Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.
If you have a child who is struggling to learn their letters and learn to read, Reading Unlocked might be a good fit. When I was given the opportunity to review it, I thought it might be helpful for my six-year-old son, Simon.
What Is Reading Unlocked?
Reading Unlocked is an online program designed to help your student learn their letters and begin to read. I received a 12-month subscription to the product.
The lessons are short, they took my son about 15 minutes each day. The website says it only takes ten minutes, but my son likes to drag things out a little bit. 😀 So, if your child doesn’t get done in ten minutes, don’t be alarmed.
At the beginning, students begin to learn the sound of one letter. As they progress through lessons, they learn additional letter sounds. Then, they start to blend letter sounds into words.
Through small lessons, only learning one new letter at a time, your child will slowly begin to read.
It uses phonics, but makes it simpler, helping to set kids up for success.
How Did We Use Reading Unlocked?
Several days a week, my son and I sat down at our desktop. He brought the piece of paper and pen he needed, and we got started. The program cycles through the same set of activities each day, so my son quickly learned what to expect.
After learning the letter sound, he got to write them on the paper as he said the sound. Then, he did a few more reading activities.
After students learn a few letters, they begin using letter tiles on the computer to spell words. There’s also an activity where you change one word into another, like this:
Change mop into map
After the child drags the a to the place where the o is in mop, it might say something like:
Change map into tap
And the child would get to move the t to the m spot.
My son really liked this part, and I appreciated how it made him listen to where the sound was that was getting switched. He really had to focus, which was good for him.
There was also an activity where the students used the letter tiles to spell a word. In this picture, Simon was working on spelling the word man.
Many of the activities focused on phonological awareness, the student’s ability to hear the differences in sounds. One activity that worked on this showed two pictures. Then, students were asked to click on the one being said.
Another showed three pictures and asked students to click on the one that started with a certain letter. This was hard for Simon at first, but he’s really getting better.
What Did We Think of the Product?
Simon asks to do his reading “on the computer” several times a week, so that’s a win. When you find something that kids actually want to do, that’s a good thing. And, he is learning and getting much more confident in his letters and sounds.
He is also seeing himself more as a writer now, which I really appreciate. Students need to write the letters and some words in this program, and he has been writing more words throughout the day. It’s given him a lot of confidence in that area.
This offline component was a fun addition to the program.
For the most part, we really liked this program. But, there were a few things that I wish were a little different.
Many of the pictures used just didn’t make sense. For instance, there was a picture of a shirt for the word top. Typically, the word top when it comes to children’s reading books refers to the spinning toy, not a shirt. Another weird picture was a crib for the word cot. Simon had a harder time with these words, because he wanted to spell shirt and crib, not top and cot. So, we had to work through that a bit.
There was also one really strange instance that I’m hoping was a glitch. During one of the listening activities, Simon was asked to select between the following two images:
One is a picture of a crib, which they refer to as a cot. The other is a person catching a ball, which is the word caught.
Cot and caught sound exactly the same. There is no way to identify between them when listening only to the word, without any context.
Simon got really frustrated at this activity, and finally I just randomly clicked until we got through it. But, hopefully we won’t see any more like that. It was the only one we saw during the several weeks we spent using it.
But, despite these flaws, it is still a program I’d recommend. It will not be a good fit for every child. Some will get way too frustrated with the repetition. But, some students really need that and thrive because of it.
So if you have a struggling reader, it’s definitely a program I recommend.