We recently had the opportunity to review the Complete Home Learning Suite from Essential Skills Advantage. Essential Skills Advantage is an online program that offers the opportunity for students in grades 1-6 to practice some of these basic, standardized skills. We received a one year membership for two students.
Essential Skills AdvantageEssential Skills Advantage- or ESA- is an online program that is designed to help students practice basic skills. The activities have been developed by educators and are presented to the kids with minimal distractions so that kids can focus on the skill being reviewed. The programs that ESA offers can be used with homeschooled kids or as a supplement with kids from any traditional school setting.
Complete Home Learning SuiteThe Complete Home Learning Suite offers online curriculum for grades K-6. There are activities in these subjects:
- Reading activities for grades K-6
- Language and Grammar Activities for grades K-6
- Math activities for grades K-6
- Science activities for grades K-3
- Geography activities for grades 4-6
Pros and Cons
- I like an online program. It makes it easy for me to allow the girls to work independently.
- I like that the program doesn't have lots of bells and whistles. The activities are pretty straightforward without lots of animation or graphics to distract.
- I like having some standardized skills practice that lets me know the girls aren't missing out on basic concepts that might be falling through the cracks of our regular curriculum.
- Many of the questions in the geography section and the other sections I scanned seemed really basic and easy. We would come across a few harder sections where the girls had to stop and think and figure out, but many of the activities were ones they could breeze through. In the geography that we used and in many of the other areas I looked at, the 5th and 6th grade activities were virtually the same. This makes me wonder if this is really an effective practice up through 6th grade or if it is just better used with younger kids.
- Not having the correct answer come up was very frustrating for the girls. I noticed when I scanned other areas that the correct answer was given. But for their geography exercises it wasn't. The problem with this is that, because the program isn't teaching anything and it is just skills practice, the activity became a matter of guessing. And sometimes even I couldn't figure out exactly what they were looking for in the answer. With no answer key and no correct answers being given, this meant that not much was learned.
- Figuring out what the program was looking for and how to enter an answer was sometimes very confusing. Even after listening to the instructions multiple times, it was difficult sometimes to figure out how they wanted the answer given because it wasn't very intuitive. For example, in the geography, there is a section on coordinates. There is a grid with various school items on it. The spoken directions say that the students are to enter the coordinates that are covered by each item. None of us could ever figure out how to do this to get the answers correct. I tried. They each tried. I tried some more. Some we managed to get right, but it was a matter of guessing, and we never could get them all correct.
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