I’ve been homeschooling since 2005, and I heard about Khan Academy through 60 Minutes. The story got my family interested in the site, so we created accounts and started exploring. I decided to use Khan Academy for homeschooling because I wanted to make math fun!
Photograph of the Brunelli family
How we use Khan Academy
Around December 2013, my 15-year-old son, Nate, said he’d rather learn algebra through Khan Academy than through a textbook, so we made KA our main math resource. At first, I asked Nate to spend five hours on Khan Academy each week, but we soon switched from time-based goals to skill-based goals. Now, Nate tries to reach “Practiced” on 2-3 skills from the Algebra I mission each day,
Every afternoon, I log in to my parent account and check the Skill Progress report. I see what Nate has accomplished that day and then I recommend skills for him to work on the next day - usually 1-2 mission foundations and 1-2 mission-level skills. Nate was missing some prerequisite knowledge when we started with Khan Academy, and the mission foundations have really helped him fill in those gaps.
We usually end the day by doing something fun together. For example, we might race to see who can finish a mastery challenge or a basic skill the fastest. We also do longer-term competitions. On week, we competed to see who could finish the 3rd grade mission first. Other times, we’ll see who can earn a certain badge - like “geek or the week” - the fastest.
How our homeschooling changed
Khan Academy has made us more mobile - all we need is a computer, and we can learn math anywhere. We like to ski a lot in the winter, so this flexibility has been a big plus!
Since we’ve switched to Khan Academy, our progress through Algebra I has been slower. However, because of mission foundations and the mastery system, Nate is learning the content more deeply. He’s really mastering the material, so the tradeoff is worth it.
Words of wisdom
Before starting your child on a mission, give them some time to explore. When we first started, I let Nate “play around,” working on whatever he wanted to. This helped to familiarize him with the site and get him excited about using it.
Also, coach recommendations are a great way to focus your child and track their progress. I like to look at them daily.