How to be a good reader

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There has been huge emphasis recently on the importance of reading with your child. But what does good reading look like and how can you best support your child to both enjoy reading and develop the skills that will help them become confident, motivated, fluent readers?

 

booksWhy is it important that children enjoy reading?

Children who read for pleasure achieve better not only in English but also across a wide range of subjects including maths.

 

open-bookWhat is good reading?

Reading is about so much more than simply decoding print, it is a multifaceted process involving word recognition, comprehension, fluency, and motivation.

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We tend to think that reading is a purely visual skill involving the ability to link letters to sounds. However, learning to read can also rely on a more complex set of underlying cognitive skills such as memory, attention and sequencing.

Zippy Shine is a reading performance app that gives children the opportunity reach their potential in reading in a fun, enjoyable and safe way. It helps children develop the complex set of skills required to become a ‘good’ reader, placing them in control of their learning.

Children learn to read so they can read to learn!


You can download Zippy Shine for 50% off on iTunes or the Google Play Store.


 

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Zippy Shine is developed by Skoolbo.

Get the facts on Summer Learning Loss and how you can beat it from home!

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You may have heard of Summer Learning Loss, the academic losses that many young people experience during the time they’re out of school over the Summer.  While there have been countless articles posted on the problem – it can be hard to know what the easiest fix is without forcing your children study over the long awaited Summer Break. Here at Skoolbo, we know how demotivating that is for your child when all they really want to do is play!

Learning through play is what Skoolbo is all about. Our highly motivational learning games are the easiest and most effective way your child can stay ahead over the Summer Break. The best part is, it’s completely free to use meaning you won’t break the bank to achieve real learning improvement.

So what is Skoolbo and what can your child get out of it?

  • Skoolbo is a learning game designed to improve the reading, maths and language skills of primary school children
  • The Skoolbo personalised learning algorithm dynamically adjusts to the ability of each child, ensuring effective learning without the need for constant teacher input
  • Maths and Reading games – over 60,000 literacy and numeracy questions
  • Language learning games with Language Dragons – learn French, Mandarin and Spanish
  • Duelbo – a motivating way to learn. Challenge friends to beat highscores
  • Parent Dashboard – providing vital information so parents can track the progress of their child’s learning outcomes.
  • Proof of improvement – Studies have shown that 94% of children master a new reading or maths skill within just 20 minutes of playing Skoolbo

 

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Let’s take a look at some important facts on Summer Learning Loss

We have put together an easy to read infographic to highlight the potential impact of Summer Learning Loss and to show why your child would benefit from playing Skoolbo at home over the Summer.

 

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Skoolbo – improving focus and a sense of personal responsibility!

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rhiannon (on the right) and her sister Niamh from Harris Primary Academy Coleraine Park in North London.
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We were contacted by the sisters’ mum Caroline who has provided us with a valuable parent’s perspective on using Skoolbo in a home environment. Of course we also wanted to find out what the girls thought of Skoolbo. Rhiannon played a very important part in assisting Team GB in last year’s London vs NYC Challenge. Harris Primary Academy finished top of the schools’ leaderboard with over 287,000 answers. You can read all about their victory in our earlier blog ‘Going for Gold!’
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Rhiannon, who was in Year 2 at the time, finished 3rd in the school which was an incredible achievement. Her mum describes her as shy but she is clearly hiding a steely determination as she put in another incredible performance in the recent Skoolbo World Cup Challenge.
Here’s what Caroline had to say:

“Skoolbo gives them an added dimension to learning where it makes it fun and the competitions appeal to their competitiveness and makes them strive to work harder. They set their alarms each morning to do extra Skoolbo before school. They then rush home to return to it once again.  When Niamh (in particular) isn’t in the competitions she likes to brush up on the languages she learnt in her old school which is French and in her after school clubs at Harris she studied Spanish.  I like the way they have become focused and self aware planning and using skills outside the programme to be able to take personal responsibility for doing well and wanting to do well.  I don’t think they could keep up the hours and dedication they put in for the competitions but by having these competitions every now and then it reinforces the learning they do at school so its an added tool for me and they never complain of being bored which is an added bonus for any parent. 

Their father is serving in the Forces. He misses us in the week so the competition is a great way for him to support them from afar and not have the usual response to the enquiry “So what did you do today?” Girls:  ” Erm, Nothing”!
Thank you Skoolbo, Thank you Amanda.”
Can the web browser version of Skoolbo improve the experience of some learners?
You will notice from the photograph that Niamh and Rhiannon are playing the 2D web browser version of Skoolbo. We were interested to know why they preferred to play in this way as although the games are the same and the data syncs whatever version is being played, it is nevertheless usually considered less exciting than the full 3D version.
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The feedback from Caroline was enlightening as she told us that both girls are dedicated to their learning and very self-motivated but find aspects of reading challenging. Whereas many children find the fast animation of the 3D version exciting and motivating, the less colourful and stimulating interface of the browser version can make it easier for some children to concentrate on the tasks. Caroline also provided some insight on how she supports her children with their learning at home.
“Rhiannon is a whizz at spelling verbally but writing and typing she finds it difficult so she calls out the spelling.”
She was also full of praise for the children’s wonderful school and teachers who are clearly doing an amazing job of helping their students fulfil their potential. She gave a special mention to Rhiannon’s teacher, the fantastic Mrs James. We’d like to echo the sentiment and take the opportunity to acknowledge the wonderful schools and teachers who are enabling learners everywhere.
As always we’d love to hear your feedback and stories of how Skoolbo works in your home or school. Please contact us to share your stories.
Email: info@skoolbo.co.uk

Tel: 020 8133 5253

Meet this summer’s high flyers!

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Today we would like to salute some individual children for their amazing efforts over the summer holiday.

We know that our brilliant Skoolbo users have been incredibly busy over the summer with trips, summer camps, swimming and sports lessons just some of the things they have been telling us about. This makes the high scores we have been seeing all the more incredible but that’s the beauty of Skoolbo. Playing for just a few minutes a day can bring some wonderful improvements in maths, reading and spelling something these children know all about. Below you will see a snapshot of the pupil leaderboards from over the holidays –

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Pupil Leaderboard 27.07.15

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Pupil leaderboard 03.08.15

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Pupil leaderboard 17.08.15

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Our first congratulations must go to J.P from Gold Class Haslemere Primary School in London. His dedication to learning over the summer meant that he held the top spot for much of the holidays only being toppled in September by K. from Primary 4, St Patrick’s RC Primary School. Students from a variety of classes from Roding Primary School regularly featured in the top ten so well done to them and to all the other children who kept up with their learning with Skoolbo over the break.

Remember usage = improvement so keep playing!

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Summer Learning on the go!

Of course summer is a time for children to take a break from their usual routine and re-charge their batteries. Many of us associate the summer with days at the beach, ice-creams and catching up with friends and family. All wonderful and valuable experiences, so where does Skoolbo fit in?

Starfish at the Beach

With most of the UK schools now open and ready for the new school year we wanted to take time to reflect on a fantastic summer of home learning. The leaderboards have revealed that there has been some fabulous learning taking place over the holidays. It seems that children throughout the UK have been engaging with Skoolbo with enormous enthusiasm, perhaps taking advantage of those long car journeys or rainy days to get in some multiplication or spelling practise. There have been some commendable high scores appearing in the Language Dragons games as well – bravo!

So just who were the stars of the summer?

The roots to grow and the wings to fly…

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Well our first mention must go to the the amazing students of Year 2 – Maple class from Western Downland CofE (VA) Primary School in Fordingbridge, Hampshire (you can see their wonderful school motto in the heading above). We received this lovely message from their new teacher Miss Reffell –

“I just want to say a massive THANK YOU for the wonderful thing that is Skoolbo. I wrote to my new class in the summer holidays and reminded them about it, and was so thrilled to see they are number 2 in the UK at the moment – there’s only 20 of them! Thank you so much for engaging my new lovely pupils!”

Congratulations to these children and to their teacher who has obviously worked so hard through the summer to ensure they have the best start to the new school year.

This is what the school leaderboard looked like at the end of July. London schools were clearly building on their London vs NYC Challenge success to dominate this early summer table but it was Meadowbrook Primary School from the south west of England who claimed an early top spot –

School Leaderboard 27.07.15

It was ‘all change’ by August however with more of the United Kingdom represented. Radstock Primary School from the south east of England were sitting comfortably in first poistion and we’d like to say a belated ‘welcome’ to  Millquarter Primary School from Northern Ireland and Breasclete Primary School from Scotland who made their first appearances on the leaderboard –

School leaderboard 03.08.15

The end of August demonstrated how quickly Scottish schools got back into the swing of things. Their earlier start to the school term saw them dominate all leaderboards with English schools coming back into view on the 1st September but it is yesterday’s featured school, Repton, Abu Dhabi who stole top place once more –

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It has been amazing to see children racking up new personal bests with Skoolbo, we’ll be mentioning some of the star students and classes in our next blogs so please keep checking back with us.

Summer learning loss – what summer learning loss?

Make homework fun! The benefits of using Skoolbo for homework

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 Download our print-out form to give to parents and get started with Skoolbo for homework! 

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More and more teachers are using Skoolbo to set homework for their students. Playing Skoolbo at home is a great way to motivate and engage children in their learning activities. The same student login works at school and home, so it’s never been more fun to do homework!kids_skoolbo_homework-2

Skoolbo has been designed with a smart spiral learning algorithm, meaning that the questions in the game adapt to the students ability, guiding them to improve their skills. This is a major advantage when playing from home, as it means that students can learn effectively without too much direction. You can rely on Skoolbo to steadily increase difficulty level as the students master topics.

Alternatively, teachers have the option to use the curriculum setting in Skoolbo, giving teachers full control of what to assign as homework for their students. The Set Task feature helps you to decide what topics you want students to play in their next Skoolbo sessions. Once they have played these set tasks, the Skoolbo algorithm kicks back in, continuing to provide relevant games for your students.

Click here for a quick start guide on using the Set Task feature

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What are the benefits of setting Skoolbo for homework? 

  1. The curriculum setting feature to assign homework
  2. Consolidating work done in class
  3. A fun and engaging incentive to get students to complete their homework
  4. Motivate them even further  – Students can now challenge each other in a safe environment using the Duelbo Challenge mechanism available on v1.9 and above

What teachers have had to say about using Skoolbo for homework

“Skoolbo is a great app that students can use for homework. The tasks are targeted, relevant and help to support our students’ literacy and numeracy needs. Skoolbo is a valuable program for us because of the Smart Algorithm that targets students at their area of understanding and need. This is very important to us, as we are committed to teaching students to their personal goals and their level of understanding.”

– Janis M – Truganina South Primary School Answered 3,693,529 questions, average core skills improvement 46%

“If Skoolbo is to succeed it needs to be part of the structure of the school wide learning, as kids get older they use it independently because of the fun element and parents are happy to see a safe way of doing homework.”

– Carmel N – St Clare’s Primary School Answered 1,440,034 questions, average core skills improvement 39%

“Students love this and parents are using this at home too. It has become a school wide dance”

– P Street – Dale Christian School – Answered 1,217,920 questions, average core skills improvement 47%

Download our print-out form to give to parents and get started with Skoolbo for homework! 

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Language Dragons – A free language learning game for children within Skoolbo!

The Language Dragons have arrived!

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  • Teach children French, Mandarin and Spanish for FREE
  • Help ESOL students improve their English
  • Covers a wide range of topics
  • Develop children’s cultural awareness
  • Increase child’s creative and cognitive abilities

Teach your child another language through Skoolbo

We are excited to announce the release of Language Dragons, a free language learning game within Skoolbo core skills.This new feature teaches children French, Mandarin and Spanish, with more languages set to be released in the future. Fly on magnificent dragons through the stunning in-game worlds, and play reading and listening games to improve language skills across a range of topics.

The gamification of language learning is a fun and captivating way to teach a child a new language. While textbook learning is a tried and true method, using game based learning is proven to be effective for engagement and motivation.

Help ESOL students with their English language skills

By switching the audio in settings, ESOL students (English as a second language) can select English as the target language. This feature has far reaching benefits for ESOL students, helping to promote improvement across their wider core skills.

Topics covered in Language Dragons

Language Dragons doesn’t just teach children how to say ‘hello’ and ‘goodbye’ in another language. The in-game learning experience has been designed to cover a wide range of topics.

Language Dragons topics

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The benefits of teaching a child a foreign language

Learning a language at an early age has long term benefits, which is why more elementary/primary schools are implementing these skills into their current class curriculum.

  • Language-learning in education promotes global citizenship, and forms an essential part of pupils’ developing cultural awareness and concern for others.
  • Languages in education is a leveller that helps all children feel included. Children who may not speak much English can be as good as everyone else in Spanish.
  • Learning another language at an early age also helps a child with their creative output as well as an increase in their cognitive abilities.

To play Language Dragons on the desktop version, please uninstall Skoolbo then reinstall to update to the latest version

Download Free

New to Skoolbo? Register for FREE here to get your child or class started

Skoolbo – a Home Educator’s story

It is estimated that approximately 60,000 children are home educated in the UK (http://www.home-education.org.uk/) and at Skoolbo we are delighted to have so many home educated children on board.

We recently received a fabulous email from Lucy, the mother of Sky (aged 7) and Shannon (aged 6) who educates her children at home. In her email, Lucy gives us a wonderful glimpse of how Skoolbo fits in around their hectic family schedule.

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I just want to say a massive thank you to the whole team for developing such a brilliant game and for deciding to keep it free! My 6 & 7 year old love it – we homeschool them and they play it on their iPads on their way to various activities and they think its amazing- so many brilliant ideas – I am so grateful that it is free- it is incomparable to any other free app I have found and it has meant that I am no longer doing research into which educational literacy/numeracy app to buy for them as this is more than sufficient for the time being. I also love that I can track their progress online and would love to see this furthered in the future with clear information on their progress in different areas and guidance on where they are weaker. 

They also love the Spanish Skoolbo :)                                                                         Thanks again from a very grateful family!

Naturally we wanted to hear from the children and so we got back in contact with the family to find out what Sky and Shannon think of Skoolbo.

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‘I like skoolbo  because I have a colourful super hero  costume  I also like flying. I love my  house because I love my new teddy bear and truck and cat and sofa and airplanes  and the literacy and numeracy and I like my background.’ Sky aged 7

‘I like skoobo because i like maths and times tables and the people.My favorite person is Lottey and Ru. I like flying in my airplane and winning the rase. I like my house. Iv got lodes of things in my house like a teddy bear and a cat and  a blue sofers.’ Shannon aged 6

We always appreciate hearing suggestions for future developments and we were delighted to be able to answer Lucy’s questions regarding progress tracking. This can already be viewed through the ‘results’ section of the dashboard but there is more to come! With the release the ‘reports’ feature on the platform, Home Educators, Parents, Teachers and Schools will soon be able to view more detailed information about children’s progress and attainment on Skoolbo. For example you will soon have access to a real time strength and weakness analyser along with the ability to compare progress and attainment with national averages so please keep a look out for these exciting new features.

 

Thank you Lucy, Sky and Shannon for sharing your experiences with us, we’ll be looking out for your avatars in the game so keep playing!

Skoolbo at home – a parent’s perspective

At Skoolbo we are committed to making learning fun and improving educational outcomes for all children. We also recognise the fundamental role that parents and carers play in supporting their children’s learning at home. It is for this reason that we are absolutely delighted when parents get in contact to let us know how much their children enjoy using Skoolbo and to give us their ideas for future developments.
One family have been excellent at giving us regular feedback . Chloe aged 8 and Emma aged 6, both enjoy using Skoolbo at school and at home. Their mother Sarah has kept us up to date with their progress on the Skoolbo platform and we wanted to know more about them and why they think Skoolbo works so well.
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We began by asking the girls about what they find most appealing about the game –
Chloe: “I really enjoy the variety of games and being able to select my choice from the contents page. It is not too young for me and the games can challenge me too.”
Emma: ” I love that I can design my own Avatar and I like changing the outfit!  I really like watching Racing Worlds and my favourite is London Glory!  I like to watch the award ceremonies which are in my house on the TV screen.”
A clear ‘thumbs up’ from Chloe and Emma but we wanted to know more from a parent’s perspective. This is what their mother Sarah had to say –
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“Chloe this morning was so excited to play and wants to go straight on Skoolbo after school, I’m thrilled, it’s additional learning made fun! Both girls are keen readers and numeracy is not their preferred choice so this is a great way to work on numeracy though play.
I like the access to the Skoolbo results page as it shows me if they are struggling and where I can help them.”
“Emma is logged onto Skoolbo through school and she enjoys playing at home. The leaderboard had a big impact on Emma as she could see her school friends were playing and she wanted to be seen joining in too. I keep up with printing the certificates and she enjoys taking them to school. Recently she was awarded the 10,000 trophy in her assembly, this absolutely made her day! The trophy stays in the class until the next child reaches the goal. Emma’s teacher has also given her a Skoolbo bookmark, all great incentives for the children.”
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Sarah and her family have given us some wonderful praise as well as a really useful insight into how we can develop the game in the future.
Thank you Sarah, Chloe and Emma for your wonderful feedback and photographs. Well done to the girls for all your fantastic achievements on Skoolbo. Keep it up!
We’ll leave the last word to Sarah –
“All in all I am fully supportive of Skoolbo it helps Emma & Chloe practice their literacy and numeracy and gives them topics they may not yet have covered in school but after working with them they soon master it and are proud of themselves.Skoolbo has been the best online learning tool so far to keep my daughters attention & excitement to play, well done!”