The National Library of Virtual Manipulatives is a National Science Foundation supported website that provides, as the name appropriately implies, online manipulatives. The site is a subscription site but you can download a free trial to see how it might work out for you.
What I like about this site is that it has things for grades PK all the way through Grade 12. I often find that high school is missing from things for homeschoolers. . .but this site is extremely comprehensive and does it all.
What I wouldn’t like is the fact that since it’s on the computer, really only one child can use it at a time. For larger families like mine, this could easily be a pretty big issue. One way to squeeze in all your subjects on a given day is to combine grades for certain subjects. To teach math, you can have children working on manipulatives and adjust the tasks you’re giving them by age appropriateness. That wouldn’t be an option on the computer. (On the other hand, I’m sure if you really like the idea of working with a computer, you could make it work somehow.)
Aleks.com is a new interactive online K-12 math curriculum. It stands for Assessment and Learning in Knowledge Spaces. It’s artificially intelligent system uses adaptive questioning to determine what you know and don’t know in a given subject area.
What I liked: It is very, very thorough in terms of topics covered. I also like the idea that they cover one specific topic and show you were you need to go next. ALEKS is a math worm who guides you through the activities. Since it is interactive, it keeps track of progress and you can go as fast as you’d like through the program or as slowly as you like. It comes with a 30 day free trial and so I definitely think that if you’ve been looking for something for math–try it.
What I didn’t like: My biggest complaint is that I think there wasn‘t enough actual teaching and/or help. It was there, but it just wasn’t quite enough. There is also no spiraling or build up to a concept that I find to be very helpful with teaching children math. It is clearly student directed so depending on your student, that could be a positive or a negative. One last thing to mention is that it’s a whopping $180.00 per year for one student per year. (They have subscriptions available for one month, 3 months or 6 months.) For a family like mine, I’d have to pay almost $700.00 per year just for Math! (That is close to what I pay for all 5 children for their entire in-home curriculum!)
One last note: I could see this program being very helpful in prepping for a standardized test if you felt like you needed to do that.