Reviewers were recently given a one year subscription to MaxScholar Reading Intervention Programs, which was specifically created to help children with dyslexia, learning disabilities, ADHD, processing problems or who otherwise struggle with learning to read. The programs are adaptable to the child's age and needs, and are based on well-known methods like Orton-Gillingham and Lindamood-Bell Process. Obviously not all children struggle to read (mine haven't so far), but I still think the systematic, multi-sensory methods utilized can be beneficial to all students.
There are two primary levels of MaxScholar. The K-2 Program is designed with younger children in mind (approximately Pre-K to 7 years old) and develops early reading and comprehension skills with MaxPhonics and MaxReading.
MaxPhonics is for children who are learning to read or need extra attention in this area. Using the Orton-Gillingham approach, it teaches phonemic awareness, phonics, reading of words and fluency, and writing. It has "worlds" so children can focus on different areas such as letters, blends or digraphs, and teaches with videos, drill and practice and games that help reinforce the concepts. There is a pretest, though I found some of the questions or the answer choices very ambiguous and I do not suggest allowing children to take the test alone.
MaxReading is a multi-sensory reading comprehension program. It contains high-interest passage to help students learn the concepts of highlighting, summarizing and outlining text. There are thirteen levels, and each one has several multi-chapter books. There is a read-aloud feature as well.
The other level offered is MaxGuru, which includes not only the MaxPhonics and MaxReading as discussed above, but several other learning options.
MaxWords - Vocabulary expansion through spelling, prefixes, suffixes, and Latin and Greek Roots
Max Music - Utilizes music and games to engage children in reading and work on memory, recognition and auditory skills. Most of the artists are pretty mainstream, so this will be a plus to children who enjoy this music, though not so much for families who don't allow this type of music. Definitely use your discretion.
MaxVocab - MaxScholar's dictionary and vocabulary games to compliment MaxReading
MaxPlaces - Learn about places around the world and work on reading comprehension at the same time. Perfect for your geography/culture lover!
MaxBio - Biographies of people from around the world are written in a chronological fashion by major time periods in that person's life. You can definitely see the pop culture influence here. Entertainers, Hip Hop Artists and Star Athletes are three of the seven categories, with Old School Musicians relegated to a separate category. Famous Men and Amazing Women were still filled with entertainers (Angelina Jolie) and don't forget Mark Zukerberg under Business.
Overall, this is a very interesting program! I did have some trouble hearing/distinguishing some of their audio in the phonics section, but I think if parents (or teachers/tutors) are present it shouldn't be an issue. Because MaxGuru offers so many ways to practice reading and comprehensions skills, I think most children can find a section that appeals to their interests and benefit from the exercises. Even though the program originally targeted children who need extra attention with reading, as I said originally, I think others can benefit too. It can be used as a supplement to most any reading curriculum, for both homeschoolers and traditionally schooled students. It is also a good option for a summer reading program to help prevent that "summer loss" that happens for so many children. Children who learn well with auditory-visual stimulation and those who enjoy learning on the computer are likely to thrive with MaxScholar.
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