Back in September I did a post detailing all my curriculum picks for the year. I promised a follow-up post.
This is not that post.
However, I did want to update on Fulton’s reading progress since I alluded to difficulties (a.k.a. I was the world’s worst homeschooling mom) at the time.
Fulton has been the absolute slowest of my children to learn to read. Although I try to be the cool, experienced homeschool mom who knows he’ll pick it up when he’s ready, I was sort of freaking out. My oldest read by 4 1/2, my second and third weren’t strong readers but by second grade, were reading their own school books and grade level stories. Now, they’re both reading chapter books with ease.
I had several resources I used with each child. If they got frustrated with one thing, we just switched up for a bit for some variety. We practiced regularly and always made slow and steady progress.
But despite my arsenal and experience and laid back attitude, I realized Fulton was in a league all his own. And as much as I wanted to stop worrying about it, I couldn’t. Fulton needs other people to do everything for him. I just finally wanted him to be able to do something for himself. Once he could read, it just seemed there’d be so many more things he could understand and do on his own.
Finally I read a book from my library “The Reading Remedy”. It mentioned several additional steps to reading that might be causing Fulton problems; missteps my other children had not made. Most notably, not reading words left to right. When presented with a word, he sounded it out starting with the letter he recognized first, regardless of where it was in the word. He also not only misread ‘b’, ‘d’ and ‘p’ but ‘m’ for ‘w’, and confused ‘u’, ‘h’, and ‘n’. Any similarities between letters led to confusion.
I thought many of the steps outlined in the book would benefit Fulton, however it recommended cutting out sections from the back to create booklets and tiles, something I couldn’t easily do with a library book. I assumed somebody had probably created some printables online I could use. Low and behold, a whole online program, Reading Kingdom, was created based on this book. Of course it cost money, but it had a 30 day free trial. I figured if I didn’t see improvements in 30 days, I’d be no worse off. I did have to give a credit card so I set a reminder on my calendar a couple of days prior to cancel if things weren’t working out.
Two months later, I can happily say that Fulton is reading. Does he like the program? Sort of. It’s hard. He spends about 20 to 30 minutes a day doing a new lesson and then either reviewing an old lesson online or reviewing his words with me using flashcards I made. However, he’s come to understand that reading is hard work, but hard work he’s capable of doing. We’re to the point where he can see (via the flashcards) all the words he’s learned. He can put them in sentences. He still does not like to be quizzed on his ability to read, but I have noticed an overall attitude improvement towards school time. He now states that he can learn and he wants to learn to be a scientist. A couple of months ago, he often mentioned he didn’t want to learn, and that he didn’t need to. Rather than admit he couldn’t, he often acted like he didn’t want to, or would simply rebel.
For the record, I asked Fulton this afternoon his opinion of Reading Kingdom. He actually said, “It’s the greatest thing in the world because it’s helped me learn lots of stuff.” And this is despite the fact that he asked to skip his reading lesson this morning.
We still sometimes butt heads during his lessons. I need to sit next to him to make sure he’s trying and not just hitting keys to move ahead. But only twice in two months has he lost some afternoon screen time because he refused to work on his reading lesson (purposely hitting the wrong letters, closing his eyes when I point to a letter he needs to type, etc.) Kids in wheelchairs find ways to act out too you know!
But overall, I’m happy and I believe Fulton is happier with this program than anything else I was trying. He does Reading Kingdom five days a week and I’d say 85 percent of the time, he gets right to work with no complaints or hesitation.
I wanted to share some pros and cons about the program with y’all on the off-chance anyone else has a struggling reader they’re convinced they can’t help. And FYI: I wasn’t asked to review Reading Kingdom and I’m not reimbursed, though I did get an affiliate code upon joining which I’ve used in this post. Rest assured if this program didn’t work for us, I wouldn’t have bothered mentioning it at all.
Online program with some fun game like components but not all flashy and noisy like an arcade. Not over stimulating. There’s point accumulation that unlocks different Passport levels but overall one gets the impression your child is here to learn, not be entertained or bribed. This was a big deal to me because many apps I tried were too game-like and that distracted Fulton from actually working.
Teaches typing skills. This was another goal I had for Fulton and he’s gained a lot of keyboard proficiency since starting Reading Kingdom.
Tech support gets back to you ASAP. I had a couple of problems signing up, and then questions on review, and both times my emails were answered the same day.
Can adjust response times. Fulton can’t hit buttons quickly, so I liked that I could adjust the time he had to type in an answer before a clue was given or the game moved on.
Can review previous levels multiple times. Once you’re in Reading and Writing Part 2, you can review any word over and over.
Noticeable results quickly. I saw progress within a month but it’s been within the second month we could really see all his hard work pay off. From barely reading the words cat and dot to reading sentences like “Can the bird fly?” and “The girls will rest here.” within two months seems pretty awesome to me.
Can’t review Reading and Writing Part 1 once you’ve started Reading and Writing Part 2 without resetting the whole program. I would’ve like for Fulton to do more with the Seeing Sequences (under part 1) but didn’t want to lose our progress in Part 2 so we kept going forward. Ultimately not a big deal, but wish I understood that at the time so we could’ve reviewed more when we were in Part 1.
Took us awhile to find the right browser/ program combo. You can choose to run Reading Kingdom in Java or Adobe Flash. The default was Java and it struggled to load quickly using Chrome on our computer. I didn’t have much luck using Safari or Opera either. Eventually I realized I could change to Adobe and it runs much better now.
You can move through the program with guessing and wrong answers. If i didn’t sit next to Fulton, he could still make it through most of the levels just clicking and typing the wrong things and still get through. Now, the program would register that, and probably make him review more but parents need to keep a watchful eye to make sure their child is actually working. I don’t necessarily think this is a con, but it’s often stressed parents shouldn’t help their child (which is true) but they shouldn’t walk away and forget about their child entirely either.
Not the most expensive program, but not the cheapest either. Usually it’s $19,99 a month; or less if you pay for more months up front. However, if it’s out of your budget, you could buy The Reading Remedy and follow the program that way with less money, though you’d lose the typing component.
One more note, I highly recommend reading The Reading Remedy, otherwise the whole approach of Reading Kingdom is going to throw you for a loop. There’s bigger sight words from the get go, no review of letter sounds or the alphabet and very few of the phonetically based simple sentences that you’re more than likely familiar with (ex: Mat sat on Sam.) But, for the child that can’t seem to grasp reading, The Reading Remedy and Reading Kingdom could be the missing pieces. I know it’s going to become my first recommendation for friends whose children are struggling to read; and not just homeschoolers either.
Let me know if you’ve ever given it a try or if you have any questions in the comments below.