When children come home from school, they need a bit of downtime. While there could be a pile of homework in their backpack, along with a book for a reading assignment, decompressing might help children feel refreshed to tackle more work.
For children who might need additional help with reading, parents might be on the lookout for reading programs or solutions that don’t feel like…more work. Tutors could simply be seen by children as yet another teacher. And more lessons! Parents can help make reading lessons fun by using the best program to teach reading…that doesn’t feel like homework!
Isn’t all Reading Homework?
It’s true that most schools and grade-level teachers assign nightly reading homework to students. The reading assignment could be between 15 to 30 minutes per day, although 20 minutes of reading might be the literacy sweet spot.
Decades ago, reading assignments were less focused on minutes and more focused on reading a certain number of books. Gen Xers and Baby Boomers might remember being instructed to read a specific number of fiction and nonfiction books per year. To prove that a student read each book, they might have written a book report detailing what they liked about the book.
Times have changed, and now reading focuses on minutes…not necessarily the number of books. Some parents might prefer the old way, but others might like the idea that their child needs to read a certain number of minutes each night (or day). While there is no wrong or right preference, there is an overlying understanding that no matter how the assignment is presented, reading should be fun.
Back in the past, some students might have struggled to read those allotted numbers of books, just as some children today might look at the clock and groan. Reading should be enjoyable, and when the fun is removed from the experience, reading does feel like homework. It might be up to parents to try to transform the homework into…funwork.
Transforming the Reading Journey
If a child has developed an aversion to reading, breaking out those bound books could cause them to procrastinate…or begrudgingly start to shuffle through those pages. Unfortunately, if reading is treated like another assignment, the fun could be zapped. But this feeling doesn’t have to be permanent, and children don’t have to live a life of reading frustration. Here are a few ways parents can create a fun reading zone and help children view books like an adventure:
- Let children choose their book. For reading minutes, parents should make sure the books are at a child’s reading level. That way the text or content isn’t too difficult.
- Build a reading fort.
- Let children listen to the story as they read. This could help them understand the emotion.
- Create reading rewards.
- Visit the library to let children explore their reading options.
- Watch the movie after reading the book. Compare the book and the movie. Watching the movie also could be a reading reward.
- Take a field trip to a place mentioned in the book. This doesn’t have to be the exact place, though. Visit someplace related to the story. This is called a reading field trip.
Letting Children Pick Their Books
Sometimes parents really want a child to read a specific book. Maybe this was a book that a parent loved as a child. Maybe parents just grab a book for the child to read. Books and their content can be specific and personal to a reader.
Parents might want to look back at their own childhood and try to remember how they found beloved authors. Maybe a friend recommended a book or a book series. But what a parent loved a child might not love…or maybe they will.
Books are a journey. Every journey may be different. Libraries are a great way for children to explore their own reading journey. They can look at different books and find out what path they want to take. Maybe they discover a love of sci-fi or biographies. Maybe they choose books based on their hobbies or interests.
Letting children pick their own books gives them a reason to be excited for reading time. They can explore what they want to explore. As children get older, they may branch out with their reading choices. They may explore different topics and genres. They may use books to find out their own beliefs or to investigate historical events.
Book choice gives children their own power. And when parents are desperately trying to get their children to read, choice may help children embrace a love of the story.
Reading Programs: A Different Kind of Adventure
Children might need additional help with reading. They may be reading below their grade level or they may simply struggle with specific reading concepts—like comprehension. Some children could qualify for additional help at school; this could be reading intervention programs or other types of programs.
Other children might not receive additional help at school, but parents might still want to investigate resources to provide additional enrichment. Online reading programs can be used by children at home after school to help them gain confidence and proficiency.
The best program to teach reading, though, should be fun and immersive. Most importantly, that reading resource shouldn’t feel like another homework assignment. When researching online reading programs, what features are important?
Parents will obviously want to choose programs that help address their child’s struggles and help them become better and more proficient readers. However, lessons should be immersive; they should be fun. They shouldn’t make children groan or want to avoid the program.
Here’s what parents should look for in an online reading program:
- Engaging content. Stories should be at the appropriate level for every reader, but they shouldn’t talk down to readers. This means that the stories should hold the age-level interest of the reader. A fourth-grader shouldn’t have to read stories about little ducks going for a swim…or content that’s designed for a younger age.
- Immersive design. Books and stories should keep readers engaged, but features within the program’s design need to help immerse the reader into the story. Can children click on words to find out what they mean? Is there a built-in guide that helps children with lessons? These are all features that take the program to another level.
- Colorful illustrations. Blocks of text can become overwhelming. Children who struggle with reading might become frustrated by simply seeing pages and pages of words with nothing else. Stories in reading programs should offer illustrations that break up all the text.
- Meaningful feedback. Reading programs shouldn’t simply have a child reading text aloud without any guidance. Look for programs that include a built-in tutor that helps guide lessons and provides help when children struggle.
- Simple design. Children should be able to use a reading program without a manual. A program needs to be simple enough for a child to log in and begin their work. They shouldn’t have to deal with glitches or a complicated format.
Measuring Success…and Fun
Not every reading program will be beloved by every child. That’s simply a reading reality. Parents might research different programs to find out what one is best for their child. This is also where free trial offers can be really beneficial.
Parents should look for programs that offer some type of free trial period. This allows parents and children to explore the program and find out if it’s a good fit. Children can also read through stories and check out the different features.
When parents feel comfortable that they’ve found the best program for their child, they can commit to a subscription. Some programs charge per month. Others might have a different billing structure.
As children begin to actively use a program, parents will want to follow their child’s progress. Ideally, reading programs should include a section for parents to view their child’s reading data. Readability includes a Parent Dashboard that’s only accessible to parents. The Dashboard lets parents see their child’s current reading level, their reading rate (number of words read per minute) and how long their child used the program. All this data also can be compiled into a reading report that can be emailed to the child’s teacher.
For children, Readability offers a fun reading environment that helps them gain confidence and proficiency. Lessons won’t feel like homework, because the stories are always interesting, unique and immersive. Parents can follow their child’s progress to ensure that the fun is also boosting their child’s skills.
Interested in helping children embrace the fun of reading while gaining proficiency? Try Readability today!