The Old Schoolhouse® Product & Curriculum Reviews

With so many products available we often need a little help in making our curriculum choices. The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine family understands because we are in the same boat! Do you need more information on a product before you buy? With over 5,500 products listed in 52 easy-to-use categories, much of the information you need to know is only a click away! Let our reviewer-families help yours.
Do you want to get the word out about your product or service to the homeschool community? Email Jenny Higgins and share a little about what you´d like showcased, and we can help with that! Review by Maggi Beardsley

Synergy1 Group, Inc.
PO Box 1662
Ponte Vedra, FL 32004-1662
904-686-1541 is a subscription website by The purpose of the website is to "help each child develop the skills needed to perform to his/her potential." It is for children in grades K-6. "Helping kids become and stay A+ students" is their motto. While offers SpellingTime, BigVocabTime, and BigStatesTime, this review is for the portion only. You can customize the website so that it mirrors the book work that your student is doing (for example multiplication by ones) or you can have automatically generate grade-specific lessons. The program works on proficiency. It does not allow the student to progress to the next level without proficiency in the current level. It appears that was developed as a tool for extended math work at home, after the classroom instruction. You will need a computer with Microsoft Windows 2000, ME, or XP, as well as Internet Explorer 6.0 or higher, Netscape 8.1 or higher, Firefox or higher, Adobe Flash Player 9 or higher, and broadband Internet. The program covers addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

The site suggests that students spend 15-25 minutes using it every day. Each lesson takes between 15 and 20 minutes to complete. When a student is successful, he or she earns coins for the arcade games. There are over 35 strategy and educational games. Then emails the parent a report detailing the student's progress. It tells how much time the child spent on the lesson/quiz, the test results, and the problem areas. You can also log into the account and view a progress report.

As a parent-teacher you can customize the assignments or use the preloaded curriculum. For example, I had 10% of the problems come from the simple division category and 10% from the triple digit addition category. You can also print the lessons out. It is best if you guide your child to complete the lesson before taking a quiz. Since you can customize the program either to a specific grade level or to specific mathematical concepts, any child in grades 1-6 can use the program. It does not tell the student what grade level is being taught. A child who enjoys computer interaction will enjoy this program, but a child who likes visual diversity might not enjoy it.

The pricing is for an individual or a school, so the site was not designed specifically for use by homeschoolers. However, I think homeschooled students could benefit from it. It provides immediate feedback for the student and the parent. If your child is mastering an area, such as addition of two-digit numbers, then you can simply decrease the number of problems from that area or eliminate it all together. I liked that the website had a risk-free, 14-day, full money back guarantee. I also like that you can purchase a one-month subscription or a full year subscription. Their customer service was very helpful and quick to respond. You can also bundle the subscription with their other sites to save money. The spelling site ( has won many awards.

My son was intrigued by the coins that he earned from good performance on the quizzes. I liked the visible clock on the website that made it appear to be a timed test. In our homeschool, I sometimes require a test to be taken in a certain amount of time, so I felt that this was good test-taking practice. It took some getting used to for my son. He was more successful with the program when I was there to start him off each day and direct him to a lesson or a quiz.

My son did not enjoy the voice of the female instructor. He found her to be monotone. The multiplication problems that require you to "carry" can be tricky to input on the computer. I found it difficult, but my son mastered it all right. I would have liked more written instructions on how to use the website. A student must be able to use the mouse well. A slow mouse user might not earn as many rewards for speed. For example, my second grader struggles with using the mouse, so she is not ready for a program like this. As far as I could tell, the individual subscription is only for one student. So a family with more than one student would need to purchase the year school package or have just one of their children use the program. I would like to see add a homeschool edition that is priced somewhere between the cost of an individual subscription and a school subscription.

While is not a stand-alone math program I think it would be a good addition to a homeschooling program. You can review with it, master concepts, practice timed tests, and be rewarded with fun games. I think would be great for that time of year when the student is just bored with his math book and wants a change.

Product review by Maggi Beardsley, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, January 2009