Building Reading Comprehension Skills Using the Reading Kingdom Online Program {Review}

My son is now in the stages where he's beginning to learn how to read. With choosing a good reading program, there is a lot to consider, since every child learns differently. There are quite a number of resources out there, each one offering a little something different. Recently, my son has been using an online learning program called Reading Kingdom. This program was created for children, ages four through ten, and helps to build reading and writing comprehension at a third grade level (Lexile reading level of 750).

There are currently six levels in the program that focus on teaching comprehension, grammar, phonics, sequencing, meaning, and writing. Each level is broken down into sections with several sessions in each one. Before starting Reading Kingdom, an optional assessment is made available for students to take, in order to place them directly into the most appropriate level of the program. Since my child is a preschooler who is just learning how to read, I decided to have him skip the assessment and just begin with Level One.

The program is flexible in how you do the lessons, but it is recommended that students complete one session a day for four to five days a week, in order to achieve the maximum benefits. Each session is roughly about fifteen to thirty minutes long, give or take. We try to keep to this schedule as our weeks allow, doing one session a day for four to five days each week, sometimes adding two sessions in one day.

Reading Kingdom recommends that you allow your child to complete the lessons on their own. Since my son is still quite young, I made sure to sit with him when he first began the program in order to help him get acclimated with the activities that he'd have to do. While there are typically voice prompts that instruct the student on what they're required to work on next, I did notice that some areas jumped right into the activity without any prompts. Being able to direct my son in the beginning, allowed him to get used to the flow of the program, and now he's able to pretty much do everything on his own. Of course, I still like to stay close by for any needed support.

There are also additional options in each student's dashboard to allow the parent to change certain settings, such as timing or word mastery:

How Do the Learning Sessions Work?

In Level One, a new vocabulary word is introduced in each session, along with a series of educational activities that the student is required to complete. Many sessions start with basic spelling in order for the student to get acclimated with the new vocabulary word, followed by plenty of grammar and sentence building assignments. While the word of the day has the biggest emphasis in any particular session, I really appreciate that previous vocabulary words are also included into future lessons. So while my son is learning a new word, he is constantly reminded of the previous words that he has learned. As he moves forward in the program, all of these words are eventually used together to build sentences and short stories. My son will instantly recognize previous words he's learned and actually read back full sentences to me all on his own.

The particular technique that this program uses, and the results that are eventually attained are truly impressive! As my son does the activities, there will be times when they're repeated either in a session or through a group of sessions. While this may seem repetitive, I've found that it gives him the confidence to know what he is required to do, without my assistance. This aspect of the program, as well as the fact that previous vocabulary words are used in future lessons, really do help benefit the student tremendously. I've found that this system really helps my son retain the information that he's learning.

After a few sessions of learning new vocabulary words, your child will unlock a session that also includes a new book. There are about six books in a level. Each one will incorporate activities using the vocabulary and grammar concepts from previous sessions. After my son is done completing the book activities, he can then go back and read the book or have it read to him using the voice prompts in the program. As of lately, I have been asking him to omit using the voice prompts. Instead, I have him read the books back to me on his own. It's such an amazing thing, watching your preschooler read a book all by himself!

Colorful graphics, cartoon skits, fun sounds and music make this an 
especially entertaining program for children that only adds to the enticement of learning.

Another great feature is the option to download my son's progress report in a spreadsheet. This offers you a detailed analysis of your child's work throughout the weeks, showing dates and the time spent in each session, words/concepts learned, Lexile scores of each book that have been covered, as well as the student's overall progress.


It's also important to note the company's level of support to you as a customer. There are plenty of helpful articles and downloads to assist you and your child in order to get used to the program. Plus, there are tons of resources and recommendations on extra reading comprehension activities and even printable worksheets to download. Customer support was also very quick to respond to my email inquiries whenever I had a question or concern.

If I may be candid, I was initially dissuaded by this program during the first couple of days. Reading Kingdom does require frequent use of either an on screen keyboard or physical keyboard, so my son had to receive a crash course on how to use one in order to start this program. While we do work on some online learning programs that allow for touch screen activities, we had yet to work with anything that required an actual keyboard. You see, we do most of our schooling the old fashioned way, with books, printables, videos, and music, only using apps and computer programs to supplement our lessons here and there. Since he's so young, I intended on getting him started on the keyboard a bit later down the road. While there was a small learning curve to get my son used to learning the keyboard keys, amazingly he picked it up rather quickly.

One of the interesting things that I've found was my son's enjoyment of using a physical keyboard instead of the on-screen version. Originally, I had him working with the on-screen keyboard, thinking that he'd take to it more, since he was already used to touch screen educational programs. Well it turns out, he actually prefers the physical keyboard. Now, whenever we start the program, we choose the option to solely have him use the traditional keyboard. I do appreciate that the program also allows for adaptation in certain keyboarding prompts. For instance, whenever an upper case letter is needed in order to complete a lesson activity, students will have the option of either holding "Shift" and the letter at the same time (the traditional method), or pressing "Shift" and then the appropriate letter, separately. While the last option may seem a bit unconventional, it can be quite helpful for students who are still trying to get comfortable with using an actual keyboard. In order to avoid any confusion, I just make sure to explain the differences to my son, letting him know that the secondary method only applies to this particular program.

An important thing to note is that children do not need prior typing experience to use this program. So far, what I've witnessed is that there just needs to be an ability to identify where the letters and basic punctuation symbols are located on the keyboard. Before beginning the main sessions, Reading Kingdom offers a primer course that allows children to get used to using the keyboard and mouse. We initially started this primer course, but decided to stop. I just went ahead and showed my son, since he felt more comfortable with me doing so. Having said that, it's still nice to have this option available for parents who would like for their child to have additional assistance with learning these aspects of using a computer.

I wanted to also throw in some honest advice and a word of encouragement, here, and this is particularly for those who are deciding to use the Reading Kingdom program with a student who has not yet learned how to use a keyboard. My advice is, don't give up. It took about a week of regular use before we even developed a true appreciation for this program. I think a lot of it had to do with the keyboard aspect, which my son was new to. He was discouraged during the first week, and soon I even began to get discouraged that it was going to be more trouble than it was worth. When you have a child who is not used to working on the keyboard, the first week is the hardest, but I am so glad we stuck it out. Now it's one of the things that my son looks forward to the most when we begin each school day. He is always asking me if he can do his Reading Kingdom lessons. Honestly, I think if he had it his way, he'd probably be doing five sessions or more a day. He just enjoys it that much!

My son has been showing such a desire to read. While we work with a variety of different programs, I've personally found that Reading Kingdom has definitely given him a push to excel even further in his reading endeavors. There is a method to this program that is almost like magic! I wouldn't have believed it, myself, but it's very different than other reading programs we've used in the past. When we initially started it, I was skeptical, but after a week and a half in, I became more and more impressed with how well it has been helping my son learn how to read. We are now about seven weeks in, and his progress just keeps growing and growing. In down times when we are not using the program, I like to put together random sentences on the whiteboard, using the words that he's previously learned in this program. He will then go ahead and read everything back to me with complete confidence. It's a wonderful feeling to see how proud he is of his new reading accomplishments, and of course I'm so proud of him for his amazing achievements.

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