Reading is something that I have a great passion for. I love to read and have always tried to instill that love within my children as well. My 14-year-old is a voracious reader and has been since she was very little. My 9-year-old . . . well, not so much. He has struggled greatly with reading, mostly because he just doesn't want to sit still long enough.
When we were given the opportunity to try out Failure Free Reading Home Edition I thought it would be a great opportunity to try out a different approach with him.
What is Failure Free Reading?
As described on their website:
Failure Free Reading is a nationally recognized reading intervention that helps students achieve success in reading by increasing vocabulary, fluency, comprehension, and confidence from the first lesson on.
It is an online program with the option to print downloadable readers, enrichment activities, and a teacher's guide.
The program focuses on a whole-word approach, similar to sight word reading, rather than on phonics and phonemic awareness. Because not all children learn the same way, having these different options for teaching can be a true blessing for homeschooling families.
There are two teaching options with this program. The first is self-paced online lessons that include video instruction. The second involves parent-led instructions using the provided teacher's guide. The guide is scripted, so it is very easy to follow along step-by-step to teach the lesson. Afterward, the student completes a short online follow up lesson.
Unfortunately, our experience with the program was not quite what I expected.
We started with the online assessment, as recommended by the program. The assessment is meant to evaluate what the child already knows and place them into the correct level of the program. I had my son begin the assessment, which he was very excited about since we don't do a lot of online-based schooling.
The assessment took a long time. After 30 minutes, my son was experiencing fatigue and frustration with what seemed to him like a never-ending vocabulary test. I convinced him to see it through after a great deal of coaxing. In the end, the assessment took over an hour and wasn't accurate in how it placed my son. No results were given at the end of the assessment, so I had no idea what criteria were being used to place him or how he fared overall.
When I opened the first lesson and previewed the downloadable reader, I found that the content of the stories was much too mature for a 9-year-old. It seemed as if it were written for an older teenager or adult.
After searching through the parent dashboard, I finally discovered how to change the level manually and override where he had been placed after the assessment. I downloaded the new materials and printed out the teacher's guide and activities.
The next day, I had my son login and go through the self-paced lesson. Regrettably, he was already so turned off by the program after the assessment that it was difficult to get him to participate.
Though this program wasn't a good fit for my son, it does have some wonderful aspects. I found it to be excellent for building vocabulary and comprehension. Each lesson introduces several new vocabulary words and then the activities focus on understanding those words—what they mean, how they're spelled, and how to use them in a sentence.
The online lessons are organized well and make it very easy for parents to take an active role in the learning, or be completely hands off. The included printable activities are full of variety to keep students engaged with the learning. There are fill-in-the-blank sentences, alphabetical order exercises, scrambled sentences, opportunities to illustrate a sentence and individual words, word searches, and reading comprehension questions.
Don't Just Take My Word For It
Failure Free Reading has the option to try a free sample lesson, which is described as:
. . . what can happen to their self-confidence and motivation in less than twenty minutes! You will be amazed at how well they do and the reading level they can achieve right before your very eyes!