Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Rosetta Stone Reading for Homeschool Review

Disclosure: I received a 1 year subscription in addition to monetary compensation for this review. All opinions are honest and 100% my own and I was not swayed by the free product or compensation. 

I originally found out about Rosetta Stone's Reading for Homeschool program through Educents. I had never heard of their reading program before and quickly looked into it. I was pleased to see that Rosetta Stone had designed a reading curriculum specifically for homeschoolers! They meet nationwide literacy requirements, along with common core standards, and introduce the world of reading in an engaging and interactive world for young learners! The program is technology-based and helps the child learn to read by building a strong literary foundation through fluency and comprehension skills.

I know many people who have had great success with Rosetta Stone's foreign language programs, so I was thrilled for the chance to review their reading curriculum for homeschool! As expected, I was impressed from the beginning. We began with the Pre-K level and are part-way through some of the Kindergarten lessons. Outside of this program, we have been using other reading and spelling curriculum's, but none of them are online. It is nice is have this balance of online and offline reading lesson, despite the curriculum's being quite different.

Rosetta Stone for Homeschool is available in the US and Canada for desktop, browser and iPad. The 12 month subscription costs $99, which comes out to $8.25 a month. It is an investment that is well worth the money! Homeschoolers can use this Pre-K to 5th grade reading curriculum all year long for multiple children and across the 18 levels that they offer! Each level builds upon the one before it, although you can start at the reading level your child is currently at and do not necessarily need to start from the beginning. Children will be able to transition to the next level once they are proficient in their current level. This way children will not end up struggling with new information, while still trying to catch up on the last level. I think it would be amazing if they expanded this program to include reading levels for grades 6-12 as well!

This program is comprehensive and inviting and even my almost-3-year-old is making great progress! He shows the most interest and willingness to sit through lessons and actively answer questions. My oldest, who is 4, prefers multi-sensory activities that involve using her hands. Since she has some difficulty using our computer mouse, I typically have to sit with them and press the buttons. Despite the fine motor control issue, she diligently tries to use the mouse and she manages to use it on her own some days. Older children shouldn't have this issue, and likely they have much more experience using a computer. If we owned an iPad I feel like their experience would be much more hands-on, because they would be able to select the buttons simply by touching the screen. This interaction level is great for young children, because they will feel a sense of accomplishment when they are able to work on their own. Hopefully Rosetta Stone will create an Android version of this product!

I love the fact that this is a program that can be used independently, because that is the way my daughter prefers her lessons. For example, I'll explain the lesson and start the example problem and then leave her to her own devices. I will check back a few minutes later (and usually I'm just on the other side of the room, but she likes having her own space) to see if she has questions or needs help. This program, at least from what I have seen, can be self-correcting and if the child selects a wrong answer, it will revisit the problem and re-explain differently until the child understands. We love this program because it works at the pace of the child and does not try to move them ahead to the next lesson until they fully comprehend the current lesson. My children use this program for about 30 minutes to an hour at a time. Each activity can be completed in a couple of minutes and sometimes they finish the entire level.

Each level explains the types of activities the child will be learning. These can include phonological awareness, phonics, vocabulary, comprehension, fluency, etc. As you can see in the pictures below, each level is different and focuses on 4-6 separate learning activities.

The reading curriculum is interactive and perfect for children who learn best at their own pace. Children can decide which skills they want to work on for each level and move on when they are comfortable with their current level. And while this program was designed to be used independently with children, parents will be able to keep track of each child's progress with easy-to-understand progress updates. The parent will be able to design the lesson plan as well.

Here are some activities from the Pre-K level. This level does not involve actual reading, however it does introduce the concepts of reading, such as an introduction to the alphabet and concepts like rhyming and literary comprehension. Children at this level listen to the words and make the connection through pictures.

Phonological Awareness - Rhyming: Example: Socks rhymes with - grass or locks. Socks rhymes with locks. Each correct match becomes a red apple on the tree. There are 10 questions per group and 4 groups per level. They become more difficult as the child works through each group.

Phonics - Letter Matching: recognize and match the uppercase and lowercase letters in the alphabet.

Vocabulary - Categorizing Pictures: children can select the pictures that they think belong with each group. So for this one, they have to decide which pictures belong on the farm and which belong in a city.

Comprehension - Nursery Rhymes: children listen to the story and answer key questions about the narrative.

For example, here we see a clock, Little Bo Peep looking around, and Humpty Dumpty sitting on a wall. The child is asked to look at the pictures and then asked to match the picture to the question.

The only issue I have is with the Lexia Reading Core 5 website. If we decide to take a break from the lesson, either for the kids to take a bathroom break or for me to make lunch for them, or basically anything that takes a handful of minutes, we are logged out. So then we have to go through the processes of signing back in and figuring out where they left off. It's not a major issue, but it is an inconvenience, as we have used other online homeschooling programs that do not sign us out after a few minutes of inactivity. And it only bothers me because they have to restart from the beginning of the lesson, rather than picking up where they left off.

Overall, we loved the Rosetta Stone Reading for Homeschool program! The price of the product is fairly inexpensive, especially because it covers a whole year's worth of curriculum and you have full access to all levels of the program. The price for the subscription is for one child, however if one child works through the program, another can restart from the beginning once they finish. We plan to continue using this program and are excited to see what level they will be at by the end of the year! We will definitely keep Rosetta Stone at the top of our curriculum lists!

Be sure to check out Rosetta Stone's social media pages!

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