HeadSprout Phonics- My other homeschool secret weapon

Headsprout Phonics Review-

Headsprouts Early reading program is an online phonics program designed to teach your child to read, in a fun-interactive manner without a lot of teacher (mom) input.
Yeah! -A phonics program for the mom who has already taught phonics 3 times now...the slightly overwhelmed mom/the tired mom/the A.D.D. mom/the mom who is tired of tying her boys to the chair to do phonics... or who is teaching 5 kids and is having trouble staying consistent with the whole phonics instruction-thing.


My Homeschool Secret-Weapon #2 is:
Delegate what you can. And, electronic/computer delegation counts, too.

Headsprout will take your child from the very beginning of learning-to-read; basic letter sounds,- to reading at a solid 2nd grade level once he has gone through all 80 lessons. Headsprouts is phonics-based, but also has quite a bit of sight-word learning. Each lesson ranges from 15 to 20 minutes long and features great animation and different game type activities as the child progresses. Each lesson has a variety of matching sounds by sight, listening to the sounds said out-loud, point and clicking on the correct answer, and prompts for the child to say the sound. The lessons are individualized for the child and adapt to the child's learning progress during each lesson.

There are times when the child will be prompted to go get an adult for a section so the child can read out loud. (just in case you were in the other room wrangling kidlets, cleaning up after the dog, or telling someone how to find the area of a triangle...)

This program is pricey, but you get discounts for extra kids. I am not saying that you cannot teach phonics with a simple program...just that for kids that can't sit still, or for moms that have done this too many times, Headsprouts could be the answer.

For me, it was sooo worth it.

With your subscription, you get a packet containing a map-poster with stickers to track your child's progress. (Mine loved the map) ..the map also alerts you to days you need to get a booklet out for extra practice - the program will also email you to alert you of this. -A.D.D. mom loved this!
You also get a set of booklets for reading practice and a certificate for when your child finishes the program. Extra reading comes in the form of booklets and flaschcards you print off your computer..again, you will be emailed and prompted at the end of the lesson. These printable booklets are useful for coloring fun, too.

I appreciated the visual and auditory training for blending this program gave. I also liked how the later lessons left the game-style behind, and presented book pages- highlighting the sentences they were working on, and once finishing the passage, asking comprehension questions. The comprehension questions were usually in the form of a picture, read the sentence and choose the right picture to go with it. Once the correct answer was chosen, the child was rewarded with an animated story.

After each lesson, you get an email detailing progress made that day, what booklets the child can read for practice, and very detailed information about which sounds/blends were covered. I found this part very, very helpful for my record-keeping needs for my charter school program.

Cons: * price. Still worth it to me. *student has to start at beginning of program. This could be a problem if your child is reading some, already. When we started, Demi-Sky was already reading at almost a 1st grade level. I decided to go with it, and I could see the need to start at the beginning, because Headsprout teaches sounds with a different sequence then the other programs I have used...many things were too easy for him, but there was also some new sound patterns he didn't know. *The types of games over time would become predictable. The program did a good job of mixing things up, though. Blocks of lessons involved different 'worlds' and different characters, so as things became too repetitive, the 'world' usually changed.
*no teaching of phonics 'rules'. No, 'magic e' or 'when two vowels go walking, the first does the talking' sort of rules to remember. Learning seemed to happen from repetition, sight recognition and practice. I do think to get a good, rounded experience that will produce a great speller, you are going to need to add on a program like Explode the Code or All about Spelling. -Not necessarily at the same time. I took 3 children through this program, 2 landed at a solid 2nd grade reading level- and this with no outside program. (My 3rd student has an auditory processing disorder, so his progress is a whole 'nother playing field)

I whole-heartedly recommend this program. It's very, very well done and can take the pressure off of a struggling student and/or a struggling mom. It's fun, gives a good mix of visual and auditory learning and the animation is top-notch.

Headsprouts has just unveiled a new reading comprehension program for grades 3 through 5, which will be Available Jan. 11, 2009. It looks like another winner, and I am giving it serious consideration.

this is an unsolicited, non-compensated review of a program I purchased myself. :)