I’m happy to be writing this post as part of sponsored series by the wonderful educational game, Ooka Island.
The only thing that could make me happier than seeing my son reading anywhere and everywhere is if my daughters would join him.
“Oh, he’s such a bright kid. He’ll pick it up in no time.”
“They all learn at their own pace. I’m sure there’s nothing to worry about.”
“My son’s just such an early reader, but I wish he could draw like your guy!”
These are all things I used to say to other parents when I was a smug know-it-all. Because my first kid essentially taught himself to read at age four and was flying through chapter books by age six. It didn’t mean he was smarter than other kids, I’d say. They mostly all catch up in the end (don’t they?).
But make no mistake about it. I was pleased. Oh, was I ever pleased.
Except now I’m on the receiving end of that same smug reassurance. “Oh, she’s so smart.” “It’s the French Immersion. None of them are strong readers.” “Don’t you know they don’t even start teaching kids to read until they’re seven in Sweden?”
Relax, they tell me. She’ll get there.
Of course, I can’t relax; not when my gut tells me something is wrong. (And it was, actually. My second born was recently diagnosed with an eye muscle imbalance which makes focusing on text more challenging for her.)
There are lots of reasons kids might have trouble learning to read, from vision problems to learning disabilities to simply needing more time to figure it out. But none of that changes the fact that reading is the number one most important thing. I love that we live in a time where there are resources and technologies available to help students who struggle with reading keep up with their learning. Those are wonderful and valuable tools, but they do not replace reading.
Being able to read easily opens up new worlds of learning through books and articles. It opens up new worlds of the imagination through novels and stories. Reading is the foundation for good writing and communication skills. Reading is not just about getting good grades and a landing a successful job (though it will help with both of those things too). A love of reading will enrich your entire life. I don’t mess around when it comes to reading.
So now, as my daughter starts grade two, I am watching carefully and pushing even more carefully (because this kid does not respond well to pressure) to make sure we have this reading thing in the bag by the end of the year. If we’re still not up to speed by then, that’s when I will start looking into tutors and programs to give us extra support.
But hopefully I won’t have to shell out the big dollars for private tutors because we are trying an amazing educational game that has just launched in the App Store called Ooka Island. I am honestly so excited about this program.
Ooka Island has been carefully developed with 25 years of research and uses methods that are proven to help kids become confident readers. These guys know what they are doing. It adapts to your own child’s progress and adjusts the program to match their skill levels. Weekly progress reports in your inbox keep parents in the loop without having to hover over their shoulders. (Because dinner’s not going to cook itself, right?) But it’s also fun and the kids can’t get enough of it.
Ooka Island is for kids between four and seven years old, so I’m actually using it with both my girls right now. It’s kind of amazing how after only a couple weeks the program has already jumped my seven-year-old up to where she needs to be while my four-year-old works away at her own pace. We’ve only just begun, but I’ve already seen a big jump in my seven-year-old’s confidence with reading when we sit down with a book together.
Both my girls can’t get enough of the game. The Ooka Island team recommends 30 minutes of play, three times a week, for optimal learning which sounds about right to me. But it’s so fun that the program still sells like a game. I use it as a reward for finishing homework or tidying up and then feel even better because I know they are learning. Bwahahaha.
Subscriptions to Ooka Island are only $11.99 a month or $99 a year and you get to try the first level for free. That sounds totally worth it to me compared to the cost of a private tutor or, worse, the cost of not becoming a confident reader at all.
This is the first post in a three-part series sponsored by Ooka Island. Follow along to see what a difference it makes for my little readers.