Learning to read is one of, if not the most important educational milestones for a child. As such, the internet is now home to countless reading and literacy games, activities and programmes that teach children reading online. So, are online reading resources effective?
As with any reading programme, the effectiveness of children reading online depends on the educational basis of the online programme they are using. The conventional wisdom among early childhood educators seems to agree that effective literacy instruction needs to target five key areas: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and text comprehension. The best reading programmes, including online programmes, use all five of these literacy areas in the structure and content of each lesson.
Here follows a brief outline of the five key areas of literacy and how Reading Eggs teaches them in its lessons:
A word is rarely just a single sound. Most words are made up of a number of smaller units of sounds, called phonemes. For instance, the simple word ‘cat’ is made up of three phonemes, /c/a/t/. Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear, identify, and manipulate the individual sounds in spoken words.
Reading Eggs concentrates on phonemic awareness early in the program. Strategies for developing phonemic awareness include structured activities using:
Later on in the programme, readers listen to words in order to discern the lesson’s focus sound, and also work with onsets and rhymes, such as c-at, b-at, r-at, so that they become adept at breaking words into smaller parts. Being able to manipulate phonemes builds phonemic awareness skills, which combined with phonics, rapidly increases a student’s bank of readable words.
Phonics instruction helps beginning readers link letters to sounds (phonemes) in order to form letter-sound correspondences and spelling patterns. Children can then use this strategy in their reading, in order to see how letters and sounds relate. Early lessons of Reading Eggs each include 8-10 activities that map an individual letter to its appropriate sound, reinforcing this relationship through repetitive pictures, animations and audio. By completing these activities, young readers develop a firm understanding of the alphabetic principle – the notion that sounds relate directly to the letters of the alphabet.
Fluency enables readers to quickly span the gap between recognising a word and understanding the meaning. This means that they can spend more time deriving meaning from a text and less on sounding out and decoding words.
Reading Eggs lessons are accompanied by comprehensive vocal audio that provides children with a model for the fluent reading of text. Sounds, words and phrases are repeated vocally, with matching visuals, so that children have a clear example of what the letter or word looks like and how they should sound.
Every child approaches reading with a different level of vocabulary, but the more words they know and understand, the easier reading and deriving meaning from text will be.
Early in the program, Reading Eggs lesson activities introduce new words with matching pictures, providing children with a visual understanding of what the new word means. In other activities, children are asked to match words to their appropriate pictures.
Comprehension of a text is the end goal of reading. When a child understands the meaning behind a text they are able to:
Answer questions about a text
Ask questions about a text
Monitor their comprehension
Put a jumbled-up text back in order
Recognise story structure.
Reading and understanding real books is the goal of every Reading Eggs lesson. By the end of Lesson 9 kids read their first e-book, and they continue to read books after every subsequent lesson. The Reading Eggs Story Factory, which allows kids to write their own stories and post them online, also provides them with skills to build their understanding of story structure.
It is by incorporating these five essential literacy skills that Reading Eggs effectively teaches children reading online, setting them up for future success at school.
Reading Eggs has simply taken off in our school! It allows students to work at their own level and provides students at the lower end of the scale with the opportunity to gain success. The kids love the games, stories and different challenges!
- Claire Badrock, Meekatharra School of the Air
My child LOVES Reading Eggs! This programme has been exactly what I’ve been looking for. We tried two other popular reading programs and while they were fun, just didn’t translate to my child becoming a reader. He’s a reluctant reader, capable but frustrates easily. With Reading Eggs I have never witnessed an ounce of frustration, just watched my son having fun. And even better – I’ve watched him start to read in such a natural progression that is a beautiful thing to watch. Thank you, Reading Eggs!
- C. Bryant