I want to preface this by saying that we were given some Reading Eggs books free of charge to try out by the company so that we could review them, but that we have also already been paid up members of the site for 6 months. We also bought the first set of books ourselves; it is genuinely a site and product I feel passionately convinced by.
So, Josie is 7 and for the last year or so, she’s been enjoying letters and sounds and the idea of making words. Having watched 3 children go from non-reader to reader already, I was definitely very relaxed about the process as I’ve genuinely concluded that humans are driven to try and achieve this skill and, left to time it themselves, they’ll find the moment when the acquisition of literacy just becomes as logical a next step as walking and speaking. Certainly trying to force the issue with Fran didn’t work at all, nor did ‘active and focused support’ which was the approach I went for with Maddy. Both learned to read, by which I mean could properly decode new books and gain pleasure from reading them, only when they were good and ready. Amelie learned herself, using some tools I gave her in the form of a couple of websites and lots of books, and I had almost nothing to do with the process.
Josie is a different kettle of fish to her sisters. She is less naturally autonomous than Amelie, but more phonically able than the big ones; sounding out comes easily to her, whereas look-see-remember was what words for Fran and Maddy. Josie isn’t overly keen on being ‘taught’ but she does quite like to have tasks to do. So over the last year we’ve had word cards and wooden letters and she has spelled out words in her own time, never with any pressure to really read them or know the sounds. We’ve read and supported her as she has wanted to write things, sounding out letters as we went. It was during these games that I noticed how much more able she was with phonic sounds than her sisters have been; slowly sounding out ‘p-i-g’ with her would make her furrow her brow, look upwards into her fringe, repeat the sounds thoughtfully and say “Pig!” Fran and Maddy would have been more likely to stab wildly at something, “Pat… pit.. Wig…?” without really wanting to decode.
When I think back to Josie as a toddler, this makes sense. She alone of all of them would make jigsaws by looking at the picture on the pieces, rather than just trying to make the shapes fit. It’s not surprising she applies the same common sense to letters and sounds.
The Reading Eggs Website
When I stumbled across Reading Eggs and signed her up to the free trial I was curious to see what she would think; it certainly ticks all the right boxes for a child of 6 or 7 who is quite self directed but likes to be amused. It has a cute chick, you can earn eggs to spend in a shop to dress up his home and person, it has maps which you progress through, meeting new characters along the way. You can achieve a level of games in a short amount of time, so it doesn’t go on too long and become a drag. There are lots of varieties of games and funny loading screens to keep you entertained while the main games get ready. A huge bonus for me is that it isn’t American, so doesn’t have the accent and word barriers that other sites create.
Initially, you can get a child to do a placement test, which puts them into roughly the right map for their age; I think Josie, by dint of being a smarty pants, got placed a little too high, but you can move back through maps if you need to. Josie has worked almost entirely independently at the software; there is a parents progress page to keep you up to date and Josie likes to let me know how many eggs she earns in a day. I go and help occasionally, mainly on the odd level which tests knowledge but requires a reasonably high number of correct items to be clicked to allowing moving on. She can always do them, but gets a bit flustered if she needs to think and move the mouse too, so she points and I click for her.
I tend to be quite dubious about ‘add on’ products and I have a house full of reading schemes and so it hadn’t been on my agenda to purchase the reading scheme. But our 6 months was up and Josie wanted to renew, which I managed to do in time to use the generous ‘early bird’ voucher they sent through. Another year was £39.95 minus the discount and gave me the option for a half price book pack, so I decided I would. I was evidently having a dizzy moment, as I didn’t take on board these would be the books supporting the very early (reception/yr 1) levels so when they arrived, I could see they’d be too easy for the level Josie had reached. She was immediately very taken with them though, liking the bright colours, bold pictures and gorgeous packaging. Each set of books is in a lovely strong slip case and there are stickers, maps, flash cards and workbooks, all perfectly designed to mirror the site. She was very grumpy about sending them back and waiting for new ones, especially as she could see value in the workbooks and loved the flashcards and liked the books full of words and pictures for each letter.
“Stage 1 covers the first 40 lessons of the Reading Eggs program. This pack includes 40 reading books + 200 stickers, 4 mini posters, 4 Activity books and a pack of durable Flashcards with games. These normally retail for £81.67. When you purchase a subscription, our special online price is £39.95. That’s a saving of £41.72!”
It was at this point that they kindly offered the second set for us to try out 🙂
The best way of describing the type of hit the second set has been is to show you. And to tell you that *I* have not taught Josie to read so far at all; she has done it, predominantly using Reading Eggs. This was the first time she had read this book and I hadn’t coached her through it previously, nor had I done anything other than listen to her read the previous ones and help her with that tricky word ‘the’ a few times.
The proof and a free trial code
I think you’ll agree that this is a good result – and if you do, you might want to try out this code “temporarily removed due to abuse 🙁 “ which will give you an extra 3 weeks of free trial on top of the starting free two weeks already available.
Reading Eggs have recently launched Reading Eggspress which is designed to support literacy into the 7-12 age range. I’m starting Maddy on it in the new year 🙂