Bottom line: If you're in the U.K. and have a 7 to 11 year old child, buy it. If you're elsewhere and have a child functioning in that age range, still take a long look, especially since you can try the basics for free.
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DoodleMaths is a personalized math tutor for children who are in the 7 to 11 age range in terms of math ability. It's a U.K. app but I'm recommending it for those outside the U.K. as well because it has so many fantastic features. First, a little bit about how the app works.
You can download it for free and give it a trial but the full app is acquired via an in-app purchase for $6.99. Given that a child aged seven can continue to use the app until age 11, I think $1.50 per year of use represents really good value. Your child completes an assessment that takes about 10-15 minutes. This assessment determines your child's "math age" and then designs a study plan for them based on their skill level. The app continues to adapt to your child's strengths and weaknesses, adjusting the type and level of questions accordingly.
There's more. The app works on the premise that consistent, frequent, practice yields the best results over time. So all your child has to do is answer nine questions per day - it should take them no more than 10 minutes. Once a week, new material will be released (but only once your child has completed each week's daily practice questions). In addition, there are games they can play which reinforce times tables and other key math skills.
At the start, your child chooses an animal avatar to play with. As they earn stars for correct answers, these can be redeemed for accessories for their pet avatar, like sunglasses and hats. The happiness level of their pet is also affected by their usage of the app during the week - another incentive to keep them practicing.
And there's more. If your child is having trouble with a particular topic, there's an index by subject they can use. For example, let's say they are having difficulty with the difference between obtuse and acute angles, they are provided with an overview of what these angles are, together with examples. The explanation is provided in written and audio format. Having gone over the content, your child then answers 10 questions designed to reinforce what they just reviewed. This is a great resource for homework support.
A password protected Parents section contains not only the in-app purchase but you can provide info so that progress reports are emailed to you weekly, check Frequently Asked Questions, review an outline of exactly how the app works and there's also a section I especially like called Help My Child. This provides parents with a step-by-step guide to best practices in helping their children study.
Over and above this list of great features, there's lots to love about this app:
• It's been designed by math teachers who are also parents - they clearly know their stuff, what works and what motivates kids.
• The content is in line with the U.K. curriculum (which is very similar to the core curriculum in the U.S.)
• I think the interface is fantastic. It's intuitive and kid-friendly without being off-putting for older children. For example, there's a note pad which pops up when doing sums so your child is not forced to do everything in their head.
• Designed for use with an iPhone or iPod Touch the app still looks good at x2 on an iPad.
• It represents terrific value - five years worth of curricula but tailored specifically to the needs of your child.
If this were a U.K. app review site I would definitely rate this as a five star app. As it is, I still rate it as a Top Pick because of its depth and the quality of its design. Highly recommended for users outside the U.K., with the following caveats:
• Only U.K. currency is supported so you will need to look outside the app to help your child learn their coins and bills but they can still answer the monetary questions by substituting dollars and cents for pounds and pence.
• For U.S. users, the app does reflect the fact that the rest of the planet uses the metric measuring system. In my mind however, given we are an increasingly global community, even American children should be learning the metric system.
• Some British terms might confuse your child at first - if you can't translate British into American for them you can always ask one of our four British/Australian staff members at Smart Apps for Kids for help through our Forum page.
• The app currently only supports one user but the developers are working on multi-user functionality for an update planned to be released in January. This will make teachers very happy.
This review was written by Deanne Shoyer who appears to be settling a karmic debt. In return for not liking the subject as a child she is doomed to complete one math app review and then start to review another math app. She is a modern-day, math-app-reviewing Sisyphus, if you will.