Friday, August 31, 2012

TOS Review: Reading Kingdom

Reading Kingdom Review

I don't remember learning how to read; I guess it was just natural for me. Elliott, however, has exceptional memory that scares me, and since he happens to be more math-minded, I'm sure he will remember learning to read. Even though he does just fine with reading, he could care less of we do reading instruction. For awhile we just hopped back and forth between approaches, so that he wouldn't get bored. So when I was given a chance to try Reading Kingdom, I was excited to have a new approach to offer him.

What is Reading Kingdom?
Reading Kingdom was created by Dr. Marion Blake, and is an online reading program that can be used as a stand-alone curriculum or a supplement to an existing program.  It is designed to teach children ages 4-10 years old how to read through a third grade reading level.  It covers a variety of skills.

You can start off with the 30 day free trial, and then the pricing for homeschoolers is $19.99/month or $199.99 per year.  Additional children receive a 50% discount, and you are able to cancel your subscription at any time.  In an effort to promote literacy, Reading Kingdom also offers scholarships.

The Program
The program begins with a Skills Survey to assess Sequencing and Keyboarding skills in order to place the student appropriately. One of the goals of the program is to work with the child at their level, so as not to offer lessons that are too easy or too difficult. The child may proceed on to Skills Survey 2, for reading and writing placement, but in our case it was determined that Iron Man should work in Seeing Sequences and Letter Land.

Seeing Sequences helps develop visual sequencing and memory skills.  This is completed in conjunction with Letter Land.  I'm not sure if speed was a factor in determining whether to place a child in this format or not, because I know he understands left-to-right progression, and to my knowledge, he only made one error, which was an accident, not a true mistake.

Letter Land is not a true keyboarding program, but it is designed to help familiarize children with the keyboard and letter placement. 

While I do see some value in helping a child to become familiar with very basic computer skills, I don't stress over my 5 year old knowing the keyboard yet.  There is a difference between writing and physically forming the letter with one's hand, and just recognizing and typing it on a keyboard, and I'm not sure the emphasis of Letter Land is necessary for teaching reading.  However, that's just my opinion.

The activities in Seeing Sequences and Letter Land were the same activities as the skills assessment, and fairly repetitive.  Since I knew that his only errors were accidental clicks, and he was getting frustrated with the same activities, I contacted the company to request they move him forward.  They responded very quickly and moved him up to Level 1.

Reading and Writing
Initially he was excited to see that he was being offered a new activity.  The entire session was based around one word:  kid.  He was told to spell the word first, then there were various activities such as typing the full word, typing the missing letter into the word, or choosing the picture of the word.  Each activity repeated several times throughout the session, and Elliott found working with only one word for the entire session to be too repetitive as well.  He didn't struggle with the content, but the format was not compatible with his learning style.

The Result?
I wanted to like this program.  In fact, I like the philosophy.  His heart just wasn't in it.  He enjoys computer-based learning when I allow him to play, but this one just wasn't a fit for us.  I believe that children under 6 should be doing very few formal academics, if any, and what they are doing should be fun and engaging.  This didn't meet that criteria for my son.  I do think children that thrive on extremely structured and repetitive learning material would benefit from this program.  The program uses elements of phonics and whole language, in conjunction with other skills, and is customized to the child's ability, so I can certainly see how it would be a beneficial program if it met the needs of the child's learning style.  I would still recommend trying it out.  It certainly can't hurt to sign up for the free trial to see if it is a good fit for your child!

As a member of the TOS Crew, I received a complimentary subscription to Reading Kingdom in exchange for my honest review.  The opinions expressed are based on our personal experience with the program and were not influenced in any way.


  1. That's cool that they moved him forward quickly. My oldest is doing a program through the charter school we have enrolled him in, and the early stages are way too boring for him. The only way to move forward is to pass each level. I'm not a fan. Thankfully we are homeschooling and can choose whether or not to continue the program. :)

    1. Yes, the customer service seemed great! I love exposing him to new programs, because I never know what will strike his fancy...but like you said, the great thing about homeschooling is that we have the flexibility to scrap what doesn't work.