The Best Online Reading Program for Kids

October 18, 2020

A mother reads a book online with her daughter

Reading difficulties in childhood can lead to a child feeling less confident in the classroom and some kids may want to avoid school completely. Traditional intervention programs in the classroom may be necessary to ensure the child meets grade-level reading expectations, but online reading programs also may be beneficial for children to further increase literacy at home.

The best online reading program for kids features:

  • Interactive learning
  • AI assistance for pronunciation
  • Engaging stories
  • Grade-level content
  • Individualized reports to monitor progress

Interacting Learning: Bringing Stories to Life

Children learn in different ways; some or visual, others are auditory learners. Boosting comprehension and phonetic understanding doesn’t just involve guided lessons. To encourage a love of books and stories, lessons should be interactive—drawing kids into the story through immersive features.

Some software programs encourage kids to explore story lessons by hovering a cursor over a character or object in the story. This could allow for additional story features like listening to character dialogue or settings that transform with the click of the mouse.

While this type of interaction doesn’t push phonetic lessons, the hands-on functions allow kids to view learning (and reading) as a joyful experience. Exploring a book and a story should be fun, not just another sit down and read homework assignment.

Guided Reading: AI Assistance for Pronunciation Problems

Reading requires phonetic decoding, and this can be tough for some children to master. Phonetic issues could lead to comprehension issues if children aren’t able to correctly decipher words and phrases within the story.

The best online reading programs should offer integrated assistance—a virtual reading tutor! AI capabilities prompt young readers when they stumble over a word, helping them correctly identify mistakes so they can continue on with the story. These prompts ensure children develop a better phonetic understanding to further advance their reading level.

Engaging Stories

Sometimes reading intervention programs don’t engage readers with content. No struggling reader wants to read boring or basic stories. While phonetic composition and story content should be on level with a reader’s needs, the story also should provide engagement and hold a child’s interest.

Look for online reading programs that offer a variety of topics to keep a reader excited. Stories should be interesting to readers visually, as well. Since many children learn by seeing, colorful illustrations help bring a story to live and may further help a child comprehend text while reading.

Appropriate Leveled Content

Each child learns differently and at a unique pace. Reading problems are not all the same, and children may have different challenges when it comes to literacy. Not every child needs to start a reading program at the beginning level; in fact, some kids may just need a little extra assistance to meet grade-level expectations.

It’s important that parents research programs to ensure that reading levels are appropriate and individualized. A child shouldn’t be subjected to content that was already mastered or feel that the lessons are beyond their skill level.

The best online reading program should address each child’s unique needs and adjust lessons accordingly. This ensures that kids receive the assistance needed to progress in their reading journey.

Monitoring Progress: Individualized Reports

Progress is important and parents want to see results; they need to know that the program is not only benefiting their child but it’s also helping to advance their child to the next level.

How can parents ensure that an online reading program is working to address literacy needs? Readability provides reading reports for each child to track progress; parents also can set reading goals for their child (like words read per minute, reading accuracy and reading endurance). The program also shows parents how their child(ren) has improved over time.

These individualized reports and goal setting functions help parents understand the benefits of the program and each child’s progress.

Could Your Child Benefit From an Online Reading Program?

Looking for the right program is necessary for parents who have children with reading difficulties, but how does a parent know when intervention at home is necessary?

Most schools perform reading assessments that help parents understand their child’s reading level. These reports also help catch reading deficits that need to be addressed both in the school setting and possibly at home.

Not all kids who lag behind in reading qualify for classroom literacy intervention programs, however. A child who is mildly struggling might not qualify for additional intervention in school; qualifications for special programs may vary by school district.

Parents can opt to help kids at home with online reading intervention programs to help boost comprehension and phonetic understanding. Even if children are receiving additional help in the classroom, at-home programs can provide additional support to aid struggling readers.

A grade school boy receives reading help from his tutor

Online Reading Programs vs. Private Tutors: What’s the Best Option?

For many parents with a struggling reader, immediate intervention often is the goal. If a child doesn’t qualify for school programs or intervention, parents may be on their own.

A private tutor may be one option to help a child progress reading skills. However, parents may find private tutors and companies offering lessons or assistance to be cost prohibitive. Scheduling time to meet with a tutor also could be a problem for working parents trying to balance multiple roles and responsibilities.

A boy with letters mixed up in front of him to illustrate dyslexia

Are Online Reading Programs Designed for Children Diagnosed with Dyslexia?

Dyslexia is a learning disorder that affects a child’s ability to decode text and impacts reading mastery. Not every child who struggles with reading is dyslexic, though.

A diagnosis of dyslexia, however, may help parents seek more intervention for their child in the classroom. Parents who suspect a child might have dyslexia should address their concerns with the child’s pediatrician.

If a child is diagnosed with dyslexia, home-based reading programs could provide additional assistance outside the classroom. Readability is designed for children with all types of reading struggles including dyslexia. The virtual assistant can provide the auditory feedback needed to help all struggling readers gain better phonetic awareness and understanding.

The best online reading intervention program should include a multi-modal approach to guide phonetic understanding and engage struggling readers. Programs should offer auditory feedback through a virtual tutor to help guide readers with phonetic coding and pronunciation. Stories should be engaging and interactive to encourage children to explore stories and immerse in the reading journey. Online reading programs also should provide leveled content that moves with readers as they progress to different stages of difficulty, and the program should provide parents with progress reports detailing a child’s mastery and achievements.

While some children may receive reading intervention at school, others may not qualify for this type of additional support. For some children, an at-home online program is the only tool they have to catch up to the reading levels of their peers; parents should expect that any program they utilize should provide comprehensive tools to level the educational playing field for their child. Although private tutors also could be an option, tutors can be both cost and time prohibitive for many working parents, making online programs the easier and budget-friendly option to address their child’s literacy needs. If your child is a struggling reader, try Readability for free to see if our online reading program is right for your child!