Taking Galatians 6:2 literally it says, “Help carry each others burdens. In this way you will follow Christ’s teachings.” Dr. Marion Blank‘s desire to end illiteracy motivated her to extensively research how children learn to read. Her years of study has produced multiple books, including The Reading Remedy, and the award-winning Phonics Plus Five reading program. Her direct contribution to my life has been through the online learning program that teaches children how to read and write to a third-grade level –
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Dr. Blank believes, “Phonics is THE path to reading. It’s why children for generations have been taught to sound out the ABC’s once they enter first grade. But traditional phonics is not enough. It’s great to be able to figure out the sounds of words, but by itself, it makes reading unbearably slow and tedious. At some point, sounding out has to switch over to instant word recognition. That means doing what you are doing now – looking at words and immediately recognizing what they are saying. And that skill also is not enough. In fact, success in reading calls upon five other essential areas.”
I have taught several children how to read, phonetically, and sometimes it has been more trying and less successful than other times. Now, I have a better understanding of the process. Reading Kingdom, designed for ages 4-10, begins with a skills survey for each child. According to the results, they are placed in one of 6 levels: pre-reading or a reading level 1-5, honing their skills with the mouse and keyboard; learning to recognize, read, spell and type words and sentences. As one progresses through the levels the six skills necessary for reading are strengthened.
- Motor Skills
It is expected that a child will be reading, with confidence and enthusiasm, at a 3rd grade level with the completion of Reading Kingdom. Generally, this will take 12 – 18 months. After the first few weeks, most children can navigate the program on their own. Reading Kingdom allows me to share the responsibility of teaching my child how to read, making it a lighter burden and not nearly as overwhelming. Because it is interactive, it customizes each lesson for my child. Each 15-30 minute session teaches her reading, spelling, punctuation, and writing.
I can watch her progress and clearly see her successes, and so can she. Reader reports —what they’re doing, how they’re doing and what is coming up– are available to the parent and track a child’s progress.
Reading Kingdom is lively, appealing and inviting! My child wants to play it, but it has not always been gumdrops and lollipops. I’m pleased that it has raised her reading level, but I am also quietly thrilled that it has significantly improved her level of patience! Let me explain. To me, instant gratification is the bane of our culture. Reading Kingdom requires my child to slow down, focus; paying attention to directions and details. She must type when directed to type using the keyboard and click when instructed to click a letter on the screen. The word focus has deeper meaning to her, now. If she concentrates and responds correctly she can progress through the levels, but if she doesn’t know an answer or is just distracted the program will re-teach the word or concept; which can get quite repetitive. I consider these simple but important life lessons. Plus, the positive by-product of the repetition is that it inevitably builds her confidence. Whereas, I appreciate these perks of the program; some parents do not. Since I reviewed Reading Kingdom in 2011, one of the changes they’ve made to the program is the ability to adjust the response times for your child. For some, this makes the difference between tears and smiles; or discontinuation and completion. I think the best thing to do is to take advantage of Reading Kingdom‘s offer – FREE for 30 days – and monitor the results for yourself. It’s truly risk free!
Reading Kingdom is $19.99/month (one child) with no monthly minimum or $199.99 per year (one child). Each additional child is $9.99 per month. If you take the time to directly compare Reading Kingdom to other reading programs you might find that this one costs a few cents more per day, but you will also find that the benefits of Reading Kingdom, as one of the most complete reading programs available online, far out weighs the extra pennies.
Dr. Blank and her team are “passionate about promoting literacy and believe that every child has the right to learn to read.” There is a scholarship application program set up, making literacy a hope for everyone. If Reading Kingdom works for your child and you know he needs it to succeed, then ask for it! “Nothing is impossible for God.”
Comments or Questions?
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Dr. Blank can also be reached through email: BlankM@childpsych.Columbia.edu
Please, follow the links I’ve provided throughout this post; and click the banner below to get a well-rounded view of Reading Kingdom by what my Crew mates have to say about it.