I’ve been searching for an online maths program for Aaron to use alongside our other maths resources, as he is a big fan of technology but is not keen on doing formal work. We trialed several different systems, but when I eventually came across Komodo, I knew I’d found just what I was looking for!
Komodo is an online learning system for practising numeracy skills. It is aimed at 5 to 11 year olds and is designed to complement the National Curriculum, but focuses on building a strong foundation in mental arithmetic and does not cover topics such as shape, space and measure or data handling.
Komodo is adaptive, which means that learning is personalised for each child’s individual needs. When you first set up an account, there is a short diagnostic test for your child to complete and you have the option to add relevant details about your child, such as any special educational needs. Within 24 hours, a qualified maths teacher will analyse the results and assign your child’s learning programme. This means that your child can start straight away at a level that is suitable for them. I found this really helpful, as the teacher was able to point out areas where Aaron was hesitant despite arriving at the correct answer. Parents are also able to change their child’s levels and stages if necessary.
I particularly like that Komodo can be used on both iPad and Android tablets as well as computers, as many other learning systems are limited in this regard. Aaron mostly uses it on the tablet, but I like being able to access it from my computer as well rather than being limited to a particular device or platform.
Another fantastic feature is the ability to set daily email reminders at various times. Komodo recommend at least three 15 minute sessions per week. My memory is terrible and I find it difficult to remember to set aside regular dedicated time for things like this. However, I don’t think I’ll be needing the reminder feature at the moment as Aaron asks to use Komodo as soon as he wakes up!
The system is simple and intuitive for children to navigate and use. There are videos to introduce new topics and each short lesson consists of 20 similar questions to answer. In my opinion, the only possible improvement would be to have audio instructions available for non-readers, although most of the lessons Aaron has done so far are self-explanatory.
At the end of each lesson, the number of right and wrong answers are displayed and the child is given the opportunity to correct their answers, which also updates their grade.
Lessons are graded A-F, with A* being awarded when the child achieves an A grade and also finishes the lesson within the target time. Aaron finds the grading system very motivating, it keeps him focused and prevents him messing around. The timer length and grade percentages can be altered in the settings, which allows parents to adapt the level of challenge to suit their child.
There are 10 lessons in each stage, and about 10 stages in a level. There is a list of the different levels available here. If the child gets three A* grades in a row, they can take a stage shortcut onto the next stage. This is fantastic for Aaron as it allows him to move on before getting bored, whilst still ensuring that he has mastered the skills taught in that stage. Like everything else, the number of A* grades needed for a stage shortcut can be altered in the settings, which means that Aaron can move quickly through topics that he finds easy but spend longer practising skills that he struggles with.
Komodo’s reward system is a very effective motivational tool, as it can be customised and personalised for each learner. Whilst stage reward stars can be exchanged for Komodo belts, lesson and level reward stars can be exchanged for real prizes. Parents can decide how many reward stars are required for each prize and whether the prize can be redeemed more than once. Rewards don’t have to be expensive treats, I’ve included things like going to the playground and inviting a friend round to play. Aaron likes looking through the reward shop and planning what he is going to spend his stars on.
Another feature I really love about Komodo is the ability to add “supporters”. These are adults who can review progress, send messages and add rewards. This is a great way for friends and family members to be involved in the child’s education. Aaron is so excited about sending and receiving messages! The only negative I’ve found about the supporter system is that the progress update emails can get a bit spammy and I haven’t yet found a setting to manage email subscriptions.
I have been so impressed with Komodo, it is beautifully designed and very well thought out, with excellent attention to detail. There are adjustable settings for just about everything, with short help videos to explain different aspects of the system. It truly does deliver personalised learning. It is not a complete mathematics curriculum, but it offers a quick, easy and very effective way to learn and practise important numeracy skills. Initially I was concerned that Aaron might find it boring compared to systems that use a game-based approach, but he really enjoys it. According to him, “it’s funner than maths”!
Komodo offer a 2 week free trial, annual or monthly subscriptions and a sibling discount. Don’t forget to check out their helpful and informative blog about how children learn maths! Also, LittleBird currently have 50% off a Komodo annual subscription, the deal runs for another 3 days.
For anyone who missed out on the LittleBird deal, Komodo have very kindly provided me with a 20% discount code for you to use. Just leave a comment on this post to let me know you’d like the code and I’ll email it to you. As of October 2016, the discount code is no longer valid.
Disclaimer: All the opinions in this post are entirely my own. I had already purchased a subscription when Komodo kindly offered me a free one.