A few months ago I was asked if we'd like to trial the Reading Eggs program; a web based program designed to help children prepare for school by developing their awareness of phonics, or as a booster for children who are struggling to engage with reading skills.
I'd heard about the subscription service but in all honesty, having spent a long time trying to find iPad apps with decent pronounciations of phonics to help The Boy, I was more than a little sceptical that it was just going to be another American voice mispronouncing 'm' and 't' and, quite frankly, winding me up.
I was wrong (not something I admit readily!).
Creating the account is easy; there is the ability to register for a free 14-day trial (with no credit card information entered at all) and the child's name is entered before selecting whether they have some reading experience (allowing for a test to be done placing the child at the right point in the system) or starting from the beginning. I chose to start him from the beginning, because although he has a good awareness of the alphabet and most phonics, I wanted to give him the opportunity to really benefit from the program.
When the child first enters into the land of Reading Eggs they are presented with a map of their progress with a pathway snaking through the land, cute characters and graphics aplenty. They are then taken onto the first of the letters with several different games to help them practise their recognition of the letter, and to practise the formation.
The Boy really enjoyed working through the vast majority of the games on each lesson; spotting the letter in a wordsearch format (both upper and lower case), identifying the specified letter in each word, finding the letter as it moved around the screen, etc. These were the most effective games for him. He also liked the challenge of trying to improve his time on forming the letter quickly, there are a few time challenges like this which work really well in challenging the user.
Every child has different preferences of course, and The Boy was a little frustrated with the game where he had to drag the word against the correct picture; drag and drop with a mouse is difficult for a 3-5 year old (luckily we have an infant sized mouse we can use) and the game needs to be completed twice, which he found frustrating having struggled to do it correctly once. However, this game is not on every level and is one small aspect which for my son was frustrating, others may like it.
I've noticed a vast improvement in his awareness and reading ability since starting on the program. He hasn't reached the end yet but when he does we'll be able to assess his reading age to see how he's progressed. I do think that Reading Eggs has helped him hugely with his phonological awareness, and ability to decode words then segmenting the phonics back together to create a word.
Accessing the parental dashboard, The Boy is currently on level 30, and has a reading age of 5 years with a sight vocabulary of 12 words and knows 74 of the 237 phonic skills. I feel very happy with his literacy development, and reassured that he hasn't suffered from not going to state nursery this year.
As both a primary school teacher and a parent, I can't recommend the Reading Eggs program highly enough.
I was given an extended short-term subscription in order to review this service. My opinions are honest and unbiased.