Schools in 26 states have announced plans to close down for the year to help stop the spread of the coronavirus, and several additional states and territories also have recommended closures for the remainder of the school year. Ed Week reports that these closures (and potential closures) have affected more than 36 million students. Lessons have moved online and parents are taking on the role of classroom instructor. While some parents may only need to supervise learning, others have to create entire lesson plans without much guidance.
No matter what your child’s online learning lessons look like, parents should utilize homeschooling reading programs to ensure that children at all grade levels continue to progress in their literacy journey.
What should parents look for when researching homeschooling reading programs? Here are the key features of a great program:
- Leveled content that increases with difficulty as your child becomes more proficient
- Engaging stories
- Colorful illustrations
- Auditory feedback capabilities (e.g. a virtual tutor)
- Growth data for parents (reports should detail each child’s progress)
- A dual focus on both phonics and comprehension
Embrace the Teacher Role and Create a Learning Schedule
Parents who are now jumping into the new role of teacher may be a bit overwhelmed with the move to online learning.
The new school day is an adjustment for many parents, and it’s completely normal to not feel completely at ease. Depending on your district, parents may have more or less ownership of their child’s learning journey. However, all parents need to take the reins during this time; parents will ultimately need to ensure that all the work is complete and that the child stays on track. Creating a school schedule is a great way to keep kids on track with all assignments—including reading!
Even if your child’s school assigns reading assignments, homeschooling reading programs may be used to expand enrichment and, hopefully, increase a child’s reading proficiency. Create a time in the schedule for children to work on reading enrichment programs like Readability.
How to Use Homeschooling Reading Programs
Programs like Readability are extremely easy to use. Parents need to download the app and either sign up for a free trial (it’s seven days) or pay for a subscription. Once the app is downloaded, the reading journey begins. Readability will adjust content to ensure that lessons aren’t too easy or too difficult. Books will begin at your child’s baseline level and slowly increase in difficulty as your child shows mastery.
Your child may have difficulty with phonics, comprehension or both. Readability can help your child improve in all areas of reading; an integrated AI tutor provides auditory feedback to guide pronunciation and comprehension. The tutor will gently correct any mistakes and ask your child questions about the story.
Ideally, parents should work with younger children to ensure that they are engaged in lessons. Unsupervised lessons—especially when working on a mobile device—might mean the child could become distracted with other apps (like games).
Even when parents supervise lessons, they may wonder about the effectiveness of the program. How do you know if the program is helping to increase a child’s proficiency? The Parent Dashboard shows key data about the child’s progress and also helps parents understand how long the child has engaged with the program. If a child isn’t reading enough, parents will know!
Should Online Programs Take the Place of Books?
Children may find that they are more engaged in stories through apps like Readability. Today’s kids thrive on technology; most of them don’t remember a day without a gadget!
While online programs are a great way to ensure that kids increase proficiency—and provide parents with the data to back up this progress—don’t shun physical books! The more a child reads, the better they will become at reading. Let them read old books, new books, easy books…encourage them to read whatever interests them.
Parents also should read to young children as much as possible. Not only is reading together a great bonding experience, but it helps encourage a joy of reading. The more a child likes to read, the more they will read. Studies have shown that reading five books a day to a young child allows them to enter kindergarten with a more than one million word advantage over peers whose parents never read to them.
What Should a Reading Schedule Look Like?
Every parent may have a different school schedule established for online learning, or maybe the school has established this schedule. Many kids are engaged in Zoom meetings via their district, and this helps students maintain a physical presence with peers and their educators.
Every parent’s online learning schedule for their children may be unique. Many parents also are working from home, and this may mean that schedules need to be flexible so that parents can carve out the time to provide additional instruction and guidance. Your child’s virtual learning environment may be broken up into hourly chunks for each subject throughout the day, or perhaps your child prefers to sit down and work until everything is complete.
How you schedule time for homeschooling reading programs depends on both the parents’ schedule and a child’s learning preferences. Some kids need multiple breaks, but others can work for hours at a time without issue. In addition, parents may only have time in the evening to help a child with online lessons or schoolwork. Create a schedule that works for your family’s unique needs during this time.