Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Reading Kingdom - Review

I have one son who is a proficient reader but an atrocious speller and one son that is just now learning to read but can spell roads that he cannot read. So, when the opportunity to review a new online Reading program came along I thought it would be a great opportunity to work on reading with Zach and spelling with Paul.


According to the website, Reading Kingdom is an online, fun, and interactive game that "teaches children 4-10 years old how to read and write to a third grade level". Subscriptions to Reading Kingdom are $19.99/month or $199.99/12 months. You can also add an additional child for $9.99/month.

The program is cute and fun for the kids. For younger kids it starts with keyboard and mouse training. It is very important that kids know how to use the keyboard and mouse quickly and smoothly to utilize this program. Paul did not need any help with this although I did make him go through a couple of sessions to make sure he knew what this particular program expected of him. Zach spent 2 weeks learning to use the keyboard and mouse.

After this training the kids were given a "skills survey". Zach tested in to the Introduction to Reading: Seeing Sequences and Letter Land. This section works on sequencing as well as letter recognition and moving from left to right. Zach really likes the fun characters and the positive reinforcement that is offered. However, he gets very frustrated with the program due to the speed he was required to have with the keyboard and mouse. If you do not answer in the set amount of time (which seems very short for a beginning reader) the program shows you the answer and then has you try again. I like that it doesn't just give him the answer and move on but it makes him do it until he gets it right. After much work with Zach he just recently moved on to the reading portion:level 1. However, we are now seeing more frustration. Reading Kingdom does not teach phonics, instead it teaches whole word. Zach is learning phonics with our reading curriculum and doing very well, so switching to here is the word this is what it is is very difficult for him. The program jumps from making sure they know their letters to reading words like "girl" and "some". Zach is not ready for that. He did enjoy the games that were trying to teach him the word, but he did not grasp the concept that he was actually learning that word and was not able to read it even a few minutes after the lesson.

Instead of me repeating everything here I will just point you to their philosophy on reading on their website--here and here . In a nutshell Dr. Blank states that phonics does not work. Having taught Paul how to read with phonics and having learned with phonics myself I have a hard time with this concept.

Now, for Paul, he knows all his phonics and reads very well. However, the "skills survery" placed him in level 1 of the reading instruction. He was immediately frustrated as he had to learn to read the word "girl". The lessons are short--maybe 10 minutes, but he felt like it was an eternity for him to learn a word he already knew. The program does adjust to each child's ability by asking them to type words at the beginning of each lesson. If the child can type the word correctly they move on to the next word. There are a few words that the child cannot skip even if they type them correctly--for example; "and", "some", "the". Paul moved on to level 2 fairly quickly and is still bored and frustrated. The other frustrating part to him is if he mistypes a word he cannot go back and correct it with backspace. He will miss a key on the keyboard or be typing too quickly and switch two letters and then he has to do the entire lesson on that word that he already knows.

The parent/teacher can log in to each child's profile and view their progress. It does not give detailed information on what words they are learning, but it does tell you how they are progressing in each level.
Reading Kingdom

Reading Kingdom

So, as you can tell, Reading Kingdom did not work for my two boys. They were very frustrated. However, I know not all kids can learn phonics due to auditory processing problems, if I had a child with auditory processing problems I would definitely take a look at Reading Kingdom. You can sign up for a 30 day free trial and see if it is the right fit for you and your family.

Also, don't forget to take a look at what other Crew members had to say here. I happen to know that several of them really liked it and found it very beneficial to their kids.

Disclaimer: I received this product for free in exchange for my honest opinion of the product. There was no other compensation given for the review

1 comment:

Heather said...

We weren't chosen for this review, but I went to the site and did a preview anyway. My amigos did not really enjoy the program either. It was too tedious for them, and too repetitive. It helped some with their typing, and maybe their listening skills, but that's about it. I completely disagree with the view that phonics does not work. So does my mom, and she was a reading specialist for thirty-five years.