Jones Geniuses Matrix Vs TouchMath
Full disclosure, I received one program for review and I purchased the other program. This DID NOT influence my opinion and neither company asked me to write this entry comparing the two programs. I just wanted to share with my readers the differences and reasons why we decided to use one program over the other.
As a homeschooling parent, the one area you will hear me write a lot about is math. Math scares me, like it does a lot of people out there, young and old. There are two topics that stump me no matter how much effort I put into them—Chemistry and Division. Well, I don’t want this for my child. I want math to be easy and fun for him. I want him to be able to take Pre-Calculus and Calculus in High School and not spend hours feeling frustrated. To date I have tried several math programs with my son and most of them just didn’t feel right, so I had to get back on Google and try and find on that did.
Two Programs I decided to Try
Two programs that I stumbled upon that were somewhat similar were Jones Geniuses Matrix System and TouchMath’s TouchPoint system.
TouchMath(TM) describes themselves as:
“TouchMath is a multisensory program that uses its signature TouchPoints to engage students of all abilities and learning styles.
Our award-winning, step-by-step approach covers: Counting • Addition • Subtraction • Place Value • Multiplication • Division • Time • Money • Fractions • Story Problems • Shapes • Sizes • Pre-algebra”
Jones Geniuses(JG) describes their program as:
“Jones Geniuses Accelerated Education is the number one provider of accelerated learning math curriculum for homeschoolers, after-schoolers and their families. We operate under The Institute for Accelerated Learning, Inc., a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation with headquarters in Kerrville, Texas”
Both systems teach a child to place dots on the number in a specific order, and then to count the dots in a specific order. If you show a child the number 3, they may know it is the number three, but do they understand what that means in quantity? Children that use the JG program or TM program truly learn what the numbers represent. In turn, if the child knows what the number truly means, mathematics becomes a whole lot easier. Math is a language, just like English, French, or Japanese, and I want my children to truly understand this important language.
Both programs have their pros and cons, however in the end one of them works better for our family at the moment.
The first program I tried with my son was Jones Geniuses. There was a big hype on the Brillkids forum, and Dr. Jones himself offered several online conferences free of charge and explained his program to us. This was fantastic as I was able to ask questions directly to the man who created the program. They also offered Brillkid forum members a co-op style deal. So I ordered their program. I dealt with their representative Chris who was extremely helpful and friendly on the phone. We chatted about homeschooling and the public education systems in Canada and the US vs. the UK. I was extremely impressed with the time and effort both Chris and Dr. Jones took to make sure all my questions were answered. Watching some of the older children in the more advanced JG Programs made me realize they were on to something.
Not What I Expected
However, I think I can speak for a few of the forum members, and some of us were disappointed with our packages. For myself, it seemed homemade and not very child friendly. Posters were printed on plain paper instead of cardstock. I was expecting a more professional looking package for the price I paid. Later I found out after reading a blog review that part of my kit was missing. I called my friend who was waiting for her kit and emailed another who had just received hers a week or two earlier, and they too were missing that piece. To the JG organization’s defense they did send us our missing pieces quickly, but I for one do not enjoy having to double check packages to make sure all the pieces are included. The other thing that surprised me was that it had passed their quality assurance inspection noted on the inside of the lid, everything was checked off and signed that it was in the package.
One thing I found with this Early Learning program from JG was I did not like the step based approach. Personally I think if you’re doing a step based program you should start with Step 1, then once that is mastered move on the Step 2. With JG Early Program, you’re working on several steps all over the place. I felt disorganized as a parent/teacher, and my son (5) was getting bored.
Tears, Tears & More Tears
So after a phone conversation with Dr. Jones, we jumped right into the worksheets. They were plain looking sheets that started off with 4 questions per page with dots and increased to 100 questions with no dots. Having my son do these sheets was like pulling teeth. There was nothing physically attractive about them to interest a young child. Also I didn’t like that I had to teach my son to place the dots one way and count them another. When we got to larger numbers like 7, 8 or 9 it seemed like dots were all over the place. My son was frustrated; he would place the dots like he was suppose to count them, and the other way around. And even though I was staying completely calm and positive, subtraction problems had my son so frustrated he burst out crying. This was not what I wanted for my son. It broke my heart, and I packed up our JG program and put it away.
On The Hunt Again For The Perfect Math Program
Then while on another desperate search for the “Perfect Math Program” for my son I stumbled upon TouchMath. I emailed the people at Jones Geniuses and asked them what the difference was between their program and TM. This was the reply I received:
“Our Matrix is a dramatic improvement on Touch …in a nutshell ours is simpler to understand. Touch is too abstract for the younger brain to understand.”
This was discouraging to me, and I thought, well if JG dots are so difficult for him to place TM with be even worse with their double touch point. Boy was I wrong!
I decided that I had to do something so I emailed TouchMath and asked them if they would be interested in doing a review/giveaway on my blog. Bob promptly emailed me back and we started hashing out the details. I was sent the computer software Kindergarten Math Program, and the Digital Kindergarten Kit 4 program. I was excited and nervous while waiting for the program to come in the mail. At this point I was really sick of trying so many math programs and being disappointed time and time again. I was also nervous because TM has double touch points. If my son couldn’t handle single touch points how would he handle double?
When the product arrived there were 3 CDROMS. I registered the products and loaded The Kindergarten Software’s first disc on to my computer. While the program had a minor glitch in the first lesson, my son learned his touch points in 45mins the FIRST time using the software, the double touch points and all. Subtraction was presented to him using both touch points and objects to cross out. Suddenly it clicked for Wesley! The Digital Kindergarten program took what my son knew and brought it to the next level! He was adding 3 numbers together, and learning things that JG program doesn’t hit, for example patterns, time, fractions, etc.
Amazing Customer Service
I contacted Bob and told him we were having difficulty with the software program. Nothing major, just the touch points were difficult for a 5 year old with a lot of computer experience to place. He told me they were already addressing this issue and it would be corrected in the next version. A month or two later I received this email:
“According to our records, you have purchased and registered our TouchMath Tutor Kindergarten Software. We will soon begin production on an updated version, and because you are users of the current product, we want to give you the opportunity to help with the process!
Please take a moment to complete a very brief survey and give us your feedback. By sharing your thoughts, you will receive a FREE copy of the updated software when it’s released later this year!
The survey will close on January 21, 2011.”
This showed me that TouchMath does stand by their product! And they are willing to listen to suggestions and improve their already great program. I also enjoy that I can download free samples of each Kit and try them out with my son. It allows me to know what to expect when I order, and helps me decided what grade level I should be ordering him.
The thing I think that scares people away from TouchMath though is the price. But the way I look at it is, it’s an excellent product, and it works. The new digital kits make it easier for families to reuse the program over and over again with younger children. And when your family is done with it you can resell it, just like you do a textbook.
UPDATE October 2018: Since this article was originally posted TouchMath has created some more affordable options for homeschool families. These products copyrights only allow you to use them with your household, but they are significantly cheaper.
In the end, I know JG is working on a Matrix 1 program. My son was not ready for Matrix 3, however the Early program was not for him either. He may have benefited more from using the Matrix 1 program if it was available. Touch Math is presented in a fun way with cute characters, and is more aesthetically pleasing to my five year old right now. At this young age I have to respect him and present him things that keep him interested.
So for now we will continue using Touch Math till he is at the Upper Grades Level (Grade3) Then I will likely look at going back to Jones Geniuses program, when he is older and more mature and may have more patience for it.
How To Make Jones Geniuses Work For Younger Children
I know other parents who have made Dr. Jones program work for their young children. They created manipulatives and other tools and their children are doing excellent. But right now in our day to day lives I know I don’t have the time or motivation to get these types of tasks done in a timely matter.
TouchMath For The Win
Touch Math has done the work for me, manipulatives are available to purchase and the worksheets are fun and keep my son coming back for more. He actually completed 11 sheets in ONE sitting, he wanted to do more, but I hadn’t printed out enough. On average he does between 4-6 sheets a sitting. I see him loving math, and getting excited about it. For me this is thrilling! I can finally lay off Goggling math program options.