Read, Write & Type is an online reading program for kids ages 6-9 that incorporates typing instruction into the learning to read process. The lessons stand out from other reading programs we’ve tried in that they teach kids to write at the same time they’re learning to read, which should engage higher brain function than reading alone.
We received a one year subscription and Boo, who turned 6 in November and started Kindergarten this year, gave it a try. She’s my super sweet, incredibly imaginative, nature loving, free spirit…who has no interest in mundane things like reading and writing. 😉
I’m certain that reading will click for her at some point and things she can’t seem to remember, or that she just can’t make sense of, or whatever, will no longer be a struggle…and in the meantime I’ve been exposing her to as many different approaches to gaining early reading and writing skills as possible. I keep hoping that maybe there’s one magical program out there that she’ll love and really learn a lot from.
Unfortunately Read, Write & Type isn’t that program for her, but that’s certainly not its fault (especially since I’m not even sure such a program actually exists).
She had fun with it for about the first 8 lessons (out of 40) and then lost interest and began requiring
bribery external motivation to do the lessons. That said, she tends to lose interest fairly quickly in most things that don’t involve racing around the house like a crazy ninja while screaming at the top of her lungs. 😉
One thing I really like about Read, Write & Type is that every part of the program is completely focused on teaching phoneme awareness, early writing and spelling, reading, and keyboarding. Some of the websites we’ve tried out that are supposed to teach kindergarten skills including math, reading, etc. have ended up having one or more areas that are either completely non-educational, or not teaching anything essential (a.k.a. an art spot where she can doodle on the computer). It’s not that I necessarily have a problem with her making art, or learning more random animal facts, or following directions to create an ice cream sundae, or whatever, but during the time when I’d like her to be focused on learning a specific skill, like reading, I hate having to monitor her to make sure she’s focusing on that portion of the program she’s using.
One thing that was not awesome, though, for Boo, was that when the lessons made the jump from teaching one letter sound to reading or writing words and sentences, they lost her. Just because she’s been taught the letters h, a and s individually, sadly doesn’t mean that she’s able to sound out the word has. I sat with Boo for 10 minutes on a page where it wanted her to select the correct picture based on the sentence, “Jack has a hat.” Boo quickly defaulted to randomly clicking pictures because she was completely stumped on the sentence, and there didn’t seem to be anything helping her actually sound out the words or figure out the sentence in any way.
She’d just seen the word Jack on the previous page, so I helped her remember that, and then we moved on to the next word. Unfortunately, she’s the queen of slowly sounding out a word, and then looking at the picture and picking a random word that sounds nothing like the one she just sounded out to use when she tries to say it quickly. For example, one of the pictures showed Jack with a kite, so she sounded out “hhhhhhhh aaaaaaaaaaaaa sssssssss” and then said “kite.” When that wasn’t correct she became frustrated and told me the lesson was too hard and she wanted to be done with Talking Fingers.
She also hasn’t actually gained any keyboarding skills, which I’m sure is my fault for being distracted with a newborn (plus a 2 year old who inevitably wants to be in my lap the second I start nursing her baby sister) and therefor not monitoring Boo more closely when she’s using Read, Write & Type. The lessons clearly tell her where her fingers should be and which finger she should be using to type each letter, but Boo has been completely ignoring that and continuing to use her right pointer finger for everything. As there’s no way for the program to know that she’s not following its instructions, I’m not sure what it could possibly do differently. I’m guessing that if I’d noticed right from the beginning that Boo wasn’t mastering that portion of the lessons I could have made more of an effort to encourage her to pay attention. However, by the time I noticed I think she would have had to go back to the beginning and re-do all the lessons to learn the keyboarding portion, and since it was already a struggle to get her to do her lessons at all, I decided to let it slide.
All in all, I love the concept of kids being able to learn to write, and even type, at the same time as learning to read, and the program seems to do a great job of teaching those skills. I imagine it would be a hit for kids who are a little more mature than Boo and/or really ready to learn reading and writing skills. I’ll probably let Boo take a break for 6 months or so and then try again to see how she does (unless I see more signs of readiness before then).
Anyhoo…you should definitely hop over to the Schoolhouse Review Crew link-up and check our what my fellow crew mates think about Read, Write & Type. There’s also a parent/teacher demo on their website, as well as a free trial of the first 8 lessons. 🙂
I hope you guys have found my review helpful. If you have any questions, feel free to ask! Have a great day filled with lots of great coffee! 😀