Friday, August 16, 2013

Reading Kingdom { Review }

     One of the things that I've really loved about homeschooling is being able to teach reading.  It has always been a keen interest of mine.  I have learnt so much over the last 20 years in this field, and even though I have a pretty good grasp at it, I'm always interested to see what other methods and programs are available.

So, for the past several weeks we've been using Reading Kingdom

{ About the Product }

     Reading Kingdom is an online subscription based program for children 4 - 10 years old that is designed to teach your child reading and writing up to the third grade level.

The program lists 6 different areas that it uses:

  • sequencing
  • writing
  • sounds
  • meaning
  • grammar
  • comprehension

It starts everything off with an introduction assessment - to see whether Seeing Sequences or Letter Land are required.
- Seeing Sequences
- Letter Land

The children had a choice to use either a mouse or the keyboard.

Then they do a Skills Survey - to determine where to start the reader.

     Finally they begin with the reading and writing.  There are quite a number of activities and words to practice, so it takes a while.  Each lesson is short though at about 15 mins.  Long enough to make some progress, but not too long where the child gets tired.

     One of the neat things about the program is that it keeps track of where your child is up to in the program, and will send you an email once the child has completed each level.  It will even tell you the last time that your child logged in.  

     Reading Kingdom recommends that it be used as a supplement to already existing curriculum.

{ How We Used It }

     Reading Kingdom were very generous and gave me 3 full subscriptions.   So I had Chloe { 8 }, Phebe { 6 }, and Hannah { 4 } all start the program.  

     Once the subscriptions were available, all we had to do was log in. Each child had their own separate account. The program would remember where they were at their last log in, and just continue on with the next lesson.

     The first couple of weeks required the girls to get to know the keyboard on the computer.  So they were doing a lot of work with that.

     My 6 and 8 year olds tired quickly of the novelty.  The 4 year old continued on with the program.  Chloe managed to get through to level 1.  Phebe almost to level 1.  Hannah is well into level 1 as well.

     Hannah { 4 }  As far as Hannah is concerned it was ALL fun and games.  I think she'd like to continue with it.  If I view it from a game only perspective, we could possibly continue to use it.  

     { a sample page - using the keyboard with a mouse to click the correct letter }

{ What I Thought: }

     They have cute graphics, and the program is interactive. The girls DID get very familiar with the keyboard on the computer. Even if it was via a mouse. It captures the child's attention without any problem.

     There is NO explicit phonics instruction within the reading program.  Your child will be asked to spell the word "bird" by typing b - i - r - d, not b-ir-d.  There isn't any sounding out in the sense of phonics, even though they do state that they use "sounds" in the program, what they presented would be more under the heading of name that letter.  Their method and philosophy, as it turns out, is very contrary to my 20 years of homeschooling knowledge and experience.

     There was a considerable delayed / dawdling computer time between each question and section.  This meant that the child does not get taught to focus for any length of time.  In fact, it breaks their concentration.  It reminded me very much of what a TV does to a child's mind. 

     Very early on in the program they would do an activity where you had to make a word based on a loosely jumbled selection.  This really worried me, and sent up alarm bells ringing, because I do not believe that this is good teaching.  If you want a child to write a word correctly, you should have them see it correctly.  They shouldn't be messing around with incorrect spelling examples.  Why imprint incorrect spelling on a child's mind?

{ example }

Edited AGAIN - for like the 3rd time.

As some of you know, I did actually have quite a bit more added to this review, but it was mostly focused on how the company presented the program, but I have removed it.  I felt that some of the company's presentation was misleading, if not leaning upon dishonesty.  I don't really want to speak negatively about a company, particularly one so generous in giving us subscriptions to their program.  So I've tossed to and fro with this for a few weeks now.  What to say, what not to say.  What should I say, what should I not say?  Writing reviews are much harder to do than I originally thought.  So difficult that I've actually quit doing reviews.  This is my last one.

My main concern is that if you are a visual person and you go to their website and you look it over, it will look awesome.  That's what I did, and how I felt about it in the beginning.  However, I failed to read ALL the really small fine print very closely  { I briefly perused it but thought it was all good }.  I relied more upon what I was seeing on the website.  I'm a visual person.

Now, my point is, that somewhere, someplace, another parent is going to go to Reading Kingdom and do exactly as I did.  Perhaps she'll even go there on recommendation from another parent.  Then she'll pay for a subscription.  Still all good because the children will probably love it.  What won't be good is that there isn't ANY phonics in it.  She may feel, as I did, that she was misled, even if it was in a small way.  And that won't leave good feelings.  Especially if you've paid for a subscription.

This program was not for us.

{ How much it costs: }

     There is a 30 day free trial - if you'd like to try it out, just to see what you think.

     One may purchase a monthly subscription for $19.99 for the first child, or $199.99 per year.  
You can add additional readers for $9.99 a month, or yearly for $99.99.

     As always, thank you so much for visiting, and don't forget to visit Reading Kingdom for additional information, because after all, this is only my point of view, and is only ONE persons point of view - at that.  

     Oh, and please do check out some of the other awesome reviews done by my fellow crew members as well.  Yes, you really should.  :o)  


  1. OK, a child with dysgraphia [I had 2 of those] really benefits from writing on the computer ~ so that would be a plus.

    Secondly, I know plenty of schools that do no, or minimal, phonics. I have very impolite thoughts about this but I have known the odd child who doesn't benefit from phonics instruction but works well with the sight word thing.

    I'm with you completely on the concentration thing. I remember the Grade 1 teacher who was shocked that my grade one student would concentrate for the full chapter of TLTW&TW or could read Milly~Molly~Mandy for herself.

    And yes, I am still interested as I will be teaching reading up at the local school again ~ to a new lot of kids who have fallen through the phonicless cracks!

  2. I'm not saying that whole language - sight words are bad, { we do use them even if phonics is being used } I'm just saying that NO phonics is bad. ha ha ha ha :o) Just wanted to clarify a bit more.

    Yes, I forgot to take into account that some children DO find writing with a pencil very difficult, and using a mouse/keyboard would be beneficial for them.

  3. I think you need a combination of both Whole Language and Phonics and for them not to be treated separated! This program looks great - I wonder if schools can get subscriptions? Otherwise it would be a great one for children to use at home as extra reinforcement!

    Teaching Maths with Meaning

  4. Yes, I agree, there does need to be BOTH, because that is how our language works.

    Yes, schools and teachers can get subscriptions. :o)

  5. We reviewed this too & it's so interesting to read other people's experience & thoughts!!

  6. I would also like to ADD that it is ESSENTIAL that a child be taught spelling and syllabification rules as well.


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