Math is notoriously challenging for girls and boys. Unlike college calculus, K-6 “beginning” math skills deal with finite, right/wrong answers. It is the pressure of coming up with the correct answer, not the mathematical process itself, that produces the feelings of stress and inadequacy that many students experience. Therefore the largest challenge students, teachers, and parents face with K-6 math comes from the confidence building that surrounds it, not necessarily the processes and cognitive skills required to solve equations and word problems.
We spend every summer setting up habits of behavior to prepare for the upcoming school year. This summer we focused heavily on math, as that was an area of difficulty for all three of my daughters the previous school year. Coming from a family of math whizzes, engineers, and computer programmers, I’m well aware of the importance of math. Mathematics is a birthright in our family, however I know that the cognitive understanding of math concepts, is a skill that should be practiced, cultivated, and developed over time. With the right tools, enough patience, and practice, I believe that any student can be “good at math”. That’s why I was so excited about the opportunity to try Smartick!
Smartick is an artificial intelligence math literacy tool that provides children with level appropriate daily math challenges for less than 15 minutes a day. It’s a great option for parents seeking alternatives to Kumon, Russian Math and other more traditional after-school math programs. The AI technology encourages self-guided, self-paced student progression. This feature is great for avoiding frustration, while building confidence; making the overall math experience enjoyable and worthwhile.
Here’s why I fell in love with Smartick. The tool provides parents with real-time feedback and reminds you if your child missed a lesson. You’ll see your child’s progress and how much time it took them to solve problems, which is great if you plan to follow up lessons with other supplementary teaching tools. For the student, it’s easy to use and inviting format is age/level appropriate. Because the AI is ability based, it eliminates the stress of incorrect answers by providing an opportunity for students to review work and revisit mistakes. My favorite Smartick feature was the read aloud feature, which is super necessary for early readers or frustrated problem solvers. At some point, all of my kids used the feature to make sure they were approaching the problem correctly. My three daughters have very different attitudes toward math, but they all seemed to find the tool super colorful, engaging, and fun. Instead of playing Minecraft, my 6 year old gets up early every morning to complete her daily assignment!
Smartick is designed for children ages 4-14. I used the tool very differently for each of my girls. With my first grader, I used Smartick along side her as a teaching aide. We worked together on math concepts and math skills like subtraction. With my third and fourth grader, we used the tool more traditionally. They worked alone and then we worked through their incorrect answers together, discussing why they got the answer incorrect. Often I’d have them help their sister with her Smartick, which also helped them with elementary math concepts. Obviously, you can choose to use the tool however you like- it’s well suited for individual, partner, and parent-child scenarios.
I'm a former teacher and former college athlete, currently working in edtech. My mission is to get parents to partner with their child's teacher.