Finding a math tutor app for your child may seem like an overwhelming task. And, between the apps available for download on both Apple and Android devices and all the math tutor websites to choose from online, you probably don’t have time to dissect each option and read every single review.
But a math tutor app offers advantages other tutoring options don’t. They’re often the perfect solution for students who need help with math problems and parents who don’t have time to give them the tutoring they really need.
However, not all apps or online programs work the same when it comes to math for kids.
6 Questions to Ask Yourself Before Downloading a Math Tutor App
Taking the online or math tutor app route (rather than hiring someone or using a crowded brick-and-mortar tutoring center) is a big step – one that many families are glad they took.
Ease and accessibility aside, though, the decision of which tutoring program you select is more involved than simply downloading a new game for your phone. Here are six questions you should consider when selecting a math tutoring app for your child:
1. Will my child enjoy the experience of learning via an app?
This answer might depend on your child, but generally, a high-quality math tutor app will put a focus on making the experience enjoyable for the student. Kids struggling with math likely aren’t having fun with it at school, so turning math learning into a positive experience during tutoring sessions is essential.
We know that when kids are stressed out they not only limit their own ability to learn and process new information, but they may actually have lower IQs as a result. So, if an app’s teaching methods are too similar to those being used at school or a commercial tutoring center, students might not respond positively to the extra instruction.
One of the awesome benefits of math tutor apps is that math concepts are delivered in ways that make them easy for kids to understand.
Plus, many apps aim to turn learning into a game.
That means providing children with easy-to-follow lessons, incentives, and rewards to encourage them to keep practicing while giving them a way to measure their progress and rank their success. To them, progress happens like it does in a video game so math apps for kids just feel like fun.
In our experience, students of all ages seem to resonate well with using tablets for learning. Since greater interest often leads to greater learning, this makes them ideal for delivering online math programs. Plus, tablets are more interactive and one-on-one than most classroom situations, so students stay on task longer and experience less boredom.
Hands-on learning is always better for student engagement and using a tablet where a child can answer a question by simply using their finger as a stylus provides this in a simple, intuitive format.
In several recent studies, kids who used tablets instead of books demonstrated higher test scores and greater proficiency than those not using tablets.
Look for: Math tutor apps that are designed for the way kids learn. They should offer interesting video instruction, challenging worksheets and ways to keep your child engaged with fun math games and monthly rewards.
Make sure to check out a demo to understand how the math app will work. If you’re bored, expect your child to be (x10!).
2. Will a live tutor be assessing my child’s progress?
The best math tutoring apps use a combination of online analytics and human interaction to determine the right course of instruction and assistance for your child.
While computer programs can grade math exercises, they can’t fully comprehend how a student arrived at an answer. They are also not ideal for providing face-to-face advice or encouragement.
There are dozens of math programs out there to chart your child’s math progress, but if you’re willing to pay for extra help, you should select a math tutor app that also employs qualified instructors who care about your child and can direct their learning.
Look for: A real, experienced math teacher who will become your child’s dedicated coach and personally evaluate your child’s progress each day.
You should also be able to meet with your child’s tutor at least once a quarter to discuss your child’s growth, or be able to check in on their progress via your very own Parent Insight app.
3. Will the instruction be tailored to my child’s strengths, weaknesses, and goals?
Each student is different, so each lesson plan should vary as well.
One primary reason parents seek out tutoring help is because kids often receive the same lesson plans as their classmates during regular school hours, regardless of their strengths, weaknesses, and abilities.
A math tutor app should have the ability to tailor lesson plans and worksheets to fit how your child learns best – at the level, they need help the most.
Look for: An app that starts by giving your child a comprehensive math skills assessment to see where their skills stand. Then, the math app should create a learning program based on the individual skills and needs of your child.
For example, if they’re struggling to see the importance of math word problems, there should be extra emphasis on those math concepts before moving on to more difficult problems.
At Thinkster, we also use proprietary AI technology that records and analyzes your child’s problem-solving in order to help visualize student thinking and determine the best course of action.
4. Is this app just for students needing help with math problems?
Certain students don’t need extra help, but could just use additional enrichment to sharpen their skills. And some children are so proficient in math that they need a challenge that goes far beyond what’s being assigned in class or as homework.
One of the signs it’s time to hire an online math tutor is when your child races through their homework as if it wasn’t challenging at all. This repetition doesn’t do anything to build upon your child’s fundamental understanding of math concepts.
A math tutor app should not only seek to help kids who are struggling to master difficult concepts, but also enhance the skills of students who currently have a strong foundation.
Look for: A curriculum based on Common Core Standards and the Singapore Method that’s constantly refined to build analytical, critical thinking and reasoning skills in your child as their learning progresses.
5. How expensive will it be?
Beware of free math apps. Not only will you need to question their instruction methods and whether they truly meet academic standards, but you’ll also need to protect your privacy and guard your child against targeted ads.
You see, many developers use ads to generate revenue in order to keep their apps working. Your child may be subject to these distracting, unwanted ads while they should be learning, which is like keeping commercials on in the background while they’re doing their homework.
Second – in order to remain free – certain apps will collect data from your computer or device to sell to advertisers. This breach of your privacy isn’t worth it.
An ideal math app will be less expensive than an in-person instructor and significantly cheaper than a commercial tutoring center. With less overhead, online tutoring programs don’t need to charge as much as other options. The developers only need to cover the cost of maintaining the app and paying the live tutors, among other small expenses.
Look for: A reasonably priced math tutor app that doesn’t sell your private data or distract your child with ads at any point during their use. It doesn’t hurt to also find an app that offers a money back guarantee if you’re not satisfied with the program or if your child doesn’t like it.
6. Will it be convenient and fit my schedule?
In-person tutors and tutoring centers require appointments at times that might not always fit your family’s busy schedules. A math tutor app should provide the convenience busy parents need, which is why many parents choose online tutoring these days.
With just a web-capable device and an internet connection, kids can get math help anywhere at almost any time. Simply upload a lesson plan or math worksheet while connected to WiFi and your child can complete their math in the car, while they’re waiting for a sibling to finish band practice or while lounging around on the couch during a snow day.
Look for: An app that provides both online and offline capabilities so your child doesn’t have any excuses not to practice their math.
For the most convenience, find an app that’s compatible with multiple web browsers (and operating systems) so your child can practice on multiple devices.
Bonus Question: Is the Thinkster Math Tutor App Right for My Child?
Selecting a math tutor app is an important decision for parents seeking extra help for their children.
Thinkster combines the interest and engagement of a math tutor app with the personalized feedback of an in-person math coach. As students master math concepts and earn rewards like gift cards to their favorite stores, they move on to more challenging work that helps them develop their critical thinking skills.
Whether your child is struggling with math or wants to learn more advanced concepts than their school is covering, Thinkster can meet their personalized needs and help them excel.