My children love working on the computer, but I have to admit that I rarely allow them to have screen time for extended amounts of time. There are weeks when the TV and computer are never turned on. But when the offer to review a Reading Program came, I jumped at it. Both of the kids are in a transition stage in reading where the joy just isn’t quite there. RB is working on fluency and speed. Sweet Cheeks is learning the beginnings of how to sound out words. They are doing well, but we are losing some steam. So I thought maybe an online computer reading program, Reading Kingdom, might jump-start the love of reading once more.
What is Reading Kingdom?
“Reading Kingdom is a reading and writing system developed by Dr. Marion Blank, a world renowned expert on literacy and the Director of the Light on Learning Institute at Columbia University. It uses a 6 skill model of reading instruction that incorporates elements of phonics and whole language while teaching additional skills required for reading and writing success without requiring kids to learn any complicated rules.” (from the Reading Kingdom website)
Even though I have a teaching degree, teaching how to read is not my specialty. So I was excited to have help from such an expert! I’m always worried that I have missed a language or reading rule. I really was interested to see how my 6 and 4.5 year olds would do with this product.
About the Product:
To use Reading Kingdom, go to ReadingKingdom.com and sign up for the 30 day trial. If you see that it works for your child, then you can subscribe for $19.99/month (with no monthly minimum), or $199.99 per year (20% off). Additional children in your account get 50% off ($9.99/month or $99.99/year). This program can be used with children ages 4-10 who are early readers, accelerated reader, or struggling readers.
I signed up both children. Then each one had to work through a skills test which determined where each one would begin in the levels of Reading Kingdom. The program is VERY clear that parents are NOT to help the children during the skills assessment and the lessons. The program itself will determine what the child needs. The instructions were given for the first few assessment questions and then the child completes 8 questions for each section of the skills test. The program allowed RB an extra chance to answer one question because he did not answer it in time. The time between the questions seemed a little long, but it could have been my internet speed. The animation was cute and RB and Sweet Cheeks laughed at some of the characters. Sweet Cheeks had a difficult time understanding what the program wanted her to do, but after a while she got it.
As the kids were going through the assessment, there seemed to be some frustration on their part when it came to typing. They haven’t really been exposed to typing games and such, so that was a new skill. I was excited to watch them grow in this area. They still get frustrated with it, but it is a skill they need to practice.
RB, my strong reader, ended up skipping Seeing Sequences and started at Level 3 in Letter Land. At the end of this review period, he is now on the next level called Reading and Writing Level 1, Book 3. Each level has 6 books. According to the really nice chart at the end of each lesson, he has completed 32% of the level, and 21% of the entire program.
Sweet Cheeks, my beginning reader, began in Seeing Sequences Level 2. She completed Level 3 to finish that section. She worked through all the levels of Letter Land and has started Reading and Writing Level 1, Book 1. She has completed 13% of this level and 19% of the program. I can tell she’s beginning to struggle with this, but she is persevering! I think the fact that she enjoys the program is helping to motivate her.
I will continue to have my children work through the program. It really focuses on words that aren’t easily sounded out, and I know my daughter is benefiting from that. I also really like the typing aspect of the program.
There is a lot of repetition in the levels. My son had a difficult time plowing through those because he thought they were boring. The first few levels are supposed to take only a few sessions of 15-20 minutes. Once he started the Reading and Writing level, he seems to enjoy it more. The Reading and Writing levels (there are 6 of them) are to take about 10-15 weeks to complete.
At the end of each lesson a nifty chart shows up showing how the child did. At one point, my daughter had the symbol showing me that she needed some help. So for the next lesson I sat beside her and watched for what she was missing. I did not help her as the directions say, but I was able to see that she was slow with typing in her answers. On the website there are lessons and printables that can be used to help reinforce concepts which I can pull from to help her.
One recommendation I would make is to allow there to be some sort of reward at the end of each lesson. Sweet Cheeks would work so hard on her level hoping to open up her passport with the points she earned, but she still, after quite a few lessons, has not reached the 20,000 points needed to open the book. She becomes disappointed. Perhaps there can be a little reward for each 5,000 points instead. RB thought it would be fun to earn points and then use them to play a game.
In Their Own Words:
RB – “I did not like Reading Kingdom because it did not have any games as rewards, but I learned how to spell different words.”
Sweet Cheeks – “I did not get any scores on the purple book. The men and ladies need to fix that. I liked it when I got to see the squeaky things when I got all the stars!”
Overall, the Reading Kingdom computer program earns 4 castles out of 5 castles for homeschool friendliness!