Millions of children struggle with reading. Some have difficulty with decoding, others might struggle with comprehension, and children also could struggle with all aspects of reading. After all, difficulty decoding words could leave a child to have little understanding of a sentence or paragraph of text. One mispronunciation could throw off the entire meaning, leaving children to ponder what they just read.
Parents might have to pool their own resources to help their child. Private tutoring could help struggling readers gain proficiency, but not all families can afford one-on-one in-person instruction. However, online reading tutors could offer a unique and effective reading resource for struggling readers. Online tutors also might be more budget-friendly and convenient, too!
What are Online Reading Tutors for Kids?
An online reading tutor is fairly self-explanatory. While typical tutoring sessions often take place in person, online tutoring is virtual and happens via computer (or other tech device). Tutoring sessions could take place via platforms like Zoom, and this type of remote tutoring might have been commonplace during the pandemic when most schooling was remote.
For Zoom or other conference-type virtual tutoring sessions, the price of tutors could be similar to face-to-face sessions. Virtual tutors could be available via professional tutoring service companies. These companies help parents or students find tutors for a particular subject, grade-level, etc. Parents can search for the best tutor for their child. Rates may vary.
Online reading tutors also could be programmed into specific educational programs. These virtual or AI tutors might guide lessons or ask questions during lessons. Schools might use programs that feature guided lessons. However, these programs also are available for parents to use at home with their children.
Are AI Online Reading Tutors Really Tutors?
Readability offers an AI tutor that provides guidance during reading lessons. So how does this work? And is an AI tutor really a tutor? Yes!
Different programs might handle virtual tutoring differently. With Readability, the virtual tutor is AI (artificial intelligence) and is programmed with voice recognition software. The AI tutor learns to identify a child’s unique tone and vocal inflections. This helps the tutor to recognize when a child has mispronounced a word or is struggling with the story.
Like an in-person tutor, the AI tutor will help provide guidance for the child. The tutor will correct any mispronunciations or correct a child’s errors. At the end of each story, Readability’s AI tutor also will ask questions about what the child has read. This enables the tutor to gauge whether or not the child has comprehended the story.
Children advance to the next level when the program determines that they have mastered their current level. Both proficiency and comprehension mastery are necessary for a child to move up to another reading level. Each level also includes numerous lessons (or stories).
While the AI tutor isn’t a human sitting next to the child, it still aids the child during lessons and compiles data related to the child’s reading mastery. An in-person tutor listens with their ears, while an AI tutor listens through programming.
The Cost of Program-Based Online Reading Tutors
When online reading tutors are programmed into a lesson-based learning platform (like Readability), parents don’t need to pay per hour or pay separately for the tutoring sessions. Instead, access to the tutor might be offered via a subscription price (per month, for Readability).
And while in-person tutors typically charge per hour, parents opting for online tutors via a program might just pay that one monthly price. The savings could be substantial; if a private in person tutor charged a per hour rate of $20 and the child needed weekly sessions each month, parents could pay $80 to $100 every month.
Reading program subscriptions could be much more affordable. A Readability subscription costs $19.99 per month, and there is no limit to how often children can use the program each week or even each month. Children can get reading help as often as they need it, and parents will only pay for the monthly subscription price.
Families with multiple children who need reading help could face quite a hefty monthly expense if they choose to use a private in-person tutor. Readability, however, allows up to three children to use one subscription. That monthly price wouldn’t change! Parents could actually gain tutoring help for three children for less than $7 per child per month.
Beyond Online Reading Tutors: How Parents Can Help at Home
While using online reading tutors can help children gain confidence and proficiency, parents also can encourage other healthy reading habits to ensure that children keep reading beyond the online platform. Some parents also could limit their child’s screen time, and they might not wish for their child to use online reading programs beyond a specific duration each week.
How can parents help their child become confident readers when they also are using a reading program (with the help of an online tutor)? There are many easy ways to keep children reading and enjoying books and other reading materials. Parents can…
Let children choose their books
This feels almost overstated, but parents need to let children choose their reading materials. If children are using Readability, they are reading lots of different stories via the program. When children aren’t using Readability, let them choose their books. Visit the library to help children find books of interest. Yes, children also can read graphic novels or comic books. Reading is reading! Let them enjoy what they read.
Help children choose the right books
Choosing the right books doesn’t mean that parents are necessarily choosing the books for a child (see above!). Instead, parents should just make sure that books are at the appropriate level for their child. Reading books that are too difficult could just lead to frustration.
Encourage a reading habit…and build a reading habitat
Make reading a habit. Set aside time when the entire family shuts off technology and just reads for fun. Everyone should grab a book and read. Make the reading habit even more enjoyable by building or creating a reading habitat for everyone. Encourage kids (and adults!) to bring pillows and blankets or even special plushies to the reading room. Kids might even want to read in a makeshift reading tent (toss a blanket over chairs). If the weather is warm outside, set up a tent and take the reading outdoors. Don’t forget blankets and flashlights!
Stop the clock.
Yes, most children need to read daily for a specific set of minutes. However, it’s ok not to use a timer. This could cause disruption during reading. Children might read for an hour one day and 20 minutes the next; the only concern is that the minutes still add up to the allotted time per the teacher. Children might need to read 100 minutes per week, but parents can break that down in different ways.
Read more difficult books to their child
Some struggling readers might read below grade level, and this might mean that they can’t easily read the popular books that their friends are reading. Parents can read these books to their child. Talk about the story as it’s read to make sure children understand the plot, etc.
Many children struggle to read, and parents might consider using a private tutor to help children hit grade-level reading benchmarks. However, reading programs like Readability feature online reading tutors that also can provide guided reading instruction to children. These AI tutors help children during lessons and ask questions related to the story. As these virtual tutors are part of the reading program, parents will only pay for the subscription to the program…not a tutoring rate. This means that online reading tutors could be a more cost effective option for families on a budget.
To find out if Readability’s AI tutor is a good fit, try Readability for free for one week! Sign up today!