I am really excited about this program. I will admit I was a bit confused at first. With my heavy phonics teaching background I did not understanding why the program was teaching first words like: girl, boys, some, and kids because many of them are not what phonics programs teach. I’m familiar with teaching the short vowel sounds first so my kids can sound out words like cat, bat, nan, etc.
I reviewed Reading Kingdom two years ago and didn’t understand it as you can tell if you read my review. This time around I do understand the program much better. I will try to explain it so y’all understand it too as it does open up a whole new way of teaching children to read. With that said, this review may be a little long, sorry.
Reading Kingdom is different from any other reading program. It does not rely on only phonics or only whole word method. Rather than requiring kids to learn many complicated rules, the program teaches the rules in a way that is not directly expressed.
Let me tell you what Reading Kingdom is not. It’s not an intensive phonics program nor a whole word method. So don’t expect this program to start with teaching short vowels sounds or teaching your child to memorize whole words.
Reading Kingdom also known as Phonics Plus Five (The Reading Remedy) uses 6 skills: Sequencing, Writing, Phonics/Sounds, Meaning, Grammar, & Comprehension. Instead of requiring kids to learn many complicated rules, the program teaches the rules in a way that is not directly expressed via the six skills method (shown below).
Sequencing is something we teach our children as soon as soon as phonics instructions begin. We teach left to right. The child sounds out s-a-t when learning cvc words. This works great until we introduce something double vowels (ea, ee, oi, ou, etc) and the silent ‘e’. These rules distort the left-to-right sequencing because the child scans from left to right, then right to left, and once the child figures out there is a double vowel or silent ‘e’ he can then goes back to reading the word from left to right.
In short, the child has to mesh or combine two methods of scanning. First left to right than right to left which can be laborious for many children.
With Reading Kingdom your child is not having to remember so many rules (something that some of my boys really struggled with when learning to read). The Reading Kingdom program is designed to avoid the problems connected with traditional sounding out method.
Reading Kingdom uses ‘savvy sounds’ and ‘bit blends’. For instance with the word girl, the program will show and say the bit blend ‘gir’, next the program will show three words asking the child to find ‘girl’ and click on it. So the child has heard the bit blend and the complete word and is seeing the word.
With that said, Reading Kingdom does teach phonemic awareness throughout the program. It teaches the sounds that letters and words make while teaching phonemic awareness using the activities as mentioned above (Savvy Sounds and Bit Blends).
Savvy sounds eases the difficult process for many young readers of having to sound out each letter or trying to figure out what ‘ir’ is since the beginning blends is known all the child has to deal with is the final sound.
A unique feature is how the program teaches using noncontent words. What is noncontent words you might wonder. They are those little words like: do, of, for, can, but, does, etc. Some content words on not complete words but word particles like: ing and ed (some of us know these as morphemes).
Did you know that over 50-60% of words on a page are noncontent words. Many programs don’t teach these words to young readers making it almost impossible to read a book outside of the phonetic books that read: Cat sat, Dan ran, the pig sat, etc. In a sense the child is limited to their phonetic readers.
I have experienced this problem with my own children when they were first learning to read. I would pick up one of those early reader that are marked with levels 1, 2, or 3 like Henry & Mudge, Little Bear, or even Biscuit (the little dog books) and my boys would not be able to read many of the words because they couldn’t sound them out using the phonics I had taught them.
Noncontent words are also known as sight words. What Reading Kingdom does is give meaning to them. Reading Kingdom does this by pairing the noncontent word with graphics in activity called Write in to Read.
First the child sees the word, the word is taken away. The child is instructed to insert the word in the blank space of the sentence.
next a picture is shown and the child is instructed to type some or all of the words (depending on the level) including punctuation marks.
The advantage of the child learning the role of the noncontent words is they gain a deeper understanding of the syntax or grammar of reading which taps in to the child’s hidden abilities (hidden from their awareness but always working for them).
Another activity is Detect n’ Select. This is asking your child to find the targeted word.
Not only is this giving the child repeated encounters with the word but it’s also giving your child the chance to notice other features associated with the words. For instance the word you is often next to a helping verb. The child doesn’t need to know how to read all the other words to ‘see’ this. Eventually their ‘'hidden phonic abilities” will tap into this as they notice and recognize words that link with other words and that is only the beginning.
The program is absolutely amazing to me now that I understand what the Reading Kingdom’s goals of teaching content & non content words and how the program uses the 6 skills method tapping into the child’s hidden abilities. I would highly encourage you to purchase the book Reading Remedy. This gives a detailed understanding of the program explaining the theory and basis behind the Reading Kingdom program.
You know what I found interesting on the back cover of the book Reading Remedy? A quote from Paul Orfalea, “A new model for teaching reading-one that opens up all kinds of possibilities for children.” Paul Orfalea is dyslexic so if he’s saying that this program can open up all kinds of possibilities for children and this coming from the founder of Kinko’s (I worked at his company and met him too!) who is dyslexic, that says a lot to me.
In a nutshell Reading Kingdom teaches noncontent words:
*Read effectively: to teach decoding by highlighting the words in context that reflects real text and gives the child the ability to figure out key properties of the words.
*Write Accurately: accurate spelling required and the activities are designed to enable the child to retain the words to memory.
*To Comprehend the Words: comprehension is stressed throughout the series. The activities are constantly embedding the words in meaningful sentences and using graphics to help the child understand the word.
Reading Kingdom teaches Content words (words with meaning such as nouns, main verbs, adjectives, etc) are taught:
*Blending of sounds frequently required but in a way that enhances success like the use of Bit Blends.
*The target word is taught through repetition that include decoding, spelling, & comprehension.
*Accurate spelling from the beginning.
Using Reading Kingdom at Homeschooling6:
I had Ethan and Lance use the program at least 4 days a week if not 5. The program does advise using it 4 days.
Both my boys are not absolutely in love with Reading Kingdom as much as I am but they are above the recommended age level. The programs is intended for ages 4-10.
What I love about Reading Kingdom is it adapts to your child which means your child doesn’t have to start at the beginning. Before you begin the actual program your child will take an assessment.
As you can see in the screenshot below Ethan was able to skip the Seeing Sequence, Letter Land, and level 1.
Each level has 6 books to complete as well as a Progress Check and Review.
Once you click on the book you can see all the words that will be learned using the 6 skills method.
Click on the word to see what your child will do.
I chose to use Reading Kingdom with Ethan my 12 year old son because he does struggle with reading.
This may seem too easy for Ethan who is 12 years old. Actually Ethan can read many of the words but he’s learning so much more than the word one. He’s learning how to spell, write sentences, grammar, and most of all decoding skills.
What I would like to see is a more detail or information of the assessment that the child took at the beginning. With Ethan, I know he can read many of the words but yet he was only able to advance to level 2. Since there is no detailed report other than showing that he passed I don’t know if he spelled a word wrong and that’s the reason or did he truly not know how to read the words thing and she?
I’m pretty sure he was able to read them so I’m thinking it was his spelling.
With Lance I can see why he ended up in Level 1. I know he can’t spell for one thing (and Reading Kingdom has helped in that area with both boys), but I know there are some words that he has trouble with reading.
Again, a more detailed assessment for mom would be nice so I’d know exactly what he did to start with Level 1. Looking at the words for level 1 I know there are words he can read but not spell. And I see words that he sometimes can read and sometimes can’t because he forgets. With that said, I think Level 1 is a good place for Lance to start but I’d still like to know exactly why.
I believe both my boys have some form of dyslexia and with Lance he has a hard time writing letters so what I really appreciated about Reading Kingdom was the kids being able to use the keyboard. That’s a huge help for Lance.
|Winston is Ethan's account and John was my free trial account.|
I did want to point out that if your child is starting with Letter Land it is not there to teach your child the sounds of the letter like a says /a/ as in apple, o says /o/ as in hot. Reading Kingdom is NOT phonics program.
Letter Land will help the child use the keyboard proficiently for the rest of the program.
My thoughts on Reading Kingdom:
Now that I understand the program, I love it! It makes sense to me now. And it makes sense to teach children to read using the 6 Skills Method that Reading Kingdom uses.
Using orthographic phonemics method to teach children the differences between many homophones (to, two, too), homonyms (dog’s bark vs. tree bark), and heteronyms (ship’s bow vs. archery bow) is truly amazing and that’s what Reading Kingdom accomplishes.
My boys have struggled with phonics programs and although they haven’t been tested I do believe they have some form of dyslexia. With all the rules of phonics my boys would get confused. I didn’t see my phonics teaching cross over into their reading.
Hopefully with the Reading Kingdom’s activities and repeated encounters of the words they’ll become better more efficient readers.
You will want to click HERE to see samples of each levels and to find out more about Dr. Marion Blank the creator of Reading Kingdom visit HERE.
Please click on the banner below to read more reviews on Reading Kingdom, enjoy!