Sunday, April 1, 2012

Reading Kingdom

When my daughter started preschool this year, she filled out a survey about her likes/dislikes and what she was looking forward to and what she wanted to learn. Normally parents would fill out this survey, but because her brother was filling one out for his class, she wanted to do hers too, so I had to write all of her answers on the dry erase board so she could fill it out. In response to the question, what do you hope to learn about this year, her answer was reading. Being that she is in preschool and many of her friends are still learning their letters, the teachers have been working with her some on reading, but they have to focus on the larger class needs. So, what they are doing is while her classmates spend time each day learning to first recognize and then learn their first and last name, their address and their phone numbers, she has been working her way through some site words and associated books that focus on those site words and picture cues for the other words.

She really does want to learn and I think that her brother (who claims not to like to read) is her strongest influence. Frankly, she wants to do everything that he does. He has a daily reading goal for school, so he spends 15 minutes reading most nights once he climbs into bed. So, of course, when she goes to bed, most nights she also asks if she can read in bed. It really is rather sweet to peak in on. There she is 5 years old, 'reading' her chapter books and making up the cutest stories as she turns through the pages of nothing but words. I can't wait until she can read them.

So, when I learned about the online program, Reading Kingdom, I was curious, would this be a tool that could help my daughter achieve her goal?

The program allows the child to start with mouse and keyboard training, which helps them improve their skills with the mouse and keyboard. If they only need to work on one or the other, they can elect to do keyboard only or mouse only. If your child is already comfortable with both the mouse and keyboard, they can skip this section altogether.

The program starts with a skills assessment, which helps determine the right place to start them in the program. For my son, who is older and already reading, it moved him to the second section. For my daughter, who is just learning to read, it put her into the first section to work on Seeing Sequences and Letter Land. In Seeing Sequences, the focus is on getting them to recognize and repeat sequences. Initially, the sequence (word) they need to match by clicking on the right letters below, stays on the screen. Then, later in the program, they are shown the sequence (word) and then it disappears and they select the letters. Letter Land slowly moves them through the keyboard, helping them to become more familiar and comfortable with the keyboard.

After completing Seeing Sequences and Letter Land, or if those sections are needed based on Skills Assessment, the next sections are increasing levels of Reading and Writing. In this section, it very systematically moves them through the process, introducing them to new words and teaching them the building blocks. With each section, there are more words and the words and stories become more complex.

Assuming your child does about 4-5 sessions per week, it will take several weeks to get through the different levels. I like that it takes the time to allow your child to become fully comfortable with each level, but I can tell you that for an eager child, they sometimes ask why they are still doing this and not the next thing. I told my daughter that the program is making sure that she has had plenty of practice so that she is fully ready for the next level. To encourage her to keep moving through the sessions, I encourage her to do a session of Reading Kingdom before playing other programs on the computer.

She is still in the early section, working on Seeing Sequences and Letter Land (she is 90% and 81% complete respectively), but I can already tell that this program, coupled with what her teachers are helping her learn at school is really getting her moving towards reading. The other night, she read a book to me. It was rather cool. One other day, she came into my room early in the morning and was asking about a box, you know a 'b' - 'o' - 'x'. Which I found to be cute. I look forward to her continued progress in her quest to learn to read.

After having my older son play with the program for a few weeks, I can say that if your child can read, that the program really isn't geared for them. He humored me and worked through a few sessions so that I could look at how the lessons evolved. He reads chapter books, so it seems reasonable that a learn to read program is not for him. I wanted to see, since he is 8 and the recommended range is 4 - 10 years old. If your child is not fully comfortable with reading, it would be a great reinforcement tool, but from my experience a child that reads chapter books is likely beyond the program.

The program sends a weekly update e-mail to the parent updating you on their progress. You can see how they are progressing and how they are doing in each section - Good Performance; Very Good Performance or Excellent Performance. I like that I get an update by e-mail, but that I can also go in at any time to see how they are progressing. As a parent, you also have the option to have them repeat the Skills Assessment. This might be a nice way to go back and confirm their progress as they complete more of the sessions.

"The Reading Kingdom is more than a phonics program. It’s an online reading program for children ages 4 to 10 that teaches six skills needed for reading and writing success. Created by Dr. Marion Blank, one of the world's top experts in literacy, the reading system is beloved by parents and has helped thousands of kids to learn to read."

The Reading Kingdom was created by literacy and education expert Dr. Marion Blank, the Director of the Light on Literacy program at Columbia University. It goes above and beyond the traditional phonics programs you may already know. The program teaches children learning skills using six key skills needed for reading and writing success.

- Most kids can do this online reading program on their own after just a few lessons
- It's fun and children enjoy doing it
- It's created by Dr. Marion Blank, one of the world's top experts in literacy
- 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!

You can learn more, by checking out their website at They have information about the program, sample lessons and more. You can also take a more hands on approach by signing up at Reading Kingdom and taking advantage of the free 30-day trial. After that, the program is just $19.99 / month or save money (20%) by subscribing for a full year at $199.99 / year. If you are a teacher, you can also check out a 30-day trial and contact them directly about pricing for using this program in your classroom.

You can also Like Reading Kingdom on Facebook and Follow them on Twitter.

No compensation was received for this post. A complimentary one year subscription was provided to Reading Kingdom in order that my children and I could experience the program. All opinions expressed are mine or that of my family.