Parents who have opted to homeschool their children typically have their daily lessons planned ahead of time. Homeschooling parents need to keep up with the grade-level skills and subjects of their children, but homeschooling might offer flexibility that the standard school-day doesn’t offer.
Some homeschooling curriculum options include hands-on field trips to complement lesson plans. In addition, when teaching reading, homeschooling reading comprehension lessons might include fun games and reading apps, too.
For parents who are homeschooling their children or who are considering the homeschool option, here are games and apps that can complement standard literacy lessons to enhance the enjoyment of the reading journey:
- Comprehension catch
- Retelling hopscotch
- Story Talk Twister
- Inference Ace
What is Reading Comprehension?
Reading comprehension is the ability to understand meaning from text. As a child moves from learning to read to reading to learn, comprehension can become more nuanced and more abstract.
Early readers might need to simply be able to explain the basics of a story; in early grades, comprehension may focus on the questions: who, what, where, when, why and how.
As reading skills develop, comprehension skills will focus less on simplistic understanding. Children will need to read between the lines to uncover meaning, make predictions and perhaps even relate the characters or compare/contrast plot dynamics to other stories and scenarios.
For younger readers, parents who are homeschooling might focus on the early skills to develop comprehension. Parents can use games and reading apps to complement comprehension lessons.
Games and Apps to Complement Comprehension Lessons
While homeschooling parents might take a lessons-based approach to teaching children comprehension and the strategies to improve comprehension, they also can mix in a bit of fun to help children work on digging deeper into stories. Games and apps can break up a lessons-based approach and help children immerse into stories, too.
Parents can think up original games to enhance their reading lessons, or they can use these fun ideas to help their child work on comprehension skills. These games also can encourage children to move their bodies and get some of the energy out. Plus, play can be an important way that children learn; these games are fun but are educational, too.
Parents can buy a beach ball at a dollar store to create a comprehension ball. Use a permanent marker to write comprehension questions or prompts. The comprehension ball can focus on characters, plot, the ‘wh’ questions, etc.
Younger children might be reading stories with parents, and parents can play this game with children. Toss the beach ball to the child. The prompt that faces up is the question they need to answer.
This is a fun game to play if parents are homeschooling multiple kids.
This game is a bit like comprehension. Parents can set up a hopscotch board inside using colored construction paper. On each page, write a question or prompt. When playing outside, just draw the board with colorful sidewalk chalk.
Play the game by answering the questions on the board. Parents might focus just on the ‘wh’ questions for a fun game of retelling.
Story Talk Twister
Bring out the Twister mat. On each circle, write prompts or questions to gauge a child’s comprehension. Play the game per the rules. However, when twisting to a new circle, the players have to answer the question on the colored space.
Pinterest also includes an example of this game where questions or prompts are noted on the spinner.
Apps that Help with Comprehension
Parents also can download apps on a smartphone or tablet that help children with comprehension. These apps can be considered positive screen time as they are educational and help complement the reading journey.
Both the App Store (for Apple) and Google Play (for Android) have many different apps available that focus on comprehension enrichment. Parents can search through the options to find the best apps for their child. Although many apps are free, they may offer in-app purchases. Parents who don’t want any surprises should disable this option on their phone or device.
Here are some comprehension-focused apps for mobile devices:
Both Apple and Android devices should come preloaded with an ereader. Parents can click on the book icon to access a library of books to download for children to read via their device. With ebooks, children can turn the pages with their fingers right on the screen. These books look like the bound version, but they are completely virtual.
Children who might not love reading traditional books might like to read via an ereader. Parents can use e readers to encourage reading. While the e reader won’t necessarily offer any features that directly aid comprehension, they could make reading more enjoyable for some children. More exposure to books and stories could help children grow their fluency.
For children who struggle with comprehension, though, parents will want to focus on finding books at the right reading level. Parents also may read with children to help guide them and work with them on using context to decipher meaning.
Some children struggle with reading between the lines of stories. To infer meaning requires children to use clues that aren’t often clearly explained or even directly stated. Using an app like Inference Ace can help children work on this skill.
While Inference Ace is available only for Apple devices, Google Play offers options, too. Parents can check out apps like Inference Jones, which is offered for different grade levels (Inference Jones also is available on the App Store).
Readability is a comprehensive reading app that is designed for preschool through fifth grade. Readability offers a lessons-based approach and includes a built-in AI tutor that helps guide lessons.
The app helps children with both fluency and comprehension. Children read stories aloud with Readability; if they stumble, the tutor will correct them and offer help. At the end of each story, the tutor also asks questions to test the child’s comprehension.
However, a child isn’t punished if they miss the answer. Instead, the tutor will show the text from the book that offers clues about the missed question. The tutor will read the passage to the child, and the child will have another chance to answer the question.
Children also can listen to their favorite stories using a feature called Storytime. When a child is reading stories in the app, they also can explore words and their definition. Children can tap a word, and Readability’s tutor will read the definition to them. Each story also has its own list of vocabulary words.
Readability provides parents with their own portal called the Program Dashboard that includes all their child’s reading data. Parents can review their child’s reading level, fluency, comprehension and even see their reading level and how many books their child has read.
Readability requires a monthly subscription ($19.99 per month), but one account can be used for up to three different readers. In addition, Readability offers a free seven-day trial for parents and their young readers to explore the program.
Tips for Finding the Best App for Children
Parents searching for comprehension apps on the App Store or on Google Play might be inundated with options. Since many of these apps are free, parents can download them and let children explore the content.
Reading the reviews might help parents better understand if the app is a good fit for their child or if it has benefited other users. Newer apps might not have many ratings, but those with lower ratings might need closer inspection. If apps are free, parents might just decide to try a few options to see if they are a good fit for their child.
Parents also could focus on keywords when looking for the best comprehension apps. Try searching for “comprehension third grade” or add in a particular comprehension focus like “reading comprehension inference.” Nuanced search terms can help parents zero in on the apps that might be most beneficial for their child.
If parents are interested in subscription-based reading apps for their child, they can consider signing up for free trial periods to explore the program before committing to a paid subscription. No matter what games and apps parents use when homeschooling, these resources can be a fun way to complement the homeschool reading journey.