TOS Crew Review: Essential Skills Advantage

Essential Skills Advantage Review

I’m homeschooling PB & J Girl (5.5) and Cuddle Bug (4) together using a preschool curriculum.  I like to find other extra activities for PB & J Girl to do to challenge her.

When the opportunity came to review Essential Skills Advantage, I thought it sounded like the perfect fit for PB & J Girl.  We received one year of access with the review.

Essential Skills Advantage seeks to help your child learn to read, or at the older grades, to teach them how to be better readers.  PB & J Girl can recognize and write some simple 3 letter words, but she’s still learning how to read.

She used Essential Skills Advantage 3 to 4 times a week for 10 to 15 minutes at a time, though honestly she would have gone much longer if I would have let her.  During that time frame, she completed 14% of the kindergarten course work.  There is A LOT of material in this program.  In fact, there are 20,000 activities included!

What Is Essential Skills Advantage?

Essential Skills Advantage is designed to supplement other learning your child is doing in the area of reading.  The program focuses on the following components:

  • Phonemic awareness
  • Super phonics,
  • Sight words,
  • Reading comprehension, and
  • Fun with spelling

GradeChartParents can easily track how their child is doing by using the parent portal.  In the parent portal, parents can see how many certificates students have earned, when they last logged in, what activities they have completed as well as the score that they received and the time they spent on an activity.

Stars12Students can track their own progress by looking at their star chart.  For any activity that your child earns 80% or better on, he will get a gold star.  Activities that earn less than 80% will get a silver star.

How We Used the Program

PB & J Girl really enjoys learning online, and this program was no different.

During the review period, she completed all of the picture vocabulary section.  Activities in this unit include:

  • word search,
  • animal names,
  • clothing names,
  • clothing memory, and many other activities.

She also completed the majority of the visual skills section, which included activities such as:

  • what does not belong,
  • picture memory,
  • what shapes are the same color,
  • what is the difference, and many other activities.

She still has yet to do most of the activities for auditory skills and basic concepts.

What System Requirements Are There?

Essential Skills Advantage has several system requirements:

  • Internet access,
  • Java script enabled, and
  • Flash Player 10 or higher

Currently the program is not compatible with iPad or Android Tablets.

What I’d Change About Essential Skills Advantage

This is a fabulous program.  Overall, we’re very pleased with it.  However, I would suggest getting rid of the chirping crickets in the background.  That can be distracting both to the child doing the program and the parent who has to hear it repeatedly.

How Much Is Essential Skills Advantage?

Essential Skills Advantage is $9.99 per month per student.  Honestly, I wouldn’t buy this for all three of my kids because the price would be too much for our budget.  However, I would consider investing in this for a child that is just learning to read because the activities provide excellent reinforcement.

I anticipate PB & J Girl using this for the duration of our trial period.  I’m also going to begin using this program with Cuddle Bug, as I feel she could also benefit from it.

If you’re interested, Essential Skills Advantage is offering a free version of the program that you can try out.

I was one of 50 reviewers of Essential Skills Advantage.  Click on the icon below to see what others had to say about the program.

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TOS Crew Review: UberSmart Math Facts

UberSmart Math Facts Review

Bookworm is a really bright kid.  He loves to read, loves history and is obsessed with coin collecting.  One thing he doesn’t love is math.

We just started homeschooling last year, so it took me several months to realize that his dislike of math is likely because he didn’t have his math facts down.  I thought the problem was multiplication facts, so we bought many aids to help him.  Frustratingly, none of them worked.  A few months later I realized that the real problem is that he hadn’t memorized all of his addition and subtraction math facts, either.

We started all the way back at the addition math facts with the help of UberSmart Math Facts from UberSmart Software, and I couldn’t be more pleased with the progress Bookworm has made!

What Is UberSmart Math Facts?

UberSmart Math Facts Review
UberSmart Math Facts is a downloadable program for kids in K-6 to help them learn their math facts.  At the lower level, children can learn with dot cards (that look like dominoes).  We have not used that level though I plan to start using it for PB & J Girl (5) this year for kindergarten.

UberSmart Math Facts Review
There is also keyboard entry, though we did not use that.

UberSmart Math Facts Review
For the older ages, there are flash cards available, which is what Bookworm used.  UberSmart Math Facts are based on mastery, so the student learns only one number group at a time.  For instance, the student learns to multiply all of the ones first before moving to the twos.

For the flashcards, students can choose between a number of different activities.

There is practice, where students are given flashcards for the number group they’re studying.

Then there is focused practice where students are given flashcards just for the cards that they previously answered incorrectly.

Finally, there is test, where they can see how well they’ve mastered the facts.  After the test, the program tells the student what percentage they answered correctly.  For the facts to be considered mastered, the student must answer 100% correctly and do so within a certain time allotment.  If they get 100% but don’t do it fast enough, they will need to take the test again until they can both get 100% AND do so within the required time.  (Parents can adjust how much time the student is given to complete the test.)

Though that may sound like a lot of pressure, I like that the tests are timed.  In order for math facts to be ingrained, a student must know them automatically.  Timing the students helps assure they have the math facts down.

How We Used UberSmart Math Facts

During our six week review period, Bookworm mastered all of the addition math facts and has mastered his subtraction math facts through 8s.  (Addition and subtraction math facts go through 9 while multiplication and division math facts go all the way through the 20s, if you’d like.)

Bookworm did UberSmart Math Facts every day for 10 minutes a day.  (That is about his limit for math facts.  Even though he is doing much better mastering them thanks to this program, he still doesn’t like spending time learning math facts.)

What Are the System Requirements?

The software will only work with Windows 7, 8, Vista, or XP.  I initially had trouble installing the program, but I simply called the company for assistance, and they helped me get the program running in no time.

How Much Does UberSmart Math Facts Cost?

UberSmart Math Facts costs $24.95.  Considering the strides Bookworm has made using this program for just six weeks, I consider this a bargain.  Once you download the program, you have it for a lifetime, and you can use it for up to 8 students!  I’ll definitely be using this with PB & J Girl and Cuddle Bug.

I was one of 100 Crew members chosen to review UberSmart Math Facts.  Click on the link below to read other reviews.

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