Sunday, September 14, 2008

Beginning Reading-Option that Worked for Us

I'm almost embarrassed to post this. When it comes to young children and computer time I think the downfalls generally outweigh the benefits. I would far rather have kids out in the "real world" learning than sitting in front of a screen. Especially when it comes to reading. Reading is snuggling on the couch with Mom or Dad and a pile of library books. Reading is books spread across the bed at rest time. Reading is piling in bed with Mom and brother and the dog at bedtime. Reading is cozy. Reading is real...real books, real people, real time together.


Last November, when 'LilDude was 5 1/4, I heard about an on-line reading program called Headsprout. It was getting rave reviews amongst families on a forum I visit, so despite it being a computer-access reading program, I decided to let 'LilDude try it. 'LilDude loves to be on the computer. I figured he could spent 10-15 mins. several times a week on this program while the other kids were doing some of their homeschool work with me. 'LilDude was happy to have "homework" and I was glad to have several chunks of time to work with the other kids while he was otherwise occupied.

The program wasn't cheap at about $198 for 80 lessons, but we got a half-price coupon deal and received 80 lessons for $99. I agonized over spending that much money on something other than books. Since this is on-line, it basically meant paying for a membership. You use the membership until the 80 lessons (or 40 if you choose to buy just the first half of the program) are completed and then you're through. You do get several "books" in the mail and you can print a booklet for most lessons off the computer, but they are not anything close to the literary quality that I'm used to sharing with my kids. We tried it anyway.

'LilDude started in November. He'd been read to a lot. I hadn't done any reading "lessons" with him up to this point and he was not reading on his own at all.

By spring he'd completed about half the lessons and was reading beginning readers on his own. By summer he'd completed about 2/3rds of the lessons and could read any reader without hesitation. To date, he has completed 72/80 lessons. Last week they started kindergarten reading assessments. I asked 'LilDude about his day...

Mom: So I heard you guys got to read in kindergarten today?

LD: Yeah. They were having technical difficulties.

The teacher called and explained the "technical difficulties." Apparently, they brought along books to test through level 1.2 (first grade, second month.) He passed that level so will have to wait til next week to finish testing.

I'm sure it's not for everyone, but for 'LilDude, Headsprout made a huge difference in his reading ability in a very short amount of time. I'm told that Headsprout is currently offering the same half-price deal that we used; the coupon code is HSBTS2008. (I'm not making money off this and get no credit for it...I'm just passing along info on something that worked for us.)

Here is 'LilDude reading a book that he's never seen before...

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