Review ~ Essential Skills Advantage

These are some of our favourite homeschool language arts games. We love to use these to supplement our lessons and for lighter days.

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Disclosure: I received a free copy of this product for review, all opinions are 100% my own. This post may contain affiliate links my full disclosure can be read here.

Earlier this summer I was trying to decide what we would use for phonics and language arts this coming year. Around that time I had the wonderful opportunity to review Essential Skills Advantage (ESA) and received a 1 year premium account for each of our children.

What Is Essential Skills Advantage?

ESA is an online interactive learning program designed for children in grades K to 6.  The learning program is made to work with children of all learning styles from visual, auditory and kinaesthetic.  For the past 10 years Essential Skills Advantage has been used in schools across North America and is now available to home users!

Using ESA

First you register and set up your parents account.  This program has two different logins, one for the parent and one for each of the children.  After your student accounts have been set up they can easily log in on their own.  The computer can save the parent login information, but the student logins are not saved.  I saved the student login URL so each of the kids could go directly to their login area and bypass the parent area. Their home screen shows all of the available grade levels and once they click on the one they want to work on their login screen pops up.

 Online Homeschool Courses

Programs offered are:

  • Complete Reading for Kindergarten

  • Complete Reading for Grade 1

  • Complete Reading for Grade 2

  • Complete Reading for Grade 3

  • Fun With Spelling 1

  • Fun With Spelling 2

  • Fun With Spelling 3

  • Reading Comprehension 4

  • Reading Comprehension 5

  • Reading Comprehension 6

  • Vocabulary Builder 4

  • Vocabulary Builder 5

  • Vocabulary Builder 6

  • Spell Master Grade 4

  • Spell Master Grade 5

  • Spell Master Grade 6

  • Grammar Grades 3-5

  • Spelling Stumpers 1-5

  • Spelling Stumpers 5-9

I'm using ESA with our children age 5, 7 (just turned 7!), 8, 10 and 12.  I decided to start them off below grade level to allow them some "fun" practice and to get used to how the program works.  My 5 and 7 year olds were the first to get started and both started with the Kindergarten level.  Dd7 absolutely LOVES this ESA program!  From the moment I turned it on for her she was all giggles and often I heard "Look Mommy I got this right!"  and "This is so much fun!"

It starts off with easier games like click on the item of clothing.  Picking out different shapes and colours.  As you progress it moves into ordering the alphabet and clicking on pictures that match a beginning and ending sounds. When a unit is finished they get a screen that shows a star with their score and a little cartoon dog dancing to some music.  This  always makes dd7 laugh.

Ds5 also enjoyed working in the K level and being younger it's a little more challenging for him.  Some of the activities he can easily do on his own, especially the earlier ones.  As the program progresses they were more challenging for him and either a big sister or myself would sit and help him when needed.

Screen shots from the Kindergarten program.

 Reading Lessons For Kindergarten
 Early Reading Skills Kindergarten
 Picture Vocabulary Skills Kindergarten
 Alphabet Practice For Kindergarten
 Picture Matching Game Kindergarten
 Animal Name Game Kindergarten
 Picture Games Kindergarten
 Homeschool Kindergarten
 Letter Matching Kindergarten

Dd's 8 and 10 I started in the Complete Reading for Grade 3.

  • Vocabulary Builder

  • Compound Words

  • Easily Confused Words

  • Figurative Language

  • Prefixes

  • Suffixes

  • Language and Grammar

  • Reading Comprehension

  • Spelling

 Reading Lessons Grade 3

They've worked through 40% of the grade 3 program in the past few weeks, and have had so much fun doing so.  Each of these sections open up into sub menus with the lessons. We decided to start at the beginning and work straight through.

 Grade 3 Suffixes Lessons

The stars under each blue tile represent the score.  When they have 3 stars they have finished the lesson unit.  A score over 80% earns a gold star anything under that is a silver star. At the bottom of the screen are numbers in little buttons to show how many pages of activities there are.  There are two sliders in the bottom right of the screen.  These show how much of the entire program they have completed and how much of their current unit has been completed.

 Grade 3 Grammar Lessons

When they are working in an activity there are small vertical bars under it.  The blue ones show questions that haven't been done yet.  If they get a question wrong it turns orange, if they get it correct it turns green.

 Grammar 3rd Grade Lessons
 Grade 3 Word Search
 Lesson Rewards

When a unit is finished they get a screen that shows a star with their score.

 Grade 6 Reading Comprehension

Our oldest dd12 is working in the Reading Comprehension Grade 6. I wasn't sure if she would enjoy this program or not since we've largely used a Charlotte Mason style program that focuses more on narration then reading comprehension questions. However dd has really been enjoying the program and has found it just the right challenge.  She often uses this program more than the 30 minutes a day that I asked of her.  Anytime I find a program that the kids want to use all the time I’m thrilled!

 6th Grade Reading Comprehension

The 6th grade program focuses on reading comprehension.  The student has a story to read, words highlighted in blue can be clicked and it will read the word to them.  This  really helps children to understand harder words they might not have read before.  After this there is a number of activities that focus on the lessons taught in that story.

 Grade 6 Spelling Games

I love how they use shape boxes to help children match and spell words!  This has been a help for my daughters visual right brain  learning style.

 6th Grade Cause and Effect Lesson
 Grade 6 Language Arts Lessons
 6th Grade Word Meanings

What Do The Kid’s Think?

Dd8 I like everything! (LOL Well that’s easy isn’t it?!)

Dd10  It’s really good.  I like that it gives me 3 chances to get a question right.  It moves at a slower pace then other programs I’ve used so I don’t feel rushed and I learn more.

Dd12 I love the spelling because it has a lot of fun activities.  I really like the reading comprehension because I like to read and it teaches me about animals and science.  My favourite activity is unscrambling the spelling words.

What Do I Think?

I have to say I truly LOVE the Essential Skills Advantage program!  It’s an easy to use independent program.  I like this because having 6 little ones I can get pretty busy.  With this program the kids can easily work on their own and only occasionally need help to understand a question.  Most of the instructions are read out loud by the program and can be repeated by clicking on the ear symbol.  Our children have been really enjoying this program and I have seen an improvement in their spelling and reading already.  They’ve logged a lot of hours using this.  I originally only asked them to use it for 20 to 30 minutes 4 days a week, however they are often asking to  use it through out the day.  It’s funny because it’s not set up as a game style I expected they wouldn’t be as interested in the program but the opposite is the case.  I think because it’s less stimulating they are enjoying it more.

I really like that children can work in different grade levels at the same time.  Maybe your child can read at a higher level then they can spell.  No problem just work at an earlier grade level in spelling or move a head if you find the work is to easy.

I also really like the parent portal area.  This area makes it easy to change your children's passwords and see what lessons they are working on also what has been completed.  It shows you how many attempts they took at the unit and how many attempts it took to obtain mastery.  It then shows their finished grade and the date the unit was last accessed.  They also offer downloadable certificates you can print and use as your child completes each unit.

ESA makes a great supplement to any K-6th language arts program!

How To Get ESA

ESA is a online subscription based program. You can subscribe to the premium Essential Skills Advantage for $9.99 per month. They offer a 14 day free trial to!

ESA is also now running a FREE version of their program, called the basic plan. It has a lot of the great content their premium plan has but is lacking some games and the record keeping. You can find out more about the basic plan here.

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