Thursday, September 6, 2012

TOS Review: Reading Kingdom

As a homeschooling mom, one of the most common questions I am asked by other moms is:

Are there any good online resources to help me teach my children?

So, when we were asked to try out a web-site designed to teach reading, we said YES!!

READING KINGDOM is an award-winning, unique, online reading program designed for children ages 4-10.  It was created by Dr. Marion Blank, director of the Light on Learning program at Columbia University and one of the world's top reading experts.  It is not Phonics or Whole Word program and is designed to work with any curriculum.

 Mustang is now a reader, but Charger is just beginning to read.  So, Charger is the one trying out Reading Kingdom.  For a reference, he is 4, knows all his letter sounds, and can sound out CVC words.  

Charger started out with the skills evaluation test.  The program repeats over and over and over again that parents should NOT help out their child.  So, I used every bit of self-control I could muster and didn't help him.  I believed that the program would be designed to take into account a 4 year old who was not being adult guided.  I really don't think it did.  

A sample question in the skill test would ask the child to mark the second row to match the first, going left to right.  Charger knows all his letters, but didn't understand the left to right thing at first.  He also didn't realize he couldn't use his keyboard, so he missed a lot at the start.

But, he did complete the evaluation and got to move onto the first level.  I'm pretty sure they started him at the bottom of the barrel.  From a keyboarding perspective, that was right.  From a reading perspective, I don't know.

Even though the graphics were great, the sound was perfect, and the music wasn't annoying, the evaluation felt soooo much like a test.  It was boring.  Charger kept asking when it was over and I wondered the same thing.  There are no references to say- hey you have done 10 or 20 or 35% finished, or there are only 4 more minutes of this.  I really wish that there had been.

So, we were through the test.  Whew, it felt like a test because it was a test.  Now the fun.  Right?  Well, no.  The lessons are more of the same.  Charger was bored and so was I.  He has done a few lessons and opened a passport, but it has been very tough to get him to try it.  He does enjoy the computer time and keyboard practice, as do I.  

I actually like the concept of this one, and as I said the graphics and sound, and even pace were okay.  I just really wish they would mix it up a bit. With different types of games rather then just the same sort of game for awhile and then a second sort of game for awhile.

THAT SAID, I believe that this game feels redundant to us because Charger is at the VERY BOTTOM of the skills on this program and so he really is practicing the same skills over and over.  Because he hasn't been able to progress very far, we haven't been able to try the other levels.  They might be really cool and fun.  We have a year to try out this program, so I will update throughout the year and let you know if it gets better!

The Reading Kingdom is a little pricey at $199.99 a year or monthly at $19.99.  $9.99/mo 99.99/year extra for additional students, they also offer many of their products in print form in their store.  But, if it works for your child, the price would be a good investment!  You can try Reading Kingdom for 30 days.  It would be a great way to figure out if Reading Kingdom is a good fit for your family.  You can also find out what more of my crew mates had to say by checking out the Schoolhouse Crew Blog.  They have children of all ages, so they can give you a better feel of the program from a true reader's perspective.  I know I myself am interested to hear what they had to say!

Thanks for stopping by and God Bless!

Disclaimer:  As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew, I received a subscription to Reading Kingdom in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.  I was not paid for my review.  

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