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Using the Internet to Encourage Kids' Reading

By: Angelique Caffrey - Updated: 4 Nov 2012 | comments*Discuss
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Can you use the Internet to help your child read? It’s a question that’s somewhat debatable, but in the end the answer usually is something along the lines of: “Yes, but only with some forethought and planning.”

Generally speaking, the Internet can (and probably should, given the World Wide Web’s popularity and importance) be a part of your son or daughter’s journey to becoming literate, but it’s important to know what the Internet is… and, more importantly, what it is not.

How the Internet Can Help With Reading:

The Internet is a tool, and like any other tool, it can be used for positive outcomes as well as for negative outcomes. If you’re intent on helping your child to read, it’s vital that you supervise him or her during most (if not all) of his or her process of using the Internet. Even when you find a website that you trust, don’t assume that it’s automatically “safe”. Be a partner to your child from the time the computer is logged on until it’s logged off.

The Internet is a fabulous way to get information about reading and about what books, software programmes and techniques are being recommended in your area of the country and also around the world. Not only can you receive up-to-the-minute reports on the latest literacy statistics and findings from trusted researchers, you can also get a sense of what is working for other parents and educators who are teaching kids to read.

The Internet is a great means of connecting with other mums, dads and teachers from across the globe who are struggling with the same reading-related issues as you are. You’ll find a plethora of message boards, blogs and websites all devoted to helping you make the best decisions for your son, daughter or student(s). You can share laughs, hardships, frustrations and ideas all with the click of a mouse!

The Internet can allow you to talk about your child’s reading successes with other people, and if you want to tout your son or daughter’s progress on a personal blog, go for it! Additionally, the Internet can enable you to send and receive curriculum from other parents and educators.

The Internet can be a fun place for you and your child to learn to read together! There are tons of websites devoted to making kids smile… while they’re learning! There are interesting reading puzzles, flashcards and games, and some sites allow you to print off worksheets and colouring pages as supplements.

How the Internet Can Hinder Reading:

The Internet is not a teacher, nor is it a substitute for a human educator. While it can supplement what is being learned at home or in the classroom, it cannot do the teaching for you or anyone else. Additionally, it should never be used for babysitting.

The Internet is not 100% accurate in that anyone can set up a website telling you that one method of reading is better than another. Therefore, it’s important to always do follow-up and research before signing on to any one literacy programme or technique over another.

The Internet is not a place for kids to wander unattended. Again, safety should always come first when surfing the World Wide Web. Predators do exist in cyberspace and it’s up to adults to protect the youngsters around them.

Now that you have the basics, who not have fun finding creative ways to merge the Internet with your child’s reading programme? But don’t forget to turn the computer off once and a while and go outside for a breath of fresh air – it’s good for both you and your kid!

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