Friday, October 22, 2010

Let the Reading Begin - New TOS Review!

A while back our family was given the opportunity to review a product called Little Reader.  Little Reader was created by Brill Kids and is a multi cultural company that has its headquarters based in Hong Kong.

The Product:
So what exactly is Little Reader, you ask?  It is a program that is designed to help children ages 3 months - 3 years learn how to read.  Yes, you read that right, 3 months - 3 years.  How does it teach a child so young to read?  Well, it states  that is uses the Flash system as well as a multi-sensory approach (using auditory, visual, and kinesthetic learning.)  Take a minute and watch this video which explains the system more.

The system includes software that you can install on your computer with a year long customizable curriculum.  How is it customizable?  You can add in your own pictures on the flash cards and flap cards to personalize the system to your exact family and needs.  It also has weekly lesson plans, storybooks, printable word and picture cards and more.

You can buy the basic version which is $149 for 6 months or you can step up to the deluxe version which comes with 1 full year of daily lessons for $360.

My Experience:
At first I was a bit lot skeptical of the program.  Mainly I had a hard time believing that little babies could learn HOW to read.  I had a fear that my son (who would be the one primarily using it), at approximately 18 months, would just learn to be a parrot - connecting the sound of the word with it's shape.  Unfortunately, I was not able to test my own theories due to computer compatibility issues.

As I have said in some previous posts, I now have a computer that is run off of LINUX (which is not affiliated in any way, shape, or form with Windows, or MAC.)  When I first got this product I had told myself to have an open mind and be ready to explore the possibility of Seanan reading (I was as I said very skeptical.)  I also prefer a phonics method approach to teaching reading as opposed to the whole word approach. (there's also an article focusing on this issue on their site.)

My husband, who has been a wonderful help, tried to help me by using a Windows Emulator that I have on my LINUX system that is supposed to be able to make my LINUX computer pretend to be a Windows computer (which this has helped with other Windows only software.)  However after a lot of effort I still have yet to physically  SEE the program in action.

I even went so far as to borrow a Windows laptop.  Unfortunately it is not able to be connected to the Internet (something to do with it not having a network card or something ... I'm not sure) and for some reason when I tried to upload the program (using a flash drive) it would not accept the program and said it could not complete the installation.

I will say that their customer service team has been quite helpful.  However, they are located halfway around the globe making the "talking about the technical issues" a bit difficult since they are up when we are asleep and vice versa.  So for right now, Little Reader is ONLY compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and 7, both 32 and 64 bit.  (Sorry Linux and Mac users.)

I do plan on continuing (at least for a little while) to see if I can get it to work on my borrowed Windows laptop, but I will not be holding my breath.  (The reason is I need my techie husband to help, and he has very little time lately between teaching and taking his own classes, not to mention the honey-do-list.)

Even though I was not able to physically see this program and use it I did find some of the available features quite intriguing.  Like the ability to fully customize the lessons.  You can also download Little Reader for a FREE 14 day trial.  IT also seems to only require a short time commitment only 5-10 minutes once or twice per day.  If you have more questions about this product you can go to their FAQ page.  You can also view several videos of parents of teaching their children reading. This video is of a little girl who is only 12 months old.  I was completely awestruck.

My Thoughts:
I can not give you all a recommendation for this product nor fully disapprove of this product.  I will tell you again, that I do not really agree with the whole word approach to teaching children to read.  I also think that the program is a bit on the expensive side.  But it does seem to have  had some clear results with many users.

If this is a product that interests you  why not head on over to the Homeschool Crew main site where you can read many other product reviews to help you make a more informed decision.  Check out the Brill Kids website and explore.  You never know, this might be just what you have been looking for.

*** I am a member of The Old Schoolhouse 2010-2011 Crew and receive free products and services in exchange for a thorough and honest review.  Though I am compensated with free products, I am not compensated in the form of money for any of  my reviews.  My reviews will always reflect my honest opinions, findings, beliefs and experiences with the products and services that I receive.***

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