I feel lucky.  My daughter Emma (4) loves learning to read.  She has been known to sit down with a book and try to sound out words all on her own with no prodding from mommy!  She’s kind of at an in-between point right now when it comes to being able to read, though… she can actually write and spell some shorter words if I tell her to sound it out but when it comes to sounding out a word on paper it doesn’t come quite as easily – maybe because it’s overwhelming with all those words sitting there staring at her.  But we’re definitely progressing!  Practice makes perfect, right?

Despite her enthusiasm, she can still get frustrated so I keep her lessons short and sweet – and fun.  :)  I like to give her different learning activities every day, changing it up so she won’t get bored.  One of our favorite learning activities is Reading Kingdom, an online teaching program that she can log into every day.  For her, it’s like a computer game – she gets to “play” independently. The draw is strong, she loves to do her daily “reading blessing” (lesson) or “owl blessing” as she calls it with all the cute characters, bright colorful scenes, and fun sound effects.  The lessons are short and she gets an award at the end of each one saying she finished her lesson for the day.  From her point of view, it’s the best way possible to learn to read!

So what do I as her parent and teacher think?  Well, we’re only about a month and a half in and are still building a foundation for learning to read so I’m not ready to give my full opinion whether positive or negative on it yet, but I’m prepared to share my thoughts on what I’ve seen so far!   First, however, you need to know exactly how Reading Kingdom works:

Reading Kingdom is basically set up to let your child work independently at his or her own pace.  It focuses on the six skills said to be needed for reading and writing – Sequencing, Motor Skills, Sounds, Meaning, Grammar, and Comprehension.  The program assesses your child’s skills and teaches them exactly what they need to learn.  It quickly figures out whether your child is ready for an activity by asking them to do a specific task.  If they can’t do it, then the task is immediately simplified so they can work up to learning how to do it.

Watch this video to find out more!

I really love that Reading Kingdom is something Emma can do independently.  They actually tell you in the very beginning not to help your child with the answers, that way the program can assess your child’s skill level and start them out in the right place.  If you’re helping your child by telling them the answers, then obviously they aren’t learning it for themselves (and the program won’t know to give them more of those learning activities), so this makes perfect sense to me.  I glued my lips shut… and it was harder not to help than I thought it would be!  ;-)  But I was proud to see how Emma progressed by herself.

So far the activities have been great – Emma has practiced sequencing, sounding out words, and remembering words.  Here’s an activity that I liked (and she did well on):

She is given a word: “dog” – and told how to spell it.

Then she is told to look at these letters and find the word “dog” in them, clicking the letters in the correct order.

 If she isn’t able to remember, then it shows her how by highlighting the letters and she’s given another chance to try to spell the word.  If she misses it again it shows her how to do it and then moves on to the next word.

Students are given the opportunity to practice keyboard skills, too.  You can choose to have your child learn by using the actual physical keyboard or they can use their mouse to hit the keys.  I chose to have Emma use the mouse because I didn’t want her to have to look down at the keyboard and back up at the computer screen all the time, making the lesson last longer. She has plenty of time to learn to use the keyboard later.  :)

Parents are also sent a weekly progress check by email, so it’s easy to keep track of where your children are at in the program and how they are doing in each activity.

As far as things I don’t like, there haven’t been many negatives to the program so far (though we’re still in the beginning stages).  A couple of times I’ve questioned a task, like I’m not sure about their reasoning for giving her the word “kid” and then “girl” when she’s just starting out as a new reader (I always thought you were supposed to start out with simpler 3-letter words and “girl” is complicated and not something she can really sound out).  That said, I understand that the creator of Reading Kingdom believes that a solely phonics-based or sight-word-based reading system isn’t the way to go – you can click here to find out how and why Reading Kingdom is different.  The only other thing that bothered me a bit is that Emma sometimes needed more time to think about a task than they gave her – since she is young and has only been using a mouse for a year or so she is slower than an older child would be.  I know that if she had had time to figure it out she would have.  But she is learning to get the answer faster.  I just wish there was an option for slowing things down a bit.  Edit:  I just found out that there IS a way to give Emma more time to respond!  Check this post out to learn how to do it.  :)  Yay!

Overall I am very happy with Reading Kingdom and highly recommend giving it a try.  The fact that it is something Emma can do all by herself, something that she really enjoys completing, and is teaching her to spell and recognize words in a fun way tells me it’s a good addition to our preschool curriculum!  I’ll post again in a couple months with an update on how much progress Emma has made and what I think of the rest of the curriculum.  :)

Click here to get a free trial for 30 days!

Is my preschooler ready for Reading Kingdom?

According to the website, if your child is able to:

–  sit and do school-like activities for 15 minutes
– express ideas in complete sentences
– match shapes
– use a computer mouse and keyboard (with adult help if needed)

they are ready for Reading Kingdom!  :)

Disclosure:  I was provided with a membership to Reading Kingdom in exchange for sharing my thoughts on the program.  This post contains my own honest opinion and experiences. 

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