Children who struggle with reading may need different tools and resources to help them gain proficiency and meet grade-level benchmarks. Some parents can afford private tutoring for their child or their child may have qualified for additional help and enrichment through school-based reading programs.
Other parents might not have the financial resources for a private tutor, and their child might not struggle enough to qualify for reading intervention programs through the school. Parents may look for programs or apps that could help their child. Some apps and online tools are free, but are free apps to help struggling readers beneficial? What should parents know about these free options?
How to Find Free Apps to Help Struggling Readers
Finding free apps for struggling readers is easy, but it may require a bit of scrolling via phones or tablets to find the best options. There are many different reading apps available through Google Play (for Android users) and the App Store (for those who use Apple).
The problem for parents isn’t about finding reading apps for their struggling reader but finding the right apps or the most beneficial apps to meet the needs of their child. Parents may need to be more focused when searching for reading apps. Typing in just the term ‘reading apps’ will bring up probably thousands of results.
Many parents might not have the time to scroll through all these options, and the search may become more of a frustration. When looking for reading apps, parents can focus their search on the skills in which their child is struggling. Search for ‘reading apps comprehension’ or ‘reading apps sight words.’ Try to be as focused as possible in the search so that the results reflect the best options.
Both the App Store and Google Play offer a lot of free apps. When parents narrow down their search results to include specifics like comprehension or sight words, they may see results that aren’t free. For this reason, don’t forget to specify ‘free’ in the search query!
Parents can then sort through all their options. There may be many apps for sight words, phonics and other early literacy skills. Comprehension apps may be more limited. There are free comprehension apps available, but many of these apps are designed for younger children. Still, though, parents can open the app description to find out if the app is a fit for their child.
Are Free Apps Beneficial for Struggling Readers?
Free reading apps could provide some basic enrichment activities for struggling readers. For example, there are many free reading apps that are designed to help children master sight words. These apps could include a variety of activities and games that children will enjoy.
Again, free comprehension apps may be designed more for younger readers than upper elementary grade levels. This doesn’t mean that the app wouldn’t be beneficial. Parents may need to explore the content by reading the description to better understand what the app offers.
The best perk about free apps is that they are free. Parents can download the app and explore it to better understand if it will be beneficial for their child or help their struggles. In addition, the app reviews also can help parents better understand if the app has glitches and explore other users’ experiences.
For parents on a limited budget, free apps can provide additional enrichment when a child is struggling with certain reading skills. However, it’s important for parents to understand that some of these apps could have limitations. Again, researching the options can help parents find the best free apps for their child.
For children that have difficulties with specific comprehension techniques like inferencing may even be able to find apps that zero in on these struggles. An app called Inference Clues: Lite helps guide children to better understand this important literary technique.
Understanding In-App Purchases
With many free apps, parents might notice that the app offers in-app purchases. What does this mean?
In-app purchases allow users to make purchases within a game or app. These purchases may be items for a game, extra features or more. Each game or app offers different purchase options.
Older children might know that they shouldn’t make any purchases within a game. Unfortunately, younger children don’t always understand that when they click to purchase something in the app, the purchase costs real money.
These in-app purchases could result in surprise charges to a parent’s account. Sometimes these charges can be incredibly expensive if the child made many purchases.
Thankfully, in-app purchases can be disabled for both Apple and Android devices. Parents may want to double-check their devices to ensure that children cannot make these purchases.
Free Apps or Programs through Schools
Before parents download a bunch of free apps to help their child, they may inquire about apps that are available for free through the school district. Some schools provide students with login information for reading programs that they can use at home. These might be apps or they could be websites that require a subscription.
Not only could these free resources be beneficial for struggling readers that need more enrichment, but they are also a program in which the child is familiar. There won’t be any confusion on how to use features, and a child may easily log on and begin where they left off at school.
Using programs from the school also means that these programs are vetted and trustworthy. In addition, they may offer the best tools and resources to guide literacy and to help children meet grade-level benchmarks.
If the school does not offer programs that children can use at home, parents could still reach out to the child’s teacher to inquire about recommendations for free reading apps or programs that their child can use at home. Teachers may be a great resource and may offer guidance for finding the best online (and free) enrichment tools for struggling students.
Subscription-Based Apps to Help Struggling Readers
Parents also could research subscription-based reading apps to help their child. Many subscription apps are fairly inexpensive and some could be used for more than one child (which lowers the per person cost).
Many reading apps also offer free trial periods to help parents determine if the program is right for their child. While trial periods may vary in length, Readability offers a free seven-day trial period for those who are interested in exploring the features of the program.
Subscription prices may vary in cost and apps or programs may differ in how they bill for subscriptions. Readability charges $19.99 per month for access to the program. However, one account may be used for up to three different readers. Parents who have multiple children that need to use the program may be able to benefit from this feature; if Readability is used for three children, the per child cost per month is less than $7.
Before signing up for a program or even a free trial period for a reading app or program, parents can explore the company’s site to learn about how the program approaches literacy and how it helps children gain proficiency. For example, Readability includes a built-in AI tutor that can provide help during reading lessons if a child struggles. The AI tutor acts as a child’s one-on-one teacher and also asks them questions at the end of each story to gauge comprehension mastery.
Interested in exploring Readability and meeting the AI tutor? Sign up for a free trial today.