I don’t know about you but as soon as the word homework is mentioned my kid just switches off. t can be hard to get them on board with completing more work when they have got home from a day of doing work at school. Understandably so and quite honestly I’m not sure how I feel about what is expected of my Year 1 child to complete after school, so we are finding fun ways to get round it. Poio is one of those fun things.
Oslo-headquartered, Poio (poio.co.uk), is an app providing a compelling, gamified alternative to traditional learning methods, which, since its launch in 2017, has helped over 100,000 children in Scandinavia acquire the fundamental skills necessary to achieve reading proficiency (and proved the best-selling educational tool of 2017 and 2018 in the Norwegian App Store).
So instead of coming home and doing homework, some days L comes home and plays a game. He’s not daft, he knows he’s doing is phonics and he knows he is reading and sometimes he’ll still complain about doing it, watching YouTube videos of tractors or kids playing with toys he actually owns is always more appealing, but he enjoys it way more than ‘homework’ and the complaints are far less. In general it makes life easier.
Poio – The Game and Learning Method
Poio facilitates learning to read within a safe gaming environment that children want to explore. The goal of the game is to help a troll, named Poio, learn to read the storybook he has stolen from letter bugs (characters known as ‘readlings’) in a magical location called Straw Island. In a troll-like fit of pique, Poio has imprisoned these letter bugs due to his frustration at being unable to read. To help the troll learn to read, children must free the readlings and collect words. These words are broken-down into individual phonetic letter sounds voiced by the readlings, helping the child familiarise themselves with the letter and its corresponding sound (with a particular focus on vowel sounds, which are typically the most challenging).
The child is then encouraged to spell out the word and then drag it into a virtual book in order to advance the story. Additional exercises, such as drawing letters and matching sounds with the correct letter also help to hone literacy skills, with the difficulty of the game automatically adapting to each individual child based on their skill level. As the child proceeds, they can earn coins for completing in-game challenges, with this currency enabling them to decorate houses unlocked by finishing tasks. This allows the child to take a break from learning, rewards them for success and also encourages creativity and play.
Poio focusses on encouragement – rather than lingering on mistakes – to ensure that a point of failure is never reached whereby the player cannot proceed within the game. Constant encouraging feedback, as well as the reward of extra gold coins for completing difficult tasks, helps boost the learner’s self-esteem and ensures that they are motivated to continue (a factor especially important for low ability readers).
L loves collecting the coins and the reward cards, especially when he knows what to do to get the next reward. Open more cages or fund more gems. In general the gameplay is easy and flows nicely but there are some parts L finds frustrating as moving the letter bugs about to create bubble words or find letters that have fallen under things can be tough. At points the next steps aren’t as obvious as they could be for a five year old, but at the perfect level for older readers,
I like that as part of Poio’s offering, parents receive an email progress report following each learning session outlining each new letter and word that their child can identify with high precision, as well as advice on how to discuss with them their learning process. It’s these discussion points that I find useful as they lead us into conversations I may not have otherwise had about reading and learning and what he he is enjoying.
I love that once progress has been made and the virtual book has been completed, the physical storybook can be obtained by adults to give to their children as a reward. There is no better reward than a book, for any occasion, but this is a bit special and I will certainly be purchasing it for L.
We’re using it on Android and I love that I can add it to the Family Library so it can be used across devices, though progress doesn’t seem to sync which is a minor inconvenience. But gameplay is smooth and despite it being a large app there is no lagging or significant loading times.
Poio is available for £19 via the App Store and Google Play. There are no ads, nothing to worry about on that front and it takes quite a while to complete, gradually getting more complex sound formations and words. We really like it and it has become part of our learning kit. Something to use that keeps it fresh and exciting for the child and leaves me content that we’re helping.
Disclosure – I was gifted our app in exchange for this review. All thoughts and opinions are my own, images are screenshots as we have been playing.