If you plan to teach your student math, you're going to want the Flashmaster. This may end up sounding more like a commercial than a review; I have been telling practically all the homeschoolers (and other educators) that I know about this little gadget.
Math is a killer for me. I have been told that the first thing that a teacher learns about teaching math is that it is crucial to master the basics. Addition, subtraction, multiplication and division facts need to be fully committed to memory in order to successfully progress through the different stages of math. The building blocks will be firmly set in place by faithful memorization. The trouble is that it takes 15-30 minutes of drills every day to attain the results you want.
It seems that flashcards are essential to truly thrive in math. Flashcards - I shiver with dread. First of all, I have four children who need to be drilled. We're looking at one to two hours just in flashcard work alone! As much as I know how important flashcards are, realistically it doesn't happen as it needs to. Then, what if they really only need to work on certain fact families? Then I'm digging through the card pile, trying to organize them, turning them right side up (yelling about the missing and lost cards) - it can get ugly. Usually four boxes of cards are needed to cover each area for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. Ever try doing flashcards in the car? I don't recommend it.
So here's why I'm so excited - the Flashmaster is a small little computerized gadget, about the size of a large calculator or Gameboy, and it has solved my flashcard drill dilemma. It is perfect in every way. It has all fact families from all four categories (+, -, /, and x). If you only need to quiz the four family in multiplication, this thing sets it up. Need to work only on certain subtraction facts? This gadget easily programs what you need.
The setting that is working the best for us right now is the timed practice (missed problems are repeated), with a 180 second time limit. My fourth grader is going through her times tables with it. She's mastered levels 1, 2, 3, and 4, and she's currently working on level 5. There is a sound option on it, which I always make my children leave on, because you can hear when the student misses a problem or gets one right by the tone it chimes. Here's the best part, at the end of the time test, my student brings me the Flashmaster, which automatically shows me how many problems were completed, how many problems were done correctly, and gives me their grade percentage! It's math heaven (could there be such a thing?). My kids are required to come back with a 100 percent three times in a row in order to move to the next level. My fourth grader works through her times tables and also does reviews with the addition and subtraction settings. My first and second graders are working though the subtraction and addition facts; my second grader is also just starting the level 1 multiplication setting. No scattered or lost cards; they can do this on their own, and then have me check the automatically graded quiz. I love it! We can see exactly how they are progressing, and it's encouraging for all of us.
I also like how we can take it anywhere, and the fact that all four of my students can use it at their own level. This is the first math product that I've ever found that I honestly feel is a "must have." My kids have improved so much in such a short period of time. I had been working with my fourth grader all year with her times tables, and we were really getting nowhere. Within the first week she had mastered more than what she had accomplished in the first six months of the school year. This is no exaggeration!
I am thoroughly impressed, and cannot stop telling every homeschooler I know about it. Get this product! It is, without a doubt, the best math resource I've ever come across. It also comes with batteries. This may be a little thing to some, but it was just another indication showing that the people from Flashmaster are dedicated to covering all the basics!
Publisher's Note: My husband and I are thrilled with Flashmaster. Never have we found a tool so handy for teaching math drills. With nine levels covering all four math-learning areas, we finally feel like our children are getting the timed drills they need on a regular basis. All four of our kids use it daily. We love it.