Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Make Reading Lessons Easy with Reading Kingdom! {A Review}


Our family would like to thank Reading Kingdom for the opportunity for this review.

  • Do you have a child that likes learning online and is ready to read?
  • Have you been trying to help a developing reader move from decoding simple words to comprehending longer passages?
  • Would you like to help your 4-10 year old child move from where she is at now to reading and writing at a third grade level?
  • Are you looking for an "easy button" for independent English Language Arts learning time?

Reading Kingdom could be an ideal fit for you!

What is Reading Kingdom?

Reading Kingdom is a subscription-based online program that adapts to the skill level of your 4-10 year old child, creating a custom-tailored online learning environment that will bring your child up to a third grade level of reading and writing.

If your child is a beginning reader and uses
Reading Kingdom 4-5 times weekly, it will take about 12-15 months to complete the program.  If your child is a bit further ahead to begin with, she may master all of the skills the program presents within 3-6 months.  Or, if your child, like mine, cannot take time for ELA lessons online on a daily basis, using the program less often can still bring positive results! 

As you can see, my two youngest children - who began this round of lessons with Reading Kingdom beyond Level 1 after completing placement tests - have been using the program an average of 3.7 days per week and have each completed over 20% of the levels they are at in just a month with excellent progress.

Basically, I started each child with a 20-30 minute placement test.  Then,
Reading Kingdom placed my children at appropriate levels, and they have been doing one lesson each time they sit down with the computer, with the lessons typically take just 12-20 minutes to complete. That delights me, because I know my children are getting short, effective bursts of learning without getting too much screentime!

I also like that
Reading Kingdom tracks how my children are doing each week using a graphic-based key, so they can see how they are doing.

Plus, as I parent, I can access downloadable progress reports that tell me exactly how long my children have been spending on each lesson, how they are progressing, what words lessons are targeting, etc.  These reports are quite helpful since my children are using Reading Kingdom as designed - all on their own - and, therefore, I am not always sure how they are doing.  

What do I mean by "as designed?"  Well,
Reading Kingdom suggested that, besides giving your child some hand-over-hand mouse movement and clicking help, if needed, you do not provide your child with any aid with the program.  For the program adapts to your child's skill level and can only do that effectively with no parent coaching.  

Of course, you are welcome to sit next to your child to observe.  And,if you do so, you may be surprised to see that words like "girl" and "boy" are presented before words like "at", "cat" and "sat".  Bear with this and trust the program.  Phonics are presented.  They simply are blended with other literacy skills. 
Reading Kingdom is purposefully designed to use more than the typical letter-sound based approach that many strictly phonics-based early reading programs do.  In fact, it employs a Six Skill Integrated Method patented by Dr. Marion Blank, a world-renowned expert on literacy

The six traits that the method keys into are:

  • sequencing
  • motor skills
  • sounds
  • meaning
  • grammar
  • comprehension 

How Does the Program Work?

When your child logs onto
Reading Kingdom for the first time, an assessment comes up which determines where in the program your child will automatically be placed.  If your child cannot effectively complete a particular section of the assessment, no further questions are presented for the moment.  Rather, your child moves on to develop skills at the level indicated.  (If, however, you note that your child already has the skills necessary for a section they are automatically placed in, you can override your child's auto-placement, moving your child forward or back as you feel is necessary.)

Once placed at one of the five levels within the program, your child is presented with exercises and games in order to master skills.  These activities include multiple "books" per level, which means that by the end of the program your child will read over two dozen books independently!

Of course, between the "books",  your child will have plenty of sound, word, and typing practice.  But, not too much.  For, the software is designed to skip over words that your child can already read and "write". (The "writing" is actually keyboarding). 

The automated adjustments of the program, thus, help your child avoids drill-and-kill (as long as keyboard- or touch-screen typing are not issues) and accelerates with learning at a custom-designed pace.

Further, at the conclusion of each of the five levels of reading and writing that the program offers, a Progress Check is made.  This helps the program software to ensure that your child's reading achievements are on track.  If they are, your child moves onto the next level.  If not, your child is given a set of review activities to encourage stronger progress.

Finally, along with all the automated, individualized features of the program,
Reading Kingdom offers your child a sense of being in control of his or her own learning.  At the conclusion of lessons, there is a component that allows your child choose to do more activities or not.  This feature can motivate your child with a sense of "I know I need to learn to read, and I can determine how much reading practice I am ready for right now." 

Obviously, with all these features,
Reading Kingdom is a comprehensive program that can help your child master reading skills to a third-grade level.  It can do this as a stand-alone reading curriculum or can be used to supplement whatever approach you are already using.

Since the program works on any device with an internet connection, including Windows, Mac, iPad, Android, Chromebooks, etc., it can be used at home or on-the-go in order to help your child achieve reading success!

Our Experience

Several years ago, two of my children tried out
Reading Kingdom and were finding success with it, however, life - as it so often does - took us off course and we never finished using the program.  Thus, when an opportunity came up to review the program this year, I asked my two youngest children if they'd like to give it a try. 

They both did and have been using the program 3-4 times a week for the past month.

One of my children is at at-level learner and had this to say about

Reading Kingdom:

I use Reading Kingdom three times a week.  I log in, hit start, then do the lessons.  The lessons involve mostly typing and spelling. It's easy.  I am learning. 

I don't like that they focus on one word each lesson.  I do like that they split each lesson apart into sections and you can see where you are, so you know when the lesson will be done.

He is a compliant learner who appreciates opportunities to work on his own and, having met with success, move from online learning to play breaks!  The program works for him - and me - because it strengthens his skills on days I cannot do 1:1 learning time with him, and it also is easy, pleasant - and not too long at any one time - for him to use.

My other child that is using
Reading Kingdom has long struggled with reading and writing, yet seeks more independence during lesson times.  Thus, Reading Kingdom is offering her an opportunity to work without me, learning at her own pace, with incremental skill advances.  She has been frustrated that lessons seem to include more spelling and word work than book reading, because book reading is her ultimate goal, but she also understands that one thing builds on another.

When I asked my daughter for her thoughts for this review, she said:

I wanted to try Reading Kingdom again, because I liked it okay last time and am better at patience now.  I hoped to get a lot of reading out of it.  I want to read books and stuff and wanted this program to focus on reading.
I have used it three times a week usually, sometimes more.  I have found it is mostly spelling, so I don't know why they call it Reading Kingdom.  It should be called Spelling Kingdom.

Every lesson, there are words you focus on, and you spell them and make sentences with the words in them. 

Some lessons are like reading a book.  I have only reached one of those.

The lessons have graphics included in them, so you could call it a game.  I find the program fun, besides that when I type, sometimes, I type the right keys on the keyboard and it says I typed things wrong.  I don't know if this is a glitch with my computer, the program, or both.

Also, sometimes, they have you read things and make you wait too long to go on. 

I think Reading Kingdom has helped me some.  I can work independently with it. 

I want to still use it sometimes now that the review is over...  I think it would be good for kids who need graphics to focus and want to learn to spell and read.

Final Thoughts...

I am glad
Reading Kingdom came into our household again, because it has been offering us peaceful, consistent reading and writong skills practice and learning even when I am not available to do 1:1's with my children.  I love that lessons are tailored to each child's skill level and take only 12-20 minutes to complete.  I also appreciate that they can be done independently.  I would recommend the program to others with developing readers, especially those who struggle and enjoy learning online. 

Although neither of my children rave about
Reading Kingdom, both use it effectively and I am seeing fruit.  My youngest son is getting a steady diet of independent ELA lessons and my daughter is currently progressing with her reading and writing skills through a combination of Reading Kingdom and 1:1 lessons with me. In fact, today, when I sat down with her to read something, I was happily surprised by her increasing fluency and credit Reading Kingdom for part of her success.

I hope my children and I can stay focused enough over the next 3-6 months to keep up a habit of regularly using
Reading Kingdom, because it truly is a sound and helpful program.

I recommend
Reading Kingdom to families with developing readers or struggling ones that seek independent learning online. 
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Sixty-five Homeschool Review Crew families reviewed Reading Kingdom or ASD Reading, which is made specifically for children on the spectrum.  Find all the reviews linked at the Homechool Review Crew.

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