Reading Trainer

App review by
Amanda Bindel, Common Sense Media
Reading Trainer App Poster Image
Impressive brain-training app focuses on speed.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Kids can learn to read quickly with retention using Reading Trainer, which can be a useful skill. Still, teens generally need to focus less on speed and more on comprehension, literary analysis, and vocabulary development -- which require close, careful reading rather than speed. The exercises -- like timed word searches and word scrambles -- train teens' brains to look for relevant information quickly. Even without focusing on speed reading, the brain exercises in Reading Trainer can help teens think and react clearly and quickly.

Ease of Play

Each training session begins with very clear instructions and easy-to-use controls.

Violence
Sex
Language
Consumerism

Users can buy additional texts for speed reading training via in-app purchase (topics include literature and history). but not in iOS version.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Reading Trainer is a speed-reading training program app available on iPhone, iPad, and Android, and Windows. There is no objectionable content in the reading tests. The training works on visual acuity, which is good for anyone. Though Reading Trainer claims to increase reading comprehension levels while increasing reading speed, some reading experts say that increased reading speeds can hinder reading comprehension, which is especially important for students. Various languages are available, including Spanish, Russian, and Turkish.

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What's it about?

READING TRAINER starts by accessing kids' current reading speed in WPM (words per minute) and then takes them through 11 units of study with several exercises each to train their brains to read faster by focusing only on important characters or information. Some exercises are simply eye-brain training -- like following a moving circle across the screen with eyes only or reading numbers flashing across the screen. Others require some speedy feedback from kids -- like typing in words, sentences, or numbers that flash quickly across the screen. The app tracks progress at every step, and kids can take a reading speed test at any time to see how they are progressing. Users are encouraged to complete one unit a day -- about 10 minutes of training -- and then rest their brains to allow it to process the new connections.

Is it any good?

The exercises are quick and straightforward and, even if the focus isn't building speed readers, can help sharpen thinking skills. This is an app for older teens who are self-motivated and enjoy brain-building type activities. The word searches, word scrambles, and eye-brain exercises are straightforward and not at all gimmicky. The statistics the app keeps are amazing. Teens can see how they are improving within every unit and overall. For student readers, speed reading 1,000 words per minute may not be a smart goal, as kids need to understand literature and be able to interpret it and build a love for reading. But kids can improve their reading speed and challenge their brains with Reading Trainer.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Talk to teens about how Reading Trainer expects daily practice and talk about other areas they could see improvement with daily practice.

  • Discuss circumstances where reading quickly is more important than reading carefully. Make sure teens know which tests are timed and which are not as they begin taking college boards.

App details

For kids who love puzzles and learning with apps

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