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.
MaxScholar offers a variety of activities for students to improve reading skills with their MaxScholar Orton-Gillingham Software. I was provided a six-month membership to use with up to five students. I used MaxScholar with two of my boys who are learning to read. Keep reading to see how we used MaxScholar and if the program could help improve your child’s reading skills.
What is MaxScholar?
MaxScholar is an online computer program that focuses on reading using an Orton Gillingham approach. The program can be used for homeschooling multiple children or used in a classroom setting. As the teacher, your login has all the settings along with helpful reading material and lesson guides. The program works with a regular computer and it also worked fine on my iPad.
The program has three parts: MaxPhonics, MaxReading, and MaxWords. I mostly used MaxPhonics but the MaxWords helps with vocab and syllables while the MaxReading helps reading skills and reading comprehension and also vocabulary.
Here is an example of a text for the MaxReading part. The student highlights different parts of the text as instructed.
Here is an example of the MaxWords module options. You can see the student can practice spelling rules, learn about Prefixes and suffixes, and learn about Greek and Latin roots for words. The Clover button allows the student to learn and practice the six types of syllables.
How we used it
So I have two boys learning to read. The older of the two has struggled to read for a while so I looked through the MaxReading and decided he really needed to work on his phonics skills with MaxPhonics. Since I know what level he is at I went into his student settings and enabled the phonics level I wanted him to work on. The picture below shows the different settings I changed. I turned off the placement test and gave him access to MaxPhonics by selecting override of the placement test. Then I also selected modules for him to work on blends.
This is what it looks like on his login. Module 3 Blends is unlocked.
Once I got his student settings right I had him log in to MaxScholar and work on his phonics. The picture below shows one of the parts of the lesson where the student has to choose which picture starts with the Blend sound being studied.
For the Blends, each lesson presented a new blend and how it sounded. Then there is practice for writing the blend along with words that use the blend. There is a video of someone making the sound for each blend and the audio to go along with the sound. This really helps my son know how to form the sound with his mouth by being able to watch someone else make the sound. At the end of the lesson, there is a quiz to determine if he has mastered the blend. Each module is pretty easy and my son did not get bored or tired of working on the module. Sometimes I even had him do two different Blends in a day.
My younger boy is at the beginning stage of reading. He knows most of his letter sounds and can read simple words. I initially had him start the placement test (which is the default for MaxPhonics) however after a while I realized he already knew all the test questions and I didn’t see the need for him to keep testing. I went in with the teacher setting and unlocked the phonics stage that I thought he was at. I put his settings on Module 2 which has constants and short vowels. I selected where I thought he should start. Pretty soon the program was having him work on sound blending.
There were also games to play however some of the games my boys were not ready since they were still in the early stages of reading. The only game they could really play without a lot of help was the Memory Game.
Overall I really like the MaxPhonics part of MaxScholar. The lessons were not boring and I felt like my son learned the sounds he went through. I like how the sound blending was presented. It seemed to make it easier for my son with auditory processing issues. It was also helpful for my son that each lesson had a video of someone sounding out the new sound/blend and that really helps him connect the auditory sound with lip movements.
I did not feel like my sons were ready for MaxReading. The initial lessons were just pictures and questions about the pictures and the reading sections seemed like they were for those reading well. Maybe there were some sections that would have been appropriate but I felt like my sons needed the MaxPhonics practice more than the reading so that’s what we used. The MaxPhonics was what I really wanted to focus on so they will become good readers.
I would recommend using MaxScholar with the iPad over a laptop if possible. My sons found the letter tracing on the iPad easier than with the trackpad on the laptop. The iPad is also portable so your child can take it to a quiet part of the house so they can concentrate on the letter sounds. The only downside to the program with the iPad is that you will need internet access.