Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Learn with Homer: Reading App Review

Recommended Ages: 2 to 6

Content Areas: Early Reading

Price: Free (with in-app purchases). A web-based version has a 30 day free trial and then a monthly subscription fee.

Why We Love It:
Learn with Homer was created by Stephanie Dua, a Brooklyn mother and Harvard Public Policy graduate who spent her early career working in educational policy and reform in New York City. When Ms. Dua’s eldest daughter began searching for engaging at home reading resources, she realized there was a need for a high quality, research backed digital foundational literacy program.

The Homer Method infuses the best research on how children learn to read, with high quality, engaging art and storytelling to create a program that supports children in becoming successful readers. You don’t have to just take their word for it; the team behind Learn with Homer publishes all the research that underpins their program, so parents and teachers can assess it for themselves.

The program is designed to be a sequential, step-by-step learning process where the child progresses at his or her own personalized pace and each new skill builds upon those previously mastered. The program starts with the basics of sounds and letters before moving on to words, ideas and knowledge. The program includes original artwork from talented illustrators, songs, rhymes and game-based learning theories to truly make the reading experience enjoyable for a child. Each of the stories and activities are thoughtfully created or illustrated for the Read with Homer Program, making it an incredibly comprehensive and robust early reading application. It is easy to see why Learn with Homer has been the recipient of so many awards and acknowledgements.

For Parents
Beyond teaching your child the fundamentals of reading, Learn with Homer will also expose your child to music and rhymes from a variety of cultures to help them learn correct pronunciation and verbal timing. Science, history and art are also infused in the non-fiction reading resources to teach new vocabulary. Writing is also an element of the Learn with Homer App through their Pigeon Post which allows your child to compose, send and receive digital postcards from loved ones. Extensions beyond the digital space are also available through printed projects which include craft ideas, writing practice activities, coloring pages and puzzles. Through the parent dashboard, you can also keep track of the progress your child has made and see his or her growth over time.

For Teachers
Learn with Homer has a classroom dashboard which allows teachers to track the progress of their entire class in real time. As a former classroom teacher, I found this aspect valuable for my formative assessment, as it allowed me to identify the strengths and weaknesses in my individual students. This, in turn, helped inform any subsequent reading interventions and activities I employed. Furthermore, you can feel confident in utilizing this tool in your classroom, as the team behind Learn with Homer has done all the work of linking their program to the Common Core standards for you in a document published on their website.

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