Wednesday, May 9, 2018

Reading Kingdom Review

There are plenty of online reading and phonics programs out there, particularly for the younger set, but as most moms know, whether they homeschool or not, is that they are NOT all created equal. There are times that I've looked into a program or app that people swear by, only to find out that it's too babyish, or not appropriate for a grade/age, or that it's completely ineffective as anything more than just a game. We were given the chance to check out an online program, and both girls enjoy their online reading lessons with Reading Kingdom.   This program was created for kids ages 4-10, to get them to a Lexile of 750 (approximately third grade).

Reading Kingdom

There are six levels that focus on teaching comprehension, grammar, phonics, sequencing, writing, and more. There was a good amount of keyboarding skill, which surprised me. Before starting Reading Kingdom, there is an optional assessment. Both my girls did the assessment before starting, since they have some reading skills, and were placed fairly appropriately (because they don't spend much time keyboarding yet, those skills kept them a little lower). Be warned, if you have an older student who is reading, the assessment is long. Madison had to do it in several sessions, because the length of it, as she mastered various levels, was making her lose interest. When I noticed her intentionally answering wrongly, just so the test would let her out, I knew it was time for a break. We took several days, and she did end up placed appropriately, but I wish the placement test would have moved a bit quicker once it was obvious that she'd mastered certain levels.

Reading Kingdom

The program is flexible, but for maximum effectiveness, it's recommended that students do 4-5 sessions a week, with each session lasting fifteen to thirty minutes. We school four days a week, so this fit in nicely with our schedule.

Reading Kingdom recommends that the students complete the testing and lessons on their own, which generally suited us well. I like online learning to be mostly independent, so I am freed up to work with my other child. Both girls required a little bit of technical help from me to get started, but were able to do the program alone without much difficulty. The parent dashboard allowed me to follow their progress.

The hardest adjustment was for my older daughter, with respect to the keyboarding. We do use touch screens, and she has some experience with a typical "computer", but most of our school is done the old fashioned way with paper and pencil. Her keyboarding skills are far below her reading skills right now and she was either frustrated that the reading was too easy, or frustrated that the typing was too hard (the program requires use of the shift key, finding symbols, etc., much more than basic letter finding). My younger started at a lower level and her skills were on par with each other much more quickly. If you began at four with a new reader, and were developing the skills concurrently, it wouldn't be much of an issue at all. We did push through, but it was frustrating for a while.

Finally, this program does feel like real "school", not a game. I don't think this is a bad thing, but it is worth mentioning. Rather than blasting letters or feeding creatures, you are really learning reading skills in a deliberate way. I like this a lot, and ultimately the girls liked it too, but it's not as much of a carrot as some educational apps. The progress though, is outstanding, for both new and experienced readers, and that's an excellent thing. We'll definitely keep it up!

Learn to Read with Reading Kingdom OR ASD Reading {Reviews}

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