My primary goal for my Kindergarten son was to learn to read. As a homeschooler who bases much of our curriculum around quality books, I felt strongly that reading skills are paramount and the best thing I could do was to equip him to be a life-long learner.
I also knew we would need all the help we could get! Like many boys he is wiggly, silly, and more interested in trucks and Legos than letters and sounds. The Funnix Reading Program has worked well to help us build a solid reading foundation.
What is the Funnix Reading Program?
Funnix is a computer-based learn-to-read program. One of its developers is Siegfried Engelmann, who you may remember as the author of Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons. The Funnix website details how their program was developed and the reasons behind the techniques.
What is a Funnix Lesson Like?
Computer-based does not mean I plug my son in and go about other duties—I watch with him and control the mouse. What it does mean is it takes no preparation or special knowledge on my part and I don’t have to worry about sounding out phonograms correctly.
Each lesson has the same basic parts.
- First he practices letter names and the sounds for letters and combinations.
- Next he practices reading words.
- Then it’s story time! On the first reading there are words without pictures. After reading through the story once he reads it again with pictures, and sometimes some animation (like an animal falling in mud).
- After the story he completes a workbook page. In early lessons he practiced identifying and writing the letters through games like connect the dots and matching. Now he is filling in sentence blanks, spelling words, labeling pictures, and copying sentences.
What We Like About Funnix
- The computer adds interest to the somewhat bland practice of sounds and reading single words. For example, early on my son had to say the letter name to make a letter go into a toaster. Wouldn’t you know, sometimes the toaster malfunctioned and spit out a different letter? Silly things like that prevented boredom and drudgery in the early stages.
- I can skip ahead, go back, or pause to go just at the right pace for my son. If we exit the program it will save our place. This made it simple to make an adjustment for my son: we break the lessons up by doing the reading portion one day and the writing the next. One lesson would take about 40 minutes for him, and his focus and concentration are better with breaking it into two shorter lessons. On the Funnix FAQ page there are other suggestions for modifications, like doing the written work verbally.
- We enjoy the stories, which now last over the course of several lessons. We’re often laughing at humorous character antics and anxious to see how stories will end. It’s motivating for him and he’s enjoyed the stories in Funnix more than other readers we’ve tried.
- The slow introduction of new material and lots of practice of previously learned material keeps my son from becoming frustrated or overwhelmed. He feels successful, and has a positive, proud attitude about his reading ability.
Check out the Funnix website for an alphabet game to determine if your child is ready to start Funnix and free downloadable demonstrations. Funnix Beginning Reading and Funnix 2 are sold together as a download from their website. Beginning Reading consists of 120 lessons and Funnix 2 continues the instruction.
Heidi homeschools her two children in Maine using Charlotte Mason’s ideas, quality literature and hands-on learning. She strives to show them that learning is an exciting, life long adventure. She shares their experiences on her blog, Home Schoolroom.
Hearts and Trees: Art, Handicrafts and Nature Study for your Homeschool