While participating in the SXSW EDU competition in March, KinderTown had the opportunity to share the stage with some really innovative people in the education world. One of the companies, Reading Kingdom, stood out as a resource we needed to share with the KinderTown family. Besides having owls in common, we share a desire to give children the best educational resources available.
Reading Kingdom is a computer-based program that provides tailored reading instruction for children between the ages of 4 to 10. What piqued my interest was that Reading Kingdom takes a unique perspective on how to teach children that provides another strategy for learning to read than the phonics and whole language approaches. A successful reading program that gives kids one more opportunity to become a stronger reader? Tell me more! And they did – here is the interview that we did with Reading Kingdom.
KinderTown: What is Reading Kingdom? Is this a tool for use at home or in the classroom?
Reading Kingdom: Reading Kingdom is an online program that teaches children 4-10 how to read and write to a 3rd grade level. It can be used at home, at school or both. The program follows a student’s progress no matter where the program is used, so a child can practice the program anywhere there is a computer. It can be used as a standalone reading curriculum, or it can work as an intervention or supplementary program with any other program a child is using.
KinderTown: What inspired Dr. Blank to create Reading Kingdom?
Reading Kingdom: Dr. Marion Blank is the Director of the Light on Learning Program at Columbia University. Literacy is her life-long passion, and she has been developing programs that teach children to read for over 40 years, including some of the very first reading software programs. When she saw the power of the Internet and its ability to make a very fun, interactive, game-like program available to children everywhere, she knew she had to do it.
KinderTown: What makes Reading Kingdom unique from other reading programs?
Reading Kingdom: Reading Kingdom is a patented program that uses unique methods not found in any other reading program. The core difference is that Reading Kingdom is the only program that teaches all six skills required for reading success.
KinderTown: How is the program structured?
Reading Kingdom: Reading Kingdom program is divided into seven levels – two that cover introductory skills and five that cover reading and writing. The five reading and writing levels have six books at each level for a total of thirty books. By the time a child is finished with the program she or he should be reading at a 3rd grade level and should also have a set of powerful skills that make future learning smooth and successful. The program is adaptive, so it customizes itself to each child. If a child begins the program without any reading experience, chances are he or she will start at the very beginning and learn key introductory skills. A child who already has some reading abilities will likely start later in the program. This way children do not become bored with material that is too easy or frustrated by material that is too difficult.
KinderTown: What types of children use Reading Kingdom? Is it primarily for advanced learners or children who need a little extra help?
Reading Kingdom: Reading Kingdom works with children at all levels. Because the program customizes itself to each child, the program will adapt to teach at a faster or slower pace and provide more or less review based on each child’s specific needs. Children who may be having some trouble learning to read using another curriculum will likely succeed using Reading Kingdom, and children who learn to read easily will learn even faster using Reading Kingdom.
KinderTown: What results have you seen from children who complete the program?
Reading Kingdom: Children who complete the Reading Kingdom program have very strong reading and writing skills. And because children learn to read easily we see that kids who use the program actually love to read. The program also creates a very solid foundation that helps children as they move on to higher levels of reading. It is generally accepted that through 3rd grade children are “learning to read.” But starting in 4th grade children begin “reading to learn.” That’s why it is essential that children build a strong foundation so that when they reach 4th grade they have the reading and writing skills they need to excel in school.
KinderTown: How can Reading Kingdom be use as a supplement to what a child is currently learning in the classroom?
Reading Kingdom: No matter which program a child is using, Reading Kingdom can help that child to learn to read and write with greater mastery and fluency. Because Reading Kingdom teaches all six skills required for reading and writing it can fill in any holes that are left by other programs.
KinderTown: How does Reading Kingdom connect reading to other subject areas and general academic learning?
Reading Kingdom: Each of the five reading and writing levels in Reading Kingdom focuses on developing new literacy skills in children that relate to the types of books and reading material children will need to become familiar with as they advance academically. The program starts with simple character books and over the course of the five levels slowly introduces concepts critical to future academic studies including past tense, fantasy, science and other non-fiction subjects and so on. The program also places a strong emphasis on comprehension activities that teach children how to get the “main idea” which is essential for all learning.
KinderTown: Are there additional off-line materials for Reading Kingdom?
Reading Kingdom: There are a variety of books, workbooks and additional offline programs that are available to parents and teachers on our website.
KinderTown: What’s next for Reading Kingdom?
Reading Kingdom: We are developing the next levels in the Reading Kingdom program for teaching advanced reading and writing.