Monday, August 19, 2013

Reading Kingdom (TOS Review)

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According to the Department of Education, 2 out of 3 children fail to become proficient readers.  What???  How is this the status quo?  I'm sure reasons such as this contribute to why many of us choose to homeschool.  We want a different outcome for our children and are always on the lookout for resources, tools, and programs that will aide us in this endeavor.  Let me introduce you to one.

Dr. Marion Blank, a reading expert known worldwide, has created an online program designed to teach 4-10 year olds how to read and write to a third grade level.  Unlike other programs, Reading Kingdom incorporates elements of both phonics and whole language while teaching additional skills needed to achieve reading and writing success. Rather than requiring kids to learn numerous complicated rules, it utilizes the six skills method for reading which teaches the rules implicitly.  Sequencing, motor skills, phonemic awareness, meaning, grammar, and reading comprehension are all areas of focus within the program.  Using this unique model, the online program can support any and all reading/writing curriculum available.  For this reason, it is being used successfully in homeschools, preschool - 3rd grade classrooms, ESL programs, and special education classes. 

I was generously given accounts for all three of my children.  Each one has used the program.  From just our short review period, I can see the benefits and am looking forward to continuing to use this program in our homeschool. 

When beginning the Reading Kingdom program, parents are given the direction to allow the kids to complete this program on their own.  With the exception of answering basic operating questions (mouse/keyboard), the parents are to take a backseat.  Hard for a helicopter Momma not to be more hands on, rephrase, or give additional directions, but by design, this program is meant for the child to complete on his own at his pace. 

To begin, the kids took a placement survey.  The first part evaluates reading readiness by testing the student's ability to sequence.  Then, typing skills are evaluated.  

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The best reader of my three had the worst typing skills.  To his frustration, he had to spend some time improving upon his hunting and pecking tactics before getting into the reading aspect of the program.  During this time he was quoted, "Mom, is Reading Kingdom suppose to be fun?"  He was wanting more of a video game atmosphere.  However, he moved quickly through the typing portion, and soon landed at the appropriate reading level (much farther along than the other two).  Then, he wasn't quite as disturbed about using the program.  The bonus... he now has knowledge of and familiarity with the order of letters on the keyboard, the space bar, punctuation marks, CAPS LOCK, and the shift function. 

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Time is not wasted continually reviewing prior knowledge but constantly offers new challenges.  Reading Kingdom will customize to match each child's ability.  Therefore, the student can work autonomously and the program will continue to adjust throughout to align with the child's skill level.  The program is designed to minimize error.  If and when error occurs, specific techniques are offered to overcome the problem. 
For my daughter, who is fearful of making mistakes, the continual positive reinforcement was very motivating.  The applause and kudos heard from the computer were encouraging to her.  She sat in front of the screen with a huge grin on her face. 

On average, the lessons take 15-30 minutes to complete.  If the child needs to pause or stop the program, there are buttons located at the top of the screen.  Upon returning, the kid student will return to where he left off.  The pause feature was especially helpful for my fidgety kiddo who inevitably had to go to the bathroom in the middle of each lesson.  So fear not... even a case of the wiggles won't interfere :)

The program is intended to be used 4-5 times per week.  At this pace, the entire program can be finished in a 12-15 month time span.  That is pretty impressive since the program goes through a third grade level!  Of course, an important reminder for us all:  There is never a rush and children should be allowed to progress naturally at their own pace!!!

On the Reading Kingdom website there is a tab I don't want you to miss!  Be sure and view all the available Resources.  In this section, you will find videos, tutorials, and answers to your questions.  Holiday-themed worksheets, interactive games to practice comprehension, sight-word study, activities, and recommended books are all included.  There are even weekly learning tips available.  This section could easily be missed, but it offers so much!

PhotobucketA risk-free Reading Kingdom account can be created and used free of charge for 30 days.  As always, I suggest you start with FREE before investing any money.  You want to make sure the program is a good fit for you child.  Afterwards, a subscription can be purchased for $19.99/mo or $199.99/yr for your first reader.  Additional readers are $9.99/mo or $99.99/yr.  You can also purchase books, kits, and other supporting resources in the Reading Kingdom Store

Having reviewed this program before, I only had one child working through it.  This time I used it with all three.  Even with their various learning styles and abilities, I saw that this program was beneficial to each of them.  We will continue to use this program in our homeschool.  Why don't you click the button below and see what other Schoolhouse Review Crew members are saying about Reading Kingdom?


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