Thursday, June 2, 2016
Essential Skills Advantage - A Schoolhouse Review Crew Review
It seems that most kids these days are big into video and computer games and my kids are no different. Some folks think that because that seems to be the way the world is going, that we should just go with the times and turn all learning into computer based learning. I don't hold to that theory but I do, however, think that the computer can be used in powerful ways to learn if given the right tools. The Complete Home Learning Suite from Essential Skills Advantage is definitely a computer based learning program that fits that description. All I can say is "Wow! Wow! Wow!" to everything that this great program has to offer.
Let me tell you right now that there is no way that in the six short weeks that we had to review this program that we could use everything. The fact that it is the end of the school year with so many end of the year activities further hampered our efforts to try to use it all. However, we did use it and enjoyed it and will definitely be using it again! There is now way that I am going to be able to give you a detailed description of everything in one short review, but I will give you an overview of the program and the different areas of the program. Then, there was one area of Essential Skills Advantage that Joshua excelled at an loved and I will tell you about that area at the end. I do need to also let you know that although I have two students and they are all over the board when it comes to the different areas, there is no way that I could look at every single thing in each grade level, so these summaries will be very general summaries. I would definitely encourage you to go over to click on any of the highlighted links in this review and look around the Essential Skills Advantage website.
Essential Skills Advantage is a computer based program that has subjects for Reading, Language & Grammar, and Math for grades Kindergarten through 6, Science for Kindergarten through 3rd, and Geography for grades 4 through 6. It was very easy to set up everything. First they had me set up an account for myself, then set up an account for both of my children. It is a self paced program that really, the student could use himself if the parent desired or could be used with the parent supervising. There is so much information in each area that I feel that this program could be used as the main homeschool curriculum, but we chose to use it to supplement what we are presently using. Let me describe each subject are to you.
Reading - There are different areas of Essential Skills Advantage that I wanted to use for both Jacob and Joshua. Although Joshua has some comprehension problems when he reads, it is Jacob that I really wanted to use the reading part of Essential Skills Advantage with. He is very behind in his reading skills so I chose the first grade curriculum for him. It has areas for sight words, grammar (including sentence punctuation, dates and lists and capitals) and Reading which contains 24 "Story Time" activities where the student learns reading comprehension skills. I love the way that there are several different activities that build upon one another. For example, during the sight words level, the student works on identifying the word through sight, then auditory, and so forth until they have learned how to spell, use and define the word. Different grade levels focus on different things. For example, grade six focuses mainly on vocabulary and reading comprehension.
Spelling and Grammar - Although this is a weak area with our boys, we didn't focus on this area as much during the review period but plan on using it more in the future. The younger grades work a lot with spelling and phonics while the older grades focus on spelling, grammar, and writing skills. Again, it is self-paced and there are many activities that the student must advance through to complete each area.
Math - Again, this was an area that we didn't use as much because we have a strong math curriculum that we presently use, but we did delve into it a little. Grade one focuses on Numeration, Patterning, Measurement, and even delves into Geometry, Data Management and Probability. Grade six on the other hand does a lot with Math Operations and Number Concepts. As before, there are many levels that a student must advance through to complete each area.
Science - As I mentioned above, Essential Skills Advantage only has science curriculum for kindergarten through 3rd grades. Each grade level has areas for Physical Science, Earth and Space Science, and Life Science. Let me tell you, though, that each area has a wealth of things that the student does. For example, just in the grade one Physical Science section the student covers - Matter, Energy, Buildings and Machines, Changing Matter, Motion, Heat, Light, Sound and, finally, Magnets. Each of those areas has at least nine activities for each one and usually more. This is definitely a complete program!
Geography - Again, as mentioned above, geography is only available to 4th through 6th grade. This was the area that I thought Joshua would enjoy and I was not mistaken. He really excelled at this area. I wanted him to work with this geography because it not only covers countries, capitals and things like that which he is a genius in, but also because it covers physical geography such as lakes, inlets, coves, mountain ranges, and things such as that. He is not as knowledgeable in those areas as he should be. It also covers maps and globes, types of maps, co-ordinates, directions and other similar topics. He has learned a lot from these areas to supplement what he already knows about the countries. Of course he delved (probably a little too much) into the World and United States Geography section as well!
As I have mentioned before, we have used some of these areas a lot and some not as much but we do plan on using it more because we absolutely love what we have used. This is a great program! I have not talked about the parent controls as much but I love the way that a parent can log in and see exactly how his child is doing in different areas.
The Complete Home Learning Suite from Essential Skills Advantage is definitely a program that I would encourage anyone to look into whether they are looking for a complete homeschool curriculum or just something to supplement what they are using. To find out more just click on any one of the highlighted links above. To find what other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew thought just click on the banner below. Happy Homeschooling!