Reading is an essential life and academic skill that many children learn in elementary school. Different schools will often have different curriculums and strategies to implement a reading program for their students. However, even with all the school support, many children fall behind and struggle with reading. There is a strong need for parents and teachers to find research based reading programs for struggling readers that really work.
Reading programs are plans or tools that help children learn to read. Many teachers use a variety of reading program tools and techniques to try to reach all styles of learning. Yet, many reading programs still fall short of successful learning.
What makes a good reading program?
A good reading program is one that has evidence for effectiveness. Reading programs that truly work often go through rigorous testing by researchers before being implemented at a school.
A well-rounded reading program needs to address all the skills needed for reading success. This includes:
- sight words
- vocabulary building
- phonemic awareness,
- phonological awareness
- reading fluency
- reading comprehension
Effective programs introduce and practice these skills in fun and interactive ways to get students engaged and motivated to read. These programs are also often based on a specific model of teaching such as structured literacy.
What is structured literacy?
There are many different ways to build a reading program, structured literacy is one of them. It is a research-based approach that takes the different reading skills individually and then uses each one to build to the next skill.
The “structured” approach can help many students who are struggling to read to help build and practice skills thoroughly before moving on to the next one. Research shows that students that struggle with reading benefit from multiple opportunities of exposure and practice. This can help them build a good foundation for reading.
The approach relies on building skills and reviewing them before introducing new ones. The structured literacy approach is based on the theory that reading is more cognitive-based rather than relies on memorization.
Reading programs that use this approach are often more direct with their teaching by using error correction and teaching students the linguistic rules and exceptions behind spelling. Students first learn the smallest unit of a word, phonemes, or individual sounds, then move on to bigger parts such as suffixes or morphemes. They first learn the parts of words then move on to parts of phrases, sentences, etc.
Best research-based reading programs
Even though this approach is often used by teachers in the classroom, it is a great tool to use at home to help your struggling reader get more practice at home. You don’t have to create a structured lesson plan for your child to use this approach, Really, all you need is an app!
These research-based reading programs use the same approach and strategies as structured literacy but in app form:
Readability – This app is a great overall program to help your child learn to read independently. It reflects structured literacy’s main practice of repetition to help struggling readers practice reading skills and not simply memorize.
The app reads a passage of the story to your child and then your child reads the same passage aloud. This helps them first hear a model of reading and then practices the skill themselves.
Readability also uses the same explicit error correction approach that structured literacy does. Whenever your child makes an error while reading, the app gives them instant feedback and error correction with pronunciation. The app gives them several different exposures to the reading material and even includes reading comprehension practice with their Interactive voice based Questions & Answers.
Hooked on Phonics – This classic program has been used for years in the classroom. Many parents grew up using the program and might find that it still works for their own children who are struggling with reading.
This program, like Readability, utilizes structured literacy’s approach of repetition. However, with Hooked on Phonics, your child is practicing the actual sounds and parts of a word. They learn the individual sounds and sound patterns of letters. They then practice applying it to spelling words and decoding words. Through this reading program, your child eventually learns how spelling and reading are closely related skills.
There’s a reason why this reading program has been around for years, it truly works. It is a great app to use with other reading apps that build other skills.
ABCmouse– This online program is a great tool to use for young learners, such as those in kindergarten or 1st grade, and new readers. It not only has lessons for reading but for other subjects as well. It uses structured literacy’s idea of building skills and knowledge one step at a time. As the activities and lessons are organized to move from one level to the next.
However, this program uses a more implicit approach to learning. The activities provided are designed to be more game-like and more as additional support for practice at home rather than actual reading instruction. While your child is playing interactive games and having fun, you might have to explain the specific skills and language rules to them yourself.
Using a research-based reading program can help your struggling reader catch up quickly and helps them build the right skills to help them be successful in school.
You can use one or more of the programs mentioned, but the best is to use a reading app like Readability which strongly supports the structured literacy approach. The direct instruction the app provides can help your child see what they need to improve immediately and get as much practice as they need to help make significant progress.