How do you help an aspiring writer who struggles with the basics of grammar, sentence structure, and spelling?
Today I am reviewing the Reading Horizons at Home online software. This program was developed for struggling readers ages 10 all the way up to adults. It is Orton-Gillingham based, self directed, and the version we used was entirely online.
I have long suspected that Raven (11) had dyslexic tendencies. We never had her tested because a) she could read well, and b) I wanted her to have confidence that she would develop strategies to overcome some of her struggles without being labeled.
But the idea has been at the back of my mind for some time. Her biggest issues are spelling, grammar, and punctuation.
An excerpt of her writing from 1 year ago (from her NaNoWriMo project):
They reached a sing that read, “hello your journey is ending soon mount maiden is just one day away thank you for your visit” Celia screamed in excitement, “yes yes yes only one day and i get to see my dad ye yes yes” then they all ran to another sign.It read, “well you made it this far try the other sign see how far you have” Celia said, “we don’t need to we know all ready” and they speed walked to a big empty shed.Gloria said, “wow what a big shed we could sleep here for the night it a shelter and it going to rain it looks like” so they all climbed in the shed and fell asleep.Ever one woke up at the same time to a rumble and a boom and a thud they looked out side and saw baby Marco and another baby fox playing and wrestling around then Victoria saw a female fox watching them very closely.
Don’t worry if you can’t understand it. She had trouble deciphering it later herself.
Why use Reading Horizons with a child who doesn’t struggle with reading?
While doing some research on dyslexia and kids who struggle with grasping the basics of writing, I found out a few things:
- Dyslexia is a spectrum- some kids can have mild symptoms and others can have stronger problems.
- You don’t always have to struggle with reading – people with dyslexia can sometimes read well but struggle in other areas.
- Reading Horizons doesn’t just cover phonics – it teaches grammar usage, punctuation, and gives tips about spelling.
I felt that giving Raven a program with solid phonics instruction, that was completely self directed, would be a gentle approach that would keep her confidence.
A while back she expressed her desire to improve her writing skills to me, and so I asked her if she would be willing to try Reading Horizons.
The work and progress was left completely in her hands. She chose when to work and the only guidance I gave her was on the technical side of setting things up and with helping her skip over some of the easier lessons that she was too advanced for.
After working on the program over the summer, here is what her writing looks like:
Sham looked around quickly only to find humans rushing towards them.The herd was already in the woods when he spotted Spirit being chased by a man with a rope and a tranquilizer.Sham charged the man only to find a tight rope around his neck.He reared “Spirit run!!”. Sham bucked trying to get free finally he kicked the man.The man let go of the rope Sham bolted running beside Spirit.
Not all of her improvements can be attributed to Reading Horizons, but a lot of it can. :-)
What we liked about Reading Horizons Online
Raven’s favorite feature of Reading Horizons Online was that it was completely computer-based. She could log on any time and her progress was saved.
I liked that I could see her reports instantly. I could see her passing rate and much more.
I asked Raven a few questions about her experience with the program:
- How did Reading Horizons help you with your reading/writing?
The vocab helped me to understand a lot of words and what they meant. My spelling also improved because I could figure out what letters made the sounds.
- Would you say that Reading Horizons was easy, medium, or hard?
It was not hard, so I would say medium. I understood everything but some of the lessons were very long.
I found that Raven could not stop in the middle of a lesson, and we could not find a way to skip over some of the vocab lessons that seemed to have a lot of words that she already knew.
Those were the only two issues that we experienced.
All in all, I was very pleased with the program. It was not childish, but it was not too complicated either. Everything was explained through visual and auditory cues.
It also worked with kinesthetic learners (Raven being one herself) by having them mark different phonetic sounds. They would drag symbols over to the sound in a word, such as a long vowel.
Who would benefit from the program?
An older student (ages 10 and up) who is struggling with the basics of phonetic sounds could improve their:
You can purchase the Reading Horizons Online program from the Reading Horizons At Home store.
Sign up for a free trial to experience the program first-hand!
You can also read different perspectives and testimonies of other homeschoolers who have used the program:
- Rebecca at Mom’s Mustard Seeds
- Renee at FIMBY
- Connie at Smockity Frocks
- Kris at Weird Unsocialized Homeschoolers
- Jamie at See Jamie Blog
- Kela at Pursuing What is Excellent
- Richele at Under the Golden Apple Tree
- Jenn at Daze of Adventure
- Marianne at Abundant Life
Disclaimer: I received this product for free and was compensated for my time to review it. The opinion expressed in this post is my own, and I was not required to give a positive review.