I am teaching my twin preschoolers at home this year. And sometimes I struggle knowing exactly how I should be helping them learn to read, as I do not have an English degree nor an Early Childhood Education background. So, I am grateful for their patience as I’ve experimented some with different things. Recently, we experimented with the Rosetta Stone Kids Reading Program.
The Rosetta Stone Kids Reading Program is a digital reading product for kids aged 3-7 to help them get a jumpstart on their education by developing core literacy skills in an engaging and effective way. Rosetta Stone partnered with Lexia Learning to create this program. And I have to say, it really is an awesome program.
My husband and I are generally very leery about using too much technology too soon with our children. We try to limit time watching TV and playing on an iPad. We pretty much never let them play on the desktop computer (and we don’t use our
ancient laptop). It’s a personal choice we’ve made. But, since our children are still so young, we really want them to learn about the world, by being in and exploring and feeling and actually doing. We also want to keep the imagination soaring. So, we haven’t really bought into many of those “educational” apps and games and websites out there designed specifically for children. But, we honestly don’t have much of any experience with them either.
So, as we tested out the Rosetta Stone Kids Reading app on our iPad Mini (which is now pretty much our daughters’ iPad, as my husband recently upgraded, but they have to ask to play on it), I was curious to see how it would play out, if my children would actually like it, if the learning was beneficial, and if it was a good use of time. Thankfully, the program is really set up so that your children will only use it in relatively short bursts. For younger children, the 3-4 year olds, 10-15 minutes at a time is recommended. Older children can use the program longer, about 20-30 minutes a few times a week.
Setting it up was really easy. I made an account for both Alison and Lisa, so they could switch users (although, I think they mainly play on Lisa’s account, and they mostly play it together anyway).
I also picked what “reading” level they are at. I started them at Level 4 which is categorized as “Listening for sounds in words, know some sight words, and are learning about descriptive words.” My daughters know some simple sight words and the sounds of letters, shapes, colors, numbers, and so on, but not a lot on putting them together and so on, so I thought it would be a good starting point. There are Levels 1-10, with 1 being practicing sorting shapes, colors, and letters and 10 being practicing vowel combinations, uses advanced sight words, and can read stories. I have found it to be challenging enough so far, but not so far ahead of them that it’s frustrating. It’s perfect for my 4 year olds twins.
The way the app works is pretty awesome. First, it’s very easy to navigate, even for little people. It’s also colorful, has fun, simple music, and is set up like a fun, challenging game with levels, boards to unlock, and more. It’s basically a giant map of a special world, where they progress from one area, and its various challenges, to another, unlocking new levels and games. Different areas and games focus on different pre-reading skills. Some of these skills are things like patterns, opposites, new vocabulary (like crowded), letter and letter sound recognition (lower case), grouping, rhyming words, syllable counting, story comprehension, story parts (beginning, middle, end), and more.
I love all the different things it works on! And making my daughters actually listen and pay attention to a story, or be quite enough to hear the ending sound of a word so they’ll know what rhymes with it, is pretty cool. But, it also lets me know what pre-reading skills they are weak in and that I can do more instructional teaching on with them in our at-home preschool. I know I need to work more on rhyming words, opposites, and syllables, among other things. I have also enjoyed playing on the app with them.
Overall, I have to say it’s a pretty awesome app and reading program. My daughters call it “Lingo” as that’s the little blobby character you play in the game are called. They want to play it when they get on the iPad. They think it’s fun. And perhaps a little challenging (but, the game provides little hints on how to figure it out, although they aren’t always super helpful, especially if you child has never heard the word syllable before). One complaint is that sometimes the pictures aren’t super clear as to what the word is. A baseball hat may be called a cap or a hat, for instance.
So far, I say, it’s a really great educational program, game, and tool. It goes way beyond letter recognition and sounds (which I feel like is the most common type of “educational” games out there for preschoolers) and in a fun way that’s easy for kids to work their way through on their own. The Rosetta Stone Kids Reading Online Subscription is $99 for 12-months, or $19.99 for 1 month. However, you can also try it FREE on their website, getting access to the first level of the program.
Do you use electronic tools and apps and programs to help your child learn to read?