Review: K5 Learning

This month, Bubba and I had the opportunity to try out K5 Learning’s  and their online program to review for you.

First I’ll tell you all about how we got started with the program, including a lot of things you shouldn’t do if you decide to use it. Stick with me though–it all works out!

When I agreed to review K5 Learning, I thought it would be handy to be able to run the initial assessment to give me an overview of where Bubba really is in his reading ability. I have long suspected that he is “gifted” in some ways, but it wasn’t until this semester when I came across the term “asynchronous development” that I began to see what is going on with our little boy. He is so far ahead of where I expect a Kindergarten kid to be in some ways–his vocabulary, the way he reads without ever really having been taught, and the way he understands the world. But in so many other ways, he seems behind: he holds a pencil now, but he still struggles with letter formation and complains about having to put pencil to paper for anything. His attention span seems short.

All that to say, I have really been unsure about what to do next and I hoped that K5 Learning’s online program would offer some insight.

I signed into my account and started a K5 Reading assessment for Bubba. He sat down and did a few questions before acting annoyed; we came back a few days later and tried again. It took us three tries to finish the assessment. It is NOT a long assessment, folks–this was my kid, not the program’s fault!

So, K5 Learning suggested that we put Bubba in early first grade level. But here’s the thing: I began to realize that Bubba was resisting the lessons because they were too easy.

I looked again at the report based on the assessment and poked around in the FAQ and came to realize that the assessment is just a “placement test” and they never place a child more than one level about grade level. Fortunately, they make it very easy for parents to request a different placement. They even include a Guide to Reading Levels and a Guide to Math Levels that help parents determine what level to place the child into. I opened up the Guide to Reading Levels and had Bubba look over the words used and read to me the ones he new. Based on what I could tell he confidently knew there, I submitted a form (so easy!) asking for them to bump him to early 2nd grade in all Reading topics except Reading Comprehension, which I wanted kept in early 1st grade. The company got back to me overnight and we were able to get started on the program again the next day.

Once we had the right level figured out, we loved this program! I was surprised at how Bubba, who had really resisted it initially, kept asking if he could do one more lesson, please.

Phew! We have a winner!

Each lesson starts with direct instruction. This is really great when it’s needed by the student–it would be nice if there was a way to skip through it, especially if the parent could toggle on and off that option in the parent dashboard. Even though we’ve found a better level placement for Bubba, there were times when he understood what he was being asked to do before being shown a full animated sample. Still, the samples were useful, and I think would be even more useful to a kiddo who is struggling with the topic being taught. The teaching is clear and bite-sized.  With my sweet boy and his minute-sized attention span, I really appreciated that each lesson is broken up into smaller chunks, and you can restart from where you left off.

Bubba and I dabbled together in the math section, and I spent some time checking out the fourth grade level of the program. The approach was similar to the phonics instruction portion. It reminded me of a phrase I heard often in teacher prep classes: “I do, we do, you do.” The computer would show a sample, then have the child do part of a sample, then have the child complete the whole task. The instruction was clear and the problems are easy to follow. This strategy is super beneficial when a child is learning a new concept, but frustrating when it’s “easy”–so again, getting that level correct is crucial!

This program is touted as supplementary–perfect for summer or after school, or for a homeschooler who just wants to reinforce key math and reading skills. You can subscribe annually, or monthly, and a subscription covers up to four children.

I tried out the spelling section myself, as a 4th grade student. It is much less cutesy than the K-2 reading portion, but it was fun. A word is spoken aloud and you have to type it and submit it. If you get it right, a reward chime or applause sounds. If you choose Vocabulary Tutor instead of Spelling Tutor, the definition of the word is given to you, and you have to puzzle out the word.  A parent can set up these lists or use computer-generated ones. Super easy and handy.

Also, I have to mention that the progress reports are excellent. We are with a charter school, and I loved being able to hand over our initial assessment to our teacher to back up what I was seeing at home.

If you are interested in learning more about K5 Learning, check out the other reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew!

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