Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Essential Skills Advantage {Review Crew}

Essential Skills Advantage Review

Since I work from home there are times when I need Captain America (remember this is now what we call Little J who's 5) to do something constructive if I am busy. He has his own laptop on his new school desk that we set up this year and so doesn't have to boot someone else off theirs to play. Essential Skills Advantage is an online reading and language program for grades K-6. I was given a premium membership in exchange for this review. A premium membership costs $9.99 a month however if you use the code 'TOS50' by Oct 1 2014 you could get this program for $4.99 a month (for as long as you keep the subscription active). There is also a free version of the program available however this does contain ads and doesn't have all the features of the premium membership.

Essential Skills Advantage has been around along time. Up until recently it worked mainly with traditional schools (over 20,000). Since the program was so successful in helping children in the classroom to read company started getting requests from members etc to use the program at home, and so here it is.

OK now we have all the cost and information out of the way lets look how the program works. When I first started Essential Skills Advantage I was a little confused because I thought that I had to sign in Captain America everytime he wanted to use it. After a quick email to the company (and super quick response) I realized that I had missed an important part of the set up ~ his unique sign in link. I placed this on his laptop screen, changed the original password to one he could remember and 'boom' easy peasy! When Captain America clicked on the link on his screen he saw the screen below (there are a lot more buttons to choose from though this is just a limited screen shot).

After clicking on the activity he wants to go it then takes him to a login page where he enters his username and password.

The next screen shows your progress in the chosen area. Each of these buttons are clickable and starts an activity.

Captain America is a little impatient with the sign in process, he would rather click a button enter a password and GO.....I quite like how this program works. It starts of very simply. We had to jump around a bit to find the right level for Captain America. He wasn't quite ready to handle the 1st grade level without my assistance and the begining of kindergarten made him roll his eyes. Eventually we found a happy medium. His favorite part was he was asked to type in words. First - copying what he read on the screen, then with the same list of words he had to type what he heard. This second part was quite tricky, luckily there is a button you can press to hear the word said again.

For some reason Captain America doesn't ask to work on this program. I think in that sentence is the key. It truly seems more like a program than a 'game'. If I ask him to work on it, he will without arguing though. To him this is a school program rather than something he asks to play during his free computer time. I don't have a problem with that and I like the way the program works. We have been focusing on kindergarten sight words, typing, and listening skills so far and I can definitely see an improvement.

Since this program is recommended up to grade 6 I logged Boo onto the program at the begining of the review period. Unfortunately she found the program too easy. Although she is technically grade 6 her reading and comprehension is much, much older. So it was hard to get her motivated to use the program. I decided to just focus on Captain America.

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