For the past few weeks my son has been practicing phonics and math skills using the Complete Home Learning Suite from Essential Skills Advantage. As you know, we like to use a little online learning in our school, especially in the summer months, so we were excited to give Essentials Skills Advantage (ESA) a try. We were given a one year online subscription to the site to review.
What is Essential Skills Advantage?
Essential Skills Advantage (ESA) is an online, subscription program that is self-paced and easy to use for skill building. You can use as a stand alone program in the home learning areas or as a supplement to another program. ESA’s Complete Home Learning Suite includes access to the following areas:
Reading – K-6: Phonics and reading comprehension.
Spelling – Grades 1-6: Fun with Spelling and Spelling Stumpers.
Language & Grammar – Grades K-6: Writing fundamentals, vocabulary, grammar and creative writing.
Math – Grades K-6: Complete math, operations, and concepts.
Science – Grades K-3: Earth & space, physical and life sciences.
Geography – Grades 4-6: Map & globe skills, World, American & Canadian geography.
Students work at their own pace through the subjects chosen . Feedback is offered immediately to reinforce the skills and provide motivation. The “Marks Manager” allows parents to view student progress and print Certificates for completed units.
Here are the choices you have in ESA to work with when you log in.
Parents or the student can choose the grade level the student works in and all levels are available. Feedback is given immediately as the student works through the exercises and provides positive reinforcement to move forward or try an answer again. The “Marks Manager” gives parents the option to view a students progress in each subject, see the time spent on each subject, and even complete and print a report card.
How We Used ESA and What We Thought
Actually, we had tried it in the past and my little man really liked it so I was excited to have him use it a little more faithfully. We used the product about 4 days a week, some 3 days, and focused primarily on phonics. As he is in 1st grade, we were working in the 1st grade Phonics and Reading sections and also Math, though we were working in the 2nd grade section for Math. He primarily focused his time on ESA with math and phonics. He did try a little geography but since it is geared toward 4th grade and up, he didn’t do much there. My son used a few lesson in the Science section, available fro K-3rd but that was not his focus during this review.
My 11 year old primarily used the Geography section, since it was for 4th through 6th grade, to work on during the review period. She really enjoyed reviewing her knowledge and increasing her studies of the geography of the United States. The States and Capitals games and review were the most fun for her. She really enjoyed it. But overall, she very much enjoyed the geography choices and the Spelling Stumpers for 6th grade. These were her favorites.
Each subject has choices for grade level, which I helped my son choose based on the level I knew he would be working on. Once he tried some on one level we knew whether it was too much for him or too simple for him and could easily move up or down a level to accommodate. My daughter liked seeing what was available in other levels above and below hers.
My daughter used the Reading Comprehension and Vocabulary building for grade 6, which I thought was very thorough. There were many interested topics like Unicorns of the Seas, The World of Bats, Fireworks, and Cryptology to read about in the Reading Comprehension section. The Vocabulary section focused on such topics as Homophones, Synonyms, Antonyms, Easily Confused Words, and Figurative Language to name a few.
COMPLETE MATH is available for grades Kindergarten through 3rd and Problem Solving, Math Operations and Concepts begins in 3rd grade and goes through the 6th grade level. My son worked in Kindergarten and 1st grade math and enjoyed skipping around on the areas that his primary math program was practicing. I liked that you could see what the lessons were working on in ESA so I could choose where to have him focus. For instance, if we are working on Time, I could pick the Time module and have him work on those activities, or Addition or Subtraction or Patterns or Graphing. This made it easy to utilize this as a supplement for extra practice or a different way of presenting the materials.
I liked that the program was colorful, intuitive, easy for the kids to use independently and that the program provided positive reinforcement throughout. I also liked that the end of lesson summaries showed how many attempts the student had taken to get the current percentage on something. This is helpful when you are not sitting with the student the whole time. I have my children pause and call me if I am away from the table to show me the results at the end of a lesson. Showing the number of attempts is good because I can see if they mastered it right off or had to go back and do something again. And the use of stars throughout to show progress was easy for the kids to understand.
Overall, I think the Complete Home Learning Suite from Essential Skills Advantage was a success for both my students. I found they both enjoyed using it for the most part and that they liked being able to easily see the progress they were making through the lessons. You could certainly use this as a summer program to keep the learning going on areas that you were wanting to review or prepare and you could use it throughout the year as a stand alone in many areas or a supplement to your curriculum.
Be sure to see what the rest of the TOS Review Crew had to say about Complete Home Learning Suite from Essential Skills Advantage and how they used it in their homeschool by clicking the banner below. And visit them online and on social media.
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