How Often Should Kids Use a Reading Tutor Online?

March 5, 2020

How Often Should Kids Use a Reading Tutor Online?

Technology is a vital part of a child’s world now. Today’s kids don’t remember a day without the internet or handheld devices. 

Online games and videos, ebooks and social media fully integrate into everyday life. Even textbooks and homework assignments are virtual for many schools. 

So it makes sense that using a reading tutor online would help today’s tech-centric kids who struggle with reading to become more proficient.

However, many parents try to limit their child’s exposure to screens and digital media. So how often should kids use a reading tutor online when literacy struggles and screen time are at war?

There are No Firm Screen Time Recommendations

The American Academy of Pediatrics does not provide specific limitations on screen time for older children. As technology has invaded the classroom, limiting screen time and technology use has become seemingly impossible. Many schools utilize 1:1 computing, which means that every student is equipped with a Chromebook for lessons and homework.

Many young kids also have their own smartphones, and nearly every teen has access to a smartphone, too. Contact and communication—and screen exposure—is constant. Kids text friends, connect via social media platforms and even watch movies and shows on devices. When they come home from school, computers power up and assignments begin…virtually!

Since technology use is the norm, parents may turn to online reading programs to help a child that is behind peers in Lexile level or literacy benchmarks. Online platforms may easily integrate into a child’s tech savvy routine, but parents may worry that this extra time only extends screen use and dependency.

A reading tutor online, however, serves as a virtual reading assistant to help kids catch pronunciation mistakes and provide meaningful feedback during lessons. This virtual helper can prove to be an extremely important resource for families who cannot afford the rate of a real-life tutor.  

How Much Tutor Time is Enough…or Too Much?

With many online reading programs—including Readability—children progress at their own speed. Some kids become so engrossed in reading lessons that they lose track of how long they have been on the program.

Others could tire out a bit more easily or may become bored or disengaged as their attention wanes. How much tutor time a child utilizes is very much a decision that is left to the parents.

Parents could also decide to use online reading time as a part of nightly reading minutes to limit screen time (if kids often read ebooks) or just to lower the risk eyestrain. When new books from the Harry Potter series were released, kids often read so long that they began to suffer from a unique diagnosis: “Hogwart’s Headaches.”

Kids should not read to the point that they experience headaches, eye pain or other issues. While parents may have a time limit, if pain or other issues become apparent, kids need to take a break.

How Often Should Kids Use a Reading Tutor Online?

What if Kids Avoid Reading Completely?

The flip side could also hold true. Some kids hate reading; they will avoid books at all costs. The more a child reads, though, the more proficient they will become at reading. It’s important that kids engage both with online intervention programs and bound books.

For kids that hate reading, try these tips:

  • Create a fun atmosphere. Build a reading fort!
  • Start a reading routine. Make reading time a part of a bedtime routine so that it becomes a habit.
  • Follow along an audiobook. Let kids follow the text as the book is read aloud.
  • Make a habit to watch the movie of every book you read (if one exists). Then talk to kids about the differences or similarities. Did the movie follow the plot of the book?
  • Have conversations during reading. Keep kids engaged by asking questions about the characters and plot.

Choose books that are colorful or well-illustrated to break up the overwhelming amount of text.

Keep in mind that when kids complete lessons through Readability, the online tutor will help keep them engaged. Any time a child stumbles or has pronunciation issues, the tutor will gently guide and correct the mistakes.

Readability’s online tutor also provides positive feedback during lessons. Kids will feel a sense of encouragement during lessons. When kids feel happy and supported, they will enjoy lessons even more.

Should You Set a Timer During Online Tutoring or Reading Time?

When kids are working with their online reading tutor or reading independently, keeping a running tally of time will just lead to frustration and interruptions. Timers may seem useful to keep a child reading for 20 minutes, but what happens if they become engrossed in lessons or a book and the timer blares? The child stops reading!

Have a benchmark time limit and then encourage kids to take a break for a bit. If a child is ready to stop reading after 30 minutes, it’s ok to let them step away. Reading time shouldn’t be a battle, a fight or a timed event.

If your child is struggling with reading or is reading below grade level, a reading tutor online could help boost their proficiency. Try Readability for free to see if it meets the needs of your child!