"This is the only program that has worked. She
is now reading above grade level. Thank you!"
- Christina C., parent of 2nd grader
Reading Programs For Children
Overview of Approach By Age
Fast ForWord is a series of research based online reading programs for children and adults. Struggling readers avoid reading, which leads to an ever-widening skill gap versus their peers. Our software makes reading easier by targeting the underlying phonic and processing difficulties.
Most common reading problems explained
Our reading programs for children focus first on making decoding automatic so that reading is more efficient and easier, and then train reading fluency and comprehension:
- Intense, adaptive neuroscience based exercises that strengthen the fundamental cognitive skills required for reading -- working memory, attention, processing and sequencing.
- Then, adaptive reading exercises -- including sentence completion, vocabulary categorization, spelling -- accelerate reading comprehension skills.
Unlike most reading programs for young struggling readers, where the focus is on text based instruction, we do not progress to reading comprehension exercises until the cognitive foundation of the pyramid is strong.
Reading programs overview
Reading Protocols By Age
Program Target: Phonological Awareness
For the young readers, ages 4 to 7 or so, the difficulty is almost always an inability to hear the sounds inside words, i.e., weak phonological awareness, most often due to an auditory processing delay. Up to 40% of students are not born with the processing skills needed to hear these sounds naturally, as is required for reading, leading to a long and painful period of instruction, text heavy educational software, word lists and other training to help the student work around this deficit.
Our goal is to automate the decoding process to help fluency and to make reading less exhausting, paving the way to more time reading which is the surest road to ultimate reading success. To meet this goal, younger children having difficulty getting started learning to read spend most of their time at Gemm Learning working in the cognitive programs, starting with Fast ForWord Language v2.
Logistics and Compliance
Our program requires 30 minutes of focus a day. While this can be challenging for younger ones, the software has a computer game feel that early readers like and we have an incentives site called Gemm City to help keep enthusiasm high. Young students typically take the longest to complete our program, averaging 6-8 months.
Early reading intervention
Program Target: Reading Fluency (Automatic Decoding)
Many elementary age student use memorization and other coping strategies to stitch together a reading style that "works" for a while, but falls apart when asked to decode multiple syllable words at natural language speed as is required for fluent reading. Reading fluency, the ability to read at natural language speed with prosody (natural speech emphasis) requires automatic decoding, as does comprehension, making fluency a great predictor of future reading success. To the extent reading is not automatic, decoding requires concentration, making it a distraction that undermines reading comprehension.
Elementary age children need at least 2-3 months on our cognitive programs to develop the cognitive skills needed for a solid reading foundation. They start with Fast ForWord Language, then move to Language to Reading, before graduating to the reading programs for kids, i.e., the earlier programs in our series, which has a range of reading exercises covering spelling, vocabulary, decoding, and of course, reading comprehension. Note that 5th graders and some 4th graders will do Fast ForWord Literacy rather than Language.
Logistics and Compliance
Most elementary age children enjoy our programs. The computer game feel, the levels, the point scores, the prizes and the feeling that they are good at the program because of its ability to adapt to each student's pace, all add up to an engaged student experience. Most elementary age students take 4-5 months to complete the cognitive portion and 1-2 reading series programs.
Elementary reading programs
Middle School Reading
Program Target: Reading Comprehension
While most of our middle school students are not fluent readers, they are also seeing an erosion in their reading comprehension capabilities as the content gets progressively more challenging as they move up through the grades. Part of this is due to the lingering distraction caused by a lack of automaticity in decoding, but it also reflects the lack of development of vocabulary, thinking while reading and other essential reading comprehension skills.
Students start with Fast ForWord Literacy, which targets processing, phonological awareness, and other skills that tend to be under-developed in struggling readers at middle school. They will then move to Literacy Advanced or to the reading series depending on the reading skill gaps and needs of each student.
Logistics and Compliance
Most older children see changes from our reading programs in just a few weeks. It works quickly, because the software automates what is already known, decoding.
However compliance is a challenge for middle school students -- even though it is only 30 minutes a day, many do not share their parents' concern about their reading skills and grades. While the computer game feel can engage them, they need to feel they want to make a difference in their lives before taking this on. This is a discussion you should have with your child before calling. Middle school students complete the program relatively quickly, averaging 3-4 months in most cases.
Middle school reading interventions
Program Target: Reading Comprehension With Metacognition
In high school, reading skill development is assumed to be complete. Progress through the high school grades is defined more by increasing difficulty in content, and associated vocabulary. In high school, readers practice their metacognitive reading strategies.
It's not too late. If your child still has not mastered the fundamentals -- for instance, if he/she needs to concentrate to decode or cannot retain text understanding, even at a superficial, factual level -- you should consider a reading intervention. By removing any lingering distraction caused by a lack of automaticity in decoding, or uncertain reading comprehension skills, we can make a significant difference in just a few weeks.
Our reading programs for kids in high school start with the same programs as in middle school, namely Fast ForWord Literacy, most often followed by Fast ForWord Literacy Advanced. These programs are generally effective in improving reading fundamentals, by removing cognitive impediments to reading, such as weak processing or memory skills. Most high school students complete only two reading series programs, Reading Level 3 and Reading Level 5. Reading Level 5 is a challenging program full of metacognitive exercises, using a natural learning approach to help students read and think at a much higher level.
Our reading programs for older children work on all aspects of reading comprehension, including reading stamina, accurate reading of sentences, making inferences from paragraphs, critical thinking and metacognition skills as related to reading comprehension and as required for SAT, ACT and college level reading.
Logistics and Compliance
High school students are often motivated to take on our remedial reading programs because they need a much higher ACT or SAT score to get into the college of their choice. Teenagers see a difference from our reading programs in just a few weeks, and typically experience the most dramatic short-term gains of all age groups.
While the computer game feel can engage them, they need to feel they want to make a difference in their lives before taking this on. This is a discussion you should have with your child before calling. High school students complete the program relatively quickly, averaging 3-4 months in most cases.
High school reading programs
Outcome Scenarios From Our Programs
Our reading software uses brain training to change how the brain processes language for reading, to make reading easier. While we have a client satisfaction rate of 96%, outcomes vary, depending on the child's personality, IQ, educational environment, sensory and learning makeup, confidence and medical history.
For Younger Children
Parents report improved confidence early on, in the first 4-6 weeks. This confidence comes from your child seeing that many of the words on the page are recognizable -- what seemed like Mission Impossible now looks achievable. This confidence should also translate into more willingness to sound out unfamiliar words while reading.
Once your child has completed one program, or around the three month mark, most parents notice more fluency in reading and the indications that reading comprehension is starting to improve. Over the next 1-2 years, depending on how long you stay with us, changes should then come at a steady rate; better reading, improved focus, stronger performance at school and more confidence.
For Middle and High School Age Children
For older children our reading programs are more about automating existing skills, and so the timetable for measurable change is generally shorter. One complicating factor for older students is that there is a learned behavior aspect to their learning habits. And so, when Gemm Learning has improved underlying cognitive skills, it is up to the student, with parental guidance, to recognize reading is easier and to adjust habits accordingly.
The brain is incredibly integrated, with learning ability generally as strong as its weakest link. By making even small improvements in reading skills, the Fast ForWord reading programs for children and adults make a profound difference in a short period, a difference that is then part of the individual, to help reading and learning over a lifetime.