Saturday, March 30, 2013

Reading Horizons Discovery At-Home Software Review

I never had the intention of teaching my child to read at 4 years old. I think kids learn best when they are ready and they need more time to just play and be kids. If you know me, you know that I like to let them have ample free play time. Even though it wasn't planned or expected of her, my 4 year old Baby E just happened to be ready to learn to read and we so happened to test the new Reading Horizons Discovery At-Home k-3 software program that she was eager to try out after we tried the Discovery Instructor Materials, the hard copy version of the software we tested. She did this only when she wanted to and we never pushed her. She happens to be the kind of kid that really likes to do everything herself and doesn't like being pushed, we are all happier when she learns at her own pace and that's why homeschooling is working so well for us in these early years!

Ease of Use: We really love the Reading Horizons Discovery At-Home Software for the fact that it is easy for everyone involved. It pairs really well with the Discovery instructor materials, which are great if you prefer to not spend too much time on the computer. Since I run two businesses from home, I need something that requires little to no planning from me and that Baby E can take ownership of. The Discovery At-Home Software does exactly that! It enables both of us to work next to each other and I'm available to answer all her questions while she is completing a lesson (usually during Baby T's nap time). During this time I usually choose to answer my clients' emails so that I am not too absorbed into my tasks and I keep an eye on her progress.

At just 4 years old, she quickly learned how to use the software on her own. Yep, kids these days - they are so technologically savvy. I just type in the URL for her and she can type her name and login herself. We love the interface layout that makes it really easy to navigate. There is a 'home base' that the child always comes back to which is called the Club House (top image). From there, the child can navigate either toward a lesson, vocabulary, or games. I love being able to log into the control panel and see all of her statistics for lessons, to control how many games I want to allow per week, and other details.

The biggest motivation for Baby E was the coins that one accumulates each time one completes a lesson. She would check it obsessively after each lesson and got so excited when the sacks and treasure chests of coins started accumulating. Bonus, she is also learning numbers while we're at it!

We are also big fans of the games which are clearly not just an afterthought, but they reinforce what the child is learning in a fun way. I really like that there is only a limited number of times one can play each day - since we all know kids aren't very good at self control!

(above: the games menu screen)

Support: We love that Reading Horizons provides an amazing support system for all customers. They help the parent understand how Reading Horizons Discovery At-Home works to implement it successfully. They have you covered with a free support system of parent trainingwebinars, and online reading assessments. You can also connect with them on their Facebook page. I've attended a webinar and it was extremely helpful in getting us started with this program, it's a must for any parent wishing to help their child learn to read fluently and independently. Their newsletters are always full of relevant information about teaching, learning, and the program itself. You can also check out their free E-Book, Help Your Child Become a Successful Reader

(above: Baby E's favorite game, Card Match)

(Our home office set up with our laptop for the software)

Results: In our experience, the software worked better for my daughter than the hard copy materials because it was easier to use for both of us. Since we are bilingual, I try to separate days when we study English and when we focus on Russian. Something really amazing happened after doing the lessons regularly for several weeks on 'English days', without my input Baby E had translated the concepts she learned into reading by syllables in Russian! I was so surprised, I knew that she knew Russian letters, but I haven't yet taught her to read. She basically taught herself after being presented the resources in the Reading Horizons Discovery program. She is now reading two and three syllable words in Russian, with little to no help from me. With that in mind, I think this software would work great for English language learners from other countries. I wish I had access to this when I came to the States at the age of 11, knowing just a handful of English words!

It is harder for her to read in English, but she is progressively getting there at her own pace. I think the key to literacy and to fostering the love of reading, is not to push them if they are resisting - it simply means they are not ready. You will know when they are ready and eager. I just love that the systematic phonetic approach transcends language barriers and makes sense in the little mind of a four year old. I can imagine this would be even more effective with 6-8 year olds native English speakers who have a greater capacity for understanding the presented material. 

Value: While the hard copy Discovery At-Home materials cost $299, the software is only $199. The best thing is that they have a 60 day money back guarantee. If you try the program and you feel that it isn't working for your child, you get your money back! Here is what's included with the software: 
  • Online access to the full version of Discovery Online software for one year (renewal price for an additional year is $50/year)
  • 63 interactive lessons teach students the 42 Sounds of the Alphabet, Five Phonetic Skills, and Two Decoding Skills.
  • 22 Most Common Words lessons give practice with high-frequency words that are included in 65 percent of our daily reading and writing (e.g., the, it, a, and).
  • 13 Reference Lessons aligned to requirements of the Common Core State Standards
  • Built-in assessments ensure proficiency after each lesson, chapter, and comprehension exercise.
  • The Vocabulary Word Wall allows students to practice decoding skills while building their vocabularies.
  • 64 colorful and age-appropriate stories help students transfer decoding skills to connected text.
  • Six fun and engaging games can be accessed with the coins students earn in the lessons, vocabulary section, and reading passages.
  • The Administration System allows parents to review assessment data, generate customizable reports, set student options, and receive notifications about student progress.

Connect with Reading Horizons on Facebook and Twitter 
Follow on Pinterest

Disclaimer: I did not receive payment for this post. I was provided a sample of the product for review purposes. All opinions are genuine and my own. May contain affiliate links that support Eco-Babyz at no additional cost to you, thank you!

1 comment:

  1. Interesting i have to check this out, my kids always asking to play on the computer, and im all of educational games first!


We LOVE your comments, please share your thoughts!

Blogging tips