About a month ago, Smartick reached out to me to try their math app with my kids in exchange for a review. Since we are always on the lookout for great educational experiences for our girls, I agreed! If you are interested in math apps for your elementary and middle school students, keep reading. (No affiliate links are used in this blog post.)
How Smartick works:
15 minutes a day approach: short daily sessions at maximum concentration. This helps create a study habit and routine, it avoids burnout and keep children motivated and coming back for more. Smartick recommendation is that children do their session at least 5 days a week to truly experience the benefits of the program.
Smartick is available to use with a computer or on an Apple/Android device. I set up our account on the laptop and then downloaded the app to our iPad mini.
Children can customize their avatar on Smartick. My girls also loved buying additional gifts (virtual clothing, typically) for each other using the rewards their earned doing their math exercises.
Addie saved up her rewards to buy this little dog she named Riley. The dog stayed healthy and happy as long as she was logging on regularly and playing her games.
The game monitors both time left (upper right) and progress (left). Children choose their answer and then press the blue button to submit it. This is an example from my fourth grader’s session.
After completing the session, children have the chance to make corrections. What a great opportunity to reinforce to new skills!
Here, you can see that Addie got 99 questions correct, missed 8, corrected 4, and earned 14 “ticks” (rewards). Smartick also offers bonus ticks for playing consistently. By pushing the blue house, you can enter the virtual world.
Both girls enjoyed accessing their Smart Club treehouse. They could write notes to each other and buy each other gifts. (I did not allow them to “friend” other children through the game.) Saving their “ticks” for animals and clothing gave them a goal to work toward and motivation to keep playing daily.
A Tale of Two Sisters:
- Katie LOVES math and has enjoyed another (free) math app occasionally when the mood strikes her. I fully expected her to LOVE Smartick.
- Addie is more reluctant when it comes to math, but she does love her screen time! I thought having a new game on the ipad would be motivating for her.
After explaining the Smartick process, I told my girls we would commit to playing for 15 days before deciding if we wanted to continue. They both agreed, and we got started with their first day.
Using Math Apps: Our Smartick Experience
Addie went first and struggled a bit as the session included concepts we hadn’t yet covered in her math lessons. As a perfectionist, she hates getting things wrong. I sat next to her and encouraged her to do her best. If she got a question wrong, the app showed her the correct answer and the reasoning behind it. Once she finished, she had the opportunity to go back and correct those missed questions for one additional “tick.”
Once her session was finished, she got to explore her virtual world and set up her avatar. Katie was immediately interested in all the options and asked for her turn with the game.
We logged Katie in under her account and got started with her first session. I was surprised to see my ultra-confident “math kid” immediately panic with the timer. She frantically pressed the “I don’t know” answer for each question. We paused the game and talked through her feelings, and she told me she was worried she would push the wrong button. I showed her the double check feature: choose the answer first and then “submit” it when she’s ready.
After her session, Katie also enjoyed setting up her virtual world and visiting the clubhouse with her sister. With both girls, I had to set a secondary timer to tell them when their “extra” time was up, or they would have continued for more than an hour.
- I LOVED that the girls had to do their math session before they could play in their virtual world. It was a strong motivator to get them interested in playing each day. Since Smartick is built on consistency, I appreciated this!
- The parental controls were easy to set up. I let my girls “friend” each other but no one else. I could see that it would be fun to trade gifts and communicate with classmates or cousins who were also using the app.
- I was glad to see a variety of skills covered in each session (and in the tutorial section as well), including concepts not covered in our curriculum. Addie loved the problem-solving questions presented at the end of her turn. For a child who leans toward not liking math, she certainly enjoyed watching the extra tutorials and playing math games after completing her main lesson.
- Smartick’s communication is top-notch. I received an immediate e-mail after each girl’s session with feedback about speed and accuracy. They also have a support team available via their website. It’s clear to me that the founders have a desire to see children be successful with the app and fall in love with math.
- I’m going to be honest with you–Smartick is not cheap. Subscriptions start at $34.99 per month and go up from there. Realistically, that’s more than our budget can afford as a regular expense. However:
- Smartick does offer a FREE 15-day trial. It’s a very generous opportunity to see how your children will benefit from the technology before making a commitment.
- Smartick is built on the idea of consistency. If one of your children uses the program five days a week, the cost comes down to less than $2 per use, which is cheaper than other similar games.
- Smartick offers a wonderful referral program. You can save $27 by referring a new customer, and your friend saves too!
Gamification elements keep children engaged and improve concentration levels. All games in Smartick and scientifically designed to reinforce cognitive skills: perception, attention, memory and logical reasoning.
- Another concern:
My children were tempted to rush through their session (which is timed) in order to get to play in their virtual world. Since neither girl had a particularly “bad” day , I’m honestly not sure if children have to perform at a certain level to unlock the fun games and activities. On a few days, I had to chat with one of my girls about doing her best work after getting her status email from Smartick.
Smartick is a wonderful program. The technology is top-notch, and my children enjoyed their experiences. Overall, I feel the cost is prohibitive for our family, but I the value is comparable to a tutoring center for remedial support or enrichment for an asynchronous child needing more challenge in math. I would suggest trying the free 15-day trial to see if it’s a good fit for your family!