Reading is a very important skill for every child to master, and sometimes can be a really difficult concept to learn, let alone teach. It can be even more difficult if you don’t have any training or expertise in how to teach a child to read.
Even though I’m a licensed science teacher, teaching my young kids how to read has been a bit of a challenge for me. I really have no idea what I’m doing when it comes to helping them understand how to read words, and it has left both me and my son frustrated at times.
Then along came Reading Horizons. If you have been a follower of the blog for a while you know that I tried out their at home reading curriculum last summer and fall. The program is a complete set of educational tools for kids ages 4-9 (they also have a set for ages 10-adult and ESL learners).
Everything you need to successfully help your child learn to read is included in the program. These materials provide parents with scripted and guided material to teach their struggling child (ages 4-9) the fundamental skills of reading (teaches the entire Discovery program through direct instruction).
Reading Horizons Discovery Online Software
My son is in public school and will be starting first grade this year, but enhancing his reading skills was and is a big goal of mine. This summer we had a chance to try out the online software that accompanies the at home materials, and so far I’m impressed.
Here is just a glimpse of how the program looks/operates, and what you can expect to find by using the program with your child:
The main screen after login looks like this. Your child’s full name is displayed at the top, along with how many coins they have earned for doing lessons (they spend the coins to play games).
From here your child has the choice to click on a number of options. If they click the next button, it will take them directly to the lessons. The dartboard is for games, and the ABC chalkboard is for helping with alphabet skills. The books go to the library where your child can read different books and then will be assessed on certain skills after reading.
This is what a typical lesson will look like, and the difficulty will vary depending on the age and knowledge level of your child. This particular lesson was asking for the child to determine if the word given had a sound that said “eh” in it. They click the appropriate check or x, then click the green CHECK at the bottom to see if they were right. The more right answers they get, the faster the lesson goes (it doesn’t waste time re-teaching them things they already know). If they get a lot of answers wrong, the program will spending time helping them learn and/or reinforce the skill by going to a tutorial.
Back at the main screen your child can click on the books. This will take them to the library, where they can choose any of the highlighted books. The shaded books are not available for reading until they have reached that level in their learning. They simply choose a book and click READ.
The inside of a book will look something like this (it will be age appropriate). The child will have to read the book (I’m not sure if it reads it to younger kids, but I don’t think it does). Once they finish the book, a skills assessment will be given.
This is an example of the skills assessment from the “In the Nest” book. The questions start out quite simply, but do get harder. Some of the questions will focus on reading comprehension to make sure your child understands and remembers what they read.
Back at the main screen, the ABC chalkboard will take your child to a screen that looks like this. They can click on any letter to see how it should be written (lower or upper case). If they click on the second tab, another screen will appear that will teach them phonetics.
Your child can not only hear how the letters sound, but also see how the letters are formed while speaking.
And last but not least is games. The games cost 15 coins to play, so your child will need to have completed a few lessons before they can do any of the games. Once they have earned some coins they can click on the dartboard and choose from any of the highlighted game options. Right now, the only option available for my kids is the Card Match game. This game is a typical matching game where the kids need to match a picture of a word to the actual word itself. My kids really like the game, and it does help reinforce their mastery of any words they may have already learned how to read.
Our thoughts on the Reading Horizons at home reading curriculum
So far I have been really impressed with what this program has to offer. I love that the lessons are all tailored for each child’s specific needs by spending less time on what they already know (just reinforcing skills), and more time on teaching new concepts or helping with skills they haven’t mastered.
The kids have found the setup of the software very easy to navigate, and the parent section of the software (not pictured) allows you to completely track progress of each child. I know which lesson they are on, how much they have completed, the time spent on each lesson, how well they are doing in each skill-set, and much more.
The lessons are very clear, and my children have had no problem understanding what they are supposed to be doing with very little help/instruction from me at all (aged 4 and 6). I definitely recommend this program for anyone who needs a great at-home curriculum, or even for those who have struggling readers in a school setting that may need a bit of extra help.
More about Reading Horizons
If you are interested in learning more about the Reading Horizons at home curriculum, check out their website here: Reading Horizons. You can browse the different aspects of each program, read testimonials, and even try out a lesson sample for free! There is even a section on their website to utilize some Free phonics resources, check it out!
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