Monday, March 7, 2011

TOS Crew Reading Kingdom Review!

Reading Kingdom
Ages 4-10
Monthly subscriptions $19.99 + $9.99 for each additional child/month
12 month subscription $199.99 + $9.99 for each additional child/month
30 day free trial!

After a delay in being able to utilize this program due to technical difficulties on my end, I had plenty of time to read through Reading Kingdom's website.  It looked very impressive and I couldn't wait to have my 2nd grader login and begin working.  I was anxious to see if Reading Kingdom would help my slow reader.

From the website:
The Reading Kingdom is a fun, easy-to-use online program that teaches
children 4-10 years old how to read and write to a third grade level.

It customizes itself to each child

How the Program is Organized
The Skills Survey - The program begins with your child taking a Skills Survey. Through simple, game-like activities, it reveals the skills a child has and does not have so that the program can start at exactly the right place to encourage the greatest success.

The Teaching -Once the Skills Survey is completed, the teaching begins. The program is organized into six levels.

Keeping Track - Within a few weeks, many children are using the program totally on their own. Even though you may not be there during the lessons, you'll have no trouble keeping track of how your child is doing. After a session is completed, you can open a link that offers you a summary of how the session went, where your child is at, what's happening next and so on.

Progress Check - The Reading Kingdom has been designed so that a child moves ahead only if the learning is solid and secure. At regular points, a child is given a brief Progress Check to see if there is mastery of the material that has been taught.

If the Progress Check shows that your child is doing well, in the next session he or she moves on to new material.

On the other hand, if the Skills Survey shows some weaknesses in the learning, then in the next session, your child starts a set of review lessons that enable him or her to get past any difficulties. The review process may take one to two weeks to complete. Once it is completed, the child returns to learning new material

If your child, or a child you know is having problems learning to read, it's not their fault. There are significant problems with reading education, including:
1. For decades now, government figures show that 40% of children, across all socio-economic backgrounds, are failing to master the crucial skill of reading. (Source: US Dept. of Education)

2. The dominant method of reading instruction - phonics, or sounding out - does not work!

The simple fact is that the vast majority of words in English cannot be sounded out. This is true even in a classic phonics book such as Dr. Seuss' "The Cat in the Hat" which begins like this:
The sun did not shine. It was too wet to play.
So we sat in the house all that cold, cold wet day.
In this text only 8 of 23 words (the bolded words) can be sounded out. The other 15 (or 65% of the total) cannot.  Put simply, if phonics worked, the word would be spelled "foniks." To get around this problem, phonics has almost 600 rules that are impossible to memorize and riddled with exceptions.

3. Reading mastery requires 6 skills - which are not being taught. Phonics has been deemed a complete system - but it's not. Dr. Blank's program teaches children all 6 skills required for reading and writing success, and it doesn't require children to learn any complicated rules
To learn more about how the Reading Kingdom is fundamentally different from other reading systems available today in both what it teaches and how it teaches, download this PDF.

Our Experience:
Upon registering and logging in your child is directed to a skills test.  They must first choose whether they are comfortable with the keyboard or not.  (My daughter has had keyboarding, so she was comfortable).  Before the skills test begins, the narrator makes it a point to emphasize that the program is self-adjusting and not to help your child - only to tell your child to "watch and listen to the program" if they ask for help.

After my daughter took the skills test, it placed her in "Letter Land" in order to give her more practice on the keyboard.  This section teaches letter placement on the keyboard, and not proper finger placement.  The child clicks the letters on the screen 'keyboard' with the mouse and then types on the keyboard.  Normally this section takes 4-6 weeks to complete.  Working VERY diligently, she finished this section in about 2 weeks.

Next came the second part of the skills test - this time for reading.  It placed her at "Group 1"

So, off we went with the actual lessons:

Lesson #1:  Went over and over how to spell "girl" using different "click on a word", "fill in the blank", "find the word in a paragraph" and "type the word" exercises.

Lesson #2: Repeat above using "some"

Lesson #3: Repeat above using "a"

Lesson #4: Repeat above using "more"

Lesson #5: Read Book 1 called "Some Kids" (your child could read this themselves or have the computer read it to them).  This wasn't really a story, just previously learned words on the pages.

Lesson #6: Typed the word "cats" successfully.  Typed "birds" - my daughter hit a wrong key and it went into repetitive exercises + used previously learned words.

Lesson #7:  Typed the word "pets" successfully.  Went on to Book #2.  Gives you word choices and asks you to click on a particular word.  Then the program asked you to spell various words within the story.  (Repetition of small list of words, "some, more, pets, boy, a cat").

Lesson #8:  Type "the" plus repetition of previously learned words.

Lesson #9:  Type "fly".  She hit a wrong letter by mistake and had to type the word "fly" on the next 5 consecutive screens.  Repetition of previously learned words.

Lesson #10:  Repeat above with "can".

Lesson #11:  Repeat above with "are".

Lesson #12:  Repeat above with "not".

And so on.....

This program uses a 'sight words' approach over phonics and seems more of a spelling/keyboarding program than a reading program.

This approach did not help my daughter.  The words used were words she already knew and the repetition frustrated her. 

As for us, we'll keep it old school, curled up with a good book and sounding out those words with our phonics manual in hand.

Here's what other crew members are saying.

I received a trial subscription for free in exchange for an honest review.


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