Go Math! Academy: Learning Through Positive Reinforcement

Image via Houghton Mifflin

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What’s the best way to teach mathematics to children?

That’s a question that has plagued for several years, as my youngest daughter struggles to work up to grade level. She’s very bright but has serious issues with patience and impulse control. Learning a new math skill is a precarious situation for her and her teachers.

She’s used several educational apps that can help her along in the past. But now there’s Go Math! Academy from Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, the sponsor of this post. This is an  online, at-home learning program for grades K-6 based on Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s successful GO Math! textbook curriculum, used by over 7 million kids worldwide. The online program offers thousands of math practice problems, hundreds of help videos, plus positive feedback in the midst of problem solving. And then there are the games, which even I found fun.

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What I liked most about Go Math! Academy was the positive reinforcement provided at each step. My daughter can be very tentative and worried about providing the wrong answer, but she could check her work while in the midst of a problem. At that point, she’d receive either a voice praising her correct answer or be given a chance to try again. More positive reinforcement is provided from medals received as each skill is fully mastered.

Each math skill is broken into “journeys” that utilize several different backgrounds, from rocketships to under the sea. At the beginning levels, the journeys are short. For example, there were just four questions per skill in first grade but ten at the fifth grade level.

I could track both my kids’ progress on a dashboard that is password protected, making it easy for me to review what skill my daughter was on at any time. Once a skill is mastered, children can move around a bit and try the higher levels of that particular skill.

When my daughter was stuck on a problem, she was given help via step-by-step breakdowns of the problem using the Common Core methods or from video tutorials featuring expert instructors and cute puppets (though the latter is better for younger kids as my daughter rolled her eyes at the puppets). Knowing she could stop, back up, and try again definitely lowered the stress levels and allowed my daughter to work somewhat independently.

However, I’d also recommend keeping old fashioned pen and paper handy as some children, like mine, like to double-check their screen work on a notepad. I admit, I also needed the notebook sometimes since the way children are taught math is somewhat different from the way I learned math over forty years ago.

The games unlocked as rewards are another incentive, as they teach math but they’re fun as well. Even I had fun playing the matching balloon game at the first grade level. (I was testing out several levels—my daughter is at a higher level.) There’s also a print-out math trick at the first grade level that fascinated me.

For those wanting to try, Go Math! Academy is free for the first 14 days and is available in three payment plans which includes access for up to 5 children:
· Monthly: $9.99/month
· 6 months: $49.99 ($8.33/month) – a 17% savings
· 1 year: $79.99 ($6.67/month) – a 33% savings

There is a short tutorial video on the Go Math! Academy site that is worth watching to get a sense of what’s available at the site.

You can also follow @HMHAcademy on Twitter, like Go Math! Academy on Facebook, and follow Go Math! Academy on Pinterest.

Disclaimer: This post was sponsored by Go Math! Academy.

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Writer, Mom, Geek and Superhero. though usually not all four on the same day. Author of the award-winning Phoenix Institute Superhero series and the steampunk novel, The Curse of the Brimstone Contract.