Toward the end of 2019 our schools were closed due to strike, our family was preparing for a winter adventure of travel and we decided that home-schooling was the best option to finish out our son's third grade year. Naturally, since we were going to be embarking on a home education journey, it made the most sense to incorporate our preschooler into the daily lessons, so I began searching and researching the tools I would need to provide them both with a proper and well-rounded education.
Then COVID happened, and as we watched schools in Chicago, and around the country, struggle with the best way to safely educate children, what was supposed to be a few months' journey in home education was extended by another full school year.
It's safe to say that I have tried a multitude of online apps and programs for my kids to supplement our school work - some free, some paid for, and none of them truly giving us what we needed, especially for our preschooler. It got to a point where I thought I was searching for something that just didn't exist and we slowly stopped using technology as much - especially for the youngest.
What I wanted to find was ONE program that:
- Covered a variety of subjects versus being dedicated to just one or two.
- Was intuitive to use and ultimately the kids could start and use the app independently.
- Introduced SEL (Social Emotional Learning) with lessons on empathy, emotions, communication, and more.
- Didn't feel like "work," was viewed as fun, and was something to look forward to playing.
- Would give a trial period that was long enough to allow us to get a taste of the programming in the way we would use it. Small doses over multiple days versus having to log in for long activity sessions to see what all there was to offer.
I was so tired of having to create a library of different programs to rotate through to cover all of these bases. Tired of tracking trial periods, log on credentials, and remembering what app taught what. Until HOMER, that is!
When our family was offered the chance to try HOMER, I was certain that it would be just like all of the others. Almost, but not quite, what I was looking for in online learning. That couldn't have been further from the case though!
First, it was incredibly simple to download, create a profile, and customize the content specific to our daughter's age, abilities, and interests. Second, it was definitely intuitive to get started because she was off and running with no help from me or her big brother. This ease of use allows me time work on something I need to accomplish, or work with our oldest on a lesson specific for him. So HOMER crossed off number 2 from my wish list, but what about the other items?
For number 1 and number 3, I quickly learned that HOMER hit a home run with these wish list items. They have created lessons in subjects such as reading and math, AND also have included creativity, critical thinking, and yup, you guessed it - Social Emotional Learning! As for number 4, finding something that our daughter was looking forward to playing, sure she was smiling and shouting "I did it!" from day one, but everything is more fun in the beginning. When nearly a week had passed and she was still asking to play HOMER I knew it was time to officially check off number 4 from my list.
Finally it comes down to number 5, the trial period. I can't stand it when a friend tells me about some great app or program, only to discover I have to pay right from the start, or the trial period is so short I barely get a feel for whether it is really something I need to invest in. This is especially true for educational programs. It is my opinion that the only way to truly evaluate something is to be able to have the time to use it as you would in real life. For me, with learning apps, that is a defined amount of time each day - somewhere between 15 and 30 minutes, depending on age. HOMER gives you a trial period of 30 days that can allow you to do just that. That is more than enough time to determine if its the right fit for you and your family.
HOMER also has some other great perks that I have really enjoyed since signing up.
- The app is great for kids from preschool to age 8 and you can create up to four customized profiles and easily switch between players.
- I receive emails letting me know what my daughter is working on, what she accomplished and other things she may enjoy exploring, but the amount is not overwhelming.
- There are links to printable worksheets and offline lessons available to me for free, plus they have created some awesome EXPLORE kits for purchase on subjects like numbers, reading and SEL. I love that there is an opportunity to help bring the lessons off of the screen and into their hands!
- NO ADS or prompts to purchase items while your child is online. That is a huge win. Frankly, I immediately delete any educational app that allows for advertising in a game for children.
If you would like to see if HOMER is a good fit for your family, then visit here to begin your 30 Day Free Trial and take advantage of their current "Back to School" special for a one year subscription!
The author was compensated for this article, but all opinions are her own.