During my first year on the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I had the opportunity to review Reading Kingdom, an online learning to read program. Supergirl really enjoyed the program so I am thrilled that we have the opportunity to use it and review it again.
Reading Kingdom is not a phonics program. It is not a sight word program (whole word). I would call it ‘whole language’ but the whole word/sight word method is sometimes called whole language so let me explain what I mean by ‘whole language’
Language Arts is the art of learning how to communicate. Reading and writing are two forms of communication that require different skills. When you are learning to read you are learning to decode those symbols into meaningful language. When you are learning to write words, you are learning how to take meaningful language and encode it for others to read or decode. When I say that Reading Kingdom is more ‘whole language’ I mean that it teaches both decoding and encoding. Children learn to read and spell. Dr. Marion Blank developed the Reading Kingdom program.
“It uses a 6 skill model of reading instruction that incorporates elements of phonics and whole language while teaching additional skills required for reading and writing success without requiring kids to learn any complicated rules.”
As you can see from the graphic, the program also teaches grammar and comprehension which are more elements of Language Arts. Right from the beginning children learn that every sentence begins with a capital letter and ends with punctuation. Now that we’re in level 2, Supergirl is also learning about quotation marks in addition to commas, periods and question marks.
I need to note that this is not a learn to type program. Reading Kingdom doesn’t teach a student to type nor does it require a child to use touch typing. It doesn’t require typing at all. You have the option of using an on-screen keyboard or the physical keyboard. Supergirl has been successful using her one finger hunt and peck method on the physical keyboard. The program does not a expect the children to touch type. Even when the shift key is necessary (for a capital letter or punctuation mark) the student simply presses the shift key and then presses the letter or symbol. She does NOT have to hold the shift key down while at the same time find the right key.
To be ready for the program the student must have some keyboarding and mouse skills. If the student does not possess these, there are keyboarding and mouse use lessons. The lessons are not intended to teach the letters or the sounds of the letters nor are they intended as typing or touch typing lessons but rather teach the the child *where* to find the letters on the keyboard. Let me reiterate again though that this not a typing or touch-typing course but rather Reading Kingdom teaches familiarity with the layout of the keyboard. Supergirl still has to do some hunting and pecking but generally she has learned what letters can be found in what areas. With Reading Kingdom you can increase the response time giving the child more time to hunt for the letters.
When she was working through some of the beginning skills and skills survey when we first reviewed the program it seemed very slow and tedious. Now that she is past that into the learning words I can see the difference it makes. And if she forgets where to find a letter, Reading Kingdom will show her a keyboard and flash the letter so that she can find it. I love that aspect. I love that if she just can’t remember where the w is or she takes too long in hunting for it, she will get assistance so that she can find it.
The website states that you can use the Reading Kingdom program along side your regular curriculum, however, I found it worked best for Supergirl if I set aside her other learn to read programs and her other spelling program and focused on Reading Kingdom. The website also says that to make progress children just beginning Kindergarten should work at least 4 days per week. Children in grades 1 and up should work for at least 5 days per week. I scheduled Reading Kingdom for 5 days per week but our average was 4 times per week. This was a good pace for her.
The last time we used Reading Kingdom, I found the parental reports to be lacking. They just didn’t have enough detail for me to really grasp what Supergirl was supposed to be learning and how well she was doing. Reading Kingdom has upgraded the reporting process and I love it! I can view a very general progress report showing how she’s done overall in each level:
To a very detailed report of how she has done with different “games” for a specific word:
And even in between! This screen shot shows how she’s done with each word for a particular book:
My Bottom Line: I regret that we did not do more with our subscription the last time we were generously blessed with a 12 month subscription. I’m not sure that Supergirl was truly mature enough but she certainly seems to be ready now. She liked the program before. Now? She loves the program. “I’m reading!” She always chooses 1 to 3 activities for review after she has finished her lesson for the day. I was skeptical though. Was she really reading? Was she really making progress? Would what she “read” on the computer screen translate to reading on paper? Well I tested her. Using words introduced through Reading Kingdom, I created several sentences for her to read. Sentences such as “The girls are not here.” “I like to talk.” “I like to eat but she does not.” and “Who likes to swim?” The look on her face was priceless. She was so excited. “I can read! I can read! Can I show Daddy?” Yes, she tried sounding out a few words and one word was a guess, but it was clear that yes, this program is working. She is retaining the knowledge and transferring it from the program to paper.
I think this program is well worth taking the time to investigate. Recommended for children ages 4-10, it is also suitable for slightly older struggling readers. It can seem pricey at $199.99 per year for one student (a monthly rate and discount for 2nd student is available) but Reading Kingdom is so dedicated to bringing literacy to children that they have a scholarship program available. Details are available on the Pricing Info page.
Be sure to visit the Reading Kingdom website where you can view sample lessons, get some learning tips, view testimonials, read the FAQs and find other resources. I also suggest reading this article which explains the different levels and the goals for each level. You can also try Reading Kingdom for free for 30 days!
Disclaimer: As a TOS Crew member, I received a one year subscription free of charge to review. I am required to write a review but I am not required to write a positive review. This review contains my and/or my daughters’ honest opinion with, hopefully, enough detail as to why I/ we liked or did not like a product so that my readers can make an informed decision. I received no compensation.
You can read my other Schoolhouse Review Crew Reviews by clicking here.