Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review of Essential Skills Advantage

Essential Skills Advantage Review
Essential Skills Advantage is one of those reviews that I saw upcoming and I started praying to get it. For such an official sounding name it's kind of hard to figure out what this program is until you go to the website and start looking around. Once you do, though, I can guarantee that you'll find something you want to do with your kids!

Officially, Essential Skills Advantage (ESA) is for grades K-6, but there is a ton of material on the site that can easily be used with kids both younger and older, depending on where your child is academically. The best way to see what is available on ESA is to look at the page where the Learning Modules are broken down by grade. For example, clicking on Grade 4 will show you all of the Reading and Language skills for that grade. As you can see, there are over 1,000 in the areas of vocabulary, reading comprehension, spelling, grammar, and creative writing. Best of all, learning the skills is so fun that kids don't even feel like they are working or doing school. In fact, ever since we received our subscription, this is how I have seen my twins (9):

They don't want to do anything except work on ESA!

When you as a parent sign on to ESA, your child chooses his activity. Best of all, one child's subscription gives him access to all of the activities, so if he is more advanced in reading comprehension than spelling, that's okay! He can do whichever level works best for him.

After selecting the activity, the child is prompted with his own sign-in screen. This is the only part of the process that I find slightly onerous, but I understand why it is necessary, as the program keeps meticulous track of each child's progress (as seen by the stars in the screenshot below): 

This screen shot shows the overall progress of Mary-Catherine through the silent letters portion of Spell Master 5 (see the stars under each section). It's a great way for me to see at a glance how far along she is.

Here's a typical example of a grammar activity (the adjectives are listed on the right side - they didn't make it into the picture):

In terms of parental oversight, ESA has you covered. On the parent screen, you can see every activity your child has done, right down to how long it has taken her to complete each activity. This is just a small sample:

When Mary-Catherine saw that I was writing this review, she spontaneously burst out with, "ESA is so fun!" Hence, I figured I would let her have her say.

Mary-Catherine (9) on ESA: "ESA is the best! It's really fun, but you also learn. I like the new spelling lists that they give you. I couldn't spell atmosphere, but now I can. After you learn the spelling words, they stay drilled in your head."

She was not exaggerating - she (and Michael, too) does love the spelling. It is where she has spent the majority of her time, although both twins have also delved into Reading Comprehension. At some point, I will want them to spend more time with Reading Comprehension, but for now I am happy to have both of them focus on spelling. We don't have a regular spelling program for them currently, and ESA fits the bill perfectly.

ESA is a great deal regularly at $9.99, but it just recently became an unbeatable deal. For a limited time, you can use the code TOS50 to knock that price down to just $4.99/month per student for premium access (what I reviewed) to Essential Skills Advantage. THAT PRICE WILL BE GOOD FOR THE LIFE OF YOUR SUBSCRIPTION! If you don't want to commit to spending the money, I have even more great news. You can still subscribe to ESA -- FOR FREE (please forgive all the caps, but this is a great program, and I'm so glad that it is affordable for everyone on some level!)! By going to this website http://www.esalearning.com/, you can sign up for the free version of ESA. Rest assured, your kids will see no advertising. It is only the parent portal that is different in this version. You have nothing to lose (I know I sound like a commercial, but my twins have been using this program almost every day, and if you could hear them, they are the ones who really sound like a commercial!).

I had two 9 year-olds using this program. To read about kids of other ages who used it, be sure to click the banner below!

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