Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in
exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I
compensated in any other way.
Our family was given 12 months of access to Reading Unlocked‘s online learning to read program. The program is described as a multi-sensory, personalized program that adapts to your child by reviewing mistakes, and working at the right pace for the child. It uses a Simplified Phonics™ system to teach your child to blend sounds into words. Reading Unlocked is usually used by children aged 4 – 8, but can also be used by older children who are not yet reading. For our review I used the program with my four year old son who is new to learning about letters and their sounds.
How We Used It
The first thing we did after logging into the program was to check that the settings were correct. In the settings page you are given access to choose the lesson number to work on, pick an accent style (British or American) and choose a reading level. Because my four year old is an absolute beginner when it comes to reading, I chose the very first level.
The lessons are meant to be about 10-15 minutes in length, and it is recommended to use the program 3-5 times a week. We went through the lessons one at a time, sometimes breaking them into two sessions per lesson, depending on my son’s focus level each day. At the beginning level the program presents a letter by its sound rather than it’s name. There are multiple exercises to teach the child to recognize the letter sound, using words and pictures to enforce the learning.
For the most part, my four year old seemed to enjoy working through the program, although he would sometimes loose interest part way through or need additional help with certain exercises. It may just be that he is not quite ready for the program yet, or perhaps he just needs a different approach. I am a strong believer that every child is different and that what works for one child may not work for the next. I can definitely see the benefits of this program and am certain it would be an excellent choice for many children. For my own four year old, we may need something a little different, or to just give it another try later on in the year when he is more ready.
We did have a couple of minor hiccups with the program.
At first I was using the Safari browser on my laptop. It seemed to have trouble saving our place in the lesson, or wouldn’t record some of the days we used the program on the in-program calendar. After some trouble shooting, we were advised to try another browser. After making that change it seemed to help with saving our lesson progress, but the calendar seemed to still have a glitch. I would also sometimes need to reload the page to get the lesson to play properly.
When it came to choosing the settings, I never could seem to get it to stay on the American accent, it kept reverting back to British, or would even sound like a combination of the two. The voices sounded like they were constantly changing throughout the lesson. My son didn’t seem to notice, but it was just something that caught my own attention occasionally.
I wouldn’t call any of these issues a deal breaker, as the lesson content was still great. I’m sure that the company will have these few issues addressed soon enough and things will be running smoothly.
In the end though I do think that this program would work wonders for many families looking to build or enhance their children’s reading skills.