As the world continues to adapt to the new normal brought to us by the COVID-19 pandemic, parents worry about how remote learning will affect their children’s education. For those in the early learning-to-read years, it’s especially worrisome. However, the challenges of supporting learning at home don’t need to be overwhelming, thanks to the wonders of technology and an app called Abound Parenting.
Abound Parenting—a parent-focused mobile application designed by experts to promote strong reading skills—does not put children in front of screens. Instead, it provides concrete, simple actions parents can take to build stronger literacy muscles with their children in ways that don’t feel like work. And it’s all backed by science.
The new app couldn’t have come at a better time. National test results show that only 1 out of 3 children reads proficiently by the fourth grade, and only 1 out of 10 fourth graders have the kinds of advanced skills that 21st-century jobs will demand. It’s clear that kids deserve better. But now with schools closed or only partially open, families need innovative ways to prevent learning loss. The Abound Parenting platform has set out to empower parents to monitor and support their children’s reading development—in realistic and engaging ways that make a significant difference.
Joan Kelley, the founder of Abound Parenting, received her Ed.M degree in Language and Literacy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She’s also a former teacher and a mother of three, so she has been on every side of what she calls “the learning-to-read adventure.” She switched from working with educators to focus on parents because of the consistently low nation-wide student scores—despite the hard work and dedication of teachers. Kelley says, “We will never improve children’s reading rates if we don’t take parents more seriously and engage them in ways that make sense.”
When parents use the app, they learn what skills children should be building at each stage of development (age 3 through third grade), with materials changing as they reach certain milestones. App users also know enough to ask pediatricians and teachers appropriate questions and advocate for strong instruction at school. The daily experience is based on the app’s Benchmark Check-In questions, which give parents a chance to better understand their own child’s strengths and weaknesses and drive the personalized content that supports the child’s growth.
The Abound Parenting goal is to set children up to read well as they grow by addressing some of the challenging issues that stump middle- and high-school readers. To do that, Abound’s app is designed around 2-week themes, helping children learn about a variety of subjects. The app also provides a weekly academic vocabulary word with daily usage examples. The daily, science-based conversation starters connect parents and kids because they provide ways to talk back-and-forth about engaging subjects.
Kelley thinks that schools need to approach reading and COVID-related problems with more innovation and realistic goals in mind.
“Parents aren’t teachers and shouldn’t have to be. They will do their best during the remote learning phase, but many families cannot monitor an online learning process for a lot of reasons. So what can families do? Find simple ways to build skills every day, and then know enough about learning to read so they can talk with teachers about whether or not a child is making progress, and collaborate over what else might be done. That’s realistic, doable, and will continue to help children after this COVID nightmare is over.”
The app is available for both iOs and Android users. Learn more about Abound Parenting through their website.