MaxScholar: Multisensory Reading Intervention Programs for Children {Review}

In moving through my son's journey to learn how to read, I am always welcoming in new and inventive ways to approach his reading lessons. Recently, we received a twelve month subscription to the Reading Intervention Programs from MaxScholar, and have been using the included learning activities and drills to complement my son's reading lessons.

Based on the Orton-Gillingham method, each lesson offers a multisensory approach to learning how to read. Students will receive a combination of visual, auditory, and tactile activities. This makes the program perfect for all different kinds of learners. So whether your child is a visual learner or leans more on the auditory or kinesthetic side of learning, they'll be able to learn phonics, phonemic awareness, reading fluency, and even writing while using MaxScholar.

A subscription to the Reading Intervention Programs from MaxScholar offers parents and students access to multiple areas, including:

  • MaxPhonics: Perfect for younger children, because it introduces letters, phonetic sounds, as well as blends and digraphs in order to put together complete words. 

  • MaxReading: Helps students learn effective reading comprehension strategies. Emphasis is put on helping young readers learn how to focus and retain information.

  • MaxWords: Offers activities to help build vocabulary and spelling. Topics include learning word prefixes, suffixes, syllables, as well as a Greek and Latin roots.

  • MaxMusic: Offers fun music related learning to help students practice memory, recognition, and auditory skills.

  • MaxVocab: Includes thousands of definitions and interactive games to help expand vocabulary.

  • MaxPlaces: Uses fun geography related activities to help students practice their reading comprehension skills.

  • MaxBios: Students can practice their reading comprehension skills while also learning about famous people from both the past and present.

When you create a MaxScholar account, you will receive separate logins one for the teacher/parent and another for the student. Once everything is set up, the first step in beginning the program is to have each student take a pretest to help gauge where they should be placed. A pretest is offered for the MaxPhonics, MaxReading, and MaxWords portions of the program. The bonus of having a pretest feature is that it gives you and your student a better idea on where they should start in the program. Of course, as parents, we know our own children the best, so a student's ultimate placement after the pretest doesn't mean that they're stuck in that level. If you or your child feels as though something is too difficult or too easy, you can always go back or forward in the lessons. There is even an option in the teacher's dashboard to turn off the pretest if desired. The flexibility in this program is something that I greatly appreciated, and the option to move around in various levels has proven to be helpful for us, which I will explain a little later on.

As for the technological side, the company advises that the program be used with the Chrome browser. We are not Chrome users, so we did have a bit of trouble through some areas of the lessons while using our computers. Some of the issues predominately had to do with the program not responding after clicking on certain images to answer questions in the activities, as well as the pretest areas. This would have to be the one caveat that we had experienced. I much prefer to not have to install additional browsers that we wouldn't typically use. In order for my son to be able to work through the program, I did, however, make an exception on an older tablet that we own. In the future, it would be wonderful to see the company expand their browser capabilities to more than just one option.

While we were able to peruse the different areas of the MaxScholar program, my son has been spending most of his time in the MaxPhonics area. I had originally anticipated him jumping on over to regularly work on the MaxReading program, but truth be told, many parts of this portion were a bit more advanced for his current reading level. A lot of the reading portions had large paragraphs and dealt with picking out various parts of sentences, main ideas, and topics. Right now, we're focusing on the simple reading areas such as knowing how to read full words and small sentences. With that being said, we did peruse an area in MaxReading that he was able to work through. This area involves viewing an image and all of its details, followed by a series of questions about the image. The drills involved in this section help build up on a child's observation and recognition skills.

MaxPhonics has been the main area that my son has been working through. It's divided into four different modules:

  • Module 1: Pre-K (focuses on consonants and short vowels)
  • Module 2: Alphabet (also focuses on consonants and short vowels)
  • Module 3: Blends (focuses on consonant blends)
  • Module 4: Digraphs (focuses on digraphs and trigraphs)

If you have a very young child who has yet to even begin to learn their letters or sound them out, then the Pre-K module is a great place for them to start, since it goes over all of the letters in the English alphabet, as well as how to sound them out. We personally had to find a happy medium for my son, since he's been proficient in his letters for some years now. Thanks to the flexibility of the program, I was able to manually move him up to some of the more advanced modules that focus on blends and digraphs .

While my son had already been working on reading full words and short sentences, I felt it was really important for him to grasp the sounds of combining certain letters. Digraphs and trigraphs can be quite tricky for young children. For example, take sounding out ph–my son already knows how to sound out p, h, and f, but now he is being taught that putting the letters p and h together can produce the same sound as f. Yes, the English language can be funny like that! Needless to say, I definitely appreciate the activities included in this module, since they've been helping my son put together the letter/sound concepts that he's been originally learning.

We perused a little bit of the other areas, including the MaxMusic section. I do like the overall concept of incorporating something fun like music into a reading comprehension lesson. I did find a lot of current secular artists on there, many of which we don't really listen to for personal reasons. With that being said, I was happy to see a few old favorites, such as Louis Armstrong.

While we have yet to work through the activities in both MaxPlaces and MaxBios, we did browse through them, as well. I like the fact that students can practice their reading comprehension skills while also learning about geographical places and various individuals throughout history (even Mozart!). This will prove to be lots of fun when my son is ready to tackle the lessons.

It's safe to say that my son's favorite area, so far, is MaxPhonics. He is able to practice his letter blends and digraph skills to make sense of the words that he's already learning from other reading curriculum we've been using. The activity drills are engaging as they sound off the digraphs and then ask the student to do the same. You also have the ability to move forward and backwards in the drills. So for instance, if I want my son to get additional practice on his writing skills, I can have him go back to redo a previous tactile activity simply by clicking the back arrow 

Another handy feature that I like is the ability to run individual reports to track a student's progress throughout the program:

The program is also flexible in how you schedule your child's lessons. My son typically works on his drills three to four days a week. While we like to finish a drill in one sitting, there are times when we need to unplug and go do something else mid lesson. If there is an unusual circumstance when we have to do this, I like that the program restarts right where my son has left off, so he's not locked into redoing an activity that he's already completed.

Overall, my son has been enjoying incorporating the MaxScholar program into his current reading lessons. I personally enjoy that it adds a little something extra to other curriculum we're using. It's also nice to have the multiple components (MaxReading, MaxWords, MaxPlaces, etc.) available, which he will be able to eventually grow into as he progresses through more advanced reading levels.

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Reading Intervention Programs {MaxScholar Reviews}

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