Over the past year, we’ve started adding more online learning to our homeschool. I’ve always been a book and paper kind of teacher (and student), but I’m slowly being converted to the advantages of online programs for the girls. One of the great websites we’ve rediscovered this summer is Reading Eggs. We actually used this program five years ago when Sunshine was learning to read. Now, all four girls have been having fun and learning with Reading Eggs.
Here are five reasons why I think you should consider adding online learning programs such as Reading Eggs to your homeschool.
I received an all-access pass to Reading Eggs for four of my children and compensation for this post; all opinions expressed are my own.
Reading Eggs now offers reading games and instruction for children from ages 2 to 13 as well as a math program. We’ve been using:
- Reading Eggs Junior (First Steps) for 2-year-old Pearl
- Reading Eggs (Learning to Read) for 5-year-old Jade
- Reading Eggspress (Building Confidence) for 8-year-old Lily and 10-year-old Sunshine
Online Learning Provides Instant Feedback
Once Sunshine and Lily learned to read, they began doing their workbooks more independently. This meant they’d complete their assigned pages on their own, then leave their workbooks on my desk. I’d try to sit down at the end of the day, or while planning our work the next morning, to check their books. I gave them a sticker for good work or left them a note if they needed to correct a problem or sentence. If there seemed to be a big problem on the page, then I’d talk it over with them.
However, most of that feedback was happening long after they’d completed the work. They’d moved on from that and didn’t like coming back to it again. They might assure me they understood what I was trying to explain, but I often felt like they were just saying that so they could get back to playing.
Online learning programs such as Reading Eggs provide instant feedback for your child. Whether it’s Jade working on matching her letter sounds or Sunshine trying to figure out which word in a sentence is the noun, the program tells them immediately if their answer is right or wrong. This gives them a chance to try again to get it right and cements their learning.
Reading Eggs actually won’t let a student move on until they’ve demonstrated they know the concept. Jade is currently working on basic reading skills with Reading Eggs (at a Kindergarten / Grade 1 level). Each lesson contains multiple activities. If she can’t complete enough problems in an activity correctly, then she needs to repeat the activity before moving on. This has been good for her, because she tends to just guess the answers. When she gets frustrated about repeating the activity, I remind her to slow down and think about her answers instead of guessing wildly.
Online Learning Caters to a Variety of Learning Styles
I learn best by reading something and taking notes about it. My peers in university were amazed that I could quote specific details from novels we’d read and often even flip to the page where I’d found that quote. I’m terrible at remembering tunes to songs, however, and I can rewatch a movie every year or two because I’ve completely forgotten what happened in it. My younger brother, on the other hand, can rattle off great one-liners from his favourite movies. We each have different learning styles.
I approached our homeschool in the way I like to learn—by reading books and writing in workbooks. That may or may not be my daughters’ learning styles. (And if I’ve learned anything since starting to teach two of them, it’s that they may be sisters and my daughters, but they are very different girls!) Using online learning for some of our subjects, such as language arts, has been a great way to cater to their differing learning styles.
Reading Eggs uses fun songs, videos and interactive activities to teach children. In Reading Eggs Junior, Pearl moves shapes and pictures around on my tablet. In Reading Eggspress, Sunshine and Lily are reading on-screen text, listening to spoken instructions and typing answers. The girls aren’t just filling in the blanks on a worksheet, but are interacting with changing problems and activities on the screen.
Online Learning Eliminates Lost Books
There’s an old joke among kids in school that the dog ate their homework. For homeschooled kids, the excuse is that they lost it (likely on the far side of the bunkbed). Well, it’s a bit harder to lose the computer than a workbook (although we have spent a fair amount of time searching for the tablet…).
We live in a small condo. I’m constantly working towards minimalism and trying to make the most of our space. While I love new books and books, the truth is that they take up a lot of space. At the end of every year, I end up sorting our bookshelves to make space for new books, while trying to find a place to store the books we’re not currently using. Online learning programs eliminate that yearly shuffle by having everything in one website or app.
Reading Eggs can be used on both your computer and your tablet. Currently, the older three girls use our computer to login to their accounts and do their daily lessons. When Pearl wants to do her Reading Eggs, I find it on the tablet for her. It’s easier for her to use her fingers than a mouse to complete her activities.
Online Learning is Economical
One of my big questions when analyzing websites and apps is the cost. If I’m paying an annual fee per child, it can add up quickly, especially for big families. When I buy a textbook, I pay for it once and can use it for all my kids (or lend it to a friend to use). Online learning programs have individualized subscriptions, meaning I need to pay for every child who uses it.
It’s worth doing the cost comparison between online learning and your favourite textbooks/workbooks, but some programs can be economical. I’ve found Reading Eggs to be reasonably priced. They offer a free trial so you can see if the program works for your child before buying it. They also offer 50% off your second child. A 12-month all-access pass to all levels of Reading Eggs plus Mathseeds is only $59.00. In the past, I’ve spent much more than that on our language arts and math workbooks for the year.
Online Learning Moves at Your Child’s Pace
One of the things I like about homeschooling is that we’ve been able to let our girls work at their interest level, rather than shoehorning them into a grade based on their age. Online learning also caters to this flexibility.
Before beginning their lessons in Reading Eggspress, Sunshine and Lily each completed an assessment test. This helped place them at the right level, rather than leaving them bored in covering material they already knew. The test places Sunshine around Lesson 100 and Lily around Lesson 60. I didn’t have Jade complete any assessments, as she’s just starting to learn to read.
I also receive regular emails from Reading Eggs about how the girls are progressing through their lessons. For example, the last email I received let me know:
Sunshine has successfully completed the five lessons in Map 26 and is reading at a Grade 4 level. By finishing this map, Sunshine is 3/4 of the way through the Grade 4 content. In Map 26, Sunshine read five different nonfiction extracts (Lexile levels 810L–860L), and worked to develop a range of comprehension strategies. Sunshine increased reading fluency by reading a complete book, Polar Animals, 850L (Word count 1500) and completing a Reading Assessment, The African Elephant (Level 26, 820L), and scored 100%.
More Reasons to Use Online Learning
- If you’re homeschooling on the go or traveling during the school year, online learning allows you to take your schoolwork with you more easily.
- Let’s face it: tech is fun. It’s much more interesting to watch a singing ant explain letter sounds than to listen to your mom doing it.
- Programs like Reading Eggs help our environment by cutting back on the paper we’re using (and throwing out) in our homeschool.
A Few Cons to Online Learning
One of the big things that I’ve enjoyed about homeschooling is knowing what my daughters are learning and being able to relate that to our daily lives. When Sunshine first used Reading Eggs, I mentioned being able to tie her online learning with what we were doing when we turned the tablet off.
Now that we have a bigger family, Sunshine and Lily generally do their lessons with their headphones on. Our computer sits in the middle of the living room, but I don’t hear what they’re working on. Unless they ask for help or I ask them about their lessons, I’m less aware of what they’re studying as it’s much more individualized. They’re spending their time with a computer, instead of with me.
Learning online, of course, also requires a good computer and a good internet connection. If you’re homeschooling multiple students, it can be hard to juggle computer time between each of them so they’re able to complete their lessons. And we’ve occasionally had the internet quit on us, so that the girls have had to repeat a portion of their lessons.
Final Thoughts about Learning Online with Reading Eggs
Overall, I’ve been greatly impressed with our experience with Reading Eggs. I was happy to see that the program I used years ago with Sunshine has expanded, so that the same fun, educational content is now available for more levels. While we’ve focused on the reading side of the program, the girls were also interested in Math Seeds (intended for ages 3-9) and have tried it out a few times. (Sunshine and Lily found it a bit easy.) It’s also nice to find one program that has levels for all four girls.
Do you use online learning in your homeschool? Do you think your kids would enjoy Reading Eggs?