Not every math program can teach absolutely everything that can be learned, and as much as my children enjoy their usual program, I knew that there was more that they should be learning, so I was keen to review Thinkwell’s 6th to 8th Grade Math with Tristan. Thinkwell has math programs from grade 6 to high school that includes regular classes, as well as Honors and Essential courses.
We received a one-year subscription and Tristan began by taking the placement tests to find that the 6th Grade Math would be the best fit for him, even though he’s about half way through grade 7 in his usual program. This differential was due to the other program not teaching some of these concepts yet, so this was a great time for Tristan to learn some new skills.
Thinkwell can be used as either a primary math program, working your way through every lesson, one at a time. Alternatively, it can also be used as a supplement to improve those areas in which a student may be faltering and those areas not taught in your usual curriculum. To do this, Tristan started off by taking the practice tests for the first three chapters and we went from there to see what he knew and what he didn’t.
For chapter one we decided to have him do all of the lessons so that he could get used to the way in which Thinkwell worked so he would feel confident using it. For Chapter 2, he only needed to do one lesson in order to pass the test with flying colours. Now he’s finishing up chapter three, working on the areas he had trouble with in the practice-test.
Online or on paper? Both!
What I love about Thinkwell is that using a pencil and paper is highly encouraged and something I think needs to be done in order to keep the thinking process straight and do avoid missing steps. Tristan hasn’t been a fan of using paper and pencil and “showing his work” in the past, but now he’s beginning to get the hang of it and understand why it’s a good idea and good practice to do. Now when an answer is wrong, we can look together and see where the error originated.
When beginning a lesson, the student watches a couple of short (2-5 minute) videos, and sometimes there’s an animation as well. Then you print off the lesson questions and work through them. If it’s a particularly challenging concept, the examples used in the videos can also be printed and worked on, too. After answering the questions on paper, Tristan entered his answers online and Thinkwell automatically corrected them, and Tristan marked them off as correct or not on his paper.
There are questions (aprox 15) after each lesson, and then after a few lessons there are review worksheets that students can do and self-correct, using the answer key provided.
After each sub-unit there is a quiz – done in the same way by printing the pages, working on them, and then typing the answers into the program. And at the end of each chapter students can take a practice test (mentioned above) to ensure they know the subject matter. When everyone is happy that they know the concepts, then the chapter test can be taken. The practice tests can be taken as many times as needed, but the chapter tests can only be taken once.
Thinkwell is set up to run over the course of 36 weeks and they provide a course outline of what to do each day if you’d like to go by the book with the full curriculum. If you choose to use it as a supplement, you can use the outline as a guide of how to structure your classes and then just use the lessons you need.
What we like and what could be improved
As I mentioned earlier, I really love that paper and pencils are used for this program, as well as the handy instructional videos and auto-correcting; it’s the best of both worlds for me, and Tristan is enjoying it, too.
There isn’t a separate parent’s portal, which would be nice to have so that I could see exactly where Tristan’s at or use to assign the lessons, particularly as he isn’t going to be doing all of the course. It would also be handy here to be able to print off the quizzes, tests, and review questions all at once without having to enter into each lesson separately.
Overall Opinion of Thinkwell’s Grade 6 Math
Overall, Tristan and I are both enjoying seeing his progress through new materials, and seeing that his learning here is transferring over to his full math program. Learning to use a pencil and paper and understanding how it helps in the long run is a big thing and it’s resulted in greater understanding and fewer errors as well. This is a program Tristan will certainly be continuing into the future.
Click here to read 30 more reviews about Thinkwell by the Homeschool Review Crew. If you’d like to know more or would like to follow Thinkwell, you can connect with them through their website, Facebook, and YouTube.