Apps to Improve Reading Skills

When it comes to reading at home, apps are a great way to help parents find different ways to encourage interaction with letters, sentences and text.

Here at the Educational App Store, we review lots of reading apps but the ones that stand out for us are those that promote a multi-sensory approach as, when it come to reading, it isn’t a matter of ‘one size fits all’. It’s a complex process so here are my top tips for you to use apps to promote reading and which run across different ages and abilities:

  1. Multi-sensory. As with any early learning, it’s important to bring in a variety of sensory stimuli to appeal (to readers). Reading is a multi-sensory process (seeing letter and words, hearing sounds and associating them with letters and letter groups, playing with and physically touching and creating letters). Apps are well placed to help here as they are use visual, tactile and auditory interactions to appeal to children’s learning styles. One of the best apps we have found to appeal to a range of senses is Teach Your Monster to Read with its lovely monster characters, great audio and endless gameplay. It’s an app which provides much fun and is pedagogically fantastic!
  2. Synthetic Phonics.There are a vast number of phonics apps but not all of them are worth downloading. One of the best, which uses game play and has been created by primary school teachers, is Fab Phonics. It combines learning sounds and words, concentrating on blending of the sounds together to make the words. Children can earn points which enable them to play games and have a lot of fun in the process too.
  3. Sight Words.Do you remember learning to read? My first memories of early reading (as a pre-schooler) were sitting opposite my mother as she held up flash cards. In the 70s phonics was not in vogue and I was given an early foundation to reading through repetitive visualisation of high frequency words. Labelling around the house with high frequency words is great for this, likewise having a box of words that a child collects and adds to. Of course there are apps that do this too, and one of the best is Pocket Sight Words.
  4. Decoding. This is the ability for a reader to understand the relationship between letters and letter combinations and the sounds they make when read aloud. Some children find the decoding process really tricky and this can lead to them guessing, becoming frustrated and getting put off reading. Children who struggle with decoding can have underlying reading issues such as dyslexia. Nessy apps are geared for supporting children who might be struggling and What’s My Reading Age? is a great Nessy tool for parents to get a handle of where their children are in terms of reading ability.
  5. Last but not least is having fun!Apps are fun and low-pressure resources to appeal to readers of all ages. Word play apps provide a bit of light relief whilst encouraging reading (without kids realising!). A really fun one is Squeebles Word Search. So much fun, you’ll be sneaking a go too!

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