When to Use Apps to Help with Reading Comprehension

March 26, 2021

Apps to Help with Reading Comprehension

There are many ways parents can help children with reading at home. Parents can help children sound out words as they read, review sight words with flash cards and even play games to help with letter recognition (for early readers). However, when comprehension is an area of literacy weakness parents may find helping their child to be a bit of a challenge.

Helping a child understand the meaning of stories may take a bit of practice. Reading worksheets and apps may help provide enrichment at home. Should children be reading far behind peers before parents take the leap into a reading program?

There is no set standard for when to use apps to help with reading comprehension at home. In fact, any child can use reading apps!

Use Apps to Help with Reading Comprehension During Long Breaks

Summer vacation for many students is about three months long. Ideally, parents should encourage that children practice reading and practicing math skills to ensure that they don’t fall behind; the dreaded summer slide refers to a decline in reading and math skills during the summer break. Some teachers send enrichment packets home at the end of the school year to encourage kids to keep learning (and practicing skills) during the long break.

Parents who are concerned about children who struggle with reading comprehension could use reading apps at home during this time to encourage and facilitate additional reading instruction. Apps like Readability include a built-in AI tutor that asks questions at the end of each story to gauge understanding. Children don’t move on to the next level of reading until they demonstrate proficiency at the set level.

An app like Readability provides more than just books and stories that encourage reading practice. Since the tutor tests comprehension, students are encouraged to think about each story as they read. This helps them understand that reading involves more than simply decoding; to fully understand the story, readers need to think beyond the basic text and make predictions, infer meaning and develop an abstract understanding of character and plot connections. Apps may help them develop this skill.

Use Apps to Help with Reading Comprehension During Virtual Learning

Virtual learning may be different for every school district. Some students may even be back in the classroom, while others may be meeting with their class via virtual conferencing platforms. Parents also may have mixed feelings about their child’s learning during the pandemic or may notice their child falling behind.

Reading apps can be used at home to complement school reading assignments. Parents who feel like their child may benefit from the extra enrichment could research different reading apps to find one that best meets the needs of their child.

Depending on the child’s struggle, an app could focus on phonics (decoding), comprehension or both. An app like Readability that helps with both phonics and comprehension could be a catch-all platform for at-home reading enrichment.

Readability also helps children improve their vocabulary skills. When a child reads a story via Readability, they can click on any word to hear the pronunciation and discover the meaning. As a child reads a story, they can acquire new words to their vocabulary list; Readability will save each word a child discovers to create a unique vocabulary list.

What if a Child Isn’t Behind? Can Parents Still Use a Reading App?

Reading apps don’t have to be used just when kids fall behind. Parents can use a reading app at home so children receive extra instruction and practice.

Children in elementary school might benefit the most from a reading app. Readability, for example, can be used for readers in kindergarten through sixth grade. However, if a sixth grader is reading at the appropriate level, they might not receive much benefit since the program’s content doesn’t extend beyond sixth grade. Readability could still be used to complement grade-level work for sixth graders, though.

Parents who want to use a reading app to move their child ahead or to practice need to understand the limitations of the program. Most programs will be best suited for particular grades.

Children in younger grade levels could help to strengthen their reading skills using an app like Readability. A third-grader could use the program to increase vocabulary and reading fluency, even if the child is reading at benchmark.

Extra reading work or practice can be beneficial to a child’s confidence and to simply ensure that they continue to receive ongoing instruction even when school isn’t in session. Teachers are stretched thin during remote learning; a reading app could be used as virtual one-on-one instruction. The built-in AI tutor with Readability offers feedback, guidance and accountability. Children aren’t just reading and putting the book down; the virtual tutor asks them questions about the book to ensure that they understand what they’ve read.

Apps to Help with Reading Comprehension

What is the Best Reading Comprehension App?

Finding the best reading comprehension app depends on the child’s needs and perhaps grade-level, too. Readability helps with both phonics and comprehension, so children who struggle with one or both of these issues could benefit from the program.

Even if an app is designed to address the child’s reading struggles, if it isn’t engaging children won’t want to use it. Parents also should look for these features in a reading app:

Colorful Illustrations

Apps shouldn’t just feature text-heavy lessons and stories. Pictures can help children to better understand a story. Colorful illustrations also help break up text and provide a visual depiction for children to visualize characters and the plot. Look for apps that include graphics and illustrations!

Interactive Features

Feedback is important during any lesson. Apps should be interactive in that they provide ways to explore the story and to receive help when struggles arise. Readability includes a built-in tutor that helps correct pronunciation. In addition, the app lets children click on words to learn their meaning—this helps build vocabulary!

Entertaining Content

Children want to read stories and books that capture their imagination and hold their interest. Fiction and nonfiction stories should be well written and keep kids hooked on the story. Older children with reading struggles don’t want to read below grade-level stories even if their reading level is below grade-level. Readability’s stories are age-appropriate but never too easy or too difficult. All stories fit the child’s age and their reading level.

Lessons Should Go Anywhere

Reading practice and lessons shouldn’t require kids to sit at a computer all day. Books are portable, and an app should be, too. Readability can be downloaded on mobile devices including phones and tablets. The app is available on both Google Play (for Android) and the App Store (for Apple). Kids can use Readability while waiting for their sibling at a sports practice, on a road trip, in a park or even at their grandma’s house. If there is a cell signal, a mobile hotspot or a wireless network, children can practice reading! Parents should be aware, however, of any applicable data charges for their cell network.

Proof of Progress

If parents are paying for an app or program, they want to know that it will benefit their child. Parents can follow their child’s progress on Readability via the Parent Dashboard. This offers insight about a child’s reading level, their progress and how long they engaged with the app. The data also can be downloaded and sent to the child’s teacher.

Free Trial Period

Not every app is right for each child. Parents shouldn’t pay for an app that doesn’t help their child. To find out if an app is a good fit for a child’s reading struggles, parents should look for apps or programs that offer free trial periods. Readability offers a free seven-day trial period that allows children to access all the features of the program.

Apps to Help with Reading Comprehension

What Else to Consider

Parents on a budget may need to investigate app prices even before they sign up for a free trial period. Fees may vary per program. Understand what each app offers and how much it will cost. There could be different levels with different price points, too.

Apps may require parents to enter their billing information when signing up for a free trial. If the parent doesn’t cancel the trial within a certain amount of time, typically the credit card or payment method associated with the account is billed for the month. Always check the payment stipulations even when signing up for a free trial. Understand the cancellation policies of each app before signing up.

Is a Reading App for Comprehension a Good Fit for Every Child?

Many children can benefit from using a reading app to help boost comprehension. Even children that are reading at grade-level might see improvement when using an app. Parents may want to sign up for a reading app for extra enrichment during long breaks (like summer!) or during remote learning when one-on-one time with the teacher is limited.

Reading apps like Readability that includes a built-in tutor may provide the extra help children need to become better readers and help boost their reading confidence. Ready to try Readability? Sign up today for a free seven-day trial!