Topic: Homeschool Product Review
Once upon a time there was a little boy named Jacob. When he was a baby his parents jokingly but affectionately would call him their little Jacobite. And so it was that soon his name was shortened and they simply called him "Bite".
Bite was a curious little boy who was into everything. He loved to discover and learn about the world around him. However, little Bite had to rely on others for his information for the poor fellow had never learned to read. He would discover something new, find someone who wasn't too busy to ignore a young lad, and listen intently as they answered his many questions. Unfortunately, Bite was very talkative and folks would soon tire of his investigating. So, they would wearily return to their work and half-heartedly continue to talk to him. I say "talk" because often they didn't even listen to poor Bite and they would just answer him with the first thing that came to mind.
One day he was relaying all of the information that he learned (or thought he had learned) about stars to his dear father when his father stopped him with an incredulous look on his face.
"Now who told you that gibberish?" asked his father.
"Why, old Fred did when he was tending the cows this afternoon." answered Bite.
"Bite" his father said with a sigh, "You simply can't go on relying on others for your information. You never know what foolishness they will give you."
"Then what shall I do father? Sometimes I see new things and get so I excited that I feel like I shall bust if I don't learn more about them."
"You have to learn about things for yourself." answered the patient father.
"But how do I do that?" asked the very impatient boy.
"Well, you can observe the new thing. Perhaps even draw a picture of it and start a notebook. And you could always..." suddenly the father stopped talking and looked away.
"Always what, Father?"
Quickly the father embraced his young son. "Oh son," he cried. "I suppose it's time for you to learn how to read. You are growing up so fast. I've been wanting to keep you my baby forever. But, alas, you must grow up and I must teach you. Only, I haven't the time right now. Perhaps next year when you turn five I will have more time."
Sadly the boy walked away. "I must learn how to read. I must!" he thought. "But how?"
He thought about it all that evening. Through supper and devotions. Through prayer time and the nightly tucking in to bed. He thought about it as he was falling asleep and was soon dreaming about it as well.
And his dream went something like this:
"Bite. Oh Bite." Came the soothing voice from outside his open window.
Bite was at once awake and, since, as you well know, he was a very curious boy, he was up at once and leaning on the windowsill to see who was calling him.
"Who is it?" he called. "Who is calling my name?"
At first he thought it was his father, but the voice was much to soft and sweet to be a male voice.
"It is I...Brenda." returned the kind voice. "I am the person who passes out assignments for the TOS Homeschool Crew and I have chosen you to receive a special assignment. One that will change your life forever."
"For," said Brenda, "with this wonderful thing you will learn how to read!"
"Oh, sweet and kind Brenda, this is what I have been thinking and dreaming about all evening!" exclaimed Bite, "But, how did you know?"
"I knew because God told me to give it to you." answered Brenda. "You see, I pray about what children should receive each of my special assignments."
Then Brenda went on, "But beware, oh chosen one, learning to read does not happen over night. You must learn many things and must be diligent with you efforts. Some tasks may seem tedious to you, but if you do not accomplish them you will not be able to read well. You must be patient, my little one. That is something that I know is very difficult for you to do."
Although faced with that warning, Bite was still very excited. "When can I begin, Brenda?" he asked anxiously.
"Soon, oh young one, soon." "But," said the voice, "remember, Bite, you must be diligent and work hard."
And with that the voice was gone.
Soon, to his disappointment, the boy woke up. I say "disappointment" because he then knew it was only a dream. Or was it? You see, soon after breakfast, his father checked his email and was very excited to see that he was getting a wonderful new assignment from...you guessed it...the TOS Homeschool Crew! He and Bite were going to get to review an online reading program called "Reading Kingdom".
When his father told him about this, Bite was wide eyed and quickly told his father about his dream.
"I knew this was going to happen father!" he excitedly said, "Kind Brenda told me!"
His father just laughed, but in he mind he wondered about the dream.
After the quick registration process was over, Father was ready for Bite to start. First came the "Keyboard and Mouse Training". Father explained to Bite that Reading Kingdom was done on the computer and the program recommended that Bite practice using the mouse and the keyboard to make sure that he was used to using it. Although some children may think this was fun, Bite, of course, was anxious to get on with the reading part. He remembered, however, that Brenda said some parts might be tedious, but he must remain diligent. So, he faithfully went through this optional training for a few sessions until Father was sure that he could handle the keyboard and mouse well.
"Finally", thought Bite, "I will now get to learn how to read."
But, alas, Bite was sadly mistaken. He didn't understand that there are many skills that he must learn in order to read well. He took a Skills Survey and found that he had difficulty sequencing letters and still couldn't easily find some letters on the keyboard. His father explained that sequencing was very important when you learned to read. If you couldn't sequence the letters you would read the words incorrectly. The word "cat" might become "tac" and who ever heard of a tac lapping milk from a bowl?
Bite, who was always a logical thinker, then realized how important sequencing was, and, although he earnestly wanted to read, he found "Letter Land" and "Seeing Sequences" fun. Oh, it took him a while to learn how to listen patiently while the computer voice told him what to do. Sometimes he would type a letter when he was supposed to click something on the screen or click when he was supposed to type, but eventually he got used to it. He remembered that Brenda said to be diligent, so even during a family crisis and a bout with the flu he worked hard. Sometimes Father had to sit by him to guide him, but, often Father would let him work on his own.
Bite was patient and diligent indeed, for he knew that soon he would take another Skills Survey and be ready for the first of five Reading Kingdom Levels. His father had told him that in each level he would learn actual words and read actual books! In level one itself he would learn 36 new words (63 if you included variants like adding s or ing to the words) and he would read 6 books. The information on the Reading Kingdom website said that at first he would learn simple words and phrases like a kid and Here are some toys but soon he would be reading larger sentences such as:
One of the things in the sky is the moon. The moon does not look the same all the time.
There was a baby bullfrog. He was also very bullheaded. He liked to go to places on his own and did not stay with his mother.
Father said that the second sentence reminded him a lot of Bite. Bite, indeed, was very bullheaded and liked to go and explore places on his own. This made Bite laugh and made him want to learn to read all the more.
Bite was very happy with Reading Kingdom and longed to thank kind Brenda for sending it to him. When he asked his father how he could do so, his father told him that he would personally thank Brenda, but that the best thanks would be for him to tell his friends all about this wonderful website called "Reading Kingdom". So that is exactly what Bite did. He told them how fun it was and that it was reasonably priced for only $19.99 a month with no monthly minimum, or $199.99 for a whole year, and, you can try Reading Kingdom for 30 days for free by clicking here (or on any one of the hi-lighted links above)! He also told them about the very neat Reading Kingdom newsletter that they could sign up for. Finally, he told them that Brenda had given this wonderful assignment to many other TOS Homeschool Crew members and they could find what they thought about Reading Kingdom by clicking here.
Bite was indeed a very happy homeschooler. He learned to read, and lived happily ever after.
The story you have just read is true. The names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Oh, all right, the story is about me and my youngest son Jacob, who we indeed call "Bite". And, the story is only half true. What's true and what's not true? That, my dear readers, I will leave to your imagination !
As a member of the TOS Homeschool Crew I was given a free one year subscription to Reading Kingdom in order to try out and review on my blog.