Using HOMER for Online Reading Practice

Legal disclaimer: I was compensated for my time in writing this review. The opinions are honest, and I was not required to post a positive review. That being said, I’m incredibly picky about what I choose to review and requested this opportunity because I wanted to use this material with my family.

I love reading with my kids, and I love listening to them practice reading as well, but sometimes… well, sometimes my kids are actually better off practicing without me constantly looking over their shoulders.

We’re a very low-tech family. In fact, we have a screen-free morning policy, but sometimes, in the middle of the afternoon, it’s a good time to have a break, and give our kids time to practice some of their skills on their own.

We’ve tried a number of different reading apps over the years, some paid, and some free, and right now my 6 year olds are using HOMER for their reading practice. We’ve been using it for about a month now, and it’s been a good addition to our homeschool toolbox.

two girls playing a CVC reading game

HOMER Reading as a Learning Tool

When I look for an app for my kids, I’m looking for something that is flexible, that grows with them, and can be adapted to their level and interests. Yes, the app should be fun and engaging, but some apps go over the top in their “gamifying” of the learning experience, and my kids learn how to jump through the hoops to get to their “prize” without actually learning anything. HOMER is different. The games are fun, and there are a number of options, but the reward is the game itself. I like that.

Also, it’s flexible. The “practice” section is full of helpful resources, from sight word practice to early readers and, my girls’ favorite: stories. They have modern classics, like “Is Your Mama a Llama”, “Harold and the Purple Crayon”, and “Hi! Fly Guy” as illustrated storybooks that my girls can follow along with, karaoke-style.

The Features and Benefits of HOMER Reading for Preschool and Kindergarten

These, and so many of the other activities, are organized by interest, and when we signed up, I had a chance to select my girls’ interests, as well as choosing the appropriate level for them to begin. They have a diagnostic tool to find a child’s appropriate starting point:

  • letter identification and upper/lower case matching
  • letter sounds
  • rhyming word recognition
  • first sound identification
  • simple CVC (consonant vowel consonant) word decoding
  • simple CVC word spelling

Note: if your child is already reading fluently, this is NOT the app for them. The target age group is preschool and kindergarten, both in design and skills practiced. 

I like that HOMER doesn’t go too quickly. It’s methodical and logical. The lessons are short and manageable, and it’s easy to take a break and pick up later without losing progress. There are review games and other opportunities for reinforcement. That’s what my girls need – time for the things that have been hard to become easy, and the way that those things become easy is through repetition.

two girls playing a CVC reading game

Also, I should note that HOMER is ad-free, and the content is very child-appropriate. I also discovered that, as part of the parent tools, parents can customize what stories and themes are acceptable for their children, so if your family chooses not to celebrate holidays, or if “princesses” are off-limits, or whatever your family has chosen to monitor, there are ways to restrict that content.

If you’re, like me, looking for an app to supplement reading practice in your home, to improve confidence and reinforce skills, check out HOMER Reading and HOMER Stories. They have a web app as well as apps for tablets and cell phones, and they’re currently offering a 30 day free trial.

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