Friday, February 18, 2011

Homeschool Review: Reluctant Reader Solution

While I wouldn't classify my girls as "Reluctant Readers" I still was excited to hear that, as part of the TOS Crew, we were going to get to review the Reluctant Reader Solution. It's a 2 part product, including 12 full-color issues of Kid Scoop Online, as well as a downloadable set of 365 printable worksheets, organized into various topics, all for $97.

The concept, as I understand it, is that the kids will enjoy reading these newspapers and doing the fun activities scattered throughout, and this will spark their love of reading.  While we've used this some during the review period, I think we'll use it more as time goes on when we're back to traveling more. Our homeschool style, and my kids' personalities, is such that, when we're home, they rarely do "worksheets", they'd rather be running around or doing something crafty or other active things (why yes, I do have a family full of kinesthetic learners, why do you ask? hee hee). When we travel, having something to keep them busy & entertained while they are in the car or somewhere else that they need to be not quite so active, is awesome! And I plan to use the printable worksheets quite abit when we travel, finding topics that we're currently learning about or simply something I think they'll find interesting, and print those off and bring them along to pull out as needed. So that's my main plan on how WE will use them.

This product is one of the few times that I've wished that we didn't all have netbooks for computers. I didn't even try to show the girls the online newspaper because I found it too difficult to view online on such a small screen (note this is not in any way a criticism of the product, it would view fine on a normal size laptop or desktop, we just don't happen to have those).  I did print out the first issue of the online newspaper for them to use. But since it's color, it uses alot of ink, and didn't strike me as being that different from the black & white printables, so we've stuck with those. 

I think this product lends itself more to a child who enjoys worksheets (visual learner? I'm not sure, just know it's NOT my kids, hee hee), and/or someone more used to a typical school environment. Sitting down and doing worksheets, even fun worksheets, is pretty foreign to my kids' learning style, and our homeschool style in general. For families who choose to use worksheets, these are nicely laid out and have lots of fun things to do.  They kind of remind me of the "mini pages" of the Washington Post back when I was a kid (don't know if they still have them, but we lived in the DC area when I was 5-7 and enjoyed that each Sunday). A combination of short facts and then various word games and such.

 The girls enjoyed these, as long as they were a "do however much you want, when you want" presentation and not a required thing. There were also definitely parts of this that were beyond their current reading level. I'm not sure what their "official" level is. They read "real" books without any trouble, but we haven't worked on spelling and grammar when writing , and many of the "games" required a knowledge of spelling, sometimes rather advanced, I thought, words. So they found some of these frustrating. They also felt there was "too much writing" overall. While L keeps a journal that she writes in faithfully every day, and A will often sit down and write a "story" they both balk at being told to write something, so that was something that definitely did not "encourage" my kids to do more with this.

Overall, I think these are fun worksheets, to me, reading is better encouraged by finding real books on topics that interest children. A has been the more reluctant reader of my two, but the child who claimed she "couldn't" read, flew through a nature book that captured her interest. I do see how this might be a good way to encourage grammar, spelling and writing skills in some children.

Disclaimer: I received the Reluctant Reader Solution package in return for writing this review. No other compensation was received and all opinions are my own.

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