How We Use Online Learning to Help Struggling Readers

(The following was originally published on

Are you trying to help struggling readers in your homeschool? Take a look at how we use MindPlay to build fluency skills.

My kids come from a long line of readers. My grandmothers and mother love to read, and I was a certifiable literary nerd in high school and college.

During these past six years of homeschooling, one of my greatest treasures has been watching my children unlock the keys to reading on their own.

Teaching my girls how to read was fairly straightforward. With the boys, it was a totally different story. They struggled, and I had a hard time managing the situation, being pulled in a million directions.

I took a deep breath and regrouped, changed up pieces of our homeschool curriculum, and poured our focus into phonics. Slowly, we plodded through phonics until at last, my boys were reading better. Not fantastic, but much improved from where we started.

Recently, we discovered the MindPlay Literacy program – designed to help struggling readers strengthen their fluency skills. I was anxious to give it a try with Thomas, who reads at grade level, but at a slower speed than his peers. We needed something to give him a boost, and with five children still at home, I needed something he could do independently of me.

I received a subscription to the MindPlay Literacy program for free. I was compensated for my time for reviewing MindPlay Literacy in our homeschool and for writing this article. All opinions are my very own.

Benefits of MindPlay for Your Struggling Reader

The MindPlay web-based reading program gives your child one on one, personalized reading instruction, perfect for filling in skill gaps your child needs to read accurately and fluently.

The program is adaptive, adjusting the instruction to fit the needs of your individual student.

The MindPlay Literacy program is perfect for a tech-savvy mom who wants to give her struggling reader extra practice with language arts. Big families would also benefit — moms like me who only have so much time in the day for individual instruction.

How Would My Student Use MindPlay?

MindPlay is not a stand alone program, but a way to practice reading skills outside your usual phonics program. With our boys, we’ve used First Start Reading, then moved over to Barton when they needed more help. Now, we’re solidly engaged with StoryTime Treasures. Using MindPlay helps Thomas build the fluency he needs to read more difficult selections.

Tips for Using MindPlay in Your Homeschool

For us, it was best to have Thomas work in MindPlay at the beginning of our homeschool day, while he was freshest.

I’ll be honest. The testing portion of MindPlay Literacy was a little stressful for my son. I didn’t do an effective job of exploring the Teacher dashboard of the MindPlay, Inc site before we got started, so I didn’t have a handle on what to tell Thomas to expect.

My advice? Before your child gets started, dig around in the Teacher Dashboard to assess how long the initial assessment will last.

Another homeschool mom tip – Before signing up for the MindPlay Literacy, clear your calendar. Don’t try to squeeze it into a jam-packed schedule.

In order to achieve the maximum benefit (one grade level gain in reading), students should use MindPlay Literacy for 30 minutes per day, 5 days a week. This gain in reading skills often spills over into gains with self-esteem, academic success, and educational engagement.

Will MindPlay Literacy Work to Help Struggling Readers?

The testing portion of MindPlay Literacy is extensive – it may take your children a day or two to get through it completely. Be patient and encouraging. When you take a break, the program will save your student’s progress. This assessment determines your child’s strengths and weakness, then creates a personalized learning plan to fill in the gaps. Virtual reading coaches walk your child through each lesson until mastery is achieved.

If your child has difficulty with a lesson, the teacher works through the concept with a different approach. As your child advances, certificates and achievement points keep motivation high. If your child has mastered the concept being measured, the program moves ahead. In short — no busy work with things your kids already know.

You can easily track your child’s growth with the progress maps and reports found in the administrator dashboard.

How Much Will MindPlay Cost Us?

Monthly: $25 per month, and cancel your plan at any time.

Not sure if MindPlay is right for your situation? You can access a 7 day free trial, to discern if the program works for your family.