A few years ago we purchased a (somewhat spendy) fantastic math curriculum. I was so excited because it was GREAT and very hands-on. Weeeelllllll, it WAS great. Until it became a burden!
Don’t get me wrong; the math program wasn’t the problem. Our life just went crazy. Our schedule filled up with 8 million other things all while my health slowly went down the drain. The fabulous math curriculum went from a blessing to a burden. That was a big problem. There was no money in the budget to buy something else. So, I spent the next few months in a tug-o-war between trying to save my sanity and trying to save money.
Then a trusted friend mentioned a math website that her students loved. A few weeks later several parents in a Facebook group talked about loving the same site. I finally got a clue when I saw it being praised yet again. I might be slow to catch on at times, but I’m not dumb. Clearly God was trying to send me a message! It was time to try Zearn!
Why I Love Zearn
Believe it or not, we don’t have unlimited money at our disposal. We live off one income (like many homeschoolers). That means we have to make financial sacrifices to make it work. It’s totally worth it, but sometimes it means that money is TIGHT. That’s why I’m always on the lookout for high-quality homeschool resources that are inexpensive. They’re like the magical unicorns of the homeschool world! You can imagine my excitement when I found that Zearn was both highly recommended and FREE! That’s right, folks, it’s totally free!
A Complete Math Curriculum
There are a ton of great resources available to homeschoolers. I have many that I love and share on my Pinterest boards. What we don’t have a lot of is complete curriculum programs that are free. Zearn is one of those rare few on the market.
Zearn is really the whole enchilada. It covers grades 1-5 completely with full lessons. Each lesson begins with review games. My kids are always excited to see what they will get that day and see who gets the ‘best’ games, lol. Your kids will move from review to learning the new content for the day. Often it is taught with the help of an instructor in a video (though not always, there are a few types of lessons). Students finish their lessons with problems to practice their new skills. Review, new skill, and practice. Those are the key components of learning math and exactly what you will find in every Zearn lesson.
Adaptive & Interactive
I know what you’re thinking. “What if my kid is struggling with the lesson? How will they get more help from a video?” Not to worry. Zearn is both an adaptive and an interactive curriculum.
As an adaptive program, Zearn will change things based on how your children are performing. If they are consistently excelling at a particular skill, it will skip some lessons that would be an unnecessary repeat. When kids are struggling with a concept, it changes and gives them practice problems with more supports built in. Adaptive technology is amazing because it helps to fit the lesson to the kid, rather than trying to make the kid fit the lesson!
Zearn is interactive as well as being adaptive. Students do watch video lessons, but it’s not just one long, boring video. Most lessons have a video clip, then prompt students to solve part of the problem from the video. The kids put their answers in and get feedback on whether or not they were right. Then the next video segment begins. Throughout each lesson component the system tells them how they are doing.
As the parent/teacher you aren’t left in the dark on your child’s progress. You can monitor how your child is doing online. You’ll be able to see how quickly they complete lessons and if they are struggling with fact fluency. There is also a place to see if they have had consistent problems with any skills during their practice problems.
Why Some People May Not Love Zearn
Zearn lessons include a few timed activities. For some kids this is no big deal. Some kids, though, struggle with the pressure of being timed. My daughter STRESSED about the timer at first. She was so focused on being timed that it interfered with her ability to think. We had to have many talks about staying calm and ignoring the timer. I won’t lie, there were some rocky days at first! Eventually, Kayla pushed past this fear. Now she loves seeing how many questions she can answer before the timer goes off! There will be some kids who can’t work through this issue without significant help. It’s OK to tell them to ignore these exercises as best as they can and just answer a few questions. If you do this, be sure to work on managing fears at other times.
Zearn is an online program, so obviously it does mean some screen time. I know that is an absolute NO for some parents, and that’s OK. If you don’t want your child to have any screen time at all, Zearn is not the math curriculum for your family. It is also a website, not an app, so it will require internet access. Concerned about your kids accessing unsavory things online? My husband solved this by blocking everything but the sites we are comfortable with on our tablets. While some parents will rule out Zearn due to screen time, I urge you to consider it as a possibility.
I’m pretty sure I’m about to ruffle some feathers here. Let me start by saying I am NOT a fan of Common Core. I think there are a multitude of problems with it and I would like nothing more than to see it repealed. Many families who feel similarly choose to forego any materials that are at all related to Common Core. Parents who firmly believe in avoiding anything that is at all associated with Common Core should skip Zearn. I totally understand that desire. It’s not what I do, though. My advice is to take each resource on its own merits. Don’t rule out an entire math curriculum without at least looking into it!
Give Zearn A Chance
There are only a few homeschool resources that fall into the category of things I love. I won’t declare a curriculum to be FABULOUS unless it is reasonably priced, high quality, and liked equally by my kids and I. Zearn has earned it’s place on that list. My kids love it. I love it. My kids are excelling at math. Give this math curriculum a try and I’m sure your family will love it as much as we do!
*I am in no way associated with Zearn.org, nor did I receive any incentives, payments, or products in exchange for this review.