Disclosure: I received this complimentary product through the Homeschool Review Crew.
We have been reviewing LightSail for Homeschoolers and their Premium Subscription. LightSail covers reading, writing, vocabulary, and fluency. This program provides resources and instruction for preschool through high school. There is so much to this program from writing assignments and vocabulary exercises to a tremendous digital library. We focused most of our time on the digital library and reading comprehension activities.
Description of LightSailed for Homeschoolers
LightSail for Preschool
My three-year-old had a premium subscription as a preschooler. I was hoping to have him listen to audio books and flip through the pages of other digital books. Unfortunately, at the preschool level, he did not have an audio book section in his level. However, he did have a section of livestreams that have lots of great educational livestreams. My son is currently enthralled with deep sea divers and enjoyed watching a live stream of divers. There are others for different animals and other educational activities.
LightSail for Elementary
I was using this with my seven-year-old beginning reader. When I first had him start, it was too challenging for him because they wanted him to answer questions and he was not able to read the questions. Since he is such a beginning reader, I went in and turned that setting off so that he could just read along and listen to books. I think that the questions would be really beneficial to students who were a little more advanced in their reading. It would also help with comprehension. As a parent, you can set how often a child needs to read a book with questions and when they can free read.
My son loves audio books and wanted to spend most of his time listening. We loved that you could change the speed of the narration and on many books follow along in the digital book to see the words and the illustrations. He did wish that he had access to longer audio books and chapter books for longer listening. The books available to him were mostly short readers that were designed to help him follow along with the words.
LightSail for Middle Grades and High School
Neither of my older children needs reading instruction or remediation, but I gave them both the opportunity to take a look at the curriculum. I was really impressed by the quantity of books and audio books that were available. I could see this being a great resource for finding reading materials to accompany other subjects or to have access to a lot of great classics.
I appreciated the ability to set controls that worked for our family in allowing certain content and blocking other content. I was also able to specify what religious content I wanted to include. For several categories, I chose to allow them to request permission for books so that I could evaluate each book on a case-by-case basis. The way the questions occur during the text would be helpful for making sure they are understanding as they read and not waiting until the end.
What We Loved
I loved that the parental controls allowed me to filter what we thought was appropriate for each child. The controls were very specific and allowed me to be comfortable allowing them to choose their own books. I appreciated that there was a faith-based library included. I loved the variety of content available, especially for older students. The livestreams were a nice addition for the younger levels. I also appreciated that I was able to go in and adjust the requirements for each child.
What We Would Change
We struggled, especially in the beginning, to get the technology working correctly. The website does not work well in Firefox and even in Chrome it sometimes freezes up or gets hung up. This caused the program to be difficult for my seven-year-old to use independently.
I felt like it was a little challenging to get everything set-up and find the materials that we wanted to use. It did get easier as we used the program more, but I needed to be available and hands-on to help both of the younger students. The personalization which was wonderful in use did require a little extra input on my part in the beginning. It is my understanding that they are continuing to add to this program and make adjustments and I think that they issues will resolve over time.
I think there is a lot of great information and literature in this program. However, we struggled with using it with my pre-readers and beginning reader. They both needed a lot of help to utilize the program and struggled with technical issues. We did enjoy the educational videos, and reading books together. For older children who were more technologically literate and reading well, it was a bit easier to use.
I think this program would be best for a parent that wanted to work through the program with their student, students that can read on their own but need to improve their reading skills, or older students that want to read digitally. While we primarily focused on the reading portion of this subscription, other reviewers used other components of the program. Make sure to click on the graphic below to read more reviews.