As we finish Lauren's fourth grade year, I'm identifying a few areas that we need to work on this summer. One of the biggest areas is Reading Comprehension.
Essential Skills Advantage covers a wide range of curriculum suitable for grades K-6 in their Complete Home Learning Suite, but I was most interested in seeing if the Reading section would be helpful for her.
The third grade level of Reading includes vocabulary, reading comprehension, and spelling activities. I counted that there are 270 activities in 21 units for the reading comprehension in the third grade section.
Lauren started with the third grade lessons because I wanted to get a good sense of where exactly she fits in terms of reading comprehension. I'd rather start easy and let her quickly move up than to start at a level that's too difficult for her. It takes her about a half an hour to complete one unit in the program, which is approximately ten to twelve activities.
As she worked through third grade reading comprehension lessons, I noticed a few things about the program. First of all, the majority of the reading passages are informative articles about animals -- elephants, Komodo dragons, skunks, vampire bats, etc. I did find one short story in this level that was broken down into shorter chapters (each a few paragraphs long) and a biographical story about Annie Taylor going over Niagra Falls in a barrel. Secondly, the third grade comprehension questions primarily cover the facts of the article and the answers can be found by looking back in the passage. (Every screen gives the student the option to have the original text shown again.)
I peeked ahead at the ESA lessons for other grades to see when the comprehension questions would start to cover more than just remembering facts from the text. Starting with the fourth grade activities, the questions start to cover higher level thinking skills such as cause and effect, sequencing events, and figurative language. The comprehension activities also includes questions about character qualities, setting, and conflict. Most importantly for me, the answers to the questions in the upper grade activities are no longer found directly in the text.
I look forward to seeing Lauren's reading progress as she continues to move through the ESA program, especially as she encounters questions that require her to think about the text and not just look back to find the answers verbatim.
Although I've primarily been using ESA as a supplement to Lauren's other reading activities, she has also explored some of the other content areas. One of her favorite areas is the geography section, and in particular, the section where she is learning to identify (and correctly spell) the names of the states.
Another area I'm particularly interested in using with Lauren this summer is the math section. There isn't enough work to constitute a full math curriculum, but I think it'll be perfect for some review days before we get started back into our regular math program in the fall. I think Lauren could especially benefit from working word problems in the math operations section and from all the activities in the problem solving section.
Essential Skills Advantage has been a good supplement to Lauren's daily reading comprehension work and has also provided additional learning opportunities in other subjects. With activities covering reading, language and grammar, math, science, and geography, I feel like we've just started to explore all the possibilities.
A subscription to the online learning activities costs $7.99 per month for a single student or $69.99 for a year. Prices for more than one student on the account are slightly higher.
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