Reading is not just an important academic skill, but an important life skill that your child will use all throughout their life.
Most people probably cannot even remember not being able to read, but reading is the foundation for learning and communicating.
Reading is such an imperative skill in our lives that we use it every day from the classroom to doing laundry.
For children that are having trouble mastering the skill, at home reading programs for struggling readers can help them to catch up to their reading level.
What makes a good reading program?
An at home reading program for struggling readers takes into account the specific skills they need guidance with but also gives them a holistic approach.
The main reading skills that new readers need to improve and build are:
- Phonemic awareness
- Reading Comprehension
Learning new words, especially sight words, is important for quickly identifying words in text.
Vocabulary building helps to let other reading skills work intuitively; for example, without a significant vocabulary bank, readers often have a difficult time understanding what a text says.
This greatly affects their reading comprehension, so a program that encourages your child to learn new words often is important.
Phonemic awareness vs. Phonics
Although phonemic awareness and phonics are connected concepts, they are different skills your child needs to read effectively. Understanding the differences between the two can help you understand where your child might be struggling.
Phonemic awareness involves understanding that language is made up of words and those words are created by putting together individual units of sounds called phonemes and how to articulate them.
Phonics on the other hand builds on phonemic awareness skills as your child then becomes aware of the letters associated with specific sounds. This is where learning an alphabet is an important step in introducing reading at a very young age.
Phonics helps new readers to acquire the knowledge of how sounds and letters work in a language. How combinations of letters create certain sounds and then creates structured meaning.
Since both phonemic awareness and phonics are so important for being able to recognize letters and word structures, a good reading program will incorporate some sort of learning associated with this.
Whether it is alphabet practice or pronunciation practice, practicing and developing these reading skills are important for building other skills such as vocabulary and fluency.
Fluency is a major step for new readers. It is the ability to read with speed, accuracy, and proper expression.
Essentially, the reader should be able to sound “natural” when they are reading and not sound choppy and awkward.
This again is a skill that requires other reading skills to be developed and working correctly. Often if fluency is an issue for a new reader, some underlying issues might be happening such as problems with vocabulary or phonemic awareness.
Finding a reading program that helps with developing fluency can be tricky because it involves incorporating so many other reading skills. A good reading program can offer extensive reading opportunities to further develop “natural” reading.
Arguably, often the main goal for reading is reading comprehension. Reading comprehension is being able to understand what the text is saying and being able to make connections to prior knowledge.
In order for reading comprehension to take place, all the essential reading skills: vocabulary, phonemic awareness, phonics, and fluency, need to be working effectively.
Reading comprehension can be developed and practiced with guidance and effective learning methods.
How to effectively use reading programs for kids at home
Using a reading program for kids at home is important in giving them reading practice outside of their school work.
An effective reading program not only gives your child an opportunity to learn and practice but also makes learning and reading fun for them.
A reading program can provide great guidance and learning when used effectively at home.
Here are some ways to incorporate a reading program for your kids to use at home:
- Use daily – If you want to see actual improvement in your child’s reading skills, it is important to use a reading program regularly.
Use the program as daily practice for when your child is not in school such as summer and winter breaks. This can help keep their learning consistent and show progress more quickly.
- Keep it fun – While you want your child to practice reading regularly, you also do not want them to get bored of working with a reading program.
Choose reading programs that are interactive and game-like. This will help prevent it from feeling like more homework for them.
- Treat it as a reward – Instead of giving your child a treat or present, reward them with some screen time using the reading program. This can also show them the value of reading.
- Play with them – A great way to get reading programs to work is to do the program with your child.
Using the reading program with them can help you get a sense of their reading level and progress as well as makes it a great way to bond with your child in order to help them learn.
- Practice extensive reading – Extensive reading is reading a lot and reading for fun. There is not necessarily a goal such as targeting vocabulary building.
Extensive reading is really about building a positive relationship with reading by reading lots of enjoyable reading materials.
By finding a reading program like Readability, which has a seemingly endless library of reading materials, your child can continuously enjoy reading and at the same time improve their reading skills.
- Give them positive feedback – Children respond well to positive feedback and giving them words of encouragement can help them to feel motivated to read more often and build their reading skills.
There are also reading programs that give you progress reports so you can view and share your child’s success with them.
Why is being a good reader important for kids?
Obviously, reading is incredibly important for children to learn and to use in school. If your child is struggling with reading, it can often be frustrating for both them and you.
Many children want to give up and might avoid doing homework or practicing on their reading programs.
If that occurs with your child, it might be helpful to remind them of the various reasons why reading is so important for them.
- Learn more words – As mentioned previously, vocabulary is a huge part of learning to read. The more words your child knows the easier it will be for them to read.
However, the best way to build vocabulary? Read more. The more your child reads the more exposure they have to new words then the more words they will know.
- Practice makes perfect – Just as the best way to build vocabulary is to actually read, the best way to read better is to read more!
- Makes them more independent and confident – Independent reading does not come overnight. But reading more often can help your child to learn to read on their own and eventually learn on their own.
- Helps them navigate the world – Reading can open up knowledge about the world and different cultures. But, even just thinking at the simplistic level – reading happens all around us when we read signs, labels, and instructions.
Your child can understand what is happening around them and where they are when they are able to read successfully.
- Safety first – Street signs and label warnings help to keep people safe, but in order for them to work, you have to be able to read them. That is why reading can help keep your child safe.
- Leads them to success – Reading is so important to academic success because it is the primary way we learn.
Initially, your child is learning to read in school, but eventually they will make the shift to reading to learn. If they are not able to read, they will struggle with learning in school in other subjects.
- Enhances their imagination and creativity – Reading helps to develop and enhance your child’s imagination and creativity by forcing them to imagine what the story that is in text might look like.
- Keeps them entertained – Children are often spending their time with technology and spend a lot of their freetime on screens.
Reading programs on tablets and smartphones can help keep their entertainment time educational and keeps them practicing to read while having fun.
- Improves their grammar – Just like vocabulary, reading can help enhance actual reading skills such as grammar.
The more exposure your child has to different grammar structures the more familiar they will become and be able to use those structures and grammar rules themselves.
- Enhances their writing skills – All the reading skills also can be translated into writing skills. Reading and writing are reciprocal skills, so the better the reader your child is, the better writer they will become as well.
Reading is such an important skill for your child not just in school, but in life in general. It is how we learn, communicate, know where we are, and even know how to cook something.
However, just because reading is such an essential skill does not make it an easy skill to learn for everyone. If your child is struggling with learning to read, they will likely benefit from using an at home reading program for struggling readers such as Readability.
Readability is a great app to use for practicing reading skills every day. It hits every essential reading skill from vocabulary to reading comprehension.