TenMarks is an online math program for grades 3-10 that combines worksheets, instructional videos, recordkeeping, and a presentation tailored to your child’s math progress. It’s a math supplement that provides problems and additional instruction in math topic areas.
We started by having each of our students take an assessment to aid in customizing their math program. (Click on the Homeschool tab at the TenMarks website and scroll down to see the assessment option.) The test consisted of about 25 questions. Concepts were drawn from various math topics appropriate to the grade level you select before beginning the assessment.
I had a little trouble with this, as it can be difficult to assign a homeschooled student to a specific math level. I mean, I know what level the girls have been working at in a particular curriculum, but in Middlest’s case, it didn’t translate well to TenMarks. She froze on the first worksheet generated after her assessment, pronounced the math “too hard,” and might have ditched the program altogether.
I contacted TenMarks’ customer service, explaining the problem, and they adjusted her program, placing simpler, more foundational material at the front of the lineup of worksheets. They also assured me that it would be no problem to adjust her program again if needed. I could even do it myself, though it took a bit of figuring out. (While the parental controls allow you to add, delete, and move topics around, I couldn’t find any instructions, FAQ or a tutorial for how to do this.)
One of the TenMarks features is “learn at your own pace.” The student has a portfolio of topics to choose from. You can do the next worksheet that comes up automatically, or you can choose a different topic. Each worksheet consists of ten multiple-choice problems.
This is what one of my students sees when she signs in (name has been changed, of course):
Multiple choice is not my favorite format, but it does help to steer the student in the right direction. If you come up with an answer that doesn’t match one of the four given answers, you know you have a problem. (No pun intended.)
Here’s what a typical problem looks like. This was taken from the Practice mode, but the same format appears in all the modes I’ve seen. (The student can practice any kind of problem in their program, as well as choose to take tests, review material already learned, or work on new topics.)
Hints and helps
As you can see from the above graphic, every problem offers the option of asking for hints, as well as a link to an instructional video. Helpful tips also appear. Also, from every page you can access a Feedback link which allows you to send an email directly to the customer support staff.
Rewards and motivation
Rewards are built into the program. Games are available, some educational, some just plain fun, and a new game is unlocked when the student completes a specified number of worksheets. Here’s an idea of the rewards screen a student sees:
In addition, the parent can assign a more tangible reward. For one of my students, the reward was to be allowed to sleep in for one hour on a school day, without the penalty of losing a privilege. For another, the reward was a one-month subscription to an online game. Cost to me: $5, after 20 worksheets were completed. At a rate of 4 worksheets per week, that was a month’s worth of math for a month’s subscription. All of a sudden, this unmotivated student (I hate to tell you how few worksheets she completed during the review period) was cranking out math work with a will and a good attitude. *sigh*
I like the record keeping function. I can look at what each of my students has accomplished, the problems they missed, what’s coming up on their program, and more.
I also like the vacation feature. You can put the program “on hold” when you have to.
As mentioned above, I’ve found TenMarks’ customer service to be responsive and helpful.
And the girls?
Two of our three have worked at TenMarks without a lot of nagging on my part. The third complained a lot, but settled down to work (and stopped complaining, amazingly enough) after the right carrot was added to the mix. The girls have been able to work fairly independently, though once in a while one of them gets called on to help another, or I get called over to the computer to give a little more assistance or sometimes just moral support.
Youngest hates the video lectures. I’m not sure just why. Something about them grates on her nerves. Thankfully the hints that are available are enough for her, most of the time. The other two girls are fine with the lectures.
Subscriptions to TenMarks are $10 a month (per student), or discounted $49 for six months, or $89 for a year. Sign up at the TenMarks website. You can also try the program for free, to get an idea of how it works. (Go to the Homeschoolers link and click the Try Free button.)
To read more TOS Crew opinions of TenMarks Math Practice and Learning, click here.
Disclaimer: Members of the TOS Crew were given six-month subscriptions for up to two students. I went ahead and purchased a subscription for our third student because she liked what she saw her sisters doing. No additional compensation was involved.