3 Websites that Help Kids Learn to Read

I recently had my kindergarten-aged child take a placement test and she passed the school’s reading test with flying colors. The teacher who conducted the exam told me that my five year old was reading at a beginning second grader level. I was pleasantly surprised, I knew my daughter is reading well for her age, I just wasn’t aware how advance she is. When I learned this I felt like I won a million dollars! Needless to say I’m one proud mom.

I started teaching her to read when she was four years old. I knew she was ready because she would often grab a book and pretend to read it. I bought a set of flashcards and each day I would introduce a new letter to her. After I introduce it I would write the letter on a whiteboard and ask her to write the letter on a pretend board in front of her. I would ask her to do this several times and then I would give her a marker and ask her to write the letter on the real board. After that I would sound out the letter and ask her to do the same. I would then bring out some cut-outs or print-outs I made of things which start with the letter we are studying for that day. For example, the letter A can be presented with a picture of an apple, acorn, ant and so on. If we had time we would do some arts and crafts pertaining to the letter. So for A we drew a picture of an apple tree, for B we baked a cake, for C we made a card for a sick friend and so forth.

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Before long I was able to teach her all the long and short vowel sounds, the consonants sound, then we started forming words. First two letters like an, in, on, then three letters like can, pin, ton and so on. To date my child can read up to six letter words.

While I was teaching her to read, I spent a lot of time searching the Internet for resources and websites to further help her learn to read. I was ecstatic to find a lot of websites we can use that are both fun and absolutely free! Here are three of my favorites websites that help kids learn to read.

1. Starfall (www.starfall.com) – This website was conceptualized by Stephen Schutz. He has a PhD in physics and is an established artist and publisher. He and his wife, the well known poet Susan Polis Schutz are founders of Blue Mountain Arts publishing company, a greeting card company I personally love. This website is truly amazing! It has four levels, ABC’s, Learn To Read, It’s Fun To Read and I’m Reading. Each level is packed with interactive games to play, online books, a skills level list, arts and crafts activities, music and so much more. Since it is fully interactive, kids will surely love it. The lessons are fun and engaging and the whole website is very colorful. The website also offers printed materials and phonics kits for a low price. It also has a download center and message board for teachers and parents alike to use. My daughter greatly enjoyed the lessons presented on this website. I believe if you follow through with the suggested lessons, your child will be reading in no time.

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2. Studydog (www.studydog.com) – This is another awesome website which offers a complete early reading program that is computer-based. The lessons here are aligned with the National Reading Panel findings so you can rest assured that your child will learn to read. There are three levels, you must first determine what level your child is on before downloading the program. Each level builds on the next one and has over 20 lessons per level covering the alphabet, consonant sounds, vowel sounds, rhyming words, sight words, contractions, consonant blends, complex words, spelling, word families and so much more. Kids will surely love going through the lessons and receiving a prize at the end of each lesson. The games are very entertaining and children will have fun while learning to read on the Internet. My child loved it, especially since the games have castles and princesses on it. If there’s one program you should download over the net, this is it.

3. Book Adventure (www.bookadventure.org) – This website was created and sponsored by Sylvan Learning. It is a free reading motivation program for children. Kids and educators can make their own book list from over 6,000 titles. They will then have to get a copy of the book offline and read it. You can either buy the books or if you’re budget conscious like me, go to the public library and obtain a copy of the book on your reading list. This reading program motivated me to visit the library often, something that I haven’t been taking advantage of for quite some time. it also exposed my child to a whole new world of books. After finishing each book, kids can take quizzes on the website to ensure their comprehension . As a reward they earn points and get prizes. It’s really a great idea to motivate kids to read. Although it’s not fully interactive like the other websites I mentioned, it is still a great source for your budding or older reader.

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I’m sure there are still a lot more websites out there which offers free reading lessons and programs. That is the beauty of the Internet, everything is just a click away. Just make sure that you supervise your child when she’s accessing the lessons online.

It is important to note that children learn and develop differently and that we shouldn’t force them to read if they are not yet ready. As long as you provide them with the tools and materials they need to learn and show them your own love of reading, your child will eventually become a strong reader.