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Online Reading Programs With Oversight
Software To Make Reading Easier and More Rewarding
Our online reading programs do not use boring word lists or spelling drills. You know, the kind of reading instruction that can turn a child off reading for life. Instead, they engage children with exercises that look like computer games. We have two big goals:
- Make reading easier
- Make reading more rewarding
If reading is easier…
your child will be more willing to read aloud and will read more on her own. Imagine that! We make reading easier by targeting and improving the underlying cognitive skill gaps that cause reading difficulty.
If reading is more rewarding…
if your child comfortably understands the text, she will find it interesting, possible even entertaining. Then she will read. And read. And that is the path to being a great reader, reading practice. We aim to make reading rewarding by building reading comprehension. Not just literal comprehension, but high-level reading comprehension — making connections, making inferences, thinking critically, reading comprehension with metacognition. With effortless comprehension, your child can learn to love reading
Who Our Reading Programs Are For
Our web-based programs for reading take time, effort and finances (request fees here). It’s reasonably full on — 30 minutes a day, 4-5 days a week for 4-6 months with remote professional monitoring and oversight. And so, of the most part, our programs are for children who have a reading difficulty that probably won’t resolve itself. Do any of these descriptions ring true for your child or teenager?
- Is a struggling reader
- Hates to read
- Can’t read for long periods
- Isn’t understanding what he is reading
- Is a slow reader
- Has been diagnosed with dyslexia, ADHD or a language-based learning disability
If any one of these symptoms of a more intractable reading difficulty apply, then something more change-making, like Gemm Learning, is worth investigating.
Online Reading Programs for the Cognitive Delays that Hold Back Reading
A ten-year NICHD study found that 88% of struggling readers share a common difficulty — they lack phonemic awareness. They struggle to sound out words when learning to read, which impedes reading automaticity later on. Our online reading programs target this common skill gap and others to build reading fluency and comprehension for all ages.
Most children build language processing skills – the building blocks of phonemic awareness — through natural language interaction. Every conversation is an opportunity for language stimulation. And so these skills develop in good readers by the age of 6 or 7 years of age. Once a child can pick out the sounds inside words, reading is easier, much easier. From there, he learns spelling rules, builds vocabulary and is on track to being a lifelong reader.
However, an estimated 35-40% of readers do not develop language processing and phonological awareness naturally. For these children, reading ranges from frustrating and exhausting to downright difficult.
If Fundamental Skills Don’t Develop Naturally, You Can Exercise Them
This is where Gemm Learning helps. Our exercises provide extra language processing stimulation. Our self-paced exercises are the equivalent to hearing tens of thousands of words in just a few weeks. From there, the reading software works on the other reading skill gaps most often caused by a language processing delay, such as spelling.
Because we target the most common cause of reading problems, most of our students see healthy gains in reading fluency and comprehension in just 4-6 months.
Steps To Reading Proficiency
Learning is integrated. Where there are delays in language processing and phonological awareness, often there are attention issues, working memory dysfunction or vocabulary gaps. Therefore, like all of the best reading programs for children and adults, our software assumes multiple areas of weakness. It has exercises that cover the entire set of skills required for reading.
Gemm Learning customizes protocols for each child, drawing from the web-based reading software series of Fast ForWord and Reading Assistant. We build reading skills from the ground up in two phases:
Phase 1: Make Reading Easier
Reading proficiency takes practice. Our first goal is get your child reading books, practicing, to help him become a lover of books. That is only going to happen if reading is easy, comfortable, fluent.
Most reading programs for struggling readers lose the battle early on, with text and reading exercises children don’t enjoy. We take a step back. Before getting into the reading itself, we work on the cognitive skills, the language and learning foundations. We focus on the sounds of language — sound discrimination, processing speed, working memory, sustained attention, listening comprehension.
Learning To Read Like Natural Readers
This replicates how good readers learn to read by 1st or 2nd grade. They learn the oral language by listening in their first 4-5 years of life, learn their alphabet and letter sounds at 4-5 years of age, and then, connect their oral language to the written text symbols. A few spelling and grammar lessons later they are on their way — reading, naturally and easily. They didn’t get a fast start because they saw text at 3 years of age. Their fast start comes from having good phonemic awareness.
Students who come to us don’t get this fast start to reading because their processing and listening skills let them down. For them, the text does not match up to the language they hear because their oral language word memory is muddy, unclear.
Our online reading software addresses this disconnect. That is our starting point. To make reading easier, to make it automatic.
Building Reading Fluency and Automaticity Skill by Skill
Each early exercise targets one or more of the cognitive skill glitches causing the inaccurate or incomplete oral language word memory, the reason your child’s reading needs to concentrate so hard while reading. It should be automatic. The connection between oral language and written language should just flow. Our training aims to make that happen, with about 1-2 months of training, varying widely of course depending on the child’s starting point.
Web-based Fast ForWord software works on fundamental skills:
- Without text — language processing, working memory, attention, sequencing, phonological awareness, listening comprehension — and then
- With text — decoding, eye tracking, visual working memory, phonics — in the form of easy words and syllables — and then
- Fundamental, age-appropriate reading skills — vocabulary, spelling, grammar and literal reading comprehension
Step by step, skill by skill. The exercises are all adaptive and self-paced — if your child has the skills in an exercise she will move on to other skills that need the work. However, each skill needs to be covered. The software demands automaticity in all skills. At that point, in the vast majority of cases, reading will be easier.
Again, a point of difference in our online reading programs is that there is no boring reading instruction. Reading programs for struggling readers need to be engaging, as struggling readers can be reluctant students. Our exercises look like computer games and use natural learning, discovery and exploration. This is how good readers learn to read. They pick up the fine points of the language naturally.
While most students spend most of their time in this phase in the Fast ForWord cognitive and Fast ForWord reading programs, we do add Reading Assistant, speech recognition-based oral reading practice, to protocols in some cases.
Phase 2: Make Reading Rewarding
The 8th grade reading standard for reading comprehension goes beyond simply understanding the text. It requires thinking while reading, making connections, putting the text in context, self-correcting while reading.
This is not only a high school reading and Common Core standard, it is also the formula for reading enjoyment. This level of reading comprehension brings the words alive on the page. It makes reading interesting, even exciting.
If your child is able to read comfortably without having to concentrate on every word (easier) and if she is able to understand and think about what she is reading, chances are she will become a lover of literature, a lifelong reader. And to the lifelong readers go all the spoils in today’s knowledge economy.
Reading comprehension means different things at different ages. For elementary age children our goal is reading comprehension with the ability to connect to prior knowledge or personal experience while reading. This is step three on the pyramid. For middle and high school students our goal is the 8th grade reading standard, reading comprehension exercises that align with most state standards.
How Our Online Reading Software Works
Process and Time To Complete
The software is online with remote professional oversight. We try to individualize to each student. Our general process is to start with a baseline reading test, a behavioral survey and a welcome interview just to make sure we fully understand the student. Once the sessions start we are in touch regularly, monitoring daily, reporting weekly. Your child will be enrolled in our online rewards website and you will have access to our private parent support group. It’s a comprehensive, wraparound service.
Our clients spend 4-6 months with us, working 30 minutes a day. Because the software exercises are adaptive, each student has a unique experience, where they end up working on the particular exercises that address their particular combination of difficulties.
Some students spend most of their time in phase 1, and for many parents, “making reading easy” is a great outcome. The students who spend more time in phase 1 tend to be young — they need help connecting sounds to letters of the alphabet — or they have deep-seated learning difficulties that require time to resolve or at least ameliorate.
Other students fly through the early sections, needing only a modest push in 1-2 skills to get onto a dramatically better reading track. These children, and most teenagers and adults, spend more time in phase 2
The exercises build processing skills in tiny, incremental steps, very similar to how physical skills are learned. They rely on neuroplasticity, the ability of the brain to change, just like a muscle. Fast ForWord was developed by neuroscientists, and so the exercises have elements that promote cognitive improvement in a relatively short period.
Each exercise presents hundreds of sequencing and sound discrimination decisions in quick succession each day. It’s intense. Furthermore, the exercises are adaptive. They add speed and complexity at your child’s own pace, gradually building the skills that lead to reading confidence.
Research studies, covering 30,000 students, find that Fast ForWord’s online reading programs make a positive impact on reading and language. It was rated “most effective” and one of the best online reading programs for children out of 24 programs tested in a comprehensive 2-year Nevada State study.
It has been used by 2+ million students in 42 countries, and has been the subject of 700+ white papers.
Every person is different, and so every outcome is different. We do not claim to be 100% effective in every case. That’s just not realistic.
We make every effort to only take students we expect to help. If we think your case is high risk, we’ll tell you so before you start. We are proud of our record. If there are no undetected learning difficulties going on, we normally make a significant difference in a few months.
However, sometimes there are other issues involved, which neutralize the impact of our software. And sometimes for unexplained reasons our program is not as effective as we’d like. We do offer a guarantee, but in the world of learning nothing is certain. More about our claims here.
Online Reading Programs By Age
Younger children, 5 years and older, work mainly on processing, language and phonological awareness. All exercises in our online reading programs are adaptive, meaning students progress at their own pace, without frustration or fear of failure.
Our middle and high school reading programs initially review reading speed and fluency. And then they move to reading comprehension and critical thinking skills.
Start With A Free Consult
Online reading programs works for most parents because there is so much more flexibility online to fit the session into a busy day, compared to going into a center.
Our clients are not alone. Unlike most online reading programs, we provide constant oversight and guidance. It starts with a detailed consultation before you start, to make sure your child is a candidate for our program. Call today to find out if your child is a candidate for a Gemm Learning program. If you are still not convinced, watch this video.