In elementary school, children may use the same classroom programs each year for reading and/or math. These programs help children practice their skills and may be designed to advance children to the next level when they have shown mastery.
Classroom reading programs may help teachers better assess a child’s literacy progress, and, combined with district-wide standardized test data, they also may help educators gauge a child’s reading proficiency. Elementary reading programs that grow with children also can be used at home to provide enrichment or to aid children who might struggle with reading.
But why is an elementary reading program that grows with children beneficial? Here’s what parents need to know.
Children in the same grade may have different reading levels. Some children read above grade level, while others read at the level that is expected. Others may be behind peers and read below grade level expectations.
Parents may find it helpful to view literacy like a growth chart. Children can move to different points of this chart throughout the year and throughout their elementary years. In kindergarten, a child might have been a proficient reader, maybe even a precocious reader. However, the same child can later struggle when grade-level expectations become more rigorous. A child may have complete ease in reading words and understanding basic context and meaning, yet could fail to grasp the ‘reading between the lines’ comprehension that is expected in later years.
The expectation is that a child’s literacy will grow with each year. They will begin to understand more complex details and story structures and learn to identify with characters. Reading also becomes essential to understanding and is an important part of learning other subjects. Not only do older children need to understand more complex novels and stories, but they will need to understand the complexities of textbook explanations, too.
Children who fall behind in reading may not simply fall behind in reading grade-level stories, but, eventually, other subjects may be impacted, too. Identifying reading struggles early may allow parents to provide literacy support to their children and move them forward.
Encouraging Reading Growth at Home
The reading growth chart of a child may look different for each individual. Some may progress quickly; others may need more help and time to gain confidence and reading proficiency. Programs at school can help children practice reading skills and gain fluency, but parents also may wish to provide additional support at home.
There are many ways parents can support children, whether their child struggles to read or just needs daily practice to continue to grow. Encouraging a child to read aloud at home can help parents understand struggles with phonics and reading fluency. In addition, parents can encourage children to read aloud; sometimes hearing the story can help children to better understand it. However, parents also can encourage children to think deeper about the story by asking key questions related to characters and plot.
Some children may be right on target with reading. Yet, even children who have no identifiable struggles still are asked to read daily. Many schools ask children to read every day at home—from 15 to 30 minutes. Children who are hitting benchmarks also may enjoy reading. Parents can still support the reading journey at home by incorporating activities that enhance the adventure.
After a child finishes a book, parents can find the movie version of the book for a family movie night. Parents can check out Rooftop Film Club’s list of the best children’s books that were brought to life on the screen. Children can then compare the book to the movie and decide which they liked best.
Reading field trips take the book’s adventure into a child’s world; visit places from the book…or places inspired by the book. These trips can help a child step into the character’s shoes.
Using Elementary Reading Programs
To encourage reading growth and proficiency, online elementary reading programs can be used at home. Parents whose children are younger or even in middle elementary grades (2nd and 3rd) may want to focus on finding reading programs that are designed to grow with their child.
Reading programs shouldn’t be stagnant; there should be flexibility that allows growth in the program’s design. Many reading apps and online programs can be used throughout the elementary school years—up to 5th or 6th grade.
What this means for parents is that these programs provide several years of use for children when they are implemented early in the elementary school years. While these programs grow with the child as they age and move from grade to grade and throughout different reading levels, they also can be adjusted to accommodate for the unique needs of children who read above grade level or below grade level.
How does this work?
With Readability, for example, children begin on the program at their current reading level. Parents who know their child’s reading level from previous classroom assessments can set the level manually via the program; for parents who are unsure about their child’s reading level, Readability can help determine where the child should begin in the program.
The child begins with their current reading level—whatever that may be. From there, they begin reading books and stories in the program. Reading is done aloud, as Readability includes a built-in AI tutor that can capture the unique voice of each child. The tutor can then identify struggles during the lesson and help the child correct their mistakes. Readability’s AI tutor also facilitates a quiz at the end of each story to measure comprehension. To move to the next level in the program, children have to demonstrate mastery of both reading proficiency and comprehension.
For elementary reading programs that are designed to grow with a child, there is no standard pace or time that dictates when the child advances to the next level. Children move on when they show that they can begin to read at a more difficult level. Some children may advance through the program quickly. Some may take more time.
With these types of reading programs, though, all children may benefit from the lessons. Even children who are reading beyond their grade level could use a program like Readability to progress to higher levels or simply practice and improve their reading skills.
Programs that are leveled also can help children during long vacations—like summer—when there is a risk of losing proficiency in key subjects like reading and math. Some children may not want to open up a book, but perhaps they love technology. Using a reading program during long breaks may help children keep their reading skills sharp or maybe even progress during the summer.
Parents may want to explore different apps and programs for their child to use during the school year at home or during the summer break. As many programs require a subscription for use, parents may be hesitant to commit to the first one they stumble upon online. However, some programs—including Readability—offer a free trial period to help parents and their child explore the program and gain a better understanding of its format and content.
Not every program is the right fit for every child, but Readability does provide a multimodal approach to literacy to provide help to children with different types of reading struggles so they can gain confidence and proficiency.
Interested in trying out Readability for your child? Sign up for a free trial today!