I have six kids and have taught five of them to read, so I have used tons of reading programs in my homeschooling years and I was eager to try Reading Unlocked with my 7 year old son, Titus. I received a 12-month subscription to Reading Unlocked, which is normally $24.99 per month.
Titus is already reading very well for his age, but his spelling still needs work! One of the unique things about Reading Unlocked is that is combines reading and spelling. Most words are taught phonetically, while a few of the "tricky" words are taught like sight words. The other great thing about Reading Unlocked is that it only takes around ten minutes a day! As a big proponent of short lessons, I was very impressed by this. There are three levels in this program, and you can choose which level your child begins with. Level one starts at the very beginning, teaching letters and sounds. We started on the third level, since Titus already knows his letters and sounds and is a pretty confident reader.
I'm going to share a few of things we enjoyed about Reading Unlocked. First of all, the variety of activities in each lesson is great. There are rhyming activities, spelling activities, sight word practice, and more. The type of activity also varied - sometimes your child is matching the word to the picture, sometimes he is moving around "letter tiles" to spell a word, and sometimes he will read a list of words from the screen. Titus enjoyed the range of activities, but he also liked the fact that each lesson followed a similar pattern. It gave him a bit of confidence to know what was coming next.
At the top of each page, there is a row of dots. The dots turn purple when you have completed a portion of the lesson. As more and more dots get purple, your child knows how much more of the lesson he has left. Titus liked this feature a lot! He liked knowing when he was halfway done, and when he only had one or two dots left to be filled in!
Your child will be expected to write the spelling words for part of the lesson. I had Titus use a small dry-erase board to write the words. It helped me to see if he was remembering how to spell each sound and the sight words. There are around five phonetic words and three or four sight words to spell each lesson.
At the end of each lesson, there is a poem you will read with your child. Your child reads the words in red and you read the words in black. Titus usually tried (and succeeded) to read the entire poem by himself. The poems are mostly funny, so Titus enjoyed reading them.
When you log on, you will immediately be taken to the next lesson. If you haven't finished a previous lesson, you will be taken right back to the screen you left off on. I really liked this feature! There is no hunting around for the right lessons or trying to skip ahead in a lesson to the part you haven't finished. Also, at the end of each lesson, the screen will show you what words you learned that day, how many days you've played in the past 4 weeks, and your progress. Titus loved seeing this!
The only negative thing about this program to me is that the narrator's voice is sometimes hard to understand. There were a few instances I had to listen to the word or sound a few times and translate it for Titus. This was a bit frustrating, but definitely not that big of a deal. The customer service is amazing! Anytime I had an issue (which wasn't very often), the problem was fixed in just a few minutes. I emailed customer service when the word "or" was difficult to understand, and she fixed the word immediately by changing the narrator's voice. I was very impressed by that!