Should Parents Use Reading Apps for Struggling Readers?

February 11, 2020

Should Parents Use Reading Apps for Struggling Readers

When kids are struggling with nightly reading assignments, parents may seek out solutions that encourage and motivate a child to read. Maybe a child isn’t reading below grade level or even having difficulty with comprehension, but perhaps they are struggling to read because they just don’t love it.

Are reading apps the answer to engaging a child’s mind when they don’t want to read? Should parents use reading apps for struggling readers, the ones who avoid reading at every opportunity?

Struggling has different definitions, and when we talk about struggling readers, our minds so often drift to kids with learning struggles related to reading. So what do parents do when tests show a child is reading at benchmark or above but, yet, they still won’t crack open a book?

Are Reading Apps the Answer for Struggling Readers?

When children really do exhibit a real struggle to read, a struggle that is related to comprehension or phonetic understanding (or both), intervention may be necessary to help them meet grade-level expectations.

Intervention may include school programs, online reading apps like Readability that kids can use at home or other programs. Parents may purchase reading apps for at-home tutoring to provide additional help even when kids qualify for school programs.

Every child’s needs and struggles are different, but most parents will find a way to help their child meet benchmarks and increase reading fluency. Reading apps may be an at-home intervention method used to help children with literacy struggles that affect academic performance.

What about kids who just hate to read? Should parents purchase reading apps as a tech-centric way to encourage reading?

Kids today have grown up with technology. They don’t remember a time before apps, computers and gadgets. Technology is a part of their everyday life, and, sometimes, tech rules their lives in such a way that it affects other aspects of growth and development. There can be too many good things.

However, kids who really don’t love books may benefit from the interactive functions of reading apps. Even ebooks might be more appealing to them than bound printed pages.

Reading apps can encompass actual reading programs like Readability but they also can include reading apps that turn a device into an ebook ‘reader’ like a Kindle.   

To Download or To Not Download?

Parents should understand that reading is reading. Whether you read on a tablet or from an actual book it doesn’t really matter. Any act of reading will benefit a child. Most schools even encourage kids to read comic books, because all reading helps a child gain proficiency.

If an app that functions as an ebook reader gets a child motivated to start burning through chapter books, then it might be worth considering as an option.

What about more intense reading apps? If your child isn’t struggling with the fundamentals of reading, should you use intervention apps? That’s up to parents. An intervention app certainly won’t hurt a child; if they find it fun and engaging, it also may boost their abilities.

Reading isn’t a Punishment

Remember: Reading isn’t a Punishment!

So many schools require that kids read a specific amount of time each night. This requirement may turn kids away from reading, especially if they begin to view books as homework. How do you keep reading fun while still enforcing reading minutes?

  • Don’t set a timer. Let kids read as long as they want.
  • Carry over minutes. Ask the school if kids can carry over minutes from the previous day. So if they read for an hour one night, that extra time can count towards another day, too. advises parents to “conquer the log” and cites using extra weekend reading minutes as a way to not be too burdened by those daily requirements. 
  • Let kids choose the books they want to read. This lets them anticipate reading time, because they are actually excited to delve into the adventure of the book.
  • Don’t nag. This is easier said than done for parents. Try not to nag about reading, though. Instead encourage a reading habit or routine. Maybe reading nightly happens right before bed. Just try not to lump reading into other homework time.

Should kids who are struggling with reading enjoyment use reading apps? There are many types of apps that encourage reading and the choice about whether or not to use them is really a parent’s decision. 

Some apps turn a device into an e-reader, and kids can read virtual books instead of bound copies. If a child prefers ebooks to bound books, then these apps may be beneficial. 

While reading intervention apps are typically for those who have reading struggles related to comprehension or phonics, the interactive features may be a fun benefit for kids who really hate chunks of text and need more engagement. 

Parents should find an app that works for the needs of their children. However, parents also should work to ensure that reading time isn’t treated as just another homework demand. Sometimes the reason that kids avoid reading is because adults have made something fun and adventurous into yet another battle.