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Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Reading Kingdom - Review

This is our second chance at using Reading Kingdom and their on-line reading program for the kids.

I got access for 2 students, so S-girl and V-girl were the lucky ladies this time around!

The last time we tried this was back in 2013 and V-girl  didn't get to be a part of that one.  This time, though, she is in 1st grade, so she could do it.  S-girl is in 3rd grade and was looking forward to trying it again, now that she is older...and smarter.

Reading Kingdom focuses on 6 areas of reading - not just the typical phonics - sequencing, writing, meaning, grammar, comprehension, and, yes, phonics.  Their primary focus is for an age range of preschool through 3rd grade.  They recommend 3 or 4 days a week working on the lessons.  My girls pretty much did a lesson every day - with a few...oops, we forgot times thrown in.

The first thing your students do is take a placement test, so, in theory, it can start the program at the right level for your child.   We actually had a little trouble with this part, because quite a few times, they put in the correct answers and the computer would say they were wrong.  Now, if I had been sitting there with them (like I was supposed to) I still think they might have had problems.  Because, as I have sat through a few of their lessons - you get things marked as incorrect if you do something as simple as capitalize when you aren't supposed to (like if CAPS LOCK is accidentally on).  I suspect that this was part of their problem when taking the placement test too.

Both of the girls were placed in the same level, at the same spot.  I will tell you that while V-girl is pretty smart, S-girl is too and they are not on the same level with the reading/writing skills.  The things that S-girl was doing was way too basic for her and she ended up bored.  V-girl got bored sometimes too, but I am confident that she is pretty close to where she should be based on her placement test.

But, I didn't want to go through the rigamarole of redoing the placement tests, and contacting Customer Support, so we just pushed through.

The lessons themselves go really quickly - some of them can be done in like, 5 minutes.  When they complete one, they have the option of leaving, reviewing stuff they have already done, or going onto the next lesson.  My girls usually picked doing more than one lesson, because they were over so quickly.

One nice thing for me is that after they complete their lesson, I get an automatic e-mail telling me they did their lesson and what they completed.  It was nice because I consider this one of those safe/harmless computer things that they can do without me constantly needing to monitor things over their shoulder.

Overall, this is a pretty neat program with a few quirks to it.  One of those quirks that is sometimes they explain to the student really clearly what they need to do on a page - like click here - type this answer and then click here when you are done.   But, sometimes, the screen would just sit there and the girls would guess what they were supposed to do next.  Or, sometimes thing would be highlighted - for you to type in the missing letters - but it never actually told you to do that.  I guess that, in itself is a way to teach by common sense in evaluating the situation and figuring out what needed to be done.

One of the biggest problems my girls had was accidentally clickimg CAPS LOCK, instead of shift.  The problem is, that would be considered spelling a word wrong because they used capital letters instead of lower case.  Again, yes, I sort of see the logic behind being accurate, but if I ask my 6 year old spell the word "more" and she spells it "More",  I would give her credit for that.  That is just an example of how my girls would get things wrong that, in my world, are just misunderstandings.

When you get things wrong, it makes a sort of buzz sound that is actually kind of startling, but it gets the point across.  The problem was that you could get that sound if you started typing too soon.

There seems to be a lot of repetition in this program.  I understand the concept and reasoning behind it, but I will tell you that my girls found it very annoying that they had to repeat things, like read the "stories" twice.  Since they are both currently in Level 1, the stories are very, very basic.  S-girl said something like, "I don't know why they call this a story.  It doesn't really tell me anything."  I know what she means.  Its goal is just to teach basic words - birds - boys - more - some, etc.  But, it is not very "story-like" in our definition.

I realize that I am sounding sort of negative about Reading Kingdom, but, that is not my intent.    It is a very visually appealing way for your younger kids to learn. It was a much better fit for V-girl who is in 1st grade, than it was for S-girl, who is in 3rd grade.   I really don't mind them having computer time with a program like this.  There are just a few pesky details that weren't the most appealing for us.  But, overall, the way I vote on whether these types of programs are a "yay" or a "nay" is whether they complain when they have to do it.  Neither V-girl nor S-girl complained when I reminded them to do their Reading Kingdom work, so, overall, that is a win!

You can sign up for a free 30 day trial to see if this is something that would be a good fit for your family.  

Check out the different prices for the different parts of Reading Kingdom.  There might be one that is just perfect for you.

Take a look at what the other TOS Reviewers thought of their experience with Reading Kingdom.

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