I was excited about this program for my son because I really wanted him to learn to read. My other two children were avid readers by his age and amazingly enough my eldest was reading chapter books by five years old. My daughter started reading more about four years old. So when my youngest hasn't started reading yet, this was something I was more concerned about. To be honest though, not enough to freak out about because every child is different. Plus, the youngest always has a way of milking the baby years for all it's worth, right?
So when I got the chance to review this, I jumped at it. The reason being that it was something I felt could help him without too many bells and whistles. Sometimes the way things are done now and days through all the applications you can download on your smart phone can be completely overwhelming for young minds and can be done more simply. So how do we fix that? Make it simple. Nothing super fancy and over done that only clouds the real learning. Now and days our kids want to play video games and that is great and all when companies can mix that with learning. Sometimes though it can be overdone and backfire.
Sometimes simpler is better. I was hoping for this with this.
I found the mono tone voice to be boring frankly. I know my kid sat through it and played around with it a little bit. It helped him but not as much as he wanted or frankly I wanted. Again, I love that baby stage but I do think that learning to read will help his speech and vocabulary.
The other thing is that I feel to see the full benefit of doing this program will have to truly be when he is completely finished with it without a one and half month taste of the program. I will be continuing to use as a supplement.
Things that I think could be improved is:
* The mono tone voice- While this feature can be good for some people it isn't appealing. I imagine having worked with kids before, that it can be very good for those with learning disabilities. Which two of my kids have. But it is almost too mono tone, yet not robotic. I can see it getting boring after a while. Maybe they can switch voices where one is a man, the other a woman and they switch off.
* More explanation in the sounds. I felt that they didn't do the best job in saying a sound and explaining the rules of the sound. For example, in "boat" you don't pronounce the "a". Why is that? I feel that something to explain the phonetic rules would help an older child or adult with learning disabilities or English Language struggles to be able to understand why you don't pronounce the 'a' in 'boat.'
* In the Sentences, I wish they didn't highlight the whole sentence at one time when they do the voice. If they lite up the voice as it said the word, that would be ideal. They can't read whole sentences and even if they could it is by far more ideal to have each word light up as it is spoken. That way the sounds and phonetics of the sentences are pronounced and shown better.
* Felt this did not work to be able to be the only thing for phonetics for my son. I don't feel that it is a stand alone program. I was hoping it would be but I think it needs another back up. I say this because of the examples listed above. If my son or my foreign exchange student needed to learn it, they need to know why something is phonetically different. English is one of the hardest languages to learn and vital to world social and economical interactions in the future.
Things that I like about the program are:
* In sentences, I like that you can drag the mouse over the word and it will highlight the word and sound it out. Helps them break it down by words in the sentence.
* Not over the top. Again, I love the simplicity of the program.
* You can skip sounds and letters as you need to. Super helpful because my child may struggle with the different 'a' sounds instead of the hard sounds like 't' or 'd'. And if I am using as a supplement, it is great to be able to use different programs, this one being one of the them, to help build the person's phonetic understanding and capability.
* Covers a lot that you can use to supplement (for some, using for full phonetics could work). Again, full program isn't sufficient for my child. For beginning readers or new English Language Learners, I think it is extremely helpful as a supplement and could work as a full course for someone with basic understanding.
* It is designed for people of all ages. For example, a teenager who has learning disabilities or a 50 year old who is just learning English. That is one of the strongest suits of this program which I love. It doesn't baby the words or use examples that you would only use in a Kindergarten classroom. This is the best feature or one of the best features in my opinion of the program.
* Over four thousand words and two thousand sentences. This gives many many examples and helpful words and phrases. My sister taught English Language Learning in community colleges mostly to foreign students and I can imagine that this would have been extremely helpful to give as homework to help build their skills. Although, the same thing that drives me nuts (the lack of phonetic rule explanation) would have also driven her nuts too. She know teaches overseas and to help translate into English. So this potential appeal of the product can be world wide if they honed and improved a few simple things.
* It is a download. I normally don't like programs that download onto the computer to be honest, because well, pictures take up so much space already. But this is great because when he is done with his online and offline for phonetics, I know exactly where the program is to help boost his phonetics.
Overall, this is a great product and a great supplement. I plan to continue to use with my child to help build his reading skills over the next year and hopefully make a reader out of him!
"Oh The Places You Will GO" ~ Dr Seuss