Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Holiday Gift Guide 2014: Give the gift of reading with Rosetta Stone Kids Reading

*Disclosure: I received this product to review for myself. I was not compensated in any other way and all opinions posted here are mine and mine alone. 

I love reviewing products for my blog- it's been a fun experience for both myself and my family. And on occasion, the exact right product comes along at the exact right time, to meet a need in my home. On November 13th, I got an email asking me to review a product that did exactly that.  The product in question is a new one, a kids' reading program from Rosetta Stone. It's designed to help kids ages 3-7 develop their reading skills. And I love it madly. Here's a bit about it, from a press release that I received:
ARLINGTON, VA (November 6, 2014)—Rosetta Stone Inc. (NYSE:RST), the world’s leading provider of technology-based learning solutions, today introduced a comprehensive digital literacy product designed to help young children learn to read. Created in partnership with the literacy experts at Lexia Learning—the Boston-based reading technology company Rosetta Stone acquired in 2013—Rosetta Stone® Kids Reading is designed to help children ages 3-7 get a jump-start on their education by developing core literacy skills at home. Representing the most significant move to date in Rosetta Stone’s expansion beyond language-learning and into the broader education-technology market, Rosetta Stone® Kids Reading offers U.S. consumers a fun, affordable, technology-driven learning experience to help kids gain foundational reading skills.

I have two kids in this age category and both are beginning readers. My 7-year-old son, Ethan, is a wonderful kid, but he's been struggling with academics, especially with reading.  Elementary school kids in our system learn to read with a system that ranks books from levels A-Z.  Ethan spent 95% of his kindergarten school year on the very beginning level, level A. With help from his classroom teacher, a reading specialist, a tutor and a Special Education teacher, as well as myself and my husband, he made it to level C by the end of the school year and started first grade at that level.

So, you can see that reading does not come easily to him. It became something that I dreaded doing with him in the evenings and that made him feel defeated as well. On November 13, after I replied to the email asking me to review the Rosetta Stone Kids Reading program, I downloaded it and set up my kids on two separate laptops to "play".  And they had a blast. They had no trouble figuring out what they needed to do. They loved the colorful characters and fun games.  They wanted to keep playing to earn prizes and complete levels. Every day after that, they begged me to let them use the program saying "We need to learn, Mommy!"

The program can be used by up to four kids per account, so it's perfect for families with multiple little ones learning to read.  Vivian (age 5) loves the games, but reading already comes fairly easily to her. Still, I like that she is getting reinforcement of the skills that she's learning at school with the Rosetta Stone Kids Reading program.

I got an email from Ethan's teacher yesterday informing me that he tested into level E for reading.  He was at level C two weeks ago and had been there since last April with no sign of progressing.  At our parent-teacher conference two weeks ago, his teacher was pretty sure that moving up to level E was still a while in the future. He brought home a level E book yesterday and blew through it like he had never had an issue with reading. Just under three weeks of using Rosetta Stone Kids Reading program most days, and something finally just clicked for him. He finally was finding reading fun and not so much pressure.

Books are important to me. I've always been a reader and I come from a family that loves books. Ethan loves books, but he's been stuck just looking at the pictures and begging someone else to read them to him.  And now a whole new world is open to him. He finally gets it, and I attribute much of that progress to use of the Rosetta Stone Kids' Reading program. We love it so much that when one of our laptops died last week, we went out and bought a new one, just so our kids can both be using the program at the same time.

If there's a young kid in your life who is struggling with reading, get this program.  It's a 10-level program, and you can start at whatever level is appropriate for your child's situation. It's available by monthly or yearly subscription, and you can try the first lesson of each level for free.