It isn't something I talk about often but you may be surprised to learn that English was never my forte. In fact, I struggled with it when I was very young, especially when it came to reading. I dreaded book reports. I cheated on reading based fundraisers. And I even rented movies and purchased Coles Notes based on books I was "reading" in high school, all to avoid having to read more than I had to. If I could go back in time and change one thing, it would be to motivate my younger self to read. Read. Read. And read some more. Decoding was never the issue. I mastered that at a very young age. It was comprehension and vocabulary. If only there were something that could have helped me surmount that obstacle when I needed it most. Something like Ooka Island.
If there is one thing I can attest to as a teacher and as a parent, it's that reading plays a crucial role in the life of a child, not just academically but in real-world experiences as well. This is why the sooner a child learns to read, the greater his or her successes will be in school and beyond. Unfortunately, I have witnessed first-hand how the opposite can have the adverse effect. With the latest advances in technology, however, there are many ways to motivate early readers. Today children can stream their favourite videos that teach phonics or play online games that help with phonemic awareness. They can even build their vocabulary through flashcard apps and entertaining songs. But how about learning all this and more in one easy-to-use program that personalizes learning based on the child's needs? And dare we add the fun factor? That's pretty much the premise behind Ooka Island, the "coolest reading app ever" according to my son.
For the past month, my son has been testing out the Ooka Island iPad app and having so much fun playing games and unlocking new books. He thoroughly enjoys riding the virtual train through the Cave of Sounds and finding hidden sounds with the magnifying tool. But more than that, he loves succeeding and being rewarded with new e-books. And that's what I love, too. Watching him as he takes on mini challenges while building his level of confidence. It melts my heart. Because there is very little that I want more than to raise children who love to read. I want them to open their minds to amazing adventures and to experience the joys of reading without having to struggle.
Disclosure: I am participating in the Ooka Island Blogger Program and have received special perks. Any opinions expressed in this post are my own.