Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Essential Skills Advantage A TOS Review

We recently received a 1 year subscription to Essential Skills Advantage's Complete Home Learning Suite to use with Brother Bear. He is 5 and will be starting Kindergarten in the fall. I thought this would be a fun way to introduce Kindergarten level work and allow him to play and learn at the same time! He has been really interested lately with starting school 'like Popper' and this seemed like a great way to start out. 

Essential Skills Advantage is a supplement program for both homeschool or public school with over 14,000 online lessons. I spent several weeks digging through the program to see what each grade covered and how I could possibly use it through out the kiddo's school years. They have programs for Kindergarten through 6th grade. 

The Complete Home Learning Suite includes:

*Reading, Language, and Grammar Grades K-6
*Math Grades K-6
*Science Grades K-3
*Geography Grades 4-6

This comes with a "Marks Manager."  That allows you, as the parent, to keep track of how your child is progressing through their lessons. You can print off report cards and certificates as your child completes a unit.

I chose to have Brother Bear start by working on the Complete Reading and Complete Math for Kindergarten. He loves math and struggles with letters. I thought that this would be good to have one of each for him to work on. I wanted to stick with our fun-schooling mentality here, but also challenge him a little and introduce him to letters and sounds in a fun way. 

He started with the reading program.  The first part of the reading program was broken down into categories: Picture Vocabulary, Visual Skills, Auditory Skills, and Basic Concepts. Brother Bear did really well. I was shocked to see how much he had retained from listening in to Popper learn. There were several topics, such as rhyming, that I had never worked with him on, but he got all of them correct!
I was shocked that there wasn't more letter and sound recognition in this part of the program.  With this being a Kindergarten program I really didn't expect it to be as advanced in some ares that it was. I did find that I had to teach a few of the concepts separately to help him get through the lessons.

This is one of the activities that was a part of the Picture Vocabulary section. It is the very first section of the Complete Reading Kindergarten section. It caused a major meltdown for Brother Bear. He was so shocked and confused as to what he was supposed to do. I simply had him skip this one. It was too advanced for him. 

We moved on to the Visual Skills section next. He did great on this one and loved it! There were parts that were difficult for him, but we were able to work through those together. 

The math section is also broken down into categories. We only made it through 2 of them. They are Learning the Numbers and Working with Numbers. I thought these would be fun for Brother Bear because numbers make sense to him. He is my math kiddo. In fact, he has been helping Popper with his math facts lately.
We started with Learning the Numbers. They had several different games that helped teach the numbers. Brother Bear loved these and asked to work on his math several times during the course of these games. 

However, very quickly the problems became too difficult for him and we had to stop. We have spent a few days trying to help him learn these number words, but because he has not learned all of his letters, he is simply not ready for this yet! I decided to move on to the next section: Working with Numbers. 

This was actually his favorite part! We do not own an Abacus. (I will be buying one soon!) He had to call Popper over to see how it worked! They took turns playing on this one screen for over 10 minutes, building different numbers. I really believe that it helped with cementing in his head what the numbers looked like!

I think that this may have been a better fit if Brother Bear was a bit further along in his schooling. He just simply wasn't ready for the advanced nature of these lessons. He has just recently been asking me to teach him to read. That may be a lot of it. I will probably try again in a few months after he has a better foundation of reading and letters.

I am so grateful for the opportunity to try this program out. I think that there are several activities that I could use to supplement both Popper and Brother Bear's learning throughout the next year. And since adding a child is only 99 cents more, I can definitely afford to add Popper. 

If you are looking for a way to supplement your child's learning, this could be the perfect fit for you. 

You can find Essential Skills Advantage online:


You can find more reviews on Essential Skills Advantage by the Crew by clicking the link below:

Essential Skills Advantage Review

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Summertime is Here

The last 2 weeks have been really laid back at our house. With B being out of school for summer and around the house, the boys are really enjoying more time with him. 
Where we do not take full summer vacations, we do slow way down when the weather warms and we can spend the majority of our days outside! That being said, here is a weekly wrap-up that is actually 3 weeks! 

We have been reading Ping using Five In A Row. The kiddos all loved this book. I read it a couple of days, we watched an animated version on YouTube, and I let YouTube read it to them a day or 2. I love having this option, especially when allergy season in full swing.

We used our watercolor crayons to draw a scene from Ping. Popper's is the far left, he drew the cover of the book. Next is Brother Bears', he drew the 'wise eyed boat' filled with ducks. On the right is Sister's, she drew Ping getting his back spanked when he finally returned. The kiddos loved telling Daddy T all about the story using their own drawings when he got home that night!

Of course, we are still using Dyslexia Games every day. Popper is on Series B now. Brother Bear has started book 2 of Series A. I am thrilled with the progress they are both making! Sister likes to be included as well. I print her off Series A book 1 and let her color along! 

Summer vacation for B means more LEGO time for the boys! They love planning and building with big brother! He is so good with them! I love watching these 3 interact. It is also a lot of fun to see what new creations that they come up with next! 

This week they found a show about building and fighting robots. Their next mission is to build their own. They are in the beginning planning phases. I'll keep you posted as they begin construction. 

Somewhere in his reading, Popper has learned about potential and kinetic energy. I was cooking dinner the other night and he brought his project in to show me his example of both forms of energy! Seriously! I am loving this child-led fun-schooling more than ever! He is learning things that I would have never thought to teach him at 7! 
Also, now that he is enjoying reading, Brother Bear (5) has been asking me how to spell things and if I'll teach him to read too! He says that he wants to be able to read his LEGO comics. You better believe I'm teaching him! I am so excited to hear that he is interested in learning. I cannot wait to see that light-bulb moment happen for him when he breaks the code and can read all by himself!

We are using a new Thinking Tree journal this summer. It is called 'My First Fun-Schooling Journal.'  Popper is loving it! It is right on his level! Here he is watching a documentary on penguins on Netflix!  (yes, that is a pile of clean laundry on my couch! I'll get to it later. Right at this moment, Brother Bear is snuggled up with me! Precious boy, he has started to outgrow this so I am soaking it in!) 

Overall, our summer time learning is looking very similar to our school year learning. We are still exploring, discovering, and playing! Our garden is teaching us all about science and responsibility. Our chickens are laying eggs finally. Flowers are blooming and the fish are biting! I love this time of year. I hope that you'll excuse the fewer than normal posts over the next 2 months as we enjoy every minute of the beauty! I'll try to pop in from time-to-time and give you peeks into our explorations!

I am linking up with Linda over at Homeschooling 6: