How we used Khan Academy to help my kids succeed in 12 steps
These Khan Academy Tips worked for my own kids and their friends over the last 5 years.
My middle child will complete 4 years of calculus in high school and my daughter will complete at least 3.
These tips and tricks also help kids who struggle with math. My deaf son was sidelined for months in 9th grade by a ski accident, missed school and spent 6 months with a wheelchair or walker. Since he couldn’t write for months he dictated his Algebra homework. Although he’d aced that final, he did all the work in his head. The next year he struggled. Before leaving for college, he mastered all subjects in The World of Khan. He knew he needed a solid foundation for engineering calculus.
In educational terms our public school used a combination of blended learning and some flipped classrooms. We augmented it at home with personalized learning. Before Khan Academy came along my kids used Study Island in elementary school.
Khan Academy Tips for Math Missions
- Create a Khan Academy parent account for yourself, a child account for each of your kids, put them all in a class called “family” and do some of your own problems so that you understand how it works. Show by example how you value lifelong learning.
- Take their diagnostic quizzes to give them a baseline of your strengths and weaknesses
- Best to work to mastery rather than working on your current class. Sal Khan’s The One Room Schoolhouse, sites case studies demonstrating kids should work to mastery starting from the beginning, rather than starting in the class they currently have at school. While I loved the book, I didn’t quite believe that my own kids should start from a low level and work their way up. I was wrong.
- If your child wants to set their mission to “World of Math”, let them. At first I discouraged this. If they were working on subjects that seemed to basic then I made them change their mission from “World of Math” to their current grade/class). I was wrong. Now I let them choose.
- Khan tailors the questions to their results and the subjects that they have mastered or are struggling with. Another of my Khan Academy tips is to look at their knowledge map of how one subject relates to the next. This makes it very clear. If they want to learn everything about exponents before moving on, that’s okay. Khan’s algorithms also arrange subjects differently than what the kids are doing in school. so just don’t worry about it. Just go with their order. Let the kids explore.
Khan Academy Tips for Sample Goals
- The most effective goal I’ve seen is studying for something that the child really wants, like a placement exam or a grade. It might be a for a tracking placement exam for middle school, high school or college. These items are likely to be covered on an algebra placement test.
- I might suggest 10 or 15 minutes per night, 60 minutes per week, 4 hours per month. (a reasonable goal in a kid’s eyes, but it won’t happen every night.) Then, when they don’t keep up with actual targets then perhaps sit down twice for 2 hours at a time, to keep up with monthly goals.
- I encourage them to set their own goals, which they might express in terms of a badge. In reality, as long as they are chipping away at the mountain regularly, I’m happy.
- Kids earn badges if they keep their streak going. As short as a minute seems to count, but my guess is 5 minutes is a more meaningful minimum. Many find studying in frequent short blocks more effective than a long marathon session.
- I might suggest to my kids that they master 50% of their current class by the end of the first semester, and 100% before the final. While we rarely actually did that, they knew it sounded fair. They’d work in heavier spurts when motivated. My big push was for them to try to fully master last year’s subject by the end of the summer. E.g., 4th grade by the end of the summer between 4th and 5th grade.
- One of my kids’ favorite Khan Academy tips is to team up with friends in a kid run study group. I’ve seen this work wonders for my own kids even though Khan itself is very individualized.
- An objective set of rules that your kids perceive as fair and consistent really helps. Our household had a challenging range of temperaments and abilities.
- In middle and high school we let my kids set the pace about how far they want to accelerate. Our Math Track Survival Guide for parents is what I learned in the process.
Every time my kids use Khan Academy regularly they agree that it really helps with math, but I still often have to push them to get started.
I don’t expect them to try to teach themselves new material. I emphasize making sure they are really solid on material that has already been taught at school. In 5th -6th grade my daughter found it frustrating if she taught herself topics right before they were covered in class.
In 5th-6th grade and again in 8th grade my younger two used Khan Academy a great deal to solidify their learning and study for placement tests. Fall always seemed too busy but Spring and Summer worked well for us.
I hope these tips have been helpful. Please let me know what has worked for you and your family in the comments below! We’d love to learn from your kids as well!