Friday, February 18, 2011

Review: Reluctant Reader Solution by Kid Scoop

Anyone who has read my blog for very long knows that I have a couple of kids who struggle with their reading.  I'm usually pretty game to try almost anything to see if it might be the "kick" we need so that reading is no longer such an issue.

That means that when I found out I'd be reviewing something called Reluctant Reader Solution, I was obviously quite hopeful.  But in working with this product, I guess one issue became crystal clear to me.  It is more than semantics.  I don't have reluctant readers.  I have struggling readers.  My kids all want to read.  Some just find reading challenging.

This is something that I feel I have to mention up front in this review, because it clearly colors my perceptions of these materials.

So with that background in place, just what is the Reluctant Reader Solution?  Kid Scoop has created this package to help kids to want to read, to make it fun and interesting (and educational) so that kids will get in some practice every day.  The Reluctant Reader Solution package includes the following two components:
  1. 12 full color issues of Kid Scoop News online, a monthly publication intended to be done at the computer (see above)
  2. 365 Kid Scoop Worksheets, included in roughly 60 pdf files of 5-7 black and white worksheets each, meant to be printed for use (see below for one pdf file)

There are a couple basic principles behind this approach. One is that doing similar activities in two different environments (online and paper/pencil) is working different skills and will motivate children differently.

Our take:  the online newspaper is what I assumed would be a hit.  However, my kids found that a bit frustrating.  A lot of paper and pencil activities.  In the two-page spread shown above there is a dot-to-dot, a word search, and an activity to finish some drawings.  One activity on there involves putting some sequences in order, and that one is easy to do without a pencil.

What I should do is to print these out, but that uses a lot of color ink.  So, we read the articles, which we really did enjoy.  February's issue had articles on pencil carvings, authors, how pencils are made, Nellie Bly, the stock market, Abraham Lincoln, amateur/professional sports, and a bunch of individual paragraphs about a variety of things.  There was also a section on drawing a farmer and a sheep -- and "how to draw" segments are always a hit with one of my struggling readers.

The pdf files I didn't have as much hope for.  I thought they looked like busywork and that my kids would turn up their noses.  That just proves that I don't understand my children.  The idea is that the kids can do a page a day for a whole year.  What I ended up doing is to print out one pdf file (Hockey, in all the pictures) and let them pretty much do whatever they wanted in whatever order.

I thought they'd go for a couple of the activities, and I'd have to force them to do much more.  And that was the case for a couple of the topics we I chose.  But the hockey one really turned a corner... I realized that I had been choosing topics that interested them, thinking they'd enjoy doing those.  Turns out, they thought those were "too basic" (who'd have thunk it?) and they found them to be busywork.

By choosing a topic they don't already know much about, they had a blast and wanted to do everything.  Well, almost everything.

This picture shows William circling the things that are wrong with this picture -- like the hockey player with a ball, or with street shoes.  After doing that, he willingly read the intro portion of the page.

Then he flipped through and did a dot-to-dot, and a tracing activity.  He read about character.  He asked me to set a timer to see how long it would take him to find the words in the word search puzzle.

He went back and read the main article on the front page.  He pretty much avoided the writing activities.  Those I had to sit with him to get him to do... and those I was willing to adjust or change a bit so as not to overwhelm him.  One activity in the hockey pdf involves writing an alliteration about hockey... that one he actually asked to do.

We will continue to utilize these resources... the online version for as long as we have access to it, and the pdf files as well.  My kids, after having fun with a couple of these, now think the ones they already know about would be fun too.

I love the variety of topics.  Some are familiar, some far less so.  Some that William was particularly intrigued by:
  • Bigfoot  (this one has a lot of reading -- including a comic-style article on the first page)
  • Clay Play (this one is very hands-on, most of the reading involves reading instructions)
  • Fitness Fun (this one includes charts and obviously a lot of activity)
  • Heifer International (a decent amount of reading, and a money activity)
  • International Space Station (this one takes a journalism tone... who, what, when, where and why... I like this one a lot)
  • Kitchen Creativity (very hands-on and he will love this)
  • Optical Illusions (lots of activities, very little reading.  Looks very fun.)
  • S'Mores (a mystery approach, with a lot more reading than I would have expected given the title)
  • Solar Snacks (hands-on, with a fair amount of reading.  I like this one a lot too.)
  • Toys for Tots (lots of reading and some interesting activities)
  • Veteran's Day (another fairly reading-heavy issue taking a journalism approach)
Reluctant Reader Solution is available for $97.  There are other cool things to check out at their website as well.

You can check out what my fellow crew-mates have to say about this program at:

Any questions? I'd love to know what you would want to know in deciding whether or not this is something you want to purchase.

Disclaimer:  As part of the TOS Homeschool Review Crew, I did receive complimentary products from Kid Scoop.  The fact that I received complimentary products does not guarantee a favorable review.  It does guarantee a review. A fair review. But I am not going to praise something unless I think it deserves the praise.  If I don't like it, you'll hear that.  And hopefully with enough detail as to why so you can decide for yourself if what I hate about it makes it perfect for your family.  For more about my take on reviews, visit my blog post here.


Rodna said...

Nice review Debra.

Debra said...


I've read a few other reviews today, and I've been wondering if I was reviewing the same product as some of them...

I think I need to go read reviews of people I *know* instead. So maybe I'll go read yours, Rodna. :)