Friday, February 18, 2011

The Reluctant Reader Solution, a TOS Crew Review

My child regressed into autism around the same time as her first birthday. By her second birthday, we had intervention in full swing. After three + years of behavioral intervention, we made a big switch to a developmental intervention when she was five years old. Instead of programming her behaviorally, using a lot of rote memorization of facts out of context, a developmental approach has set us back on a typical pathway, with the same milestones and discoveries that typically developing kids experience with their parents, their teachers, and themselves.

My child's developmental pathway is her own. She's on a different timetable than most kids her age. While she is delayed, she is reading and comprehending more than she realizes she is. She hasn't yet made the self-discovery that she is a reader. Instead, reading is a catalyst that sends her anxiety soaring and her comprehension shutting down. As her parent and teacher, I have to think outside the box in terms of opportunities for her to read that keep her anxiety from skyrocketing. The more positive opportunities that I can provide for her, the closer she will get to making the self-discovery that she is indeed a reader.

This TOS Crew review item, The Reluctant Reader Solution, provides the perfect resource for those positive reading opportunities.

The Reluctant Reader Solution is a package of what I would describe as clever mini-unit studies that add up to 365 pages of fun and a year's subscription (12 months) of an equally fun monthly digital newspaper called Kid Scoop.

For $97, purchasers have access to downloadable packets of worksheets covering almost 60 topics that are kid and parent friendly and a year of monthly 20-page online Kid Scoop newspapers in full color.

Packet topics cover a wide variety of interests for boys, girls, and for parents.

Check out the list of fun and interesting topics:

Acting, backpacks, band, baseball, bees, Bigfoot, bubblegum, budgeting, butterflies, cartooning, Cinco De Mayo, clay play, Columbus Day, Constitution Day, Easter, elves, Father's Day, fire safety, fitness, frost, gardening, germs, gorillas, green kids, Halloween, Heifer International, hockey, holidays (traditional winter holidays), immunization, independence around the world, international space station, junkyard sports, kitchen creativity, Louisa May Alcott, Memorial Day, mini-golf math, MLK day of service, Mother's Day, nutrition labels, "Old Stormalong" (sailing), optical illusions, orcas, otters, Owen and Mzee, point of view, skin protection, smores, solar snacks, St Patrick's Day, "State of You", tadpoles, teasing, Thanksgiving, the Maya, Tom Sawyer, Toys for Tots, Valentine's Day, Veteran's Day, and Wangari Maathai.
Each topic is presented in 5, 6, or 7 worksheets packed with information, experiments to do away from the worksheet, games, and puzzles. The pages are inviting and attractive.

My reluctant reader dove right in. No balking. No resisting. No protesting. And I didn't have to sit down at the computer and find all the information, games, etc, and put them together myself. She's learning and enjoying it. She's experience sharing (both directions, not just telling me stuff she sees or knows) and I do enjoy when she shares something with me that she has read. The Reluctant Reader Solution gives us activities to share with one another and activities she can do alone and tell me about.

In addition to facts and information, some of the worksheets offer opportunities to perspective take, to imagine yourself in someone else's shoes. There are activities that grow thinking skills, too, that give students opportunities to apply knowledge and not simply memorize rote facts.

Kid Scoop, the online newspaper, is full color, set up in a similar, but not-exactly-the-same format as the worksheets, filled with information to read, games to play, puzzles to solve, all within a monthly theme. Parents and students can choose to read portions of it online and print just the games and puzzles, or print the entire edition. I think the Kid Scoop newspaper is nicely done. It works the same way my online magazines, do, with the page turns and everything. It's a great introduction to digital magazines and newspapers. My daughter does not like the online newspaper; she resists and protests it. I think it feels overwhelming to her. She welcomes the single pages I've printed from it. Perhaps the smaller chunks don't overwhelm her.

There is an option to listen to the text as it is spoken by a computer-generated voice as well. (I would prefer that a person read the text.)

The download was easy; The Reluctant Reader Solution sits in a zip file on my computer, ready for quick access and a quick print.

Obviously, you'll need a printer and supplies (toner, copy paper) or access to a printer (office supply store), so there are more costs involved than just the $97 package. The worksheets and newspaper pages are great for learners who don't learn from direct teaching in a 'traditional' setting; they're great for car trips, waiting rooms, and sick days, too.

My favorite aspect about both products is the opportunity to float some trial balloons in terms of interests. My girl learns best when chasing an interest, and The Reluctant Reader Solution gives me the opportunity to try a bunch of new topics, topics within topics, too. The Reluctant Reader Solution has given more insight into my child's interests, and that is valuable to both of us, as she is making self-discoveries about new topics, which plays a role into the self-discovery that she is a reader and another self-discovery that she is a learner.

There is only one topic that I will not print, will not use, and I am pleased that I have the option to ignore that one.

I do enjoy the convenience of both products. For a busy day or a day when my girl is under the weather, I can print pages without taking a lot of time and have fun and informational activities (some that we can do in the kitchen away from the worksheet) and we're good to go. I like that I do not have to do the work to create the pages myself.

Kid Scoop is more expensive for me if I want to print it in full color. I've printed pages in both black & white and color; color is much more attractive and fun; b&w is more economical.
$97 seemed like a lot of money to me at first until I thought about the cost divided by 12 months. The cost is not so much per month to give my homeschooler and me a peek into what new topics she finds interesting. I don't have time to create sets of worksheets like these, and I don't want to waste my time on topics that are not appealing to my homeschooler. By owning the program, I can print a set, if they aren't interesting, I can set them aside for a later time or throw them away without hesitation because I had no big investment of my time and effort in them, no hurt feelings that she didn't like the topic I chose.

A free sample is here. Individual packets are available here for $2.99 each.

The Reluctant Reader Solution offers a 365-day money back guarantee.

The Reluctant Reader Solution and Kid Scoop web site contains fun ideas, a place to share information and ideas, and some freebies in addition to items for purchase. Sign up for a month of Make Reading Fun ideas sent to your e-mail inbox (free) here; follow Kid Scoop on facebook here.

To read reviews of The Reluctant Reader Solution by my Crewmates, please go HERE.

I was given a copy of The Reluctant Reader Solution for review purposes. I was not paid for this review, do not benefit if you purchase the product, and am not obligated to provide a positive review.

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