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How We Engage Your Resistant Child With Fast ForWord

Geoff Nixon

By Geoff Nixon

What If My Child Resists?

You are persuaded by the many reasons to take on a Fast ForWord routine with remote coaching, but you are concerned that your child won’t do it?

Welcome to our world, this describes a high percentage of our students, most of whom go on to complete 6 months or more of programs. It’s doable, and actually probably easier to manage than you might think.

Most children with learning issues have been through the mill already, and are skeptical about something new. Again. And so pushback is only natural.  But then, children do want to please, they are mainly open to incentives, and they do like computer games. This is a lot to work with, it provides pathways to getting your child on board.

Child Engagement Is Our Business

For us, this reluctance is business as usual. This is serious brain-changing work. And so there is no getting around the fact that change comes from frequency and intensity. The software exercises try to provide variety, by cycling in and out, but the reality is that there is a lot of repetition that is our challenge.

Most of time it’s a challenge we successfully manage. Our average participation is usually around 95%, meaning our students on average do the 30 minute a day, 5 days a week program 95% of the time, 142 minutes out of 150 minutes. Most parents start out wondering if their child would do it. This tells you  we are able to get around the repetition and routine challenge in most cases.

Here’s our formula – for compliance and for results:

  • Explaining why – getting buy-in from your child
  • Computer game software
  • Rewards
  • Oversight that makes sure your child does not get stuck or frustrated
  • Routines that do not infringe on favorite activities

No Pain, No Gain

This amazing program works like strength building. It is somewhat repetitive, adding speed and complexity (instead of weights!) in tiny increments at the student’s pace. (Unlike strength training though, it’s a one and done program. Once your child is lifted up and is processing at natural language speed and reading with automaticity, these skills are used – and so practiced – every day and so they stick!)

Like strength building, once progress starts, it’s key that the momentum is not broken until you reach your goal.  For most children, that means 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week for 6 or so months.  There is repetition, and so our challenge is to get regular compliance by avoiding boredom from repetition. That sounds like a lot, but not really. Many families breeze through enjoying it, some have little hiccups now and again, and only a few find it a strain.

Even if it’s a strain, it’s worth it. Solid participation is almost certainly going to lead to success for the child.  Our testimonials here describe the many ways improved processing and reading help change a child’s life.

Note, to support you during the process we have a client website called MyGemm, that is full of help articles, certificates, videos and exercise descriptions to support you (and us!) in the journey.

Explain the Why to Your Child, and the Pledge!

Explain

Motivation and effort are essential for program success.  It is helpful before you start, to explain to your child why the program is worthwhile and can make all the difference. Earning this buy-in really helps. We will give you scripts to use when talking to your child, such as:

This program exercises your brain.  If you shoot baskets every day, you will get better at basketball.  Gemm Learning programs are a workout for the brain that work the same way. They can:

  • Make reading easier
  • Help you finish homework quicker
  • Make the teacher easier to hear
  • Improve your grades

You want these things right?  To change your brain though, you need to give us your best effort and try to beat the point scores from the day before.  If you do that, you will do great!

We can also help you connect Fast ForWord to the specific difficulties your child has in life, the kinds of things you will pick up in a consult with a Gemm Learning expert before you start.

Program Plan.  We use an incoming reading assessment, a parent observations survey and a few days on the program to build a picture of your child and develop a plan to meet your goals, a plan that lays out which programs we suggest be completed. That then gives you a road map you can share with your child, either immediately or nearer the end point.

Pledges

There’s nothing like getting it down on paper!  We have age-appropriate pledges that you can print out, get your child to sign and then put on the fridge or the wall.   A pledge helps your child take some ownership and pride in her fast ForWord routine through to completion.

While prizes and rewards can help, nothing can compete with tapping into your child’s desire to do well AND to be better at his day job, school.

Computer Game Feel

Fast ForWord software is designed to be engaging, time after time.  It uses score counters, dings, rewards animation after a few successful clicks, verbal encouragement when mistakes are made and lots of movement on the screen.

Fast ForWord is also adaptive, which keeps children working at a level that is neither too easy (boring) nor too hard (frustrating).

Furthermore, each program has 5-7 very different exercises that cycle in and out based on student progress, creating some variety to every session. – to engage children.

Because of the adaptivity, many children get their first ever taste of academic success and so become almost addicted to the work.  Being “good at Gemm Learning” is a source of pride they feel internally because they know it’s getting harder but they are keeping up, and externally, because they can see their parents are authentically pleased as well, not just cheer-leading.

Of course, other children are tougher sells.  But for most children, the first month or two at least goes fine – the novelty is enough.

Rewards and Incentives

We send certificates for program milestones, and provide score sheets where a child can track their scores – for particular games or overall.  These kinds of tracking sheets and rewards do wonders for maintaining motivation and desire.

And then we help you manage incentives at home.  It’s usually not necessary to use incentives to start.  During the normal honeymoon period of the first 1-2 months, the exercises provide the motivation.

When needed though, we have all kinds of ideas for you on the MyGemm website – the kinds of targets to set, and ideas for incentive programs – many sent to us by or ever-innovative parents!  Most of the time, a pretty modest amount of incentive will be enough, with the computer game aspect of Fast ForWord still doing the engagement heavy lifting.

Oversight and Reports to Avoid Road Blocks

Oversight

Gemm Learning staff have a backend into Fast ForWord where we see every click your child makes, every error, every success, time on the exercise, time between clicks – and more.  We review this activity every day.  Generally, we can tell exactly how things are going at home.

And if we see something, we will pick up the phone and call.

That means we are able to support you at home with a high degree of understanding.  Fast ForWord is working on the part of life your child probably dislikes more than anything else, learning and reading. And so, it’s not unnatural for your child to hit an occasional road block, difficulty with an exercise that requires a yet to be developed cognitive skill. While that actually is good news – it indicates a gap in your child’s learning that needs help – it can quickly become frustrating for your child.

Our philosophy is to react quickly to road blocks and frustration in your child’s Fast ForWord routine. There is a lot we can do:

  • Most exercises have help tools – added say aloud routines or sticky notes – to break the exercise down into more parts to make it easier. We start with that – or you can do that, by consulting intervention ideas on our MyGemm site.
  • Live sessions – we can do a virtual session while your child does the program.  We can then see how he is approaching any exercise that is causing difficulty. Most of the time, we can figure out a way forward.

Reports by Email

Every weekend, we send a comprehensive report of your child’s work.  The show the all important line charts of progress and details on each exercise if you are interested.

Mainly, you are looking for flat lines or consecutuve errors that might point to a falling off of interest or a road block.  As we said earlier, we are looking at even more detailed versions of these reports and will likely be in touch before you see a problem yourself.

Fast ForWord Routine – Flexible Options

A 30 minute session of Fast ForWord will include 2 or 3 exercises that can be done at different times of the day.  This means you could do 10 minutes before school and 20 minutes after school, or whatever.

This is a challenging program as it working on fundamental and deep-seated weaknesses in your child’s learning. And so it needs your child’s full attention. Our recommendation is to do it right after school, or in the morning, if your child is a morning person. Those times ffit most schedules.

Tips to Make the Routine Work (for Gemm, and your child!)

Ask the school to pause homework. For elementary age children, the goals of this program align perfectly with the goals of the school.  Really, nothing is more important than learning to read and learning to learn.  Many of our parents tell the school about our program,  and teachers will go along with pausing or reducing the homework for the first 2-3 months of our program.

Don’t sacrifice favorite activities.  We know child schedules more challenging. However, we advise parents not to put Fast ForWord ahead of a favorite sport or hobby.  Most of the time, the fact that the program can be broken into smaller bits means families are able to fit the 30 minutes per day in without taking something loved away.  Sometimes it means choosing a weekend day, rather than all week day

Final Note

Our goal is to bring about a profound and transformative acceleration in your child’s learning trajectory in around 6 months.  This is not only possible, it’s probable, if your child does the work.  It probably won’t be pretty over the whole 6 months, but it’s easily doable AND it’s easier than you might think.  The vast majority of our families find a way and they are glad they did.

PS. 2 Week Risk Free

Finally, you should know we have a full refund no questions asked policy inside the first 2 weeks. It does nobody any good if a child is downright allergic to the program and normally 2 weeks is plenty of time to find this out.  You will have spoken to your Gemm Learning program manager 3-4 times by the end of the first 2 weeks and we will understand your situation, making it a relatively straight forward cancellation process.

Please note though that this 2-week full refund offer is used by <3% of student starts. Most parents come in with doubts, but soon see the value of the exercises and see their child engaged and so they continue.

If you’d like to see if our programs are a fit for your child, contact us for a free consult.

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