DISCLAIMER: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew
For the last few weeks, we have been using the LightSail for Homeschoolers Premium Subscription with Ashleigh to help improve her reading ability.
LightSail offers instruction to help strengthen reading, writing, vocabulary, and fluency for grades preschool through high school. The program is Lexile driven, meaning that it uses the Lexile scale to match books and vocabulary to math the child's current reading level and then provides activities that help to raise their level as they read books and answer questions.
What Is LightSail for Homeschoolers
LightSail is an online program that focuses on reading, comprehension, vocabulary and fluency. Students are either assigned books (by the parent) or if the parent opts, can be given access to the full library of available books in the LightSail library. There are over 12,000 books available with the LightSail Premium subscription (LightSail Standard library contains half that amount) that cover a wide variety of subjects such as science, history, non fiction, fiction and more. Books in Spanish are also available for ESL learners (or could also be used for students who are learning Spanish and looking for extra practice). These library texts range from grades K-12 and cover a
wide range of Lexile measures. Audiobooks are also available for many selections that give students who are struggling with reading an option to listen to the story while reading and following alone with the book.
These texts are embedded with assessments and cover a variety of subject matter. Once a book is selected, it is uploaded to the students account so they can begin reading it. As the student reads the book, different questions are presented. These questions can be comprehensive, asking about something going on in the story, or they can ask about what the author is trying to get across to the reader. Other activities might ask the student to fill in a missing word that has been omitted from the sentence. If the student answers the question wrong, the answer they selected turns red and the correct answer is colored green for them to review. These activities are designed to improve comprehension, recognize main points of the story, and help build and improve vocabulary while the student reads. As student ability grows, LightSail tracks achievement and updates the selections in each reader’s library – that way, students are always reading just right texts.
Another portion of the LightSail program includes writing. Some books have writing assignments that are attached with them as part of the LightSail for Homeschoolers. While we have not used the writing sections of the program yet, books with available writing assignments are noted in the library so that parents can know if these types of activities are available for the book they are selecting. Parents can also go to the writing section of the Dashboard and find writing activities in that section, such as writing book reports and taking notes.
LightSail for Homeschoolers offers different subscription tiers, including those only for World Books as well as the Premium Subscription and the Standard Subscription for the LightSail program. Focusing on these last two subscription packages, both packages provide access to more than 20K educational videos, 150+ unit studies, and 13K audiobook options. However, the Premium subscription offers more than 12K books vs 6K in the standard tier, and also offers 51K+ encyclopedia articles, 10K biographies, enhanced 360* photographs, World Book timelines, World Book Maps and Atlas, World Book Behind the Headlines articles, access to quotations, and probably most importantly, support for ADHD/Dyslexia reading support for those with reading disabilities.
How We Used It
Originally, we were going to use LightSail with both Ashleigh and Garrett. However, with our current reading lessons, I am requiring the kids to read a novel independently for their classwork. This is the first time Garrett has been required to read a novel on his own as well as test weekly over what he's reading, so to avoid overwhelming him, I opted to only have Ashleigh use LightSail for this review period. We did set Garrett up with an account that we will use once he's completed his current novel.
Before Ashleigh began actually working with the program, she had to take an assessment first. This was a test that took her about 20-30 minutes where reading comprehension and her vocabulary skills were evaluated. Completion of this assessment gave us a Lexile score based on her performance. The program also gave me a scale to allow me to see where she was in comparison to grade level. She actually did well and was within the scale for her current grade level.
After she took her test, I added a few books that I thought she would enjoy in her library and then bookmarked the site for her to use on her tablet. We had no problem using the program on her tablet (albiet, the tablet loaded things a bit slower than my computer did, but that is due to her tablet, not the program) which I was glad because while initially we could use our regular Firefox browser to access the program, later it said we could only use the Chrome browser to use it. This wasn't an issue on her tablet.
She was a bit upset that a few of the options required her to read a "Power Text" first, meaning she had to read something she wasn't as interested in reading before she could read (or request to read - as I had parental approval turned on) things she was more interested in.
One lil "hickup" we had (totally my fault) was that I had logged in Ashleigh on her tablet under my sign in. This meant that she was given full access to all the books without my approval but it also meant that when she read and completed activities, it wasn't tracked and graded under her account. When I logged in to look at her scores, it simply said she hadn't read anything. She didn't notice my name up at the top instead of her own, and I didn't think to check because she was on her tablet.
However, what reading she did do, she really enjoyed. She discovered Edgar Allen Poe as there are a few selections on Lightsail and she really enjoyed his short stories. Actually, that's an understatement, as she proceeded to ask us if she could get a book of his works so she could read more than what was available.
Overall, I like the selections available, especially the selections available in the classics area. There's also a large selection of historic non fiction, such as a whole section of faith based writings. However, there was some content that I personally would not want my kids to read. One audio book selection that we decided on had a character referring to another as an "idiot" and there's also a selection of books with LGBT themes which I wouldn't feel comfortable with my kids reading. However, the variety available makes it so that even the pickiest of readers should be able to find something that will interest them and the fact that the program allows for parental approval before the child reads a particular book is helpful to weed out those that a parent might not find acceptable.
For more information about LightSail for Homeschoolers, be sure to visit their website. You can also find them on the following social media sites
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