Children may struggle with literacy for different reasons. Some may be diagnosed with a learning disorder, while others may simply fall behind their peers. Not all children are ready to read at the same time, and this could affect ability, too.
Different grade levels also focus on different aspects of reading. In early elementary, children are learning the basic fundamentals; they also need to memorize lists of sight words. In fourth or fifth grades, comprehension becomes more abstract, and children are expected to read longer books.
Online reading instruction can be beneficial for children who struggle with reading. As literacy expectations change year-to-year, there are types of online reading instruction for each literacy need and/or struggle.
Early Elementary Years (Kindergarten through Second Grade)
In kindergarten, children are learning the basics of reading. They begin to understand the sounds of letters, identification of each letter, some sound blends, and they need to memorize lists of sight words. Comprehension might focus on the ‘wh’ questions.
First and second graders build on these early skills. Sight word lists might still be used. Books become longer. And children might be expected to understand a bit more details about stories and/or characters.
Parents who need online reading instruction for younger children might look for apps or programs that focus on these basic literacy skills. Teachers might have recommendations for online programs, too. In fact, some schools or school districts might provide students with login credentials for certain programs that children can use at home.
Apps or programs that offer these features might be beneficial for children who are struggling to read in early elementary school:
Sight Word Identification
Some children might have a difficult time memorizing sight words. Flash cards could help, but games might help children have fun with this key skill. Parents can look for sight word apps that offer game-based learning. Some might encourage children to match words, find words or more. Some apps might even offer flash card formats, too.
Do a quick search for sight word games via the App Store (for Apple) or Google Play (for Android).
Recognizing letters and understanding the sound each letter makes is an important component of early literacy development. Some children struggle with identifying letters, sounds, and/or sound blends. Apps can help children practice these skills.
Parents can look for apps that focus on phonics skills. Some might be game-based to help children have fun while mastering their sounds and letters.
Children can practice fluency at home with their parents. Children can read aloud from passages via a book (or ebook) for one minute. Parents can make note of any mistakes to determine their words-per-minute rate. Or parents could simply encourage children to read aloud to practice their fluency.
Reading apps like Readability build lessons around read-aloud sessions. A built-in AI tutor will note any errors that a child makes while reading the stories. This helps determine the child’s reading fluency.
Later Elementary School
Children in late elementary school years (third through fifth) can continue focusing on sounds, sound blends and other phonics-based lessons, if this is an area of struggle. Some children might need help with reading fluency, and, again, reading apps like Readability can help children overcome these struggles.
Some children in late elementary years might have difficulties with comprehension. Parents might be able to find apps to help address these issues (Readability can help!) or parents can work with children at home as they read.
Here are some tips to help children with reading comprehension:
- Ask questions at the end of each chapter to gauge understanding
- Encourage children to create a reading comprehension bookmark to remind them of the information they need to find when reading
- Chunk text to help improve understanding and comprehension
- Use graphic organizers to help identify key plot points and/or character attributes
- Use sticky notes to write story memos while reading
Where to Find Free Online Reading Instruction
Households on a tight budget might look for free online reading instruction. There are free apps and websites that can be used to help children practice reading. Some of these apps or sites include game-based instruction.
With apps, however, parents might want to be cautious. Some free apps offer in-app purchases which allow players to buy different items within the game. These costs can add up if parents aren’t mindful. To avoid unwanted charges, parents can turn off in-app purchases via the phone.
Parents might also wonder if free apps are beneficial. Any reading practice can be beneficial for children who struggle. Game-type apps can help children practice skills like sight word identification in a fun format.
Apps available via stores like the App Store or Google Play usually include reviews. Parents can read reviews to research other users’ experiences with the app or program.
Online Reading Instruction with Professional Tutors
For children who are reading below grade level, parents might consider private tutoring. Some companies or tutors might offer online reading instruction via conferencing apps (like Zoom). This could be a convenient option for parents with busy schedules.
Costs for private tutors vary. There are many companies that parents can use to find the right tutor for their child. Some might offer virtual tutoring, others might not. Parents on a budget also might need to consider the tutor’s rate and how often their child will need tutoring sessions.
Comprehensive Subscription-Based Online Reading Apps
Subscription-based reading apps like Readability offer children a lesson-based approach to reading that’s also immersive and engaging. When using Readability to support literacy needs, children begin lessons at their current reading level. Parents can set a child’s reading level in the system or Readability can help determine the best level.
Lessons are leveled to meet the abilities of each child. Advancing to a higher level requires children to demonstrate mastery in both fluency and comprehension. Lessons require the child to read stories aloud, and a guided AI tutor can provide help if the child stumbles.
Readability’s AI tutor is programmed with voice-recognition software that helps it to understand each child’s voice. As children read through the story, the AI tutor is listening for errors…and is always available to help a child.
At the end of the book or story, the AI tutor will measure the child’s understanding of what they read by asking questions about the story. Children only move to a more advanced level when they consistently demonstrate understanding and confident reading skills.
Each story or book in Readability also allows children to make discoveries about each story. There are colorful illustrations and interactive features. For example, children can click on a word to uncover its meaning.
Parents also can follow their child’s reading progress via the Parent Dashboard portal. In this section that is only available to parents, all the reading data is summarized. Parents can look at their child’s reading fluency (measured in words-per-minute), their reading level and how long they used the program.
All this reading data can be compiled into a report that can then be emailed to the child’s teacher. This can help keep parents in contact with the school about their child’s reading progress at home.
Not every program is a fit for every child, although Readability does provide a comprehensive literacy program that can address multiple struggles. Parents can find out if Readability is a fit for their child by signing up for a free trial. This trial period extends for seven days and allows children to access all the features of the program.
Interested in discovering the benefits of Readability? Sign up for a trial period today!