This is a personal story. It’s about my grandson Dawson.
He’s in grade 4 at school. Dawson is a bright boy. Intelligence testing has put him in the 90th percentile in overall cognitive ability. But his language skills were tested as relatively weak.
He had no trouble learning to read, and he was able to understand what he read. But he wasn’t a big reader. He would read reluctantly and did not seem to get a lot of enjoyment from it.
Earlier this year his teacher reported that Dawson was reading at a level between year 3 and year 4.
So I decided, with his parents’ agreement, that Dawson should do the Fast ForWord Language program. After all, I’ve been involved in providing Fast ForWord to thousands of students via schools, learning centres and in homes. And I’ve seen the remarkable improvements this brain training has made for those students. So why not have my grandson benefit as well?
Dawson spent six weeks working on the Fast ForWord program at home. After being a bit reluctant to get started, he very quickly got excited about the exercises. He was motivated by the built-in points scoring system and loved trying to beat his personal best scores.
Since he finished the Fast ForWord language program, his reading has been transformed. He now loves to read.
Right now he has just finished all 375 pages of “Percy Jackson and the Lightening Thief” by Rick Riordan. He reads before going to bed each night and it’s hard to get him to stop and go to sleep. He has already started the next book of the Percy Jackson series, “Percy Jackson and the Sea of Monsters”.
Yesterday I asked Dawson what he thought of Fast ForWord. I was quite amazed when he said “I won’t tell you, I’ll write it down”.
In the past it has been very difficult for Dawson to write about any subject. He really struggled to write a sentence or two.
This is what he gave me 10 minutes later. It’s unedited - you will see he calls Fast ForWord “LearnFast”. He also mentions the Reading Assistant program which he did for a short time as well.
The LearnFast experience
By Dawson Barnes
LearnFast is a program designed to help everyone with learning difficulties or struggles with things like literacy, grammar, spelling, hearing and reading. On the LearnFast website there is a program called Fast ForWord. In this program there are 7 characters for the exercises.
On the LearnFast website there is another program called Reading Assistant. This program helps with reading and reading out loud. You record and listen back to your reading. There are lots of books to read and record. You will get a ranking of either 1 star, 2 stars or 3 stars. After that you will feel better and would’ve improved your reading.
After doing these programs I started doing better things than I did in the past. My grammar had improved a lot in the past few weeks. And my literacy has done the same.
Now I read books with 20 or over chapters. When I read I feel positive and happy about what can happen if I do more. I like to read a series of books including long books, short books and many other types. And I enjoy reading more than I used to.
So what did I learn from this experience with Dawson?
It has reinforced how powerful Fast ForWord can be. The first program he completed is one of the two brain training programs built by Dr Michael Merzenich and his colleagues specifically for primary students. The seven exercises in this program contain no text. The follow-up program then introduces text.
What’s remarkable is that Dawson’s reading ability has improved dramatically by using a program that has no text.
Before I became involved with educational neuroscience I would not have believed that training without text or words could improve reading. But because I know that reading is a language skill, I understand how this is possible.
The program works on language skills such as phonemic awareness, phonological accuracy, and auditory word recognition, and simultaneously improves cognitive skills: memory, attention, processing speed and the ability to sequence.
Together these language and cognitive skills build a student’s learning capacity as well as their ability to read.
I have seen this program build reading via improved language skills so many times in so many students. And now I saw it again in my grandson Dawson.
What’s next for Dawson?
He is looking forward to starting part 2 of the program that will develop his reading skills and his capacity to learn even more.
And he is planning to read more books!