I used this with my 9 and 10 year olds, who just finished 3rd and 4th grade respectively. While they are not struggling readers per se, they are reluctant readers, especially my 10 year old son. I recently discovered that his issue is a lack of phonics knowledge. I was hoping that MaxScholar would fill in the gaps for him.
MaxGuru was the program that we were given, and we received a subscription for two students. This gave us access to seven different sections:
MaxPhonics: starts with consonants and short vowels, then covers consonant blends, digraphs and trigraphs
MaxWords: covers syllables, spelling, prefixes and suffixes, Latin roots, and Greek roots
MaxReading: kids read stories/ articles and practice finding the topic, main idea and important details
MaxMusic: kids play word games and sequencing games with lyrics to popular songs
MaxVocab: games for practicing vocabulary
MaxPlaces: mixes geography and reading to build comprehension
MaxBios: kids read biographies of famous people and build comprehension
Each section has a "work" portion, where the kids learns and practices and a "fun" portion with games.
Each kid had their own login and their own dashboard. It was super easy for them to get on and work independently. A younger child might need more assistance, but after I told them once how it worked, they worked on their own each day. They had the ability to choose which Max topic they wanted to do and could move freely from work to fun. They had no problems navigating the site at all. The drawback to this being, I had no control over how much work they did before playing games. This, however, was not a huge drawback, since the games themselves (matching, building words, playing with words, hangman, word searches and the like) were all educational on their own.
I had my own dashboard, a parent dashboard. I could not make assignments for the kids, but I could track their logins, see where they spent their time, and what their scores are.
We spent most of our time hanging out in MaxPhonics and MaxReading, since our need was for building phonics knowledge and practicing reading. The kids would generally work a little bit and then spend a lot of time playing games. Again, I didn't mind because the games were building skills, too. Abbie preferred playing with consonant blends and Daniel enjoyed the nonfiction stories about animals and then doing the activities that helped with comprehension. I was just happy that he was happy to be spending time reading.
I do think this is a good program and I liked the following:
- it was simple for my kids to use independently
- there was a lot of reading going on
- the kids could each focus on what they were interested in
- even the games encouraged reading, playing around with words, and skill building
- I could keep track of what they were doing on the site
- there was a lot of variety in what they could do
For us, the only real drawback was that it didn't go far enough. As I said before, my kids are not struggling readers, they are just reluctant readers, so most of the phonics and reading skills offered by MaxScholar were already mastered by my two. They still enjoyed it, it was simply too easy for them. But this would be a great program for kids who struggle with early phonics, comprehension, dyslexia, or processing problems.
The kid's opinion:
Daniel: I liked it because it helped me with reading. I learned different phonograms and things about animals. I liked reading the animal stories. I liked that in the phonics one it did the sounds of the phonemes for me to guess. I would suggest this for smaller kids.
Abbie: It was fun. It was too easy. I did like playing the games. I liked typing in the phonemes when it gave the sound.