Mother and Child Reading
Young student writing

Frequently Asked Questions

Learn more about EarlyBird at Home
Child with tablet
Child with tablet


Welcome to the FAQs section of EarlyBird at Home! Whether a parent, guardian, or caregiver, we understand that choosing the right literacy program for your child is a significant decision. This page addresses the most common questions we get and will provide you with clear and concise answers to help you learn more about our program

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Pip School Game

Dyslexia and Literacy Assessments

Dyslexia impacts children in different ways. For preschool-aged children, signs can include:

  • Mispronouncing words or having trouble with sound placement in a word. A common example is saying “pasgetti” instead of “spaghetti,” or even saying “who” instead of “how.”  
  • Rhyming difficulties
  • Challenges or processing delays around naming or identifying common objects
  • Trouble following multistep directions or remembering sequences

For children in Kindergarten through 2nd grade, signs can include:

  • Confusing the order of letters or sounds in words
  • Trouble sounding out words 
  • Difficulty with spelling
  • Struggling with reading and writing, often more slowly than peers

For more information on the signs and symptoms of dyslexia, please visit or  

Dyslexia has multiple factors contributing to it . There is often a link to a core deficit or problem in phonological processing. This can come from  word-level reading difficulties. Children may have trouble recognizing and working with the different parts of words, like syllables or rhyming sounds. Oral language deficits such as limited speech, poor vocabulary, or language comprehension are also often associated with dyslexia. Research shows that when a parent or sibling has word-level reading problems consistent with dyslexia, their child has a 40%-60% chance of developing dyslexia. Family history is critical in determining risk.

Accurate and automatic word reading skills are vital for developing independent reading comprehension. These skills begin to develop at a very early age – even before a child goes to school. Research says that early literacy skill deficits can appear and be measured as early as age four.  

The goal of early screening and identification is to assess key literacy milestones that are shown to be most predictive of later reading success. This is critical to providing students with early targeted intervention. Early identification helps prevent a snowball effect of reading issues that can compound over time. Many intervention studies show that with appropriate and intensive early intervention in grades Kindergarten through Grade 2, an overwhelming majority of those students are able to reach grade-level oral reading fluency and comprehension proficiency.  

In short, early intervention helps children get and stay on grade level.

Research shows that as children progress through the school system, reading becomes a vehicle for content learning. In the early grades, your child is learning to read, yet as the years progress the model shifts to reading to learn–reading becomes a tool for acquiring new knowledge. That makes it imperative for children at risk for dyslexia to get identified and receive instruction without delay. Children identified as having dyslexia can begin receiving the educational support they need. This will increase that chance for long-term learning, and academic and emotional success.

Literacy screening is a process for identifying children at risk for later reading problems. Make sure that your child is being assessed for all components of reading, and at the time of development. Don’t wait for your child to fail before starting the assessment journey. Find a screening tool that will assess and identify at the time research tells us is the most critical for intervention; a screening tool that assesses the reading components that are aligned with the National Reading Panel; and a screening assessment that makes it fun for your child!

The EarlyBird screener is just that. It is a comprehensive early literacy screener that is aligned with the National Reading Panel and the Science of Reading. It is a game-based screener that can be administered as early as age four and does not require your child to read in order to be flagged for dyslexia. It gives you the information you need, both strengths and weaknesses, at a time when intervention is most critical. The EarlyBird Assessment has been created by leading researchers from Harvard Graduate School of Education and the Florida Center for Reading Research and validated at Boston Children’s Hospital giving you the information you need, grounded in science, to make the most informed decision for your child.

How the EarlyBird Assessment Works

  1. Upon signing up, you’ll set a time to meet with a specially trained literacy expert who will help you set up the game for your child.
  2. Your child will play the interactive game via remote administration from the literacy specialist. The results will be available to you within a week.
  3. You will schedule a family conference with the literacy specialist to review the scores and share personalized action items and resources.
  4. A final report will be emailed to you for future reference.
  5. We will have additional content and resources on the site, so continue to check back in with us!

The report is prepared specifically for your family by our literacy experts. Your report will contain engaging activities to build on your child’s strengths or help with weaknesses, along with recommendations on resources that will be most useful.

Your child will take a journey through the city on a fun adventure with their new toucan friend, “Pip”. It won’t feel like a test at all! Along the way, they will meet other animal friends who will introduce a new skill to be tested. Because the screener is adaptive to your child’s ability, it will quickly and precisely determine your child’s individual strengths and weaknesses. Each individual subtest is adaptive to your child’s level of ability, taking only a few minutes to play. Your child’s grade and time of year will determine which skills and the number of subtests in the assessment.

You will see how your child’s scores compare to other children across the country. We will share results to help you navigate a pathway for the next steps while helping you understand your child’s reading profile according to the components of reading most important at your child’s grade level. Of these components, EarlyBird groups skills together based on Sound/Symbol Correspondence, Phonemic/Phonological Awareness, Oral Language Comprehension, and Naming Speed.

The EarlyBird Assessment is developed by leading experts at Boston Children’s Hospital and the Florida Center for Reading Research, and used by thousands of children in school districts across the country. It is comprehensive and assesses the critical skills found to be predictive of later reading success.  Unlike traditional assessments, our screener is a child-friendly interactive game! Please note, this screener is not intended to be used as a diagnosis.

At this time, the EarlyBird Assessment is available for children in PreK through Grade 1, with Grade 2 becoming available in the 2023-24 school year. We are excited to provide 2nd and 3rd-grade solutions, so please let us know if you are interested and we can put you on a list to receive updates as those grades become available.

Subscribing to EarlyBird at Home

EarlyBird at Home is a comprehensive online intervention program that includes:

  • Access to the Pip School app
  • EarlyBird Assessment 3 times per year
  • One-on-one meetings with a Literacy Specialist
  • Progress reports sent to your inbox
  • Access to resources designed to help parents navigate the journey and support their chil

You can purchase a monthly subscription for $49 per month until canceled. This includes access to the Pip School app, the EarlyBird Assessment three times per year (as long as you are enrolled in the Pip School Program), recurring conferences with a Literacy Specialist, detailed reports on your child’s progress, and access to parent resources.

At this time, we are only offering monthly subscriptions to EarlyBird at Home.

Please contact us at if you feel your family would be a good fit for the scholarship program.

Signing up is easy. Just click here and purchase a subscription.

EarlyBird at Home costs $49/month. That’s a fraction of the cost of private tutoring or dyslexia therapy.

To cancel, you can either access your subscriptions through your Apple App Store account or Google Play Store account. Choose the EarlyBird at Home subscription and then click “Cancel Subscription.” You can also cancel your subscription directly from your EarlyBird account by navigating to the app. Click on Settings > Account > Manage Subscription > Cancel Subscription. Should you have any issues with canceling your subscription, contact us directly at

Technical Support for the Pip School app

The Pip School app currently works on Apple iPads or Android tablets. It is not yet available on phones or computers. This includes iPads 6th Generation and beyond and Android tablets with a minimum RAM of 4GB and 32GB of storage. Want to request Pip School on a different device? Email us at

Yes. In order to sign up for an account, you will need to provide an email address and password. Sign up with the email address where you would like to receive parent reports.

If you would like to choose a new password, go to Settings > Account > Profile > Change Password. If you forget your password, click “Forgot Password?” on the login screen for Pip School.

iOS: iOS 16.1, 6th Gen iPad, iPad Air 3, iPad mini 4, iPad Pro (all)

Android: Android 6.0 (Marshmallow), Minimum RAM of 4GB, 32GB storage

If you experience any issues using the Pip School app, you can email us at Please include a description of any issue you are facing, a screenshot if possible, the device you are on, and the operating system. (e.g. OS 16.1)

Make sure that your device allows the app to use their microphone. You will need to go into the settings of your device to do that. If there is still an issue, we recommend exiting the app completely and trying again.

No, at this time the app requires an internet-connected device. We recommend ensuring the device is connected to the internet for the best experience.

Ideally, your child is able to use the app in a quiet environment where they can concentrate. Many children with reading struggles find the exercises in the app, especially phonological awareness exercises, to be difficult. A quiet place without distractions is a great place for your child to practice good study skills and grow their confidence in the building blocks of reading!

If an animal is sleeping, this means that the child is not able to try that activity yet during that session. The game does not allow a child to move ahead to new activities until they have mastered the current ones, and it does not allow children to play more than a certain number of activities a day. (This is equivalent to around 20-30 minutes each session.) Remember, it is important that Pip School’s activities are done at least 4 days a week, and the child is given rest (and sleep!) in between the activities.

The best experience of the Pip School app for your child is on a tablet (iPad or Android). We understand that many families don’t have devices at home for their children’s use. If you don’t already have an iPad or Android tablet, there are many options to buy pre-used tablets at a much more affordable cost. Marketplaces like Amazon often have refurbished tablets at very low rates. Please see our minimum technical requirements for more details about which tablets work for our program.

Curriculum Questions for the Pip School App

The goal of the Pip School app is to ensure children are given the opportunity to develop the skills that are foundational to early literacy. These begin with instruction in phonological awareness and language comprehension

EarlyBird at Home is for children ages 4-9 years old. It is helpful for all children who are learning to read, because it focuses on the building blocks of reading, phonological awareness and language comprehension. Building phonological awareness is especially important for children who may be showing signs of dyslexia. EarlyBird at Home also focuses on mastering skills that are appropriate for young readers in this age range.

At this time, EarlyBird at Home is most developmentally appropriate for children 4-9 years old. Children (and adults!) older than 9 can certainly do the exercises and benefit from them, especially if they are struggling with phonological awareness. But the game is best suited for children 4-9 years old.

The EarlyBird Assessment is included with your EarlyBird at Home subscription 3 times per year. Your child should take their initial assessment as soon as possible after you sign up. This ensures you have your first family conference and understand the comprehensive profile of your child’s strengths and weaknesses.

The Pip School activities are based on principles of multimodal learning, where students are listening, saying, and moving objects on the screen. The activities are all research-based while still being fun and engaging for children.

Pip School uses colored tiles to represent words and sounds, depending on the activity. These tiles act as place holders for sounds in words or words in sentences. By not showing the child the letters or the words, it helps build connections to auditory processing without relying on the visual representation of the print or written words.

Your child will have the opportunity to practice a few items when first introduced to a skill.  Once they understand the task, they will need to get the next six consecutive items correct to show they have mastered that skill. The steps to subsequent skills are small and incremental.  Reaching the next skill will indicate the student has progressed through the previous skill and moving through the program.

Yes, EarlyBird at Home helps your child build the foundational skills for phonological and phonemic processing that are foundational to early reading and have been associated with reading struggles for those with dyslexia. The program will also lay the foundation of language and sound processing. Your child can then add identifying letters and letter sounds to their toolbox to begin reading words.

EarlyBird at Home starts young and teaches some of the earliest skills of literacy. We start with our award-winning literacy assessment, giving you a complete view of your child’s unique reading profile. We provide science-backed exercises in a fun game-based app, and pair it all with on-demand access to a literacy specialist. The program is more comprehensive than other apps and provides more services than traditional tutoring.

EarlyBird at Home is not designed to replace a tutor, only to make sure that your child is getting access to building connections to some of the auditory processing skills that are needed to read and write.

Yes, your child can absolutely add EarlyBird at Home to any additional instruction they are receiving.  Our goal is to make sure that every child has access to these foundational skills that are critical to reading development.

EarlyBird at Home is critical if your child has been identified as dyslexic and is not receiving instruction or skill building in areas of phonological or phonemic awareness.

It’s important you sign up to receive the EarlyBird Assessment as soon as you join EarlyBird at Home. Once registered, please sign up for an initial assessment. After that, we recommend meeting with your Literacy Specialist every 5 weeks to discuss your child’s progress.