Friday, March 25, 2011
BigIQkids is different than any online learning tool we have used so far. It is similar to some of the others we have tried, but had advantages and disadvantages we have not discovered with others. The idea behind BigIQkids is to foster a fun environment for children to independently study and learn to become or stay A+ students. The program rewards the child with coins that can be used to play games. The games are educational or strategic. There are 2 versions of BigIQkids.com. There is a free and premium version.
For this review, we were given 2 premium accounts. I chose to use the program with my 7th and 3rd grader. BigIQkids is for elementary to middle school ages. My 7th grades is behind in spelling and vocab. Since we are already reviewing a couple different math programs, I left it up to my sons whether or not they studied math on BigIQkids.com. My youngest 2 did not have premium accounts, but they did use the free version. Click here to read the differences between the 2 accounts.
My 7th grader had a lot of fun dressing his personal character, but my 3rd grader left his in a t-shirt and underwear. :)
I did read about how BigIQkids works before my children started, but then left it to them to see how motivated they were to earn coins and see how they used the program. After all, it is meant to be an independent program. Both sons made significant progress in the subjects they studied. They both were very motivated to learn about the states and locate the states. That is where they spent the majority of their time. My 7th grader did a little vocabulary and several spelling lessons as well. (We do a separate spelling program and I guess they felt the same reason they didn't need to do math applied to spelling!)
One thing I discovered, though, is my children will learn to cheat to play games. They were always playing games. The free version gave the coins back if my 2nd grader hit the back arrow. I don't think this happened with the premium version, but it seemed they played games a lot more than they studied! I truly wanted to see how much they would use this program as a school activity while I worked with their siblings. It was not very successful for that purpose. I would use the free version- for sure- but it was not a good fit for our family as a stand alone school subject. My children have proven they do not do well when given options. Even though I told them we would not continue on with the program after the review period if they were only playing games, that wasn't enough motivation.
It is easy to see exactly what each child has attempted and what scores they got. The program also sent emails about the progress of each child in each subject.
This program could be the perfect solution to many families. We do not watch TV and our kids only occasionally watch movies. It was a great time filler for them on rainy days. Unfortunately, it was also a time waster. They loved the games and the temptation to play them won out over their other responsibilities many days. Many times the competition for playing the games also led to fights, arguments and pushing.. That is one reason we have chosen not to have gaming systems designed for single players. Nevertheless, It wasn't a complete waste, I felt confident they were learning something. However, they also clicked on ads and the program would occasionally direct them to other sites. My children do not have access to the internet- except for certain allowed sites. I prefer for systems like this to only have games on one site and not direct to another page.
Overall, my impression was mediocre. The computerized voice drives me crazy. The emails were somewhat bothersome if they both completed several items in a row. I believe I would have preferred a digest form for the day instead of individual emails. Clearly, my children are learning more about the states. Now that the review period is over, but I still have a subscription, I am going to use a schedule and monitor differently. Yes, I could have done this all along, but I wanted to see if it fit the need our family has of an educational program they can use completely independently while I am working with other children.
My children loved the program- more specifically the games. They were also very proud of themselves when they did well. The constant praise led them to also praise each other. It is very sweet to hear them telling each other what a good job they are doing. They want to continue using the program. I hope to use this program for the length of our free evaluation period and see if my opinion has changed or not.
2 Premium subscriptions were made available to our family at no cost in exchange for my honest review of this product.