Using Technology to Help Kids Read
For millennia, kids (and adults) have learned to read under many circumstances and without any help from technological devices. However, in our technology-driven industrial world, young people have a unique opportunity to glean information and understanding using techno "props".
For many parents, the notion of using technology to assist their children's literacy is somewhat misunderstood. They may believe that technology alone will help their sons or daughters, but it's meant to be a tool, not a teacher. Still, it's very useful when accompanied by the guidance of an adult.
Here, we'll explore a few methods for Using Technology to help the kids in your life learn to read or simply learn to read more proficiently. Try them alone or in conjunction with one another and your child will be that much closer to developing a lifelong love of reading… and possibly writing, too.
Videos and DVDsThere is a slew of video and DVD products aimed at upping the literacy level of youngsters of all ages. Generally, these programs can be run either through a television or computer/Internet connection. Most programmes encourage children to sound out words, spell words correctly and understand words in a context. They may also be targeted at helping kids learn foreign languages.
Again, all teaching devices of this nature should be tested by a parent, instructor or tutor before they are used to ensure that they will be useful and are not simply games disguised as educational products.
Kid-Geared WebsitesIt's relatively easy for any web-savvy Mum, Dad, Grandparent or Teacher to find online sites specifically geared toward helping children learn to read. Be aware that many are run by companies who want you to purchase other products such as magazines, books, curriculum and toys. That doesn't mean they aren't acceptable; it just means that they may try to advertise inappropriately to you or your children. Conversely, some websites are run by nonprofits (such as libraries and literacy organisations) whose only goal is to increase the literacy level of kids around the world.
Because the Internet is not a secure environment, all cyber-learning should be closely supervised. That way, an adult will know exactly what the child is being taught as well as what methods are being used.
"Learn to Read" Software ProgrammesMany manufacturers in the literacy market now have Software Programmes that parents and/or educators can purchase. A strong selling point about these products is that they do not have to be run while the child is logged onto the Internet. The bad aspect of the programmes is that they may become outdated very quickly or require the purchase of additional merchandise to run at full capacity.
As is the case with websites, it's important to realize that not all software is appropriate for your child or situation. Thus, it's essential to read reviews before making an investment in a literacy-related programme.
Online Tutors and TutoringSome parents choose tutoring via technology as a way to help a child learn to read. Tutors can be found using online resources and are available "virtually"; hence, a tutor in Canada may be able to work with a student in the United Kingdom with great success.
As with all services, though, the quality and credentials of tutors vary widely. Ask for several references before spending money on any tutoring company, especially if you're not familiar with tutoring methodologies.
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Always remember that technology is not a stand-alone technique for helping any child to read; consequently, technology must be used as a part of a reading curriculum to maximize its effectiveness.