When my sons were 6 and 8 we left the United States and moved to Morocco. Our intention for this move was to expose our kids to their father’s culture and also that they would learn Arabic and French. My boys had a foundation in English and spoke it at home. I was certain that I could continue teaching them English so that they wouldn’t fall drastically behind their peers. It worked – sort of.
Our youngest son has struggled with reading, in all languages. We’ve been told not to worry, sometimes it just takes longer. Couple that with the fact he’s essentially learning to read, write and speak in three separate languages there is bound to be delays. But, that doesn’t mean we can just sit back and hope everything falls into place. Every child is different so it’s important to try a variety of different approaches to see what sticks.
I received compensation for this review of the Reading Magic 3 app; however, all opinions are my own.
Reading English: 5 Ideas to Help Older Kids
Our son loves computers, iPads, and anything that has a game function. He gets it and responds to it so it would be crazy for us to insist he completely toss this aside. Instead we opt to leverage what he already likes.
Hooked on Phonics App
This was the first app we began using when he was trying to differentiate between the sounds in Arabic, French and English (particularly English and French). It is interactive and allowed him to play the parts he liked over and over again. Most of all he really liked the songs and would choose to play it on his own.
I was familiar with BOB books from when our older son would bring home the actual books from school. This is a guided reading system that builds on the early phonics sounds to read words and sentences. It builds on letter sound and recognition to spelling and word recognition. There are different levels to choose from and a game element to complete them – something that made my son want to stick with it. There are three versions currently available:
Reading Magic 1 – focusing on phonics based vocabulary;
Reading Magic 2 – more complex words;
Reading Magic 3 – a new app, that has just been released, based on sight words. The apps go in line with the books so you can mix and match using both.
You can download some versions of first 2 apps for free and try a few levels but additional books do require purchasing. First 2 apps are available on Android Playstore, iTunes and Amazon. The newest app is only available on iTunes at the moment. I was able to download the apps both my on iPhone and iPad (using the same login ID) so that they can be used on the go or at home. My son likes this app and I can see it has helped build his confidence. His favorite elements, again, are the game elements.
Sounds like something awkward to add to a post about reading but it’s true. My sons love this game. They play it all the time, they read about it, they watch YouTube videos, they search for things online about how to do different aspects of the game. My little guy might not be able to read the basic words in a 2nd grade text book but he has no problem identifying complex words from Minecraft world. I’m not the only one saying this though, it all goes back to the idea of letting kids read what they’re interested in and it will help them tremendously!
There is something to be said for actually reading a physical book. As a child I adored books. There was (and is) nothing better than having free time to just sit and read. I want my kids to feel the same way.
Having a Variety of Texts Available
When you’re teaching your child a language that is not available in the country in which you are living it becomes a problem. I have accumulated dozens and dozens of sources of English writing for my kids. This comes in the form of books, activity books, workbooks, flashcards, games, comic books, magazines, newspapers – basically anything that has English text is available. We make it a point to have these items around and available so that they are constantly being reinforced.
A part of our evening routine is to read a book, or part of a book. Sometimes I read to the boys from a chapter book of their choosing. Sometimes the little one reads a book of his choice. More and more I can hear my oldest son reading to the younger one when they are in bed by themselves. While we always try to encourage our emerging reader to do at least part of the reading, I know that having him hear and see the words will eventually help unlock the puzzle.
Learning a language is never easy and it can be even more difficult when most resources for learning are geared at younger children. Keep in mind your child’s interests, strengths, and weaknesses as you develop a plan to get them reading!by