Help! The Reading Program Isn’t Working!

June 11, 2021

Not all intervention or enrichment programs work for every child. That’s why there are so many programs out there for reading, math and other subjects, too. With the variety of choices, though, parents might prefer researching a few different options before committing.

However, even that seemingly perfect program can go kaput. When parents are throwing up their arms and typing into any search bar that pops up a desperate plea of “Help! Reading program isn’t working,” instead of scrolling through all the results, it might be time to breathe.

The question parents really want answered is why isn’t the reading program working? And there could be many answers as to why the program isn’t working. However, there are, again, many different reading programs out there. So, for obvious reasons, this article will address five common concerns.

Concern One: My Child isn’t Advancing

Parents want to see results. They want to be able to look at a child’s reading program data and see that their child is progressing. But how does a parent define progress? What are the expectations that parents have of the particular program?

This is an important set of questions, because, sometimes, parents could expect results too quickly or assume that their child should advance at a level each day. How quickly a child advances through a reading program might depend on a lot of factors, including:

The child’s reading level and where that level compares to grade expectations. A child who is several grades behind might take longer to advance. Reading could be especially difficult for them, and they may need to work at a slower pace.

How long the child engages with the program. If a child is reading via the program often, they could progress faster. However, this isn’t always the case. Some children could rush a lesson, and progress could be affected in the negative.

The child’s interest in the program. Is the child engaged? Do they like the content? Are they bored? If a child isn’t interested in the program, they may simply tune out.

The program doesn’t address the child’s needs. Obviously, the program a parent chooses for their child should address the child’s reading struggles. If the program doesn’t provide help or enrichment for these areas of concern, a child might still be struggling and not advance.

Concern 2: My Child Doesn’t Like the Program

A program might not have lessons or books that engage a child and hold their interest. However, there could be other reasons that cause a child not to like a program.

Perhaps the program doesn’t provide feedback to let a child know what they are doing right…or wrong. Maybe there isn’t a type of vocal support that also provides help when a child struggles. For example, Readability offers a built-in AI tutor that will help a child with pronunciation or ask questions about the book (to help measure comprehension).

Books or lessons in the program also could seem boring. Or maybe content is focused on reading level but not at the child’s age level. Even if an older child is reading below grade level, they don’t want to necessarily read books with content geared toward a lower age group.

Concern 3: The Program is Too Easy

While some parents may fear that the program isn’t working, others may be worried that their child is advancing too quickly because the content could be too simple.

This might or might not be the case. The program could be working fine, but maybe the child is advancing quickly because the child is engaged with the stories.

However, if parents feel that the program might be too easy, they may want to sit with the child during lessons and gain a better understanding about the content and how a child moves to the next level of that particular program.

Concern 4: The Program is Too Expensive

Reading programs could vary in price. Some might charge a flat fee, others (like Readability) might charge based on a monthly subscription.

Parents could discover that their budget can’t handle the extra cost. So if a program isn’t working because of the cost, it might be time to investigate other options. First, though, parents might look at their own budget to determine what they can reasonably afford. This can help shopping for a budget-friendly program a bit easier.

Concern 5: The Program is Glitching!

Reading programs should run seamlessly. In a perfect world, this would be the case. Technology, though, isn’t perfect. If the program isn’t literally working, then parents might need to place a call to the company for assistance. This could be an issue that is known, or it could even be an issue with WiFi.

If a child can’t finish their lessons because the system is simply so slow or is glitching, contact the company to help resolve these issues.

Finding a New Program

Parents may realize that the program just isn’t a good fit. Maybe it’s too expensive, maybe it isn’t addressing a child’s needs, or maybe the child simply doesn’t like it. Now what? Finding a new reading program can feel like a challenge. There are, however, many more programs for parents to try.

If the first program just wasn’t the right choice, how can parents find one that is the best for their child? Here are a few things to consider when parents are looking for another reading program:


Is the cost billed each month via subscription? Or is the program a yearly fee? Look at how this price affects the monthly budget and if continuing the program is feasible.


Read the different reviews about the program. Have parents found the program to be beneficial? Reading both positive and negative reviews can help parents find the pros and cons of each program.


Parents should understand the program’s general structure and what reading struggles it aims to help. Some programs—like Readability—help children with both phonics and comprehension. Other programs could be more focused on one particular area of reading. Visit the program’s web site to gain an understanding on how the program helps guide the reading journey and how it addresses struggles during lessons.


Reading programs might not publish any of the books or lessons via a website. However, programs could offer a free trial period to let children and parents learn more about the program. Trial periods are a great opportunity for parents to figure out if their child will enjoy the program…and its content. Programs that offer immersive content and colorful illustrations can help keep a child interested and engaged.


Parents are busy, and many children are busy, too. Sports, clubs and other extracurricular activities mean that sometimes families are rushing from one place to the next. According to the Urban Institute, more than three-quarters (83 percent!) of kids ages 6 to 17 are enrolled in at least one outside school activity (aka extracurricular activity!).Reading lessons should be able to go anywhere…just like a book. Reading programs should be available via app, which makes it accessible on mobile devices…or anywhere with wifi or a hotspot. Children can practice reading at their sibling’s soccer game or during the carpool to robotics club! If life is mobile, then parents might want to choose a reading app that is mobile, too!

Using a Program for the First Time

Whether a parent has just signed a child up for a reading program or the family is switching to a new reading program, parents might want to be involved with those lessons during the first week or so.

Some parents might not have time to sit with a child as they use the program, and this is understandable. Parents often juggle multiple roles throughout the day, and, after school, it may be a rush to practice or to try to whip together a quick dinner.

Parents who can make the time to sit with their child during the program session, though, may be able to gauge their child’s attitude about the program and its content. Parents also can help children navigate through the program and, of course, just sit back and see how the program structures the lessons.

This is also a great time for parents to get acquainted with the program, too. Some programs include a portal for parents that includes data related to progress and engagement with the program. Readability offers the Parent Dashboard, which provides all the data related to the child’s levels and more. Reports on the Dashboard also can be sent to the child’s teacher.

When implementing a reading program at home, parents also might want to keep the child’s teacher in the loop about the enrichment. Teachers and parents can stay connected to better understand the child’s reading progress not just on the program but in the classroom, too. Teachers may communicate reading levels in numbers or letters; for parents who aren’t quite sure what all the codes mean when trying to decipher their child’s reading level, Scholastic breaks down all those numbers and letters into one easy to read chart.

Advancing through the program can help parents understand that their child is reading more fluently and confidently. However, parents also likely want to know that this confidence—and reading proficiency—also is emerging in the classroom, too.

When a reading program isn’t working, parents may be the first to notice. However, there could be many reasons for why the program might not be successful for the child…and there also could be different definitions of “not working.” A reading program might not be a good fit for a family because it’s too costly. For children, the program might not work because it’s too easy or maybe it doesn’t hold their interest. If the program simply isn’t a good fit—for whatever reasons—parents may want to sit down with their child when beginning a new program. This can help parents better understand how their child engages and if the content is a good fit.

Of course, trying out a program can be a great way to find a program that checks off all the boxes. Ready to try Readability? Sign up for a free seven-day trial today!