Pros: structured so parents are told EXACTLY what to do, no prep work needed
Cons: BORING, doesn't hold a child's attention, takes forever
The Bottom Line: There are so much better ways to teach a child to read that are FUN and easy as well as WAAAAY cheaper.
Looking through the supplies I see how this could teach a child to read but that would only happen if it weren't so boring it couldn't hold a 25 yr olds interest much less a 5 year olds. Kids learn through repetition, yes, but they would actually have to enjoy it enough to sit still to go through it repeatedly.
The program provides boxes for each level, in each box is contained audiocassettes that walk you through what to do and for your child to listen to plus flash cards and a workbook to use with the audiocassette. Once your child is "reading" there are short books for them to read. There are also flash cards of sight words, a poster to track their progress along with stickers to use with it and CD ROMs to use on the computer to reinforce what the child learns.
This sounds like a lot, well worth your money, right? I also thought that since it is audio and visual it would work for most types of learners. My daughter is a very visual learner. But it did not work for my daughter at all. It was too boring. For example, the first thing you start with is the flashcards and the audiocassette. You sit with your child and listen to the tape. The tape takes your through your cards, in alphabetical order. Saying the letter, letter sound and then a picture and word beginning with that sound. For example, Aa ahhh apple, as you are doing so you you look at the flashcards for that letter. The voice in my opinion is very monotonous. Not only that but you repeat that a minimum of 4 times before the tape tells you to stop and not go on until your child has mastered that. My child MAYBE would sit through it voluntarily 1 time, 2 at a good time, 3 at a good time if I bribed, called, coerced and so forth. She never once on her own sat through it more than that. Besides isn't using flashcards and just drilling children what experts say works the least? After you go through that you go through the back of the flashcards which are the same thing without the pictures and out of order. FINALLY after you master those 2 things you go to the workbook which again repeats what you just learned but shows you to go left to right for reading. This is just an example of the start, I couldn't get my daughter past that but I did go through the program and it doesn't get any better.
The included CD ROMs were not any better, my child LOVES the computer, it is a huge treat, she would even sit and just type. But these CD ROMs were so boring she not only got bored quickly but never wanted to play again, not only not ever asking again but never agreeing to again.
In the end I would have to give this a big thumbs down, learning to read CAN be fun and children learn better and quicker when they enjoy themselves. I would go for something more enjoyable first. If you want a recommendation check out my reviews for the item that worked for my older daughter and was FUN and easy (and cheap), "The Ready to Read Ready to Count Handbook" by Theresa Savage. Or what ended up working for the child I wrote about in this review. The child I TRIED to get interested in reading for MONTHS with Hooked on Phonics, learned in only a couple weeks with the Leapfrog videos.