Reading Kingdom is a comprehensive program that teaches all the skills required to turn students into successful readers.
The six skills of reading and writing are: sequencing, writing, sounds (phonology), meaning (semantics), grammar (syntax) and comprehension. Here is a little bit about how and why Reading Kingdom teaches those skills.
Sequencing (Letter Order)
When we are young children and see items that are grouped together, we learn that their sequence, or order, doesn't matter. For example:
Our experience has taught us that these are all the "same" group of adorable puppies. The order they appear in doesn't make any difference. However, when we learn how to read, suddenly, the sequence of the objects becomes essential.
Sequencing is what allows us to read the same letter combinations as different words by changing their order - as you can see in these words:
now / won / own
eat / tea / ate
pale / leap / plea
These differences in sequencing are obvious to us, but not to a young child who has not yet learned to read. Amazingly, children are not taught this essential aspect of reading.
However, in Reading Kingdom's Seeing Sequences segment, children easily and rapidly acquire the sequencing skills they need. Because Reading Kingdom is adaptive, only those students who will benefit from this format, receive it.
Writing is reading's sister skill and is an essential part of reading education. Research shows that teaching writing and reading together is far more effective than teaching reading alone. For example, it has been found that teaching a child to write a word accurately is 5 times as effective in facilitating word recognition as reading the same word once. In other words, reading fluency is attained much faster via writing. That's why Reading Kingdom incorporates a lot of writing.
To write successfully, students need to have mastered the physical skills involved in creating written words. With paper and pencil material, this means handwriting; with computers, this means keyboarding. Fortunately, for young children, keyboarding does not entail their having to use all ten fingers. A single finger is enough. But the movements of that finger must be guided by teaching which leads the children to have a solid sense of the keyboard layout. With that mental map in place, hunting and pecking vanishes to be replaced by smooth, accurate movements on any keys they need.
The solution is provided in Reading Kingdom's Letter Land format which offers an integrated system for teaching children the skills for recognizing and selecting the letters they need to produce for effective spelling and writing. This segment teaches upper and lower case letters, as well as the beginnings of punctuation.
(Reading Kingdom also offers an easy-to-use handwriting program that teaches children the fine motor skills and the production of shapes that handwriting requires.)
Sounds / Phonology
Phonology is the skill that allows you to take a set of letters (such as "c", "a", and "t") and translate them into sounds that form real words (e.g. "cat"). Unfortunately, the current methods for teaching "sounding out" do not work for many children. As previously discussed, English is highly irregular and there are 1,768 to spell 40 phonemes. For example, the sound "u" as in "nut" can be spelled 60 different ways (e.g. about, ocean, gorgeous, nation, does, patience, women, etc.).
The "solution" that traditional phonics approaches offer to get around this obstacle is to have children learn "rules" about the way letters work. In fact, Phonics has developed almost 600 rules! But the problem with the "rules" is that they are riddled with exceptions.
Fortunately, there are easier and more effective methods for converting letters into sounds without requiring children to learn complicated and error-prone rules. That's why Reading Kingdom uses two unique methods that lead to rapid sound and word identification and do not require children to memorize any rules. These are:
Bit blends: this technique eases the demands of blending - which is very challenging for children - by providing part of the sound blend and requiring students to complete the other part. It's like putting training wheels on the process of blending. After a period of time, children learn how to blend on their own.
Orthographic phonemics: teaches the sounds of letters in words via writing so students learn to see sound patterns in numerous situations that can be very challenging for students, such as words where the same letters have different sounds (ie, played, painted and worked) and words that sound the same but are spelled differently (ie, their, thereand they're), etc.
In early reading children are typically presented with pages of words that have nothing to do with one another except for sharing sets of letters. For instance, here is a typical phonics worksheet:
There are very significant problems with this approach. For one thing, using this method children get accustomed to worksheets showing endless sets of disconnected words. In real reading material, of course, words never cluster this way. Even in the earliest readers, words are always linked together on the basis of meaning - not sounds. A story about a hungry animal, for example, might read as follows:
"The bear was hungry. She was looking for some food. She spotted a tree with berries..."
None of these words shares common letter patterns. To read this material, a child must be able to shift rapidly from one different word to the next. The sound-sharing words of worksheets do not prepare children to do this, leaving them at a loss when they have to do actual reading.
A second key problem is that in English there are many words that are spelled the same but have different meanings and pronunciations (sounds), or sound the same, but have different spellings and meanings. The correct word and meaning can only be gleaned from context. In fact, Charles C. Fries, author of "Linguistics and Reading", found that the 500 most-used words in the Oxford English Dictionary have 14,070 separate and different meanings, an average of 28 each.
For example, consider the following words with multiple meanings:
Bay: a color, a tree, a part of a building, a body of water, a prolonged bark
Fair: good weather, impartial, an exposition, a light color
And these sentences:
Since there is no time like the present, he thought it was time to present the present.
They decided to desert their friends in the desert restaurant before eating dessert.
Context makes these distinctions clear. Without context, how is a student to know?
For children to become effective readers, from the start, they must learn to read words organized to convey meaningful messages. The reading and writing materials in Reading Kingdom all pay close attention to meaning so that a child is always working with words and sentences that actually mean something - just like the words and sentences they encounter in real life.
In Reading Kingdom, words are always taught in context.
Intensive High frequency Syntax System: Reading Kingdom uses the Intensive High frequency Syntax System which takes advantage of the fact that while English contains more than one million words, out of that vast number, there is a very small, unique group made up of only 100 commonly used words. They are words such as "the," "is," "was," "they," "how," "what", "to" and "does" and are often referred to as "non-content" words because they seem to lack any clear meaning.
Because these words cannot be sounded out, they are labeled as "exceptions" and they are given very minimal teaching time.
Although they are often overlooked, 100 or so of the non-content words form the majority of any page of text you will ever read in the English language - regardless of whether the book is for a child or an adult.
(In the sentence above, the bolded non-content words comprise 63% of the total.)
Moreover, these powerful words are essential to our system of grammar because they:
But Reading Kingdom doesn't just teach children to memorize these words as some "high frequency" word list - the program actually teaches these words' meaning. Reading Kingdom does this by carefully pairing words and graphics. For example, in learning the word "not" the child first sees a sentence where the word has to be inserted.
The sentence is followed by a graphic that illustrates its meaning. Then guided by audio instructions, the child has to type some or all of the words in the sentence-including its punctuation.
So if you teach children these 100 words, they can read 60% of every page they will ever read and even more importantly they will understand the relationships among all the other words on that page. The importance of this to reading instruction cannot be overstated.
Reading Kingdom is the only system that has been designed to leverage the power of this group of words by thoroughly teaching their meaning and usage in context. As a result, children are provided with a potent tool that makes reading easier, smoother, and easier to understand.
Books represent the heart and soul of reading. Unless they have been beset by failure, young children have no deeper yearning than being able to read books on their own. Unfortunately, motivation is not everything. Good books tell stories. To do that, they need to use a fair number of complex words, ideas, and sentences. These books are often too long and complex for many children, with the result that children find themselves adrift in a sea of unrecognized words. When this happens, the experience for novice readers is not pleasure, but rather pain as they experience repeated errors. And nothing is more devastating to learning than high rates of error.
Any teacher whose student struggles with the printed page will tell you the real story. With repeated failure, motivation is transformed into tension and misery. Children will love reading only if they can read the messages on the printed page easily and effortlessly and if they see the way ideas are put together to create meaningful stories. Without comprehending the main idea conveyed by the books, children aren't really reading.
Other programs typically use the method of providing passages and then asking questions about them. For example:
The problem with this approach is that it only teaches students to recall details. And a student can remember many details about a book and still have no idea what the main idea was.
Reading Kingdom offers two innovative methods for ensuring comprehension:
Intensive Word Teaching Method: Before reading a book, students learn all the words using 4 formats that teach a word's 1) spelling, 2) pronunciation, 3) meaning and 4) usage in context. This way, students can be assured that they can successfully read and comprehend the program's 30 custom books.
Comprehension Modeling Method: After reading a book, students are taught how to form "main idea" summaries of the stories they have read via the highly effective pedagogical method of modeling. It's like putting training wheels on the process. After a period of time, children learn how to grasp and recapitulate the main idea on their own.
Reading Kingdom is the only system using this innovative approach. And when children are taught all six skills in an integrated fashion, they easily master both reading and writing.