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Prodigy - addictive math game

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Are your kids playing the Prodigy Math Game yet?   If not, it could just be a matter of time. 

This popular math game is popping up everywhere.   My friend's kids in another Massachusetts school are on it, and so are my other friends' kids from New Jersey.   And the benefit's pretty clear: as a parent, I want their kids to learn math and leave me alone to work. And for kids, the game is fun and they can spend hours on it daily.  This week I spent some time looking at the game my kids have been playing for weeks, and learned a few things.

First, the game is like Pokemon plus Math. Kids go on adventures and rescue cute pets by winning battles where they have to answer math questions.   So in order to advance in this game, they have to do math problems.  Hehe..

My daughter played it first, then my son.  And both seemed to like it and can play an hour a day.   There's a social component as well.  They get friends on Google Hangout, do a group call, and talk while they play.   They can also go to common areas and throw water balloons and make faces at each other. 

The math seems quite structured too. Once I sign up as a parent I can see there's by grade various topics they drill the kids on.  That's right, you can create a parent account and add your kids, so you can see the kids' progress. I looked it up, and it claims to be a "curriculum-aligned math game loved by over 50 million children in Grades 1‑8 and used by over 1.5 million teachers".

A couple of weeks ago, my daughter started telling me how many of her friends are members and can advance faster than her.  Apparently the game keeps reminding kids about the benefits of membership.  How very annoying!  No wonder half the kids my kid plays with have memberships: many parents probably got tired of being asked. 

Then, she told me that her brother is trying to get ahead fast by doing Grade 1 problems. (Yeah she can get away with saying stuff like this about her brother, who only rarely gets mad at her for spilling the beans.)

"What?!" I asked my son to show me the kind of questions he's getting, and sure enough, he's answering questions like "Which number is bigger, 3 or 20?"

"It's because the 5th grade questions on Perimeters take a long time, and I don't have that much screen time."  My son complained.  "And everyone's so far ahead of me."

I felt disappointed (or maybe more like outraged), but could also see my son's frustration. "Okay you have to stop playing at Grade 1. "  I softened it with "I'll pay for membership so you can advance faster on Grade 5."  I also helped my son with the Perimeter problems a bit so he can do it a bit faster.

"Hell yeah!" was my son's response. Then I heard my kids going ooh-aah over the various new things my son can do as a member.  

A few days latter, to my chagrin, I found out from the parent account that thanks to the "adaptive engine", my son's now back down at Grade level 4.  "Seriously? You're starting 6th grade this fall, you know. "  I talked to him about doing the problem properly, and not being lazy about getting the right answer.

Thankfully I found after Googling that you can move a kid up a grade (yes even at the FREE level).  So I did that, twice, to move my son to Grade 6.  Finally my son's doing some real learning, and he quickly moved ahead, passing his sister.  Just to be sure, I also added my daughter to the parent account (free), and saw that she's already finished 2nd grade curriculum and is about half way thru 3rd grade.

Soon I heard a new complaint from my daughter. "I want to be a member too. Brother's got so many cool stuff."

I asked her to show me the difference.  She told me about how she can only have 9 pets, while her brother can get 100+.  And how she only has a small house for all the cool stuff she gets, while her brother has a giant house with 2 performance stages, 9 gum-ball stands, and 4 trampolines!

Hmm... this is too much consumerism!  I'm not sure I want to support all this getting stuff and wanting more stuff.  Yet I could see the fair treatment my daughter's advocating for.  

Our latest compromise: we'll transfer membership to her once her brother reaches Level 100. (Yeah, I bought the 6-month membership since it sounded cheaper. In hindsight, I should've just bought month to month, one month each kid, and be done with it.  :)

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