Schools across the country have switched to online learning during the pandemic, and parents may be supervising these lessons from home. While parents once struggled to manage work-life balance, now they need to balance work, home and virtual learning.
If a child is struggling in a core subject like reading, parents may feel an additional educational burden, especially if the district or school cannot provide more assistance.
Providing extra reading enrichment may be up to parents; kids, though, may push back against their parent-teacher piling on more work. Here’s how a reading skills program can be integrated into distance learning without overwhelming your child as they are adjusting to their new virtual normal.
Let Kids Explore the Program
Apps and online reading skills programs are popular. If parents wish to use virtual platforms for reading skills programs, they should sign up for a free trial of the program (if it’s available) and let kids explore the features.
Giving kids a bit of freedom to explore the reading skills program can help them understand the layout and design, and, of course, how the program can help them to become better readers. Exploring the app or program may reveal that the child simply isn’t engaged or excited about the design or format.
For a program to be impactful and beneficial, the child needs to engage. If a trial reveals that the child is completely underwhelmed by the program, then parents can rethink the option and try out other programs.
Sometimes finding the right reading skills program is a bit of trial and error. The first program might not be the best fit, and that’s ok. Ask your child questions about the program and talk about what they like…and what they really don’t like about the program. Try these conversation starters:
- What’s your favorite feature of the program?
- Tell me about the program…was the app easy to use? If it wasn’t easy, what made it frustrating?
- Were any of the features not working? Which features didn’t work or had problems?
- Do you like the stories or books? Were the books too easy or too hard for you?
Parents Should Explore the Program, Too
Let your child use the app or program first, but parents should explore the program, too. If a child is expressing frustration about an app or program feature, parents should research this to better understand any glitches.
Parents also need to gain insight about how the app will measure a child’s progress and reading levels. Reading apps and reading skills programs should provide some type of reporting mechanism for parents to gauge the benefits of the program. Parents need to see a benefit for their money.
Create a Schedule
A child who is struggling with reading and perhaps overwhelmed with a new online school environment might not be so excited to add yet another virtual assignment to their schedule. Remember, teachers also are assigning reading work—most likely, 20-30 minutes per day. Plus, depending on grade level, children may have writing assignments for language arts.
Don’t overwhelm kids with extra work, but provide enough enrichment to complement daily school lessons. Parents can—and should—sit down with kids to better understand the virtual schedule and nightly homework assignments. Together, parents and kids can carve out enrichment sessions with reading skills programs that help kids to boost their proficiency…but doesn’t burn them out.
Maybe reading skills programs are utilized a few days a week for half an hour. Parents also can teleconference with the child’s teacher to better understand the online curriculum and ask for advice on how often to utilize a reading skills program at home.
Consider a Reward System
Both kids and parents are stressed and anxious right now. To say that 2020 has been difficult is an incredible understatement, and we all need something that makes us happy and brings joy to the day. Kids can’t be so stressed and overwhelmed that they have no time for fun or to just be a kid. There needs to be balance…for everyone.
Keep reading skills programs from feeling like an assignment by creating a rewards system that is tied to the lessons. Rewards don’t have to be expensive or anything monetary. And the goals for earning rewards should be individualized for each child—they could be tied to reading minutes, books read or reading level progress. Don’t make goals unattainable, though.
Some reward ideas include:
- Movie night
- Extra screen time
- A special treat
- A later bedtime (just not on a school night!)
- A treasure chest full of little prizes (erasers, stickers, etc.)
Read Brightly states that reading rewards “…work if they’re small and immediate.” This means that kids should be rewarded once the goal is achieved. The site also notes that goals shouldn’t be too easy. A reward, after all, should feel like an accomplishment. Parents can download the Reading Rewards app for kids to track their progress.
Parents should review different reading skills programs to find the best one for their child; many reading programs—including Readability—offer a free trial period to get acquainted with content.
Use this trial period to let kids explore the program first and talk about what they liked about the program. Parents also need to feel comfortable about how results and progress will be measured; the goal of a reading skills program is to help a child improve their reading, and the program should be able to document progress.
As virtual learning is now the norm in many school districts, parents should set realistic goals for kids and consider offering a rewards program. Motivation is key, and kids shouldn’t be so weighed down with extra work that they burnout.
Ready to explore Readability? Sign up for your free seven-day trial.