(The following was originally published on http://www.ourgoodfamily.org)
I’ve mentioned before that Sophie struggled to read, and I felt like a failure as both a homeschool mom and a parent. We kept working though, and once everything clicked I never find her without a book in her hand! Bella, having listened to her sister complain about reading is now fighting me on learning just like her sister. This time, however I was a little more prepared and had done more research! I found a few online programs, and was fortunate to be asked to review one of the sites.
Disclosure: We received a subscription to the program and I was compensated for my time in return for an honest review. I was not required to write a positive review, all thoughts, opinions and photos are mine.
MindPlay Literacy is an online reading program from MindPlay Inc. that is designed to meet your child at their reading level and overcome the challenges they are having to improve their reading skills. MindPlay Literacy can be used by homeschool parents, by children who are enrolled in schools who need some additional reading help, and even adults! The goal of the program is to meet the student where they are and to gain that student one grade level in 20 hours of use.
In order to guarantee MindPlay Literacy’s promise of a one grade-level gain in reading after 20 hours of use, it is important that learners use the program with fidelity. That fidelity includes 30 minutes a day, five days a week. For our review, we were not able to use the program for this length of time, which will be reflected in my review.
Our MindPlay Literacy Experience:
We didn’t start out strong, which was my fault. When signing up for MindPlay I was asked what grade Bella was in, which is 2nd grade. However, as she started the placement test it was very apparent that she could not complete the 2nd grade assessment. After speaking with the MindPlay help desk we determined that it would be best for Bella to be moved to the first grade assessment. The big difference between the two grade levels is that first grade assessment had the option for Bella to click and have the questions read to her, while the 2nd grade level assessment did not.
After the rough start Bella really wasn’t interested in trying again, but we persevered and once she realized that she was able to hear the questions instead of reading them she did a lot better. Her assessment showed what I already knew, she was behind in phonics, spelling, and reading.
We started at the beginning, and the lessons are long – anything over 15 minutes is long for Bella to sit through, and these lessons are between 20 and 30 minutes in length. I’ll be honest, the first few days were not pretty. We had tears and pouts and lots of “I don’t want to do it” moments, but we got through them and gradually we started to see improvements!
Online Tool for Struggling Readers: MindPlay Literacy
Bella is starting to recognize sight words and while she will tell anyone who listens that she can’t read – she’s reading. She is doing SO much better with her phonics, and is starting to sound out words more and more. She still gets tripped up on the vowel sounds – A and I in particular give her trouble, but she’s gaining more confidence every time she uses the program.
My favorite moment came this morning! Part of of the MindPlay Literacy program is spelling out words while the tutor says them. Bella grabbed a sheet of paper and actually spelled the words on the paper before typing them into the program. For some kids this would be an easy task, but with her depth perception issues writing and typing are not easy for her – but she completed the lesson like it was easy-peasy. (her words!)
My thoughts about MindPlay Literacy
I have to admit, I really wasn’t a fan when we started. The program seems cumbersome and it was so hard to get Bella engaged and working with MindPlay. The placement test was a huge piece of that, and I think that if I’d started her where I knew she was, instead of going with her grade level all that anxiety would have been removed.
The idea behind the program is solid. The tutor and lessons need to be done by your child WITHOUT outside help, which can be hard – but it’s the only way to guarantee the program will work. It’s designed to see how long your child hesitates, misspells, etc and if a parent assists them then MindPlay Literacy will not work the way it is designed. You can read other parents’ thoughts about MindPlay and their results.
Bella likes that she can earn rewards and certificates – they keep her motivated for sure. She loves to get 5 golf stars on her lessons and has been known to pout if she gets a silver one.
While the lessons seem long, they do make sense as you move further into the program. You have the option to quit a lesson if you need to and pick it back up again where you left off, which we have used once or twice. I really like that you are able to download a PDF from MindPlay that goes over the phonics and spelling lessons they are learning online. The spelling is review for Bella since she just did the words in her lessons, but I like that it’s hands on and cementing what she’s learning online.
Final Thoughts About MindPlay Literacy
If you would like to see how MindPlay Literacy can work for your child, you can sign up for their free trial before you subscribe. The program will run you $25/month or $260 a year, which considering it’s like having a private tutor in your home is a good deal.
For us, getting started was a little rocky because I started Bella on the incorrect level. I would suggest that if you aren’t sure about the grade level ask the help desk before you start.
Take some time to introduce your child to MindPlay Literacy. If they are balking on the lesson lengths, take advantage of the quit button so they don’t get overwhelmed.
While Bella didn’t jump a grade level during the review period, which was because we weren’t able to use the program for the recommended time, I have seen improvements in her spelling, word recognition and sight reading which for me is a huge win!! We will continue to use MindPlay Literacy to get Bella where she needs to be for her reading and spelling…..and I’m seriously hoping that Sam will be excited to learn to read. If not, I know exactly where I’ll look for help first!