Interactive, game-like reading programs can engage learners where they might otherwise be reluctant to practice their reading skills. Whether a child has ADHD, dyslexia, or another learning disability, using audio-visual programming to engage your child in learning can help build your child’s reading skills.
Below, I have interactive, online reading programs listed in three sections: Free, Paid for Typical Learners, and Paid for Learners with Reading Disabilities. Generally speaking, the free and paid for typical learners programming will not insure mastery of reading skills before moving forward, which can make those programs ineffective for students with known learning disabilities in reading.
For reading practice to bring meaningful benefit, it is recommended you have your child engage with one of these programs for at least 20-30 minutes per day. Tending towards 30 minutes would bring the most meaningful benefit. If you break that into two 15 minute segments, it would be ideal because research shows that a child tends to remember the first elements and last elements taught in a program are those that are most readily remembered.
Free Reading Practice Programs:
For anyone who is not homeschooling, who doesn’t need any kind of progress reporting, and whose child does not have a specific learning disability in the area of reading, free reading programs generally suffice for regular reading practice.
Starfall Reading – A free public service program to teach children to read with phonics. Starfall’s systematic approach uses phonics in conjunction with phonemic awareness practice to help children learn to read.
Reading is Fundamental Reading Planet Game Station – Fun reading games designed to enhance reading skills more at the word-based level than at the phonemic awareness level. In other words, a child would build reading skills here after the basic decoding skills are in place.
Jumpstart Reading Games – A fun, free site with reading games for K-5
Knowledge Adventure Reading Games – Great site with the ability to select grade level and subject. Easy site to use.
PBSKids’ Reading Games – Basic reading skills with All KINDS of games, but they aren’t organized in any particular format. It’s a great place to visit just to play around.
Phonics Vowels – This is an app that focuses on teaching vowel sounds and vowel combinations. Given that vowels are core elements of every word, working on vowel mastery can help any child develop better reading skills.
Paid Online Reading Programs for Learners with Reading Disabilities:
If your child has a reading disability, you’d probably be better off paying for a program designed to insure concept mastery as the child progresses through the program.
Lexia Reading At Home – This is one of the programs we used for reading remediation in our homeschooling. My boys worked through the Lexia program, in its entirety, twice! We used this program following Earobics, which is a computer software program not available in an online program. ** Be aware: The Lexia Reading Core 5 program is designed for students in preschool through 5th grade. Older students will use the “Strategies for Older Students” program. Be sure you select the proper program. To purchase a one year subscription, click visit Lexia Reading At Home online (NOT an affiliate link).
Starfall Kindergarten Reading and Language Arts Curriculum – This program is great, but targeted at Kindergarten level students. Thus, while it is great for a child who requires remediation at the lowest reading skill levels, it is likely to be too “babyish” if your child is third grade or beyond and needs help with reading remediation. So, if you know your very young child is likely to have dyslexia, or a problem with reading skills, you would want to start at the very beginning of their education using a program like Starfall’s Kindergarten program, and then graduate to a program targeted at older students (like Lexia above) when needed.
Computer-Based Reading Programs for Learners with Reading Disabilities:
Language Tune-Up Kit (LTK) – The Language Tune-Up Kit is based upon the proven Orton-Gillingham methodology. It provides comprehensive reading instruction beginning with sound-symbol correlations, includes sound blending, syllables, sight words, etc. The Language Tune-Up Kit is a comprehensive reading practice program designed specifically to help children with true dyslexia learn the essential elements of reading skill.
Earobics – This is the program we used with my sons for their foundational reading skills. Earobics is a dynamic interactive program that is great for developing early reading skills, especially for establishing initial phonemic awareness. This is not a comprehensive, robust reading program though–it is designed for auditory-phonemic training more so than as a reading solution. If your child has speech-language issues or has difficulty properly hearing or speaking sound/syllables in words, then Earobics is a good place to begin. Your child must have proper phonemic awareness in order to develop reading skills. Earobics is available through Christianbook.com. (Earobics is not a “Christian” program, it’s just offered for sale through them).
For additional resources, check out the “Home School Curriculum for Learning Disabilities” Resource page for a variety of options you can use at home.
General Curriculum Option for Poor Readers:
Zane Education for Reading Difficulties: provides a highly effective online visual learning solution for children of school age with Reading Difficulties. It provides the use of subtitled educational video, quizzes, video study tools and free lesson plans for more than 260+ K-12 curriculum topics, with more material being added all the time. A library of over 1,000 educational videos removes the reliance on being able to read to learn, and enables each child to then enjoy the learning process. The use of closed captioned video provides the option to watch, listen to, or read each presentation thereby accommodating the widest range of Learning Styles, and allows each child to progress at their own speed thereby enabling them to achieve their greatest individual potential. The use of the video subtitles can also be used to improve reading difficulties at the same time they are studying each topic.
Paid Online Reading Practice for Typical Learners:
These programs usually include progress tracking, which can be helpful if you require documentation of your child’s program and/or progress for your homeschool portfolio. For anyone who is not homeschooling,
Kabongo – This is an interactive, online reading skills program. They have a couple of free “try it” games you can use to see if you like the program. As a way to engage an active audio-visual learner in reading practice, this is a great site for academic engagement. The child won’t really feel like he is studying reading!
Reading Egg is growing in popularity and is being used in schools as a “Response to Intervention” platform. The program is not specifically designed as an Orton-Gillingham reading program for children with learning disabilities in reading or dyslexia, but it is an engaging, interactive, online program you can use to get your kids going with reading. Whether or not your child makes adequate progress with the program will likely depend upon the type and severity of your child’s learning disability.
Word Magic – this isn’t “online,” but it is an app that can be used anytime, anywhere and is a great program. Word Magic is ideal for kids between the ages 3 to 6, but I think the games would appeal to children as old as 9-11 depending upon the child. “It is an excellent application for kids to have fun with words and their spellings. Word Magic is very ideal for parents since it engages kids while driving, in the airport or while waiting in the restaurants.” It’s a very inexpensive app well worth having available for your child’s reading and spelling practice.