Reading Kingdom: Review

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This year I’m getting ready to teach reading for the third time. The first time I began reading instruction with my oldest I felt completely inadequate and unprepared. My background is middle school education and so even though I took a reading class in college, I never thought I’d be teaching it. Then both of my oldest daughters, always eager to learn, started asking, begging to learn at age three. While I didn’t start their reading instruction that young, they were reading on a 1st grade level before they turned five.

And now there is almost four-year-old Grace. The sweet little thing is so incredibly distraught she doesn’t know how to read yet, but repeatedly tells me she doesn’t want me to teach her. I’m not a fan of teaching reading to very young children, but when children show an interest in any kind of learning I do not want to hold them back. She is incredibly advanced and her hesitancy has surprised me. I had decided to hold-off on her reading instruction for a while until I had this chance to review Reading Kingdom. This is a computer based reading program to be used with pre-readers through a 3rd grade reading level. I hesitate to list an age because kids learn at such different paces, but the website says it is intended for ages 4-10. It allows children to move at their own pace, requires mastery of a skill before moving forward, and as excited my little reader. The price is $19.99 per month or $199.99 for an entire year with discounts for multiple children. A 30-day risk-free trial is also available to try out first.

Grace has enjoyed using this almost every day…so much in fact she asks, “Can I play my owl game?” even after school has finished for the day. She started by taking an assessment which placed her where she needed to be. Parents are firmly instructed not to help at all with the exception of helping with hand control. This assures the child is accurately placed and will be able to work on their own. I followed this guideline and since Grace is used to using the computer I didn’t need to help her with the mouse at all. 

The program then begins at the appropriate level. I wish there was a bit more indication of what the levels were, but this is not preventing her from moving forward. I do really like the reports which you can access at any point. She has moved on much more rapidly than I expected. I’m not certain how her progress is measured, but I can see she has completed 10% of the entire program and 17% of the current level which is working with letters. I would really like a better understanding of where she is, but I am pleased there is a report to see.

Grace works on her own needing no assistance beyond accessing the website. She loves the owl. I’m not sure what has captured her about the character exactly, but she is particularly fond of it. She will sometimes complete more lesson in one day, but since I know the program will not allow her to progress without mastery this is fine. This is an example of what she is doing now. She is asked to identify the letters listed on the top row in the same order on the bottom row using the keyboard. There is an option to use the actual keyboard or an on-screen mouse activated keyboard. I have chosen the latter at Grace’s request. I think this is better for her age anyway because she can keep her focus on the screen. 
I would recommend this program to those looking for computer-based reading instruction, but from this point on I will only be using it to supplement the phonics curriculum I have already used for a couple of reasons. The first is I really do not care for computer-based only instruction for our family. Kids spend so much time in front of screens I prefer to do most of their learning through books and experience. The second is I disagree with some of the philosophy behind this reading program. While it is working well and Grace enjoys it I find some flaws in their assertions about reading instruction and why traditional approaches are failing the majority of students. 
To read more reviews of this program from my Crewmates click below!

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4 thoughts on “Reading Kingdom: Review”

  1. I too have the very same concerns and reservations about this program and their philosophy. I am very relieved that I am not the only person that has said as much. It's nice to have someone else validate what I was thinking. The program is very nice and cute, and my daughter quite likes it, but I have found that my 4 year old is actually slightly regressing with her reading ability – we stopped her normal phonics instruction and revision for her to spend the time with this program.

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  2. I have very strong opinions about reading instruction and what is good and what isn't. My middle school education background is a big reason for this. My two-year stint teaching full-time before the girls came along was incredibly revealing. My students had not been taught phonics the majority were in a very sad state when it came to literacy. Those who did well either learned phonics at home or came from a different school. While I have appreciated many aspects of the program, their philosophy makes me a bit wary. I'm glad you have taken time to assess what is best for your daughter 🙂

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