Improving Language Arts Skills with MaxScholar {A Homeschool Review Crew Review}

Disclaimer: I received a FREE copy of this product through the HOMESCHOOL REVIEW CREW in exchange for my honest review. I was not required to write a positive review nor was I compensated in any other way.

Thanks to the Homeschool Review Crew, we had a chance to review MaxScholar Orton-Gillingham Software from MaxScholar. I thought it would be a great way for the younger children to work on improving their language arts skills. 

We were given a six-month subscription which includes one teacher account and up to five student accounts. As Tabitha and Amelia used it in the past, they were not interested, so I chose to use it with just Hannah and Harold at this time. I figured it would be a great way for Harold to work on improving his reading comprehension and work on vocabulary and syllables. Hannah has been using it mainly for vocabulary.

So, what exactly is MaxScholar?

MaxScholar has multiple programs to help students work on different language arts skills. They are multi-sensory and use various research based methods. For example, the phonics is based on the Orton-Gillingham approach and the reading uses the Lindamood-Bell Reading Program. 

It consists of three main programs: MaxPhonics, MaxReading, and MaxWords. We also had access to MaxMusic, MaxVocab, MaxPlaces, and MaxBios.

MaxPhonics wasn't a program I was worried about using, as both children have been reading for years. From what I could see while exploring the MaxPhonics program, it appears that it focuses on teaching the sounds of letters, blends, and digraphs. They use visual, tactile, and auditory lessons to help the child learn the letter and blend sounds.  

MaxReading teaches reading comprehension strategies that help with focus, visualization, and retention. There are 13 levels, each of which have multi-chapter books. After reading the passage, or having the program read it, the student is to highlight the topic, main idea, and important details. Then they answer several multiple choice questions. The score is a combination of the highlighting and comprehension questions results. 

MaxWords has the student work on syllabication, spelling rules, prefixes & suffixes, plus Latin and Greek roots. 

MaxMusic allows the student to work on reading skills by reading lyrics to songs by popular artists or from movie soundtracks. They are to read the lyrics and complete challenges, such as clicking on all the verbs or filling in the gaps. 

MaxVocab helps a child improve their vocabulary through using the dictionary which contains all the words found in the MaxScholar books. The student can select a book and read through the words, their definitions, antonyms, synonyms, and sentences, and then try to come up with their own sentences. They can also play Hangman. They are to complete the word on the screen, using the hint given. They may get 5 wrong before they lose the game.

MaxPlaces allows a child to work on reading comprehension while learning about different locations around the world. They choose from 51 cities on a world map. After reading the story they can use their highlighters as they do in MaxReading to note details, then they answer reading comprehension questions. 

MaxBios also allows the student to work on reading comprehension by reading a selection, highlighting and answering questions. The child can choose to read about famous people from the following categories. 
  • Entertainment
  • Fascinating Men
  • Old School Musicians
  • Hip-Hop Artists
  • Amazing Women
  • Business
  • Star Athletes

Both children had to complete an assessment prior to starting the program, though Hannah did not have to take the phonics portion due to her age. Harold was actually not a fan of the assessment process as he struggled to hear and it wasn't responding so he was clicking multiple times and getting answers incorrect. With both the reading and the phonics he was placed quite low. I was glad I, as a parent, was able to go in to my Teacher Dashboard to adjust his level. However, it did bother me, because I wasn't sure if I was going to be putting him in the level that would be appropriate for him.

The Teacher Dashboard allows the parent/teacher to adjust the child(ren)'s levels if needed, which is a great feature, plus I was able to decide which additional programs the children had access to. 

As I mentioned, Harold has been utilizing the MaxReading and MaxWords programs. With MaxReading I kept him in a lower level just to see how he would do and to get him used to the program. I was concerned that he was scoring low, so figured I should leave him in the lower level. What I discovered was that he was struggling with the highlighting section, so it was bringing his grade down. I remembered that Amelia had not been a fan of the highlighting section as it appeared they wanted her to highlight so much information. I do not know if they changed the program, or if this is different in the lower level, but I discovered that Harold was highlighting too much. Honestly, I prefer that he is only supposed to highlight what we are calling keywords. I feel this will help him be able to focus on details better.

This is a look at how he was highlighting with the correct highlighting given by the program:

As you can see, the improper highlighting affected his score.

I talked to him about searching for important words in the sentence, instead of trying to figure out which complete sentences were important.

As you can see, he was a lot closer to what they were looking for.

I have to say, I wish the children were given some instruction on what the program is looking for when it comes to highlighting details. 

I appreciate that the child can have the story read to them or they can choose to read it themselves. And this is the same with the questions. So, whether they are visual or auditory learners, they can work on comprehension. 

Here's a look at what a child can work on in the MaxWords program. The other program Harold focused on. 

A student works on syllabication with CLOVER, Spelling Rules, Prefixes & Suffixes, Latin Roots and Greek Roots. Harold has been working in CLOVER.

Each of the letters in CLOVER stands for a different type of syllable.
  • C- Closed Syllables
  • L- Consonant -Le
  • O- Open Syllables
  • V- Vowel Teams
  • E- Vowel-Consonant-E
  • R- R-Controlled Syllables

The program will explain the definition of each kind of syllable and then list examples of words which the children are to read. They can click on the words to hear them read to them. Then they will learn the rules for each type of syllable, along with more examples. 

They then complete activities, such as choosing the correct syllable division for a list of words.

Then the child is to see how many words using the type of syllabication from the lesson they can read in one minute. The problem is, they can't click "DONE" unless they click on the Read Aloud button, and he just wants to read it himself. 

Hannah has also been working in MaxWords; however, she has been working in the prefixes section. It will give a list of prefixes, the origin, the meaning, plus an example they can click on to hear.

Then she needs to match the prefix with the definition.

Finally, she is to put the correct prefix on the word in the sentence.

 Here she is working on prefixes.

As you can see, she struggled with some of them, so I am glad they have the opportunity to go back in and redo the lessons.

She's also been spending time working in MaxVocab. She loves being able to play the Hangman game. 

All in all, I have to say, I am definitely impressed with this program and how comprehensive it is. There are so many language arts skills the children can work on. I am thrilled Harold didn't have to highlight most of the story as "important details" as Amelia had to do. MaxScholar is a wonderful program, not just for those who need reading intervention, but for parents who would like their students to improve their vocabulary and reading skills. Though I can't personally attest to the MaxPhonics portion of the program; it does appear to be a great program.

You can find MaxScholar on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

Don't forget to click on the banner below to see what my fellow Crew Mates had to say about this program. 

MaxScholar Orton-Gillingham Software {MaxScholar Reviews}