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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Reading Kingdom and How We Liked It: An Online Reading Program Review

When I was offered the opportunity to review Reading Kingdom, and online reading program, I was thrilled. I had been planning to buy a subscription for my kids to some kind of online learning software for the summer, and so this seemed pretty serendipitous!

My eleven year old daughter, and eight year old son were both born in Ethiopia and have only been in our family for about a year and a half. Though they have made amazing progress academically in that year and a half, they are both still significantly behind their peers in school (our eleven year old especially). So we're always looking for ways to give them extra academic practice, in a fun way!

Here's a little bit about Reading Kingdom (from their website):

"The Reading Kingdom is a fun, easy-to-use online program that teaches children 4-10 years old how to read and write to a third grade level.

  • Most kids can use the program on their own after just a few lessons.

  • It's fun so children think they're playing a game and want to practice.

  • It was created by Dr. Marion Blank, Director of the Light on Learning Program at Columbia University and one of the world's top experts in reading.

  • It works with any other curriculum a child may be using.

  • It's the only program to offer customized online reading instruction for each child.

  • And, it's the only system that teaches all 6 skills needed for reading & writing success!
"Our commitment to online reading for kids is based on our patented six skills method for reading success. These skills include sequencing, motor skills, phonics (phonemic awareness), meaning, grammar and reading comprehension. Our online reading for kids program is ideal for preschool, kindergarten, first grade, second grade, third grade, special education, homeschool, and English as a second language. The Reading Kingdom online reading for kids program is an ideal supplement to existing curricula, as well an excellent independent curriculum. Our online reading for kids program is also a great educational alternative to other entertainment options. In fact, most children refer to the Reading Kingdom as a reading game, since it is so fun to play. We're proud that our reading programs for kids are thought of as reading games (especially by kids!)."

 The program is supposed set up to be individually tailored to your child's skill level. It tracks your child's progress and parents can keep track of how their child is doing and where they're at. I really liked the progress on the program. And I like how easy it is to get into, log on, and get going. You can stop in the middle of a lesson, and come back and pick up exactly where you left off easy-peasy.

Both my kids were placed at the very beginning of the Reading Kingdom program, and it seemed to be pretty far below where even they are academically.

The first unit was typing/keyboard practice, and both my kids found it very boring and redundant. I admit, I finished this section for them (which you're not supposed to do as the parent) so they could move onto a more challenging unit and stay interested, but unfortunately even then the program wasn't keeping their attention or interest. I did get them past all the typing practice (which took a long time), but my son was about as bored with the second unit as the first. 

I sat down and did some it myself so I could get a feel for the program and I found myself frustrated with most of the same aspects of the program. I understand that repetition is helpful in learning, but my kids were getting agitated by the bland way in which the material was constantly repeated over and over (having them spell the word "some" five times in a row). My kids actually kept thinking that the program wasn't working because it would give them the same instruction over and over and over again with little to no variation. 

I was hoping a computer program for my kids to practice their reading skills on would be highly motivating for them (they love when I give them any kind of screen time), but neither one has been interested much after their first and second times working with the program. At Literacy Launchpad we're all about reading motivation, and I was disappointed that my kids (and myself) didn't find much motivating about Reading Kingdom. 

I still would recommend that you give Reading Kingdom a try if you think your child might benefit from an online reading program. I have heard other families say they had good experiences with the program, and Reading Kingdom offers a 30 day FREE trial, so there's no risk in giving it a try. My kids are a bit on the older side (for this program), and can sometimes be hard to impress when it comes to games and gadgets, so I would say check it out for yourself! 

Note: Reading Kingdom did want to remind Literacy Launchpad readers that the program is directed toward children aged Pre-K to third grade.  

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