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Tuesday, October 6

Reading Kingdom : Review


Reading Kingdom is an interactive, online reading and writing subscription suitable for children in preschool through third grade between the ages of 4-10.  Six essential skills are targeted through the Reading Kingdom Online program. They are sequencing, motor skills, sounds, meaning, grammar, and comprehension.  Additionally, typing is a strong skill needed and practiced throughout the use of this program.
Reading Kingdom Online consists of five reading levels and each level contains six books. That's 30 books your child will read independently by the end of this program! The child graduates from very simple books and words to more advanced books and words over time. Each level teaches the child to recognize, type, spell, understand, and read 100-150 plus words and their variants using a minimum of four "game" formats. 

Our Experience
The Reading Kingdom's Skills Survey determines where a child will be placed in the program.  The program claims to evaluate and place the child at the correct reading level.  Watching over my son’s shoulder, however, I noticed that it is very touchy about how you respond during that test.  In my opinion, I think it was more difficult for him to do the placement test because of his ‘newness’ to reading and limited typing skills.  It was very frustrating to both of us when he was placed at the very first level, based on how slow his answers came during the test.  

After a week at this level, and repeated tears and frustration about how this was ‘baby stuff,’ I manually moved him to the next level, where he was much happier.  Without the ability to manually move him up, we probably would have quit using the program.  While the second level was still a review, to some degree, it was more challenging, designed for older kids, and gave him a chance to practice his typing and spelling skills through more age-appropriate games.

Although my perspectives and approaches about reading and writing differ from this program, I still believe that the program has a lot to offer all readers. This program can be used as a standalone curriculum for some individuals, but I personally would use it strictly as a supplement to complement a reading and phonics curriculum.  


Pros
  • The child's level is determined based on the results of a thorough skills survey. You can give the child a short break in between assessment sessions, if needed. Otherwise, the skills survey may be too frustrating and long for some children. 
  • The teaching sessions are short with the ability to pause or stop a session if necessary. 
  • The company offers a 30-Day Free Trial.  I would create an account and take advantage of this offer if I were you. See if it works for your child and if you can afford the subscription, then continue using it afterwards. Subscription is risk free - you can cancel subscriptions at any time.
  • Children can work on this program independently after only a few monitored sessions. They ask that parents do NOT assist the child during the lessons. 
  • Parents have the ability to track their child's progress using simplified picture icons. These icons indicate a child's progress and performance level.  The summarized and convenient session reports and results are also e-mailed to the parent on a regular basis. 
Cons
  • This seems more like a spelling and typing program than a reading program, and I can’t see it as a core curriculum.  Phonics is barely covered in the program.  I prefer a philosophy that includes a balance between phonics and whole language approaches. 
  • There was an extremely long delay in response or wait time between activities.  The website wouldn’t load at all, regardless of what browser used.  Once we got into the program, he would answer a question correctly and couldn't move on to the next activity until the arrow showed up.  He got very frustrated with the amount of ‘downtime.’   Close to 75% of the time, our screen looked like this :  
  • We came across a couple glitches in the program. There were several times that he answered correctly, but the program counted it wrong. Also on several occasions, it froze and we needed to log out and log back into the program. 
  • Lessons were not taught about commas and capitalization; the program assumed the child has background knowledge of these concepts and their applications.  As he completed lessons, he would get parts wrong, because they expected him to add a comma to the sentence. They program never taught him how and when to use commas. 
Reading Kingdom Review 
See what others are saying about Reading Kingdom over at the Schoolhouse Review Crew
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