Teaching children to read can be hard! There are many different approaches that all claim to be the best out there. Yet many children reach higher elementary and still struggle with reading. Some times the child just isn’t ready to learn yet and other times they just haven’t found the right teaching method that fits them. One my favourite reading programs is Reading Kingdom Online by Reading Kingdom. I’ve reviewed this program a few times in the past and my children loved it. Each time I’ve used it with one of my children I’ve seen large jumps in their reading and they suddenly start wanting to write stories on their own. There is something about this program that gets their creative mind going!
What Is Reading Kingdom Online?
Reading Kingdom Online is a fully online reading program that adapts to your child’s needs and pace. It's targeted to children aged 4 to 10 and is also great for older struggling readers. Reading Kingdom recommends that children do 1 to 2 lessons each day and 4 to 5 days a week to have the best retention and skills practice.
Many reading programs focus only on phonics or sight words and some use a combination of both. However these approaches do not work well for all children. Reading Kingdom uses a 6 skill integrated method that was developed by Dr. Marion Blank.
Children learn to:
All of the above skill sets are taught in an integrated way so that they work well together and reinforce what your child is learning.
Reading Kingdom's Seeing Sequences section children are taught that we read and spell from left to right. This is an important and some times difficult skill to learn because as Reading Kingdom talks about on their website young children are often shown groups of pictures and taught that they are all the same no matter what order they are in. However when it comes to reading that is not true!
Writing - They have children practice typing the words they are learning to help their memory retain the word. This isn't to hard for young children because they don't need to be fluent at keyboarding! If needed the parent can help them find the right letter on the keyboard or click on the on screen keyboard.
Reading Kingdom Online has a Letter Land program that really helps children to learn to use the keyboard. It also teaches upper case and lower case letters and simple punctuation.
Sounds/Phonics - English is a very irregular and difficult language! According to Reading Kingdom there are 1768 ways to spell 40 phonemes. To help with this phonics programs introduce rules for how to use the sounds. However there are so many exceptions to the rules that it can make learning to read with only phonics very difficult for many children.
To help with this Reading Kingdom using a brilliant approach of using "Bit blends". This is there technique that gives the child part of the sound blend and has the child complete the other part. In time the child learns how to do the blending on their own.
They also teach phonics by writing so children can see the sound patterns in different ways.
Meaning - Reading Kingdom uses a method that teaches words that naturally connect together. Instead of showing a list of words that sound similar and asking the child to pick what one matches the picture, they teach the meaning of words by using a story.
This establishes a contests to the words that are being learned and makes it easy for the child to understand the meaning of the word being used.
Grammar - Reading Kingdom teaches grammar in a meaningful but simple way. Instead of just having children memorize grammar they present the word,then have the child use the word in a sentence after that a picture that matches the sentence meaning is shown.
This helps the child to solidly connect the word to a picture.
They focus on teaching 100 of the most commonly used exception words and there meaning that make up to 60% of the text used on the page of a normal book.
Comprehension - Instead of using fill in the blank comprehension questions Reading Kingdom teaches children to summarise the stories they have read. This starts off very gentle and grows with their ability.
How Does It Work?
After you have created your child's account and they login to Reading Kingdom Online for the first time their first activity is a Skills Survey. This is an assessment test to determine where in the program your child will be placed. Once your child is unable to complete a section of the test, the test ends and is placed at the level the program believes they should start with. However if you find this level is to easy or hard for your child you can override the placement and move them ahead or back at any time.
Reading Kingdom stresses the importance of not helping your child to find the answers to the questions and games. This is because if you help them find the answer, then the program thinks they KNOW the answer. Since the program adapts to your child as they work helping them can through off the programs speed. It does suggest helping very young children operate the mouse or keyboard if needed.
If your child has been placed in the Letter Land area they will practice keyboarding skills and phonic sounds until they can pass that section.
Once they have passed out of Seeing Sequences and Letter Land they begin with the Reading and Writing levels. This section is made up of 5 levels and have 30 books to work through.
In each lesson a word is said and the child is asked to type the word. If they can type it successfully no further instruction on that word is given and the program moves on to the next word. However if the child can't type the word correctly then for that lesson they practice it.
How We Have Been Using Reading Kingdom
I received two 1 year subscriptions to Reading Kingdom for our review. I decided to use the program with our 8 year old and 11 year old. Our 11 year old could already read but struggled with they way other programs had taught reading. Since starting Reading Kingdom she is flying through her lessons each day. Of her own choosing she's been doing 3 or more lessons a day and loving it!
Our 8 year old is also really enjoying the program. She has some dyslexic symptoms that remind me very much of our oldest. So she is moving at a slower pace, 1 to 2 lessons a day. The seeing sequences was an important part of the program for her. It helps her to remember what order to read the words in and train her brain and eyes to work together.
What Do I Think?
I think that Reading Kingdom Online is a wonderful program to teach children to read with. It covers all learning styles and uses a solid integrated approach. It is by far the most comprehensive online reading program that I've seen. I really like that it uses real stories for children to read, not silly gibberish that doesn’t make sense.
I love that it keeps records for me that I can easily download in a spreadsheet format in my parents dashboard. Progress is shown to the child by symbols on their dashboard.
While we always practice reading together I love that this is a solid program that can take the lead in teaching reading, typing and grammar for me. I've used Reading Kingdom in the past with some of our children and they loved it. I remember the first time I tried the program I didn't like it! I just wasn't used to the methods they used. However ever time I have a child start working with this program I start seeing a big difference quickly. This is not just in their reading abilities but they start wanting to write stories all on their own. I really think that it is because Reading Kingdom integrates writing and grammar so well.
If you would like to see if Reading Kingdom is a good fit for your family, they offer a 1 month free trail!
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