I must say up front that I am a firm believer in phonics instruction. This program (although it claims to have Pattern Phonics integrated) most definitely relies on sight words. I have tried to give a fair review, but I am sure that my bias towards phonics instruction will be quite evident.
What is the BrillKids Little Reader program? According to their website it is:
“Ideal for babies and young children, Little Reader is the most effective learning system for teaching your child to read. At the heart of Little Reader is a revolutionary software system that delivers lessons in ways never before possible, making learning ENGAGING for your child, and EASY for you.”
After downloading the Beta version of this program, I opened it the first time without my children around to see what it was all about. The program is certainly easy to use. You simply see that you are on the correct lesson and then hit the play button. If you can’t make it through the entire lesson, then the program remembers your progress and will start up where you left off. If you like the idea of your child looking at words on a flashcard, then this program may be for you. If not, then you can simply skip the rest of this review. An interesting feature of the program is that you can customize the pictures that are used for the words. So, for the word “mouth” you can have the program show a picture of your mouth.
I was intrigued by the idea of Pattern Phonics, but I was never really able to figure out this compenent of the program. The words for the first lesson included: clap, wave, kick, point, laugh, eat, hair, eye, nose, ear, mouth, chin, dog, cat, horse, pig, bird, and duck. These words certainly fall into the advanced phonics categories. On subsequent days lessons there were many words that were reviewed and just a couple of new words.
Well, I then decided to show my daughter this program. She is a beginning reader and so far we have only worked on cvc words. I quickly remembered why I chose the particular reading program that I did for her. If there are pictures, then she “reads” the picture. She is also very good in the memorization department and after going through the first lesson I am not sure if she was even looking at the word or if she just memorized the word order. Although she did seem to enjoy having another program to click around in, I decided not to continue with her because I could see some of our phonics progress being eroded (ie. she wanted to start guessing at some of the words instead of sounding them out).
Next up was my son, who is 10 months old. The website states that this program can be used with babies that are only 3-6 months old and on up. My son, however, was completely uninterested; all he wanted to do was get to the mouse, keyboard, or whatever other cable he could see on the computer desk.
Pros: Different pictures are used for the same word and you have the ability to customize the pictures.
Cons: Sight reading. You really need to evaluate if this is the road that you want to go down.
Price: begins at $149
Check out what other TOS reviewers thought about this product here.
I was given the Beta version of this program for free in exchange for my honest review. I have not been compensated in any other way.