Mar 072011

How can I teach my child to read?

I think that is one of the biggest concerns of parents planning to homeschool their young children. We’ve been led to believe that it is really difficult and that it is very important that you chose the right method or you might ruin your child’s entire future!

Well, maybe it’s not quite that bad, but educators take reading instruction method very seriously. And they don’t agree on what method is best. The two basic schools of thought in reading instruction are phonics and whole language. But there are a wide variety of phonics programs on the market. A dizzying amount. And according to the whole language proponents, phonics instruction is actually detrimental to comprehension.

That leaves parents with a dilemma. Who should you believe? I’ve done some research on this issue, though I am by no means an expert. I think that most children will learn to read by whatever method you use. It’s often more a matter of timing and practice than method. There are exceptions to this. For example, my middle son has had much difficulty and is still not reading independently at almost 9 years old. But with my older two children, I took a middle of the road approach using a simple phonics program and reading real books to add sight words, fluency, and comprehension. In other words, I like a little bit of both: phonics and whole language.

Right now I have 2 children who are learning to read. My middle son who is almost 9 has been learning and is still struggling. We’ve tried a lot of different things with him and are currently just trying to keep making forward progress. My younger daughter is 4 and is a bundle of enthusiasm. She has been figuring out a lot of the basics of reading on her own. I honestly don’t have time to work with her yet. I’m planning to make it a priority in the fall, but with a baby and trying to keep up with school for the other 3, she’s going to have to wait. I figured if she accidentally learns to read before I teach her, it will be ok. At least that’s what I was thinking before I got the opportunity to review Reading Kingdom for the Homeschool Crew.

What is Reading Kingdom?

Reading Kingdom is an on-line reading program designed for children ages 4-10. Through a series of pre-tests, the program automatically puts the child at his best starting level. It also advances at the child’s pace, providing more practice for those children who need it. It is not a phonics program or a whole language program, but uses a variety of methods to introduce new words to the child. A child must be able to not only read a word, but also spell it, to demonstrate mastery of that word. The Reading Kingdom website does a very thorough job of explaining the program in detail, so rather than describe it further, I recommend that you visit for more information.

Our Thoughts on Reading Kingdom:

My 4 year old daughter and almost 9 year old son have been using Reading Kingdom almost daily for around 6 weeks.

I just asked my daughter what she thinks about Reading Kingdom. She said, “I love it!” And she does. I don’t have to ask her to use the program. She asks me — often multiple times in a day. She has learned to read many new words including a, girl, girls, some, kids, and boys.

My almost 9 year old son (who I believe is dyslexic, but have not had him tested yet) is not quite as enthusiastic about the program. However, he does complete daily lessons for the most part without complaining. I am especially interested to see if continued use of the program will help him with visually recognizing words. He often misses “sight words” in his reading practice with me. I am not using this as his sole reading program, but for additional practice on “tricky” words. (That’s what we call words that don’t follow the rules.)

I like the program for several reasons. I like that it approaches reading from a different perspective. There are plenty of phonics programs available and lots of ways to practice phonics skills, but I’ve not found another on-line tool that teaches reading like Reading Kingdom. I also like that the child can work independently. I need help finding enough time to give each of my children individual attention. Having Reading Kingdom has given me time to work with one child while another is actually learning on the computer instead of just being entertained. Finally, I like that it has gotten my daughter so excited about reading!

If you’re interested in trying Reading Kingdom, they offer a FREE 30 day trial. A subscription is $19.99/month for one student. Additional students can be added for $9.99/month. There is also a discounted year subscription available for $199.99.

Disclosure: I was provided with a subscription to Reading Kingdom in order to complete this review. The opinions expressed in this review are my own. I was not compensated for this review.