math teacher, which is a good thing for our homeschool, but for me it was just a necessary evil. (What does a band director need with pre-calculus, anyway?)
So for the upper maths, our family could use a little help. UnLock Math is a complete homeschool pre-algebra program with video instruction and available downloadable text and diagrams to help your student understand every step. Previous to using this program, we had been using a mastery-based textbook series. Drew is my strong-willed (and sometimes defiant) student, and honestly within the past several months he hasn’t done any math consistently. We’ve reviewed a few math programs in this household, so things were a little disjointed for him. I wasn’t entirely sure if he was ready to start Pre-Algebra or not.
The way this program works is that the student clicks to unlock a chapter, and then clicks to enter. From there, they choose a lesson in order. Every chapter has 5 or 10 lessons, plus quizzes along the way, a review, and then a chapter test. Within the lesson, the place to start is the warm-up. This consists of 5-15 questions that are basically review questions.
The next part of the lesson is the instructional video. Alesia does the video and keeps things engaging for the kids. It varies from lesson to lesson, but the videos are about 5-10 minutes long. I saw one that was as short as 2 minutes, and one that was almost 15 minutes in length, but other than that (at least in the first two chapters) all the videos fell within the 5-10 minute range. This is perfect in my opinion because it’s long enough to teach the concept but not so long that the kids get bored and stop paying attention.
Next comes the practice problems. The kids do real math and have to enter their answer in the textbox; there’s no multiple choice questions here. Some of these questions might be word problems; there are always 20 questions in this section. Not too many, not too few!
After the practice comes the “Stay Sharp” section with another 25 questions or so. These questions cover everything from the chapter so far, a comprehensive practice session. Again, some of these might be word problems, and the kids are doing real math and not picking from a list of answers.
Last comes the Challenge; this is a single word problem that is harder than the rest. This is a preview of a future lesson sometimes, and can be controlled with different preferential settings in the parent board.
The entire lesson is taking my son about 15 or 20 minutes, depending on the length of the video. The website says it might take about 30 minutes; my kid is a math brain and I’m not surprised that he’s breezing through this faster than average.
Every two or three lessons, there’s a quiz off to the right hand side in the student view. This quiz is a quick, 5-question review of just the two or three lessons the student just did.
After the lessons and quizzes have been completed, there’s a review. The chapter review is longer; the first chapter’s review has 30 questions and the second chapter has 60 questions. The review has more questions than the test which comes next, and is intended to remind the student of what they’ve learned.
The test itself isn’t as long; the first chapter has 20 questions and the second has 45. In about 6 weeks’ time, minus a week for our youth conference, Drew finished the first 2 chapters and is starting the third. Altogether there were 13 lessons, 6 quizzes, and a review and test for each chapter. That’s 23 sittings and he did them in just right at that many days; probably he missed a few days and probably he did some of the quizzes on the same days as lessons, but as a general guideline that’s how quickly we’re moving through it and not stressing!
The material is covered in such a way that if my son had any holes in his math learning, they have been filled in by the teachings here. He felt like he’d already had an introduction in most of things (such as negative numbers, much of the focus of chapter 2), but wasn’t solid and now he is. Because of how quickly and confidently he’s moved through these first two chapters, I think he’ll do well with continuing to use the program and end up ahead in his math instead of behind like we’d thought.
I’m so thankful for this homeschool pre-algebra program! It’s right up his alley as far as learning style, and it keeps track of all the grades for me in the parent dashboard. If I needed it, I could just print out the report card for him. Instead, I just check to make sure he’s doing his work and doing it well, and let him go at his own pace. I usually require him to spend 30 minutes on each subject, simply so that I know he’s not just breezing through a silly easy part and calling it a lesson and enough for the day, and that standard seems to be right on with this program. We love it and will continue using it until he finishes!
You can connect with UnLock Math on their website; don’t forget to see the other programs they offer including Algebra 1 and soon also Algebra 2. They can be found on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google, and Instagram as well. Don’t forget to read the other Crew reviews!