Tornado Boy and I were able to try out a program called Math Facts Now! as part of my membership in the TOS Homeschool Crew. This software (available for $15.95 for either download or on CD-ROM) can help your child learn addition, subtraction, multiplication or division facts. The software is Windows-based only, it does not work on MAC or LINUX computers. The software allows you to setup user accounts for multiple children. They share the list of lessons that you create for them. It is probably best for children who are 6-10 or so depending on the strength of their math skills.
When you first set up the software, you’ll need to create an account for each child. Next, you create lessons. You select one of the four areas of math, such as addition, and select the types of problems that you want your child to work on (such as adding +5). You name the lesson and then set the criteria for the lesson – how fast the child must answer the question (anywhere from 2 to 60 seconds), how many times the child must type out the entire problem if the answer it wrong or too slowly (between 2 and 10 times), and how many correct answers must be given to complete the lesson. You also have the option of entering in a “reward” message. I had a message that seemed to be too long and it didn’t display properly. The message will display each time the child completes that lesson, so make sure that you really mean it! You can edit the reward, speed, correction and number of answers for any lesson later, but not the base criteria for the test. Meaning that if you chose to test your muliplication by threes, you cannot later change that to be threes and fours. You’d have to delete it or just create a new lesson.
I did not see a limit to the number of lessons that you can create. It is important to give the lessons a meaningful name in a short space, though. You get about 25 characters per lesson name that you can see on the screen.
Once the child selects the lesson, the testing starts. This is a non-frills environment, very similar to using flash cards, except that the program remembers what your child got wrong and it automatically reinforces those problems. Your child will be required to re-type the entire equation at least twice and then they will be given the problem again later in the session with a warning to help them remember that it’s a problem that they missed before. The program also creates reports at the end so that you can see the number of problems that your child missed and how long it took them on average to answer the problems. If you click through the detail report, you can see the specific problems that were missed. The reports make it easy to see how your child is improving over time.
Things that I like about the program:
- Lessons are very easy to set up.
- It is nice that you can easily set up multiple users of the program.
- The reports are easy to read. You don’t have to sit and look over your child’s shoulder.
- I like that I can control the number of problems in a lesson.
- I like that the child can use the enter key to submit their answer rather than having to use the mouse.
- I like that the program automatically re-tests questions that the child has answered incorrectly.
Things that could use some work:
- There is no parent-secured area for the program. My kid is insanely curious and he can easily delete or change lessons. He could also log in as another child since there is no password security. Not an issue for my single child household, but this could be an issue for multi-child families.
- I’d like the option to not have a time limit for each problem. My child is young enough that I’m okay with him taking the time that he needs to come up with the correct answer. He’s forced to type out the problem if he takes too much time.
- I would like the ability to test addition and subtraction together to reinforce their relationship, but you can only have one or the other for each lesson.
Overall, I like the program. It is simple and effective. Tornado Boy tends to like more “visual” and game-like lessons, but he definitely learned from this. We haven’t been using flash cards, but I can see this program being helpful as we get to the point where he’s memorizing his times tables. If you’d like to try out Math Facts Now! for yourself, they have a free trial that you can download or try online on your Windows-based machine.
If you’d like to see what other TOS Review Crew members think of this Math Facts Now!, you can visit our Crew blog.
Thanks so much for reading!
Disclaimer: I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse Review Crew for 2010-2011 and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review. Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of cash for my reviews. My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences with the products and services that I have received.