Reading Independence with MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach

(The following was originally published on www.notsoformulaic.com)

Do you have a child who struggles with reading? Get her on the road to reading independence with MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach. 

This post was sponsored by MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach. I received complementary access to the program and was compensated for my time. All opinions are my own.

Kids don’t come with instruction manuals. In some ways I’m grateful that’s the case. Homeschooling would be a lot easier with kid diagrams from IKEA, but the process of discovery is hands down the best part.

I didn’t always feel this way. There were days when I would have taken a roadmap in a heartbeat. Our experience with reading, for example, has come close to pushing me over the edge. Having a step by step guide for our six year old might have made all the difference in the world.

The truth is, we don’t know if B is dyslexic. We’ve wondered about it from time to time. It runs in my husband’s side of the family and fits the nature of our Twice Exceptional life. But because of past history with educational testing and a desire to avoid additional stress, we’ve decided to wait on an evaluation for now. B is six, and a September baby at that. Her struggles might be less wiring and more emotional developmental.

Still, B wants to read, and I want her to be happy while learning. She’s sensitive, independent, and exceedingly strong-willed, a tough nut to crack when it comes to curricula. We’ve tried boxed options and workbooks and some great online tools, and I’ve discovered she does better if I’m more hands off. B thrives when she’s successful; she learns when she’s in charge. Any program we use has to meet those two requirements.

IT’S A GOOD THING WE DISCOVERED MINDPLAY VIRTUAL READING COACH.

I’ll admit I was skeptical when I first learned about MindPlay. There are so many options in online reading programs it’s hard to tell what will work. But a little bit of research turned up a lot of good information, and the developmental structure of MindPlay appealed to me. MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach constructs a scaffold – a set of leveled skills – which assists struggling readers from the ground up.

A Reading Scaffold, Courtesy of MindPlay

During the early 20th century, developmental psychologist Lev Vygotsky proposed  the theoretical “zone of proximal development.”  According to the theory, there is a difference between what a child can do with help and what a child can do without. The development of a scaffold, or a ladder of supporting skills, assists the child in the progression of learning. The scaffold propels the child through the zone, and, eventually, to her own independence.

The creators of MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach recognize the linear development of  reading skills. They’ve developed a corresponding scaffold, from an initial screening to mastery. B’s screening took about half an hour, and we were on to the first rung of the scaffold. We started with phonemic awareness, the identification of letters and sounds.

Individual Instruction at Home

MindPlay Virtual Reading Coach provides each child with her own private specialist. You can see B’s in the screen shot below. When B had a question or needed a repeat, she could click on the coach for help.

Since B really struggles with differentiating sounds, I appreciated MindPlay’s attention to physicality. The specialist demonstrates how new sounds are made with a physical example and a visual cue. B responded well to this aspect of the program; the concepts were more relevant when she could mimic the sounds.

Level Progression

As B progressed through the intelligent levels, MindPlay tracked her progress on the customizable home screen. The level progression adhered to the scaffold (which made me happy), and the colorful visuals were engaging for B (which made her happy). Parents can access a portal at the bottom of the homepage: I could log in to track and review skills as needed. The interface was easy, flexible, and fun, especially for B when she discovered a dragon.

I’M GLAD WE DISCOVERED MINDPLAY VIRTUAL READING COACH

It helps me feel at ease with B’s burgeoning skills, and it keeps B happy with independence and fun. I look forward to seeing where she takes it over the summer. It’ll keep me from inserting slot A into port C.