Review: Reading Unlocked (Online Phonics Program)

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Today we are taking a detailed look into the Reading Unlocked program. This structured phonics program was designed to teach your children how to read or help younger students improve their skills. By working for 10 minutes each day, your child can learn how to read and write with confidence. We received a 12-month subscription to the Reading Unlocked website for our daughter, Princess.

Product Description:
Reading Unlocked is an online program created to teach reading skills via their trademark Simplified Phonics™ method. This method was built based on the familiar Orton-Gillingham method that teaches children to read by blending and writing words almost immediately. There are 100 lessons within this program and each takes approximately 10 to 15 minutes to complete. The program can only be operated on a tablet and it must be turned horizontally to function.

Each lesson begins with the introduction of the letter sound or blended sound of the day. For example, beginners start their lessons with three-letter and three-sound words like cat. They are taught how each letter or group of letters is pronounced and how to blend them into words. From there your child is taken through a series of activities that provide opportunities to practice the sound, hear it at the beginning of the word, and compare it to similar-sounding words. Next, they practice sounding out and spelling words which are paired with pictures so they have a clear understanding of the definition. Each lesson also includes writing practice ends with a poem for you to read with your child.

Our Routine & Final Thoughts
We use this program awesome three to five times a week during our review period. Our baby girl Princess has been interested in reading for quite some time and we decided to use this program solely with her to increase her reading skills. Prior to this, she did know her alphabet, all letter sounds, and a few three-letter words. Per the program recommendations, I sat with her through all of the lessons and made sure that she had paper and a pencil to complete the writing portion. We tried this program on the iPad using the safari, Firefox, and Chrome browsers. Each of the browsers operated fine with the website and we did not have any issues of needing to refresh or restart the program.

We liked that Reading Unlocked has a clear, clean learning view on the website without any distractions. Some children’s programs add music or goofy graphics in order to entice the kids. However, I’ve actually found that when learning reading those actually deter them from retaining the information. I also appreciated that writing practice was provided with every lesson. Their approach was easy and presented in a quick yet fun way so my daughter enjoyed it.

There are a few cons that we experienced with this program and the way that it operated for us. There were times that my daughter was logged in and would complete the program but it would not show that her work was done for the day. We also had issues where she would accidentally hit the top right corner for settings and it would completely erase all of her progress. This happened to us on five different occasions and she had to redo each of the assignments. This was very frustrating to her and after the last time, she didn’t want to use this program anymore.

Next, there are a variety of voices that provide directions which were quite confusing for my daughter. Each voice may say only one or two words so some things were hard to understand. I definitely suggest using the same male or female voice for the complete directions. There were also a few times when the accents would cause confusion during vocabulary activities. For example, it would repeat “cot” and “caught” but the accent made it difficult to choose the correct option. Finally, parents’ ability to access information like progress reports was not available on the website. I also noted that there is no way to adjust any settings for your children. Being able to check my child’s progress and review material is extremely important to me when using reading programs. Though we did run into some issues with the overall structure and accessibility of the Reading Unlocked program, I do plan to use it once or twice a week.

**CLICK HERE** to read other reviews offered by Homeschool Crew members to see how they enjoyed this program.

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Happy homeschooling,
Ta’Neisha K.

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