I thought I would do something a little different tonight. I read (well, scan, since I don't have a lot of time to actually READ, and I can absorb information readily enough by scanning quickly)quite a few homeschooling websites, newsletters, blogs, etc. in an effort to figure out ways I can help my children learn concepts more effectively. I know that they have different learning styles, and I suppose that some of this effort is in trying to figure out HOW they learn, so I can help them learn better. Does that make sense? I hope so.
Tonight I thought I would put up a review of a program we are trying out. I received an offer from one of my many resources to try out the Reading Eggs curriculum, an online program designed to support a child's learning to read. I had looked at this program several weeks ago, but wasn't sure if it would be the right kind of program for my 3 and 5 year old kids. Plus, I was not sure that with a two-week trial period I would get a good feel for whether the program would actually help them in learning to read or not. They love several online reading programs already, but they tend to use one for a few weeks, then another, so I never get a good feel for how much the curriculum is actually helping them out. We also do some book-based reading fundamentals (phonics, vocabulary, phoneme awareness, etc.), but their response is rather tepid so far. So I figured that with a longer trial period (in exchange for a review, which did not have to be positive, mind you, just honest), it was worth a try to see if it actually helped them in the process of learning to read or not.
I have to say that after they have been using the program for 4 days, I am very happy with it. My kids love the program, and my daughter (5.5 years old) is *whizzing* through the lessons and loving it! She could easily spend hours in front of the computer with little to no help in the program. She has also already written her first story (I spelled the words she wanted to use, while she typed it all in), and she seems to be gaining the confidence and familiarity with the various concepts presented in the program faster than some other programs we have used. I don't know that it is necessarily the program itself, or if enough information has soaked into her brain that it is all coalescing into a better grasp of reading by using this program. Either way, she is learning a lot and enjoying the lessons.
My son loves it too, but he definitely needs a little more guidance to go through the lessons, since he seems to get a little more frustrated with some of the repetition. He can spend a lot of time in the "playroom" though, so I feel that the program is benefiting him at least as much as some of the other online programs do.
At this point, I like that my oldest child can navigate the program herself, and it seems fairly intuitive for her to follow. I also like that I can keep track of her progress easily, and she needs very little input from me to help her use the site.
From what I understand, the part of the site for older readers (in the 7-13 year old range) is very different. Since I have not accessed that section I really cannot comment as to whether it is useful or not. I can say that the "early reader" area is great for my kids, and might be useful for children who need a little extra review or a slightly different approach than more formal schooling takes.
My only complaint at this point is the pages of "golden eggs" that are seen when the main lesson pages are loading. They flit by so fast (often in less than a second) that she can barely see them go by, much less actually try to play them to gain more "eggs" to redeem. It would also be nice if the stories/books they create could be printed once they have been saved. You are given one chance to print them out (which I didn't see until too late), and there were no other obvious opportunities to print them. Other than those relatively minor problems, I like the program, and I hope that my kids will continue to enjoy and learn from it over the next several months. If they continue to use it through the trial period and it is still a benefit, I will seriously consider getting a subscription for at least my daughter.