Wednesday, October 7, 2015

A TOS Review: Reading Kingdom Online

Let’s talk about reading.

We have had somewhat of a “love/hate relationship” with reading in our house. I LOVE to read. Books have been some of my favorite friends. You can imagine that I was floored when it was discovered that Josiah is dyslexic.

He does not like to read. We have spent quite a few years trying to find the perfect approach to help him in his reading struggles. One such approach was one we reviewed a few years ago. Reading Kingdom Online from Reading Kingdom. I was thrilled to be able to review it again.

How did you learn to read? A certain generation learned to read via Dick and Jane.  This was sometimes called the Look/Say method. Many of us learned to read using phonics. In phonics students are taught rules concerning letters and combination of letters. Another method is called Whole Language. Whole Language Instruction teaches reading by recognizing words as whole pieces of language. 

Primarily, Phonics and Whole Language Instruction is what is used today.

Both methods are flawed. Our issues with phonics has been always been the 600 +  rules. And the exceptions. Whole Language Instruction on the other hand focuses little on sound. There is little structure within Whole Language Instruction and the Boy needs a pattern of some sort to follow.

The battle between Phonics and Whole Language Instruction has been waged for nearly a century.

The wise teacher uses a combination of both methods. Reading Kingdom does not focus simply on one or the other. The program uses a method using six skills. These are:

Phonics sounds
Word meanings
Reading Comprehension

One of the beauties of the program is that it uses play as instruction. I have found in my years of teaching a dyslexic boy to read is that you have to present the material in a variety of ways. He needs to see it, hear it, write it or touch it if need be. Using games to help him in his journey has been invaluable.

Before I tell you about our review this time around I need to tell you that when a student finishes Reading Kingdom he or she will be able to read at a 3rd grade level. It is intended for children ages 4-10. However (and this is important), I love using it for Josiah. He is 13 and reads ABOVE a 3rd grade level at this point in his schooling. Which is HUGE!

But. I have discovered that these kiddos who struggle need constant practice. Using Reading Kingdom has not only allowed him to practice some of those basic skills, but has increased his confidence.

Let’s talk about our Reading Kingdom experience.

The very first thing your child is asked is to take a few placement tests. They are called Skill Surveys.
We had a minor disaster happen in the middle of Josiah’s Skill Survey 1. His headphones broke inside the speaker mount on the computer.

Oh yes they did!

Bless his heart. He soldiered on and took the test. I am sure I could have emailed the company and they would have been more than happy for Josiah to retake the test.  As it was, Josiah was placed in Letter Land. 

There are two sections in Reading & Writing Part 1. The first is Seeing Sequences. This section helps kiddos learn to attain visual scanning and memory skills. Both are essential for reading words and sentences.

Letter Land focuses on teaching the student to move around the keyboard with ease. I LOVE this. This is not a 10 finger typing course. I think it has an extra benefit. For Josiah it has required him to that much-needed interactive step towards reading. His fingers are involved which also engage his brain. You can adjust the amount of time that is required for a response if needed.

After Letter Land another Skill Survey is required. It is basically a reading assessment test. This test will determine what level of Reading Kingdom the student will start with. There are 5 different levels of readers within Reading Kingdom. Each Level has a variety of activities that build upon each other.

This program adjusts itself to the student. 

I just want to share with you a few of the activities we have encountered.  

This activity requires the student to locate the site word "A a" on the keyboard and the screen. They aren't merely to find the letter "a" ...just the word. The program will use the site word in a few different situations and activities so that it is really something the student has used in multiple ways. 

This activity is from the same lesson. Here the student has to locate the train that could spell "a kid."

This activity is just like the one above except the student has to find "a girl." This is a screen shot of one of the final activities of this lesson. The cards started off easier and then gradually got a little more difficult.

In between the "seek and find" activity of above are typing exercises. The student has to locate and type the missing letters in "a girl."

At the end of each lesson this screen appears. The student is given the opportunity to leave the site, review the lesson or move on to the next lesson. I love the review aspect. Sometimes they just need extra practice and help.

My Thoughts

I LOVE this program for my struggling reader. It moves slowly, but I like that. The lessons aren't long and don't require the student to inhale too much information at one setting. This is important for my guy. 

You will obviously need a good internet connection and speakers. What you won't need is a lot of time. There is practically NO parent prep. All I do is keep up with his progress. Because so many of Josiah's subjects require my onsite presence and participation I love that I can write down "Reading Kingdom" on his assignment sheet for the day. I know that he is learning and practicing. 

If you are a parent who has a struggling reader I suggest you take a look. Even if your child has progressed beyond the 3rd grade reading level I think you will find it to be invaluable practice and remediation. 

This is one of my Favorite reading resources! 

You can check out Reading Kingdom via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner below to read more reviews. I need to tell you that Reading Kingdom also has an online reading program for ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) kiddos. Some of the Crew also reviewed that product. 

Reading Kingdom Review

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