We have been doing this for 4 days now. It is easy to do and the teaching manual is a big help. We are starting off with the basic book that teaches the letters and their sounds (Off We Go). It is meant to be a review and is part of the 1st grade section of the program. After that is done, you move onto the "real" book...Raceway Book.
After introducing the music and lessons on the first day, it was a HUGE hit. I don't think it takes much preparing since it is all there for you in the box. When reading the manual, it also states that it takes about 1 hour to complete the worksheets on top of everything else. This might be true as you go deeper into the program, but not when you are working on the first workbook. It takes Marco about 15 minutes to do the 4 workbook pages and we spend an additional 5 minutes singing the songs, and about 10-15 minutes playing a game. Total time: 30-45 minutes. Not bad at all.
Granted, the first book is EXTREMELY easy...but I don't expect it to stay this simple once we move forward into real reading. We are still doing Explode the Code and working on some readers. But I'm hoping that this will be the program I've been looking for.
To tell you how much of a hit it has been around here....for the past 4 days, every morning Isabella wakes me up and says, "Can we do the reading lesson now?" Once I'm up, Marco runs in and says "Hurry up so that we can do the lessons!" If I'm taking longer than usual with anything outside of reading....it is a constant "When are we doing our lesson?" "Can we do the lesson now?" So yes!!! I'm loving it so far. The real test will be when we move beyond the alphabet and into the reading steps. I have even been contemplating skipping the alphabet lessons as Marco keeps asking if he can just do it all at once.
As for Isabella, I'm still waiting on her kindergarten workbooks. She is very solid in her alphabet letters and sounds (she's known them since she was 2!), so I'm wondering how fast we'll be moving with her. I almost even want to do the 1st grade with her since she is blending and reading many CVC and CVCC words very well. I am actually looking forward to the spelling part of the program since she seems to be a writer. We haven't formally done writing or spelling, but she is constantly writing words down phonetically.
I will keep you posted on our progress and let you know if this program is worth the $300 it is going for. So far, I would definitely spend that much on it...but I know it's still early.