Essential Skills Advantage (Crew Review)

ESA Review

We have found that online education programs work really well for our family.  My kids all love working on the computer, and when they’re having fun they learn better than if they were trudging through worksheets.  So I was excited when Essential Skills Advantage gave us a chance to review their Complete Home Learning Suite.  Since we finished our official school year a few weeks ago, this has been a great way for me to keep the boys learning over our summer break.

About Essential Skills Advantage

A subscription to the Complete Home Learning Suite includes access to all the online programs offered by ESA:

  • ESA K-6 Reading Collection
  • Premium Spelling, Language, Grammar, and Creative Writing Suite
  • Complete Math K-6
  • Science (grades K-3)
  • Geography (grades 4-6)
  • ESA Marks Manager

There are over 14,000 lessons altogether!  Students can access material in any grade level (K-6), making it especially helpful for those who could use a little extra challenge, or who might need to go back and practice in areas where they struggle.  Here’s a peek at what’s offered:

ESA is meant to be used as a supplement, not a full curriculum.  It does not include instruction, just practice of skills students are learning in their regular lessons.  Parents can check their progress in the Marks Manager and print completion certificates if they choose.

Lessons are easily completed on a computer or tablet.  (We used it on both our Chromebook and our touchscreen computer.)  ESA is not optimized for smart phones, but it is possible to use them in your phone’s browser if you can work with the small screen size.

Our Experience with Essential Skills Advantage

As I said, I used ESA to keep the boys’ minds engaged while we’re taking a break from school.  To motivate them, I traded them free time on the computer for the time they spent working on skills with ESA.

During our review period, Ian (8) primarily used ESA for spelling practice.  This is not his strongest subject, so I had him work in 2nd grade, which he has just completed.  There are 45 units, each consisting of 15 activities.  All the activities in a unit focus on the same group of words that share a single spelling pattern.  The students practice reading, typing, and spelling the words through several games.

ESA Spelling Collage
 The repetition was really helpful for Ian.  He definitely got more confident about spelling, and the patterns he has struggled to remember (like the silent “e” at the end of the words with long vowel sounds) finally started to click and transfer over into his regular writing.

Elijah (6) worked on both spelling and grammar (which starts in 3rd grade).  ESA is ideal for children like Eli who are working far above grade level in some subjects.  Because ESA is only for practice and doesn’t include instruction, there isn’t a placement test, so I spent quite a bit of time trying out different grade levels to figure out where he should be working on spelling.  I hesitated to put him any higher than 3rd (he just finished Kindergarten) because I worried he would miss something important, but judging by the way he flew through those lessons, I probably could have gone higher.  I figured it wouldn’t hurt to just practice whatever was included in the third grade skills

In the grammar section Elijah ran into a little trouble because of the lack of instruction.  He had never heard of subject and predicate, so he had no idea what to do at first.


I caught him guessing randomly and had to stop him for a moment to explain what he was supposed to be doing.  I realize ESA is only meant to be a supplemental program, but I wish there had at least been a simple explanation.  Even kids who have learned this would probably benefit from a quick review.  Elijah understood the concept of subject and predicate with only about 30 seconds of instruction from me, so with just a little online help he could have worked completely independently.

The boys haven’t spent much time out of the spelling and grammar sections, but I love the wide range of subjects offered in ESA.  We’ll definitely be using this program at least through the summer and possibly into the next school year so I’m glad there’s a lot of variety for them.

As a final note, I appreciate the multiple billing options available if you decided to purchase a subscription to Essential Skills Advantage.  You can pay for 1 month, 6 months, or 12 months at a time.  The base price for each of those options is based on 1 student, with additional students included for just 99-cents each per month.  I think it’s a great value for anyone, but especially for families like ours who would have multiple children using the program.

Essential Skills Advantage Review
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