Miacademy is a subscription-based, online platform that offers lessons for kindergarten through eighth grade under the headings math, social studies, science, language arts, and electives. Parents can select from all content to create an educational program for their children and switch grade levels for subjects as needed. For instance, Miacademy teaches phonics-based pre-reading skills in kindergarten and actual reading in first grade. Parents who want their kindergartners to begin reading can use a combination of lessons from kindergarten and first grade.
Each child needs his or her own account, but Miacademy offers discounts for siblings. A parent account is included with the student account, and you can supervise more than one student from one parent account.
Note that Miacademy is very similar to two other MiaPlaza websites, Dangerous Dragons and Always Ice Cream. Miacademy is for both boys and girls, while Clever Dragons is for boys and Always Ice Cream is for girls.
MiaPrep courses for high school are under development with some content available for 2023. I plan to review it when it has more substantial content.
Subject Areas Covered
Miacademy might provide your core curriculum (if you supplement it) or be used to supplement other resources. The site is continually being expanded with additional content, but as they explain on the website:
Many families are using Miacademy as their core curriculum. Nonetheless ours, like every other online curriculum, has areas that are more complete than others. Thus, we recommend supplementing the lessons offered on our sites with additional learning activities, such as science experiments, reading and interpreting literature, and other activities that work well for your student.
Math and language arts are the most fully developed. The elementary language arts curriculum covers phonics, vocabulary, reading, writing, and grammar, while middle school lessons cover writing, reading comprehension, vocabulary, and advanced grammar. Unsurprisingly, handwriting is not included. This program might be used to teach reading since it includes auditory content throughout all the lessons. However, lessons for beginning readers move rather quickly. For example, consonant sounds are taught five letters at a time, including alternate sounds for letters like c and g. This progression might be too fast for some beginning readers, so Miacademy’s beginning reading lessons might best supplement another program.
Math lessons for the elementary grades use a variety of ways to teach concepts, including videos, verbal explanations, visual models, games, problem-solving, and real-life applications. By eighth grade, students are solving problems that involve inequalities, functions, and factoring, topics typical and beyond those normally taught. Students can also use the program’s Dragon Racetrack game to practice math facts and gain fluency. All of this is good, but as with beginning reading, there are potential problems with the progression of the lessons. The lessons often review very basic concepts at levels that students should already know well, a problem that occurs in other subject areas as well. For instance, a third-grade-math lesson on money begins by introducing coins and bills as if it’s a child’s first exposure to them. It fairly quickly moves beyond this review to the equivalencies of coins to other coins and bills. The very next lesson continues to discuss money, using multiplication, and introducing the decimal system. That’s quite a leap in difficulty over the two lessons.
Science and social studies course material within Miacademy is not yet sufficient for complete, two-semester courses, especially for third grade and above. (Courses often take less than one semester to complete.) For science, they have general introductory courses for the primary grades, and they have three topical courses appropriate for grades three through six on earth science, life science, and astronomy. (They will be creating an additional topical course in 2023-24.)
Similarly, many social studies courses are incomplete, although more units will be released by August of 2023. There are four social studies courses for grades four through eight: U.S. History I, U.S. History II, Ancient World History, and U.S. Government. If you search all social studies options, you will also see partial courses for Beginning Social Studies 1 and 2, Intro to World History, U.S. Geography (a lot of content for this course), and World Geography. Most of the social studies courses beyond those labeled “beginning” seem appropriate for about fourth grade and above. There are quite a few lessons for the primary grades under a few course headings, and you might select enough from different course headings to put together a course.
Many parents worry about the progressive content being taught through social studies classes. In Miacademy, the history lessons on native Americans and slavery have a slightly progressive point of view. For instance, the lesson on native Americans implies that our Constitution was primarily inspired by the participatory democracy of the Iroquois Confederacy without mentioning other sources of influence.
The electives include various courses for art, music, biblical studies (both Jewish and Christian), life skills, physical fitness, typing, computer programming, word processing, spreadsheets, computer-created presentations, and introductory foreign languages (American sign, Spanish, French, German, Chinese, and classical languages). The life skills course is very basic and might be used for social studies in kindergarten.
How the Lessons Work
Lessons are presented through video instruction, games, online practice exercises, and printable activities (often for multisensory offline learning). Each lesson is divided into three parts: teaching (through videos), practice, and assessment. Sometimes there is more than one teaching video, and generally, there are several short sets of practice questions. If children miss questions in a practice set, they are shown the correct answer. The question will be repeated later in that exercise.
Assessment questions follow the same formats as those in the practice exercises. While students are shown incorrect answers immediately in practice exercises, assessments are scored at the end. Students can retake assessments to improve their scores.
Lessons have quite a bit of repetition in the practice exercises and the assessments. Both exercises and assessments present the questions and their multiple-choice answers auditorily, a feature that might be especially helpful for some children. Some practice exercises allow students to click on a button labeled “Easier Level Please…” Features such as these coupled with the grade level flexibility might make Miacademy especially useful for students with learning difficulties.
Some lessons have printable activity pages to be completed offline. These might include worksheets that reinforce the video’s instructional content, instructions and components for games, hands-on science experiments, worksheets, and fill-in-the-blanks pages to be used as students watch the teaching videos—the latter, particularly for science and history lessons. Parents need to watch for the notetaking pages and download them in advance. Parents can choose which downloaded activities to use, especially since many require their interaction. Parents might be tempted to skip the downloadable pages, but they add important variations in learning activities.
Students are rewarded with virtual gold for completing online activities. The downloaded pages give parents suggested amounts of gold rewards for each completed offline activity. Parents can also award their children with gold for whatever they wish—completing chores, piano practice, well-written compositions, a positive attitude, etc. The My World area of the program lets students use the gold they earn to purchase virtual products.
Parental Controls and Information
Parents can customize the program to suit the needs of each child through their parent account. Since the content might be too easy or too challenging for students at their selected grade level, parents can preview the lessons on their child’s learning path and assign lessons from all those available by looking under “All Lessons,” then under each subject area. This allows customization but also requires more oversight than other programs that offer less parental control. The program is relatively easy to navigate, so students can complete much on their own once a parent has pre-selected the appropriate lessons.
Miacademy has extensive, customizable reporting features since it tracks student work and assessments. Parents also get a weekly email report on what each child has done.
With the parent’s permission, students can interact with the Miacademy community through games, communication, submitting articles for the staff-moderated Miacademy Weekly newsletter, and selling their own digital artwork to other students for “gold.”
Miacademy has sufficient content for most of math and language arts, but parents might need to make changes to the prescribed, grade-level lessons to best address their child’s needs. At this time, because of the unevenness in lesson progression and the incomplete courses for most of science and social studies, I recommend using Miacademy as a supplement rather than as your core curriculum.