I did manage to get both of my school-age kids enrolled in Fast ForWord this summer. (Go here if you need the part 1 context) I thought there might be people out there who want to know a bit about what it’s like to do the Fast ForWord program.
My kids ages 9 and 11 are doing the Language module currently, but will move on to do the Language to Reading module once that is completed.
The child starts out by doing a reading placement indicator. This test among other things tests their ability to hear certain differences in sounds, sequencing, and comprehension. There are 43 questions in that test and it takes about 45 minutes to complete.
Once that is done, the software sets a beginning level for their daily sessions. We do the program 5 days out of 7 and it takes 45 minute to an hour to complete. There are 7 exercises in total and each day you log in, the software tells you which 3 to 4 exercises you will be doing that day.
One of the key things about Fast ForWord is that it gives a little reward very often. Every question you get right you get a little sound and picture reward, and after a certain number (5 or 10) of correct answers you get a bigger reward in the form of little animations. The cows dance, the clowns get out of the car etc. And it’s surprising how motivating that is even for the older, cooler kids.
One of the other key things is that it keeps the kids successful. It keeps itself at a level where the child can be 90% correct. I noticed that is one of the downfalls of all this Brain Age and Brain Academy stuff for Nintendos. It can’t adjust itself too far down. For instance, my daughter couldn’t do the adding game in one of these games, so she couldn’t move up to a new level, and she couldn’t get better at the lowest level, because it couldn’t adjust itself far enough down so she could practice. She could only practice at failing–and believe me she gets enough of that at school.
The games so far:
- Block Commander: There is a checkerboard with various shapes on it. A voice tells you to touch the large yellow circle, or put the white square on the red square or move the green circle between the red square and the blue circle.
- Phonic Match: Like a game of concentration but instead of matching card fronts, you’re matching sounds.
- Flying Farm: You hold on to an image of some farm animal flying through the air, while you listen to a sound being repeated. At the moment you hear a different sound, you let go of the image.
- Phonic Words: Two images appear. A voice tells you a word and you have to select the picture that goes with the word you just heard. You might see a picture of someone doing up a zipper and someone sipping from a cup. The voice will say “Zip” and you have to select the person zipping up the jacket.
- Circus Sequence: There is a whistle with an upward inflection a a whistle with a downward inflection. There is an up arrow and a down arrow. You hear a sequence of 2 whistles and have to choose the arrows that match that sequence. (up-up or down-down or up-down or down-up)
- Phoneme Identification: A voice gives you a sound. Then two creatures appear and each give you a sound. You have to identify which sound matches the first one you heard.
- Language Comprehension Builder: You get four pictures. A voice gives you a sentence and you have to pick the picture that describes the sentences. For instance: “The boy is pushing the girl on the swing.” (You don’t want to select the picture of the girl pushing the boy on the swing, or the boy pulling the girl in the wagon.)
We’ve been doing the program for just over 3 weeks now. Interestingly enough, my son, the one without any formal diagnoses is having a much harder time moving through the levels than my daughter is–the one with the alphabet behind her name (LD, ADHD, Aspergers). This may because she’s a bit older, she’s done auditory therapy before (we did Tomatis a few years ago), or her issues are not as sensory-based as my son’s. She’s 76% complete the Language Module and he’s only 46% complete. Her biggest problem game is Circus Sequence (which makes sense, since she has almost no working memory), while Calvin is having problems with Phonic Match, Block Commander and Flying Farm.
It’s still a bit early to be seeing changes in their learning abilities, (better, more accurate listening skills) and since they’re not in school it’s hard to tell. But I’ll report on any changes I see as time goes on. Interestingly enough though, Calvin has just started reading Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, which is the first involved chapter book he’s attempted. And he seems to be following the story and motivated to keep reading it, so maybe we are already seeing some changes.
I’ll keep you posted. Anyone out there finished the program? Did it help?
Update: I now have a Fast ForWord page, which has all my posts on Fast ForWord plus some other useful links.