The last few weeks, my just turned 8 daughter has had the opportunity to try out Reading Kingdom.
Reading Kingdom is an online program that teaches kids to read and write to a third grade level.
The first time the child logs on to Reading Kingdom, the program has them do a placement test to determine which level they should start working at. It placed my daughter at Level 3.
Clicking on level 3 displays all the books etc. that the child will progressively work through.
Each book has a series of words that the child works through. As an example, here’s a screenshot of the words of book 13:
One session is typically going through the lessons of one of these words. I didn’t time it but I’d say one session would take my daughter maybe 10-15 minutes.
Here are some screenshots of some activities of a session in Level 1 for learning to read and write the word “girl”:
- learning to read the word “girl”
- working on learning to spell the word “girl”
The program is careful not to allow the child to get discouraged if they don’t know something. It gives a few seconds, and if the child hasn’t entered an answer, it will progressively help the child succeed.
So for example, after a few seconds it will show the word “girl”, so the child can see how it’s spelled and quickly see the missing letter(s) they need to type. It will then even say “type this” and show the child a keyboard and where the letter is on the keyboard. It never leaves them hanging if they don’t know, just like a live tutor would give increasing help if a child needed it.
After using the program regularly (about 4 times a week) for the last 6 weeks, I can say overall I found it to be a good program that I’m happy we had the chance to check out. I found it to be an educational asset to my daughter.
This will probably sound like a contradiction, but oddly, considering it’s a reading program, I didn’t feel it improved my daughter’s reading ability much, not yet anyways. However there were some unexpected benefits that will have us continuing to use this program as a part of my daughter’s regular learning.
What I Liked
I really liked the lack of parental involvement needed. It’s a no prep, kids go online and complete independently. This allowed me to have some uninterrupted daily time to work on whatever I needed to get done. Let’s face it, as a busy homeschooling mom, this is a huge perk.
I also appreciated that the sessions were relatively short. Since it wasn’t such a big deal, my daughter didn’t protest at all when I asked her to go do Reading Kingdom. She went on and did it no problem. They can do more than a session if they wish to, but I think one per day was the perfect length to keep my daughter’s enthusiasm.
It’s a small thing but I really like when programs have some method for the child to be able to clearly see how much more they have to do before the session is complete. I find this little thing important for the work not to appear endless to a child. It has an end, and they can see this in the top right corner. In the screenshot below, the child can tell they have 15 “things” total, and they’re about half way.
Since it’s called Reading Kingdom, I initially expected my daughter would benefit by improving her reading. But it came as a surprise to me, that the real benefit to us is that my daughter is improving her spelling. For this reason, we will continue this as a regular 10-15 minute part of her school day.
It’s also very adaptive, that is it adjusts according to the individual child. It’s not a one program fits all, but customizes itself to each child’s needs.
What I Didn’t Like As Much
My biggest complaint, might not be an issue for every child. In my daughter’s case, she’s a fairly proficient reader, but has trouble with and is behind in spelling.
So as learning the spelling of a word is taught at the same time as learning to read the word, the level the program placed my daughter at is not exactly where she should be. Spelling wise, she should probably be at level 1….but reading wise, level 3 was much too easy for her.
When it’s too easy, it can easily be viewed as boring. In my daughter’s words: “Words are kind of like baby words, some can be a tiny bit hard, but still.” So reading wise, it was a waste of time for my daughter. But I was quite happy she was learning to spell, so overall it was worth it for us.
The other thing I would say is while it’s colourful and visually appealing, it doesn’t have the fun factor some programs have with prizes, games and rewards etc. It does have some sort of reward but, so far it hasn’t been a very big reward.
My daughter had to complete the word exercises for a whole book to collect 20, 000 points. She needed that many to be able to open a passport. So she was excited to get those points. When she got them, it was a bit disappointing, as she only got to open 1 page, which looked like this:
That’s it. I’m not sure how much better Level 2 will be but anyways she’s doing the program with or without any fun rewards.
In summary, I feel this is a reading and spelling program worth looking into if you have a child that’s anywhere from complete beginner to Grade 3 reading level.