At preschool, Sunshine has learned to write her name and to spell it out loud. Since then, she’s been excited about letters and what letters go into different names. I’ve tried to respond to this new enthusiasm for the alphabet by giving her more opportunities to practice, rather than pushing her. We have alphabet books, alphabet puzzles and alphabet magnets, so she has ample material around her for learning her letters.
When I was offered the chance to review the Reading Eggs website, I thought this would be a good way to encourage Sunshine to learn more letters and words. Reading Eggs is an online learn to read program for children from 3 to 13. They offer a free fourteen-day trial and resources for both parents and teachers.
Sunshine was excited to play a new game, especially since it was on the computer. In fact, after the first couple of lessons, she began telling me that she wanted to learn to read. The activities in each lesson changed frequently, keeping her attention, but only changed after she’d completed the activity correctly, encouraging her to do well. Pictures and music also made the lessons attractive.
For Sunshine (who just turned four in February), I found I had to be nearby to help with the lessons. Sometimes she needed more explanations about how to do an activity or encouragement to keep trying. There were also times when she didn’t have the hand-eye coordination that the website expected in order to complete an activity (e.g., pick up this word, drag it over to that box, and drop it seems effortless for an adult, but is very hard for Sunshine).
The first lessons were fairly easy, teaching letter recognition (“m”) by sounds (saying the letter sound instead of the letter name) and then slowly building to brief words (like “I am Sam”) once the child had learned a few letters.
After Sunshine completed ten lessons, I received an emailed progress report. Sunshine didn’t do very well on her quiz the first time, so the progress report recommended that she complete the lessons again and mentioned that the lessons were meant to be completed more than once.
The website also includes a dashboard for parents, which gives a quick overview of their progress (for example, as I am writing this, the website tells me that Nicole’s “reading age” is 4.75 years and that she knows 4 sight words and 28 phonics skills). Parents can also set up accounts for multiple children, so that they can track the progress of each child.
Reading Eggs also includes a Playroom where children can colour pictures, play instruments, design their avatar, dress up a doll, read stories, and do other activities. This part of the website is recommended for younger children (3+) and Sunshine enjoys playing there.
Overall, I’ve been impressed with Sunshine’s progress on Reading Eggs. I’m trying to make sure what she’s learning on the computer gets connected with her other activities, such as reading bedtime stories (e.g., if I see a sight word she knows from Reading Eggs or a letter she learned recently, I point it out to her). It’s fun to see Sunshine excited about learning to read.