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Homeschool Crew Review: My Access! Home Edition




Writing is a crucial skill, but it’s hard to be consistent about teaching it. What’s more, the burden of marking everyone’s writing overwhelms me.  This year, thanks to My Access! Home Edition, our children are spending much more time writing.  What’s more, they also get instant feedback and individualized instruction from the program. We received it  because we are a Homeschool Review Crew family, and we are very thankful for the opportunity. 



My Access! Home Edition is a web-based writing program that uses artificial intelligence to help children improve their writing skills across the curriculum. Interactive writing activities, instant feedback, and individualized learning plans help to motivate students. 



My Access! Home Edition, produced by Vantage Learning, is a writing program with a large number of helpful features. For each of its age levels (8-10, 11-14, 15-18), a student account includes  

  • an individually-paced writing course
  • individualized writer’s aids such as My Editor and My Tutor
  • writing activities
  • many ready-to-use writing topics
  • instant feedback in terms of five writing traits: Focus, Content Development, Organization, Language Style, and Conventions
  • automatic tracking of points earned by writing and by doing various activities
  • several ‘newspaper’ style publishing options which can be emailed
  • option to print writing for off-line editing
  • individual progress reports and portfolios


The parent account includes

  • an opportunity for  parents to enter assignments from other courses
  • a unique topic generator to help set assignments
  • a parent-controlled points and rewards system, with notification by email when goals are reached
  • individual progress reports available on the parental account
  • emailed progress reports


Detailed video demonstrations explain the features of this program.


How it Works

When you log on as a parent, you immediately see the overall progress and number of submissions of each of your students in much more detail than in the emailed progress report. You can access a child’s portfolio and look at each submitted essay to see the points earned, the score according to the five writing traits, and the suggested revision activities


You can also enter new assignments based on your child’s age in one of the three writing categories: informative, narrative, or persuasive.  I type in all our Bible, English, and history writing projects, for example.  Finally, you can also enter the number of points your child should attempt to get by a certain deadline, along with an accompanying reward. 


When students log on, they can look at their progress or choose to start an activity or an assignment.  Under ‘Activites’ they can select a writing trait (such as focus, content development, organization, language style, or convention) to work on at a level of difficulty appropriate to their age and performance.  For each activity they complete, students earn points.


Under ‘Assignments’ they first choose a topic, and then they can choose whether to work on the writing course (visually appealing and interesting), or to start the actual writing.  It took us a while to figure out that outlines for an assignment can only be made in the writing course part of the program.  An online editor and tutor are available to help students with their writing, a writer’s toolbox contains many helpful features, and a checklist for self-evaluation/editing is also available.   When the assignment is finished it is submitted and instantly marked in terms of the five writing traits (focus, content development, organization, language style, or convention).  A bar graph shows whether the writing was proficient in each of these areas, and a revision plan is given to help students improve their work.


Our Experiences with My Access!  Home Edition

I immediately entered assignments for the children’s written work in Bible, history, and English. On each child’s school list, we now have a spot for all the weekly assignments that must be done in My Access, but I have not yet insisted that the children spend a lot of time on the writing course.  They have been very busy writing, but I’m certain that spending more time with the courses would be beneficial to them.  Oh well, writing’s the point of the program, and we’ll do more of the courses when it gets colder outside.


Even though the children didn’t pay much attention to the Student User Guide, they easily figured out how to use the program.  Within a very short time they were exploring the writing, the reward points, and the topics. Depending on personality, some quickly gravitated to writing and others tried the activities and courses.


At first the children got abysmal marks from the program–insulting results like 35%.  I assured them that their work deserved higher marks and they weren’t too downcast, but I can see this discouraging some children.  It did not take my children long to improve their writing and to figure out that My Access! marks rise with the length of the work submitted.  Since then, marks have improved, and one of my children even received 100%.  Her essay was very good, but it did not deserve the perfect mark since it still contained typos and awkward structures.  Obviously, artificial intelligence cannot mark writing perfectly, nor can it mark content.  Thus, although the program’s marks are invaluable as immediate feedback to the children, I will not rely on My Access! to award marks for high school transcripts. 


I did initially use the program’s point and reward system to motivate the children, but they accidentally learned that they could pad their points by resubmitting stories and essays without much revision. We no longer pay much attention to the points, but this motivation could work well for some families.


Occasionally the whole My Access! system is down and the children cannot do their writing work.  In such circumstances, they write in Word and then import their work into My Access! when it’s up again.  This does reduce the effectiveness of the program somewhat, but it’s not down often…and when it’s up, it’s great.


Our Conclusions

Whereas assigning, editing, and marking writing projects used to be an overwhelming burden, I now have My Access! to help me.  The result is that the children are asked to do more formal writing and that they get immediate feedback.  This has benefitted them hugely.  In fact, in the six weeks that we’ve been using the program, two of my children have dramatically increased the quality and quantity of their writing.   The other two also improved, although not quite so much.


Will My Access! Benefit Your Family?

If you are completely comfortable with the amount of writing your children do and with evaluating it, you do not need My Access!  If you are somewhat comfortable with how you teach your children writing, but are on an extremely tight budget (we’re talking second-hand Christmas presents here), your energy would be better spent reading library books about writing.


For the rest of us, My Access! could definitely have a role to play.  Besides being fun, it has improved our children’s writing dramatically without increasing my workload.  To me, that is worth so much!


Please visit Homeschool Review Crew blog for more reviews.  



You can buy My Access! Home Edition for a year. Each purchase comes with a parent account and either 3 student accounts for $99.95 US or 6 student accounts for $129.95 US.


Disclosure Policy:   As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew, I received a free 6-student My Access!  Home Edition account for a year. 


  1. proverbsmama says:

    That was a very thorough summation of the program!

    Thanks for taking the time to do these reviews.

  2. AnnieKate says:

    I'm so glad you're enjoying the reviews.

    I learn a lot from writing them, and I love to share what I learn with others.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Really helpful review. I am a member of the crew and was not assigned this one. I have been considering this program for some time. I appreciate your input.

    Dawn @ Olive Plants


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