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Learning to Read

Apps and Books: Keeping a Balance
October 31, 2016 By M. J. Maynard

These days we live in a world saturated with electronics, and for the most part that is a very good thing. But in this digital age, it is important to be a discerning parent when choosing and using apps and e-books for your beginning reader.

Reading apps serve as good supplements for acquiring early reading skills. They are most helpful in teaching basic, necessary single items, such as alphabet knowledge and sight words. They also offer a wide variety of phonics practice through games and other interactive activities.

There are a lot of popular and widely-advertised programs that lead you to believe that they can "teach" your child to read. This is where a parent needs to exercise good judgment. Be sparing in the use of programs that do the reading for the learner. Consider these drawbacks for a beginning reader:

  • When a child has to manipulate the device to hear the next word or phrase, that extra action draws attention from the meaning of the text.
  • Often these programs have choppy working and phrasing, due to the various steps required to do the activities. This becomes an issue because your child does not get a chance to hear how sustained, fluent reading should sound.
  • Sounds and visual effects are designed to make everything fun. Instead, these effects can be overwhelming when they are mingled in with the reading process.

Please remember that traditional print books still have their place, and they should be the primary resource for any reading program. Think about the advantages that books can provide:

  • Young readers need to practice with continuous text so that they can learn to comprehend story meaning.
  • The "quietness" of a book allows a reader to connect their thoughts without distractions.
  • Turning one's own pages makes it much easier to go back and check on something that was previously read. Good readers do this a lot.

Learning from electronic devices is here to stay, and it is not necessarily a negative practice. Quality apps can help a child learn many basic items necessary for reading. Quality books provide an opportunity to practice and strengthen reading strategies. Parents and educators just need to use wisdom and balance with both resources when it comes to helping their beginning readers.

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