My twin boys turned four in November, and although they enjoy listening to stories, they haven’t shown much interest in reading or writing. I try to encourage them to make marks and we talk about sounds and letters (I spy is their favourite game at the moment) but it’s a real struggle to get their attention for very long. I’ve heard from others that getting boys interested at this age is notoriously difficult, plus as there’s two of them they have a lot less focus than a single child.
When I was offered the opportunity to review the online Reading Eggs system*, I was really looking forward to seeing how they would react to it.
The system provides one-on-one lessons that allow children to progress at their own rate. Developed by a team of experienced teachers, the system focuses on phonics and sight words using skills and strategies to improve your child’s reading ability. Lessons are available to suit a child from the age of three up to 13 years, so it’s an ongoing system that grows with your child. It uses interactive animations, fun games, songs and lots of rewards, to engage learning. The best part about it is each section is short, so before your child has chance to get bored, it has moved onto something else new and exciting. If you find they are struggling with a particular section, you can go back over it again to reinforce the learning.
You can set the system up for multiple children, so you can track and monitor their progress as individuals (which is so important with twins).
We began using it in mid December. Although both of my boys recognised some of the letters in their names, knew the alphabet song and knew the sound that words began with, in terms 0f their reading ability they were really starting from the beginning. The system introduced them to one letter at a time, building up their recognition of the letter before introducing a new one. Slowly, as the lessons progressed, more letters and sounds were brought in and small words were introduced.
It wasn’t long before they could recognise simple sentences and put words and letters together on screen. I’m amazed how well they’ve taken to this type of learning – they’ve gone from having no interest in letters and words, to pleading with me each day if they can go on the ‘reading game’ (and fighting over who gets to take the first go!)
What they’re learning is filtering through into everyday life…one day we were at a friend’s house and they started looking at the words on her fridge magnets and telling me which letters they could see. On the way home from preschool we now have to stop at every road signs so they can point out the letters. They’ve also started writing letters down, without me prompting or writing a word for them to copy. They are so excited and proud of themselves, and I’m so proud of them too. I can’t imagine that just five weeks ago they had minimal reading skills and now they recognise almost every letter of the alphabet, have an understanding that there are capital letters and lower case letters and can pick out particular letters and words from a group.
As well as the improvement to their reading skills, they’ve also used the PC for the first time (they’re used to a tablet, but had never used a mouse before). At first this was really tricky for them, but after a few sessions they were moving the mouse around the screen like experts., clicking to move on to the next lesson and working independently.
Sometimes they sit together at the computer and work on a game as part of a team, and other times I’ll set one up on the computer while I do a different activity with the other child, which gives me the benefit of being able to spend some time which each of them individually without feeling the other is missing out.
I had high hopes for this product and it completely delivered. I think at £39.95 for a year it’s good value for money. It would make a perfect birthday present for child who already has lots of toys – after all giving the gift of reading is something pretty special.
If this product sounds of interest, readers of my blog can benefit from an extended free trail. Simply visit Reading Eggs and use the code UKB26RET to receive a 4 week free trial instead of the usual 2 weeks all new registrations receive. If you do have a go, please pop back to my blog and leave a comment to let me know how you get on.
* I was given access to Reading Eggs free of charge for the purpose of the review. All opinions are my own.