Wednesday, June 1, 2016

A TOS Review: Essential Skills Advantage

I appreciate having a few independent learning resources available to us in our homeschooling.
The Complete Home Learning Suite from Essential SkillsAdvantage is one such resource. I recently had a chance to take the Home Learning Suite from ESA out for a test drive.

This is an online subscription especially designed for kiddos Grades K-6. It is completely self-paced.

You might know that Josiah is not in the K-6th grade range. He is just now finishing up his 8th grade year. However, because he is dyslexic I specifically wanted to provide him with some independent learning opportunities. I think it’s always important to give this kids with special learning challenges plenty of opportunity to practice.

I think Josiah learns best by doing. The hands-on aspect of ESA is terrific!  The Complete Home Learning Suite provides access to the following subjects.

Reading - K-6: Phonics and reading comprehension.
Spelling - Grades 1-6: Fun with Spelling and Spelling Stumpers.
Language & Grammar - Grades 3-6: Writing fundamentals, vocabulary, grammar and creative writing.
Math - Grades K-6: Complete math, operations, and concepts.
Science - Grades K-3: Earth & space, physical and life sciences.
Geography - Grades 3-5: Map & globe skills, World, American & Canadian geography.

We toodled around with some of the other subjects, but then I decided that Josiah would focus completely on spelling. 

Because I know that there are some of you out there who have the same kinds of concerns I do, I want to share with you the kinds of activities Josiah encountered. 

I'm going back to 4th grade! Actually, this isn't the level Josiah is working through at the moment so I thought it would be safe to show you what it all looks like. 

You can see at the top that the program gives you the drop down box option to change whatever subject you want to conquer next. You can also see from this window that we are going to have a look at Language & Grammar - Level 4. 

After clicking on Spell Master 4, I was directed to the page below. Now if you scroll down you will see loads of activities. Right now you can see that we are going to begin with Long Vowel Sounds. As we work through the lessons little yellow stars will appear below the boxes.

I clicked on the "ai" box and was directed to this "Hear and Match" game. A very pleasant man gave me the instructions verbally and then read each word aloud. When I heard the word I clicked on the appropriate box.

Woo Hoo! My college education wasn't in vain!

This next activity wanted me to put all of these words into alphabetical order. I do need to tell you that Josiah is very comfortable with a keyboard. There are quite a few "type the word in" activities. I think it's good practice for all ages, but if your child isn't familiar with the keyboard there might be a bit of a learning curve.

This activity required me to put the word in the correct word shape box. Not surprisingly, this was the activity that Josiah struggled with the most. I think it is good practice for him, but it isn't his favorite thing to do.

Here we have a comprehension activity. My only complaint is that there isn't an "click to hear the sentence read" option. Most of the other activities do have a golden ear at the bottom of the screen. Though Josiah didn't struggle with any of these kinds of activities, I can see how it might frustrate some students who need a bit more confidence when reading.

In all, this particular lesson has 15 activities in it. They are all varied, but all concentrate on the same set of words. This kind of practice has been an EXCELLENT resource for Josiah. 

There is a tab at the top of the page that allows you to see what kinds of activities are included in the unit.

You can certainly see how this program has been a big help for Josiah! I think it is a terrific program for summer learning, skill development and an excellent supplemental resource. 

I plan on using it all summer long! Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. ESA has a lot of excellent moving parts and other members of the crew will be able to tell you about their review experiences. 

Essential Skills Advantage Review

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