The twins are almost 4, and they have been avidly interested in letters and sounds for the past year. They know their upper- and lower-case alphabets, can write most of the letters, and know almost all of the sounds the letters make. They are also rabidly attentive whenever Theresa does her online reading lessons. I am of the school of thought that a child will best learn to read when he or she is ready. For these reasons, even though they're not yet four, I decided to try them on the Headsprout free trial.
They first started with the "Using the Mouse" primer, which teaches them to manipulate the cursor and follow simple instructions. Then it was on to the free first three lessons. The early lessons are very slow-paced, and I thought that the first three lessons would take them at least a week.
I was wrong. They tore through them in about a day-and-a-half, and then they excitedly asked for more. So I caved and purchased them a subscription (on the payment plan). It's not exactly cheap, but to my way of thinking, the Headsprout lessons can teach them more consistently than I can. I started using it with Clare in March the year the twins were born, and she was reading independently by September.
They are very excited to have their own "school" to do. I observe and guide while they do the online lessons, then we review the new sounds later. Headsprout also offers printable flash cards for review, and leveled readers so they can
show off practice their new skills offline.
Theresa also has a subscription, but she dawdles and complains about it and is only on Episode 15. The twins just finished Episode 6. At this pace, the they will be reading before Theresa is, and possibly before their fourth birthday.