Monday, December 12, 2016

Extra Help With Education >> Site Review


Alf started school in September and it has already been such a steep learning curve for us both. The kids do so much, they do a LOT for such a young age and need lots of help and encouragement along the way too. As Alf gets older I wonder how much help I will actually be with his homework, especially when he gets to GCSE level. Any tools that can help us making learning more fun and interesting will be well received.

I was recently invited to try out the educational quiz site, a site created with the primary objective being to help children be more successful at school. Studying the school curriculums is made easy with a variety of quizzes for KS1, KS2, 11-Plus, KS3 and GCSE quizzes. There is also a section for parents with various tips and advice for coping with a number of parenting issues, as well as a section for those with British being their second language.

First thoughts

When I first heard about this site, I thought it was a great idea. I've always learnt really well from this kind of method and had it been around way back when during my GCSE's I know I would have seen an improvement in my grades. I find it far more interesting doing quizzes than going over notes and text books.

When I studied for my driving theory test I used a quiz CD and really quickly picked up all the right answers and for whatever reason they stuck in my head far more than reading from the handbook, maybe because it felt more fun?

I was interested to have a play on the quizzes myself and also with Alf as he is 5 and currently in reception, meaning the Key stage 1 education quizzes will soon be suitable for him as he enters KS1.

The Site

When you enter the site you are met with the key categories; KS1/2/3, 11-plus, GCSE, BSL, Specialist and Parenting. My initial thought is that the site didn't look very exciting for children, but then it is an educational tool, not a game so maybe this doesn't matter at all. I was intrigued to see what the other categories such as parenting had to offer, and pleased to see that you can access all areas so that if you had children of differing ages then they could all benefit from one subscription fee, making it even better value.

When you click on a section like KS1, you are met with a list of categories - art, maths, history, in fact there are 12 in total covering the full curriculum. When you choose your subject such as maths, you are then met with a full list of quizzes for that subject which will be marked when you've completed them giving you the option to print etc.

Although Alf is 5 and starting to read, he is still in reception and did struggle to read the questions in some places which he found frustrating. Next year though when he is in 'real' school in year one, this should be spot on as this is more where it's aimed as a starting point. The way some questions were worded also caused confusion at times, but this was a good thing for him to learn I think as he will come across all kinds of question formats in years to come. 

I had a play on the GCSE quizzes and wow, I dread to think how much I would flunk those as an adult. The quizzes are great though, breaking down each subject into a huge range of different areas. I did modern world history at school so something like this would have been amazing! I loved history but the teachers made a huge difference going from one great one to one I didn't click with. It would have been perfect to do something like this at home to fill the gaps and refresh those things that hadn't quite sunken in.

The specialist section is really interesting, this one focuses on religion and the arts and has some super specific areas to study such as learning about the painter William Blake. Doing these quizzes is a really good way to learn as you go along. If you get them all wrong, you will see what the correct answers are and retake the quiz gradually scoring higher and higher. For some reason, this method of learning really works with me and it appeared to with Alf too. I think it would be a lovely bonding exercise for parents with older children doing these together, maybe offering rewards for full marks and improvement.

The parenting section was intriguing, I wondered what quizzes they would have us do, but actually it was mainly an area with lots of advice for things like behaviour, homework hints, cyber-bullying, combined with light hearted quizzes to help us in areas we may be struggling with. I found some of them a bit odd where it will tell you your answer is wrong but it's just how you decide to parent. Actually though when you read the reasons behind the correct response, it makes a lot of sense and looks more into the way to say things correctly in order to focus on positivity. This is not always my strong point I'll be honest, so this probably will do me good. It makes for a great hub of info for parents as well as a reliable source of advice for sensitive issues we may experience with our children such as tackling negative body images.

The other area in the parenting section is 'Subject Knowledge' which gives you a little help getting familiar with those dreaded fractions, BODMAS, BIDMAS and PEMDAS - I know I didn't know them all either. This sort of thing will be a great help for quick reference helping with homework and checking my memory still works in years to come.

As well as the quizzes on the site, you can meet the team that create the whole package and read all about their role at the company. I always like a personal touch and it's good to see faces behind things. You can read several reviews in their dedicated review section - this is always a good sign to me as it shows they have enough good feedback and are proud of their business. For a little extra cost you can download actual test papers, a fab idea to simulate those nervy exam situations. Part of the battle is getting used to staring at those white pages in silence and getting your mind to work, every little bit of practise helps.

Although Alf enjoyed this site, I'd love to see them maybe develop an easy app for 4-5 year olds alongside this for super simple maths, spelling and reading, with maybe a touch more colour and imagery alongside. This was good for him in some places though and excellent practise at using the computer!

I genuinely think the quizzes are brilliant and here's a few reasons why;

  • Highlight areas that kids may need extra help with.
  • Provide a more fun way of learning that feels more rewarding than just sitting a mock test.
  • Huge variety of subjects on offer.
  • Suitable for all ages and stages from KS1.
  • Amazing tool for GCSEs, much better than being swamped in papers.
  • Instant results and evidence of improvement along the way.

For the kids I think the quizzes are fantastic, it's a brilliant way to learn, I also think the price point of £9.95 per month is pretty good, especially if you have more than one child that can make use of the subscription. There is no contract or anything so you could just have for a month or so for last minute study help if you didn't want it long term.

The quizzes for parents are OK but I wasn't a huge fan to be honest. I didn't completely agree with all the answers, though it was interesting to read a different viewpoint. I think the parenting advice and ideas for resolution etc are fab, it makes some very good points and offers really useful advice for current issues that are unfortunately rife in our schools.

I had a go at a few different quizzes and I can honestly say I would spectacularly fail my GCSEs by large if I were to sit them again now - and people say they have been made easier? I think not. I found it really interesting though and really enjoyed learning again. This is the perfect way to do it. No waiting for scores, you get an instant result and can then retake the quizzes until it sinks in and you see a visual improvement. These quizzes would be good for adults wanting to partake in further learning, having to retake GCSEs or learn about something new, so really the whole family could benefit from this.

This will also be perfect to use in the holidays to keep their minds on track as I sometimes think as lovely as six weeks of summer is, it must be such a huge change going back to school again. Teachers will be super impressed if the kids are one step ahead!

On that note, I also saw that schools can fund children with this website from as little as two pounds. This is fantastic as not all parents would be able to pay the monthly fee and means children that need the extra help or are eager to learn even more can get the support they need. I will be telling my sons school about this as I think it would be a really good source for them and would no doubt save a fortune in the long run, whilst providing the kids with a really useful diverse interesting learning site. I'm pretty sure it would go down well with the Ofsted people too!

Overall I think this site is a really useful well priced learning tool.There is a vast and impressive variety of subjects and quizzes available. Although this will help a large age group, I think this would have been most useful for me during my GCSEs where I had a 'if I don't know it now, I never will' approach to swatting before exams. Sitting these quizzes would have been far more interesting. There is no stone left un-turned in terms of subject matter and I'm sure pretty much everything has to be covered in there somewhere. 

You can find out more and read all about the website here, but I'd definitely give it a big thumbs up as I think it's well worth trying out for at least a month to see if this way of learning helps your children.

Disclosure: I was compensated for my time in writing an honest review. All words and thought are my own.