Estimated reading time: 11 minutes
As a homeschool mom, I would much rather teach my kids to read than to drill math facts with flashcards and timed tests. My oldest cruised through math in the early grades. Then he began multiple-digit multiplication and long division. Suddenly, math was a battle. He dreaded it. So did I. It turned out that he didn’t know his multiplication and division tables very well. Fortunately, I stumbled upon Reflex, an online math program that uses fun games to master basic math facts. Thanks to Reflex, he quickly mastered the multiplication and division facts. Math is no longer his foe.
Update: As of February 2020, home use of Reflex math is available only through Time4MathFacts. The underlying Reflex program remains the same, but Time4MathFacts maintains the student and parent accounts.
What is Reflex?
Reflex is an online math program for mastering basic math facts. Students work on either addition and subtraction or multiplication and division. Although Reflex is not recommended before second grade, my five-year-old begged to play after watching his older siblings use it so much. Since we already had an extra license at that time, we allowed him to begin on his fifth birthday. The screenshots below are from his student account when he had been using Reflex for just over six months.
A Student Walkthrough
The welcome screen shows the percent of facts that the student has mastered. That percentage can go down, but it usually rises or remains steady.
Crabby’s Fact Fair
Every session begins with games at Crabby’s Fact Fair for a quick fluency test. Students earn tokens that they can later spend at the store. My kids like that Reflex tracks their best times and scores. They love to set new records at these games.
After completing the fluency check at Crabby’s Fact Fair, the student selects a game to play. Initially most games are locked. The more the student uses Reflex, the more games he can unlock. My kids have unlocked all the available games. When Reflex added Sq’World to the lineup, my kids all begged to play it daily as it took seven sessions to unlock the new game. Ordinarily, they played Reflex math games two to four days a week.
After the student chooses a game to play, Reflex teaches or reviews a target math fact. Since Reflex tracks the student’s progress, it knows which fact families have not yet been mastered.
After the target fact lesson, the student proceeds to reveal two secret images by solving math facts to uncover each piece. The background of the math fact first appears green, then yellow, and finally red as time runs out. When the student misses a fact, the correct answer is shown briefly in red. Only correct answers result in the covered area being revealed.
Once the secret images have been revealed, the student gets to play the chosen game. In the example below, the squirrel will move according to the solutions to the given equations. If the student enters 9 (17-8), the squirrel moves left. If 16 (7+9) is entered, the squirrel jumps. The squirrel moves right if the student answers 17 (8+9). The goal of this game is to collect as many acorns as possible and make it to the tree before winter. My kids think the background music, “Yummy, yummy, yummy for me,” is quite funny.
In the upper right corner of the screen, a green light indicates when the student has solved enough math facts for the day. When the center is green rather than black, the student can choose to continue playing Reflex math games or quit for the day. If the student moves on to another game, he does not have to repeat the target fact lesson and mystery picture reveal.
Tokens and the Store
I am constantly amazed at how much my kids love earning tokens and spending them at the store. Here they can buy clothes, accessories, hair styles, and even new eye colors. After they’ve planted their tree, they can even buy accessories for it like a tire swing, a tree house, and even a 750-token panther.
After several sessions of Reflex, each student plants a tree. It begins as a small sapling and grows as the student becomes more fluent in math facts. The student can buy accessories for the tree at the store and then decide which ones to display on the tree by customizing it. The student can also check the tree’s growth and see which fact families he has mastered. My kids love adorning their trees just as much as they love changing the looks of their avatars.
Avatars come with basic features, clothes, and accessories. As students earn tokens, they can buy more of these items including eye colors and hair styles. My kids have a blast changing up they way their avatars appear.
Students can easily check their progress by viewing the fact family pyramid and fact grids. These intuitive views help them see at a glance both the progress they’ve made and the facts they still need to master.
A Teacher/Parent Walkthrough
The teacher or parent who administers the Reflex or Time4MathFacts program has access to many reports, charts and graphs. I’ve included a handful of these reports below. Notice that the fact family pyramid appears in both the student and teacher/parent views. I personally don’t use any of these reports. I can easily see my children’s progress when they are playing Reflex and completing their math assignments.
Our local school district also uses Reflex to help students master their math facts. For a teacher with dozens of students, these reports would prove invaluable in tracking student progress.
Is Reflex Free?
No. It must be purchased for each student.
Reflex, which is now only for school use, does have a 30-day free trial. In 2018 when Reflex was also for home use, we took advantage of this free trial. For our family, thirty days was ample time to see marked improvement in our son’s multiplication and division fluency. At the end of the thirty days, we chose to purchase access for one year.
Time4MathFacts, the home-use provider for Reflex, does not offer a free trial period. They do have a 14-day money-back guarantee, but purchase is required at the time of account creation.
Would I Buy Reflex Again?
Yes. In 2021 we purchased Reflex again via the Time4MathFacts portal. Our daughter, who had previously used Reflex to learn her addition and subtraction facts, was ready to master her multiplication facts.
Unfortunately, the price of Time4MathFacts is more expensive than what we had previously paid for Reflex. As a homeschooling family with four children, we would love a family option or sibling discount for Time4MathFacts. My other children desperately want to play the math games again, but I cannot justify the price of additional student accounts.
Based on our initial experience of using Reflex, I know that my daughter will eventually tire of it. This happened when we first purchased Reflex for three of our children in 2018. That being said, she is enjoying it and is making steady progress with her multiplication and division facts.