As a mom, homeschool teacher and avid reader, one of my teaching goals for my kids is to help them develop into excellent readers and to instill in them a love of reading. I believe that reading opens the doors to a whole new world. Kids can jump between the pages of a book and be transported anywhere they want. It is the first step in teaching them to be lifelong learners. I was a true bookworm as a kid and so was my husband. We had our first son and he was very interested in reading from the beginning. We read to him, sang to him, bought him board books, etc. He began reading at age 4.5 and we were so proud. Enter son number two and we had a fight on our hands. He was resistant to reading from the start. He would much rather play with blocks, run outside, work on math problems, or kick a soccer ball. By the beginning of first grade, I was discouraged. He STILL was not reading at the proficiency level I was expecting. By the end of first grade after much phonics instruction, practice and daily reading, we finally began to make some progress. A few weeks ago, I was offered the opportunity to review the online reading problem called, Reading Kingdom. My now second grader was in need of some summer reading review and I was looking for fun ways to reinforce his newly acquired reading skills. Reading Kingdom was developed by Dr. Marion Blank, director of the Light on Learning Institute at Columbia University and literacy expert. She is author of the book, The Reading Remedy, The Board of Education has shown statistically that 70% of children will not grow up to be proficient readers. That is astounding to me! I don’t want my kids to fall into that category. Teaching phonics and/or whole language approaches alone are not a guarantee that kids will gain reading proficiency. There are over 600 phonics rules in the English language!
The Reading Kingdom program, on the other hand, offers a new 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.
You can read more about why this program works here.
Reading Kingdom is an online, animated, interactive, game-like reading program for kids ages 4 to 10. It is designed to help kids gain reading proficiency an be able to read and write on a third grade level. Perfect for school classroooms or homeschool families. After the initial assessment that is taken of each child enrolled in the program, the child is placed in the appropriate level of the curriculum. This prevents more advanced readers from having to start at the very beginning if they are already proficient in the beginning areas. Kids can use it on their own and it can be used as a reading curriculum or as a supplement to a curriculum you are already using. The recommendation is to use the program 4-5 days a week so regular progress can be made. You can sign up for a free 30-day trial here. After the free trial, the program costs $19.99 per month for the first child, or $199.99 per year. Each additional child is $9.99 per month or $99.99 per year. The program offers great feedback to parents and teachers in the form of progress reports that are visible with each login. Here is an example of my son’s recent reader report.
Upon logging in and clicking on the students name, the lesson begins. You are able to pause the lesson only once per lesson for about 12 minutes, if needed. The lesson provides several activities requiring the child to use the computer mouse to select the correct letters on the screen. You can also enable the program to allow you to type the requested letters using the computer keyboard if you have an older child who is already familiar with using the computer key for typing letters. I am going to show you a series of screenshots that demonstrate a couple of activities from level 1, where my son was placed after the assessment.
This screen was helping the kids recognize and spell the word not. The yellow block above is showing where the missing word goes. The child is instructed to use the mouse to spell the missing word. If they don’t spell it correctly or take too much time to respond to the commands, the word is shown or spelled for the student.
The second screen shows the word “not’ in several sentences. You are instructed to click on the words “not” in the sentences. Help is given if the student is unable to find all the words as instructed.
The last screenshot above shows several partially completed words and you are asked which of these words could be made into the word not. After selecting your choice by clicking on the word, you then fill in the blanks by using your mouse to select the appropriate missing letters from the on-screen keyboard (not shown). When the lesson is completed, you are taken to a screen where you can view your points accrued and your reader passport. You are also able to see how many points you have left to score to advance to the next level. My son is only a little more than 10,000 points away from advancing to level 3 in the program.
How we used this in our homeschool:
I had my seven-year old go through the evaluation process the first day and then we worked five days a week on the program using it as a summertime reading review and then as a supplement to his reading program when our school year resumed a couple of weeks ago.
My opinion of the program:
Pros – The lessons were concise and seemed to adjust to ability levels. My son never complained about doing his lesson. I liked that the lessons were also reinforcing capitalization and punctuation rules by requiring the student to add them to the sentences that they formed throughout the lessons. I loved the reader reports that helped me see my son’s performance and improvement throughout the course of the review. The animations were cute and kept the material from being boring. I have seen a slight improvement in my son’s reading since using the program. I will continue to use this since the lessons can be completed in 10 to 20 minutes a day. I think that the keyboard practice, the reading practice, and the grammar instruction make this an excellent program. There are readers, worksheets and other items available for purchase to complement the program.
Cons – the load time for each screen was a little slow. It seemed that there was a delay with each new screen that could have been avoided. We tried this on our brand-new computer and the problem persisted. It never interfered with the functioning of the program, it just seemed to lengthen the lesson slightly. My son never really noticed it.
If you have a reluctant reader like me, a child struggling with reading or an eager beginning reader, you should really check out what Reading Kingdom has to offer. It may be just the thing you need to help your kids succeed in reading.