Reading Kingdom {Review}


My six year old son is at a point where learning the basics of reading, writing, and arithmetic are the focus of his education.  The 3 R's are what will carry him forward and create the foundation for all future learning.  So having the opportunity to use Reading Kingdom, an online reading and writing program, that teaches children ages 4 -10 how to read and write to a 3rd grade level, was one I did not want to miss.  We've dabbled with online reading programs before,  though this was our first experience with Reading Kingdom.  I was very interested in finding out what sets this program apart from the rest.

I received  a year's subscription to Reading Kingdom, for up to 3 students as part of the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  We used this program with my 6 year old son.

Reading Kingdom was created by Dr. Marion Blank, who carries quite an extensive list of credentials.  She has authored numerous books, is on faculty at Columbia University, where she developed the Light on Learning Program, and is a developmental psychologist, with a specialization in language and learning.  It was with all her years of studying how children read that she developed Reading Kingdom.

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Challenges in reading education have been around for over 100 years.  You will find countless books and curriculum to help teach your child to read.  However, something is lacking in our approach when 2 out of 3 children are not proficient in reading (US Dept. of Education Stats in PDF).   Reading Kingdom does not focus on hundreds of rules, like the Phonics Approach, or reading without word structure and meaning as with the Whole Language model.  So what makes Reading Kingdom stand out?

"It is the only system using an innovative approach"; a patented "Integrated Six Skill Method."  Reading Kingdom believes that teaching the six skills of reading and writing at the same time "fosters comprehension at every level."  Sequencing, Writing, Phonology, Semantics, Syntax, and Comprehension are woven into each lesson.
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Another key difference about Reading Kingdom it guided by the students abilities; "it is customized to your child/ student.  They understand that every child is different.  The system automatically skips over lessons that the child has shown they know how to read and write and provides tutoring techniques to help in areas of weakness.

To get started with Reading Kingdom my son took a Skills Survey to help determine his placement in the program.  He was assessed in his sequencing and keyboard abilities.  He was actually placed to begin "Letter Land,"  which reinforces keyboarding skills.  It made sense as he has not learned any keyboarding skills; however, we asked to be moved to the next level as it was pretty redundant and I could see his enthusiasm wane after a few days.  Reading Kingdom quickly responded to our request and moved him to the next level.
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Keyboard Assessment
My son was then placed in Reading and Writing Level 1.  Throughout the review, my son has completed 3-4 sessions each week.  The sessions thus far, have taken at most 15 minutes to complete.  A neat feature about this program is that you can control the computer's response time!  One of my biggest pet peeves about online activities is once having finished your task, the program dawdles getting to the next question.

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Reading and Writing Skills
Upon completion of Level 1, my son will have been  introduced to 36 new words.  Adding variations to those new words, he'll be exposed to a total of 99 new words!!  My son has been heavily submersed into the Detect and Select format, which focuses on one's scanning ability.  Throughout his lessons, he has been given a target word and is supposed to find all the target words in the text.  After learning all the words, he will be given a book to read that contains all the words he has learned during his time in Level 1.  Thus once he has reached a book, he will have learned all the words in the book, making reading an instant success!  Currently we are about half way through Level 1.

Although we wouldn't rank this program high in "fun factor," we will continue using this to supplement his reading lessons as I agree with Dr. Marion Blank's philosophy on reading instruction.  "Fun" is pretty subjective, too.  The lessons are not cluttered with "cute" things, which I liked because they tend to distract my son and take away, rather than add to the teachable moment.  I do appreciate that the lessons are not too short nor too long.  I cannot say how effective this has been as we have yet to complete a level, but my son seems to enjoy this computer time.  I also like that reading and writing (keyboarding) are integrated throughout the lessons.

Reading Kingdom suggests working through the program about four days a week to get the best results.  You will need access to a computer and a mouse, Internet connection, and a distraction-free environment.  You will need to help your child login the first couple of days, but after that your child can access the program independently.  It's been a pretty hands-off experience on my end.  I am able to access his progress report which includes % of completed level and an icon describing his performance.

Reading Kingdom offers a 30 Day Risk Free Trial.  After the trial period, a subscription is $19.99/ month or $199.99 for the year.  Additional children receive 50% off monthly/ yearly prices.  Your subscription can be cancelled at anytime, too.

If you haven't used it, see what other Crew Members are saying and/or give it a try!


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