So, Nina, Luke and I just spent some time together moving through the next lesson of Funnix, thanks to the company's generosity of offering the entire program for free this month only at Funnix.com. (Warning: All free things come with a catch. There is only a very small one with this free offer. You need patience! It took me multiple goes to actually get the program to download onto our computer. I hear others have had the same issues, but I have also heard that Funnix has fixed the glitches. Even if they have not, it's worth the effort and time to keep trying to download the program until it works, though...)
Funnix, usually priced at $249, teaches two years worth of reading skills through 220 30-minute lessons and is very easy to use. It was designed by Siegfried (Zig) Engelmann,who has also authored many books, including Give Your Child a Superior Mind and Teach Your Child to Read in 100 Easy Lessons.
What I like about Funnix is that even though it is screen-time based - something I am not a big fan of - it also initiates together-time. A narrator asks questions and your children respond -out loud - with you reinforcing correct responses and correcting any mistakes by following simple rules for "navigating" through the material. And, it is easy to just plug in and go (after any initial download errors)... There are no complicated directions or scripts and exercises are short enough that you can "break" the activity pretty much anytime without cutting it before a natural pause/stop. Also, although the narration is somewhat fast-paced (in a good way, not a "too fast" way), the images are not. They are pretty basic compared to other programs and online resources for computer literacy, which I am all for. Busy, twaddle images and quick, flashing ones do very little to promote concentration and learning in my opinion and I am happy that Funnix veers away from these almost-ubiquitous aspects of other computer-based learning programs geared towards early learners. Plus, Funnix seems very Montessori-friendly (in a three-part lesson sort of way) and could be used well with short Charlotte Mason-type lessons or workboxing. Flexibility in a resource is great!
What do the kids like about Funnix? Everything, so far, it seems. Of course, they LOVE that it is computer-based. (Screen-time limitations are Mama's thing, not theirs!) And, they also like shouting, pointing and moving their bodies to answer "the lady". (Shouting, of course, is not required at all. It's just what exuberant Nina, and her brother, like to do, and - hey- as long as they don't awaken a napping Jack and are not too loud, I let it go in the name of learning fun.) So far, there is nothing they don't like about Funnix -- learning to read, spending time on Mommy's lap or next to her, getting to use the computer... No wonder they ask to "play Funnix".
Now, the inevitable question: If Funnix were not free, would we buy it? To be honest, probably not. We simply don't have the means to do so right now. But, would we want to? Yes! For while we can certainly teach the kids reading with books from the library, free online sources, Montessori-inspired materials, etc., Funnix appeals to the kids, is tried-and-true with many families and schools and is so easy to use. We can do it without worrying about planning lessons or preparing a space. Sequential, simple and successful. That makes it worth a lot in my opinion!
So, here's a shout out to Zig Engelmann for his generosity in offering free Funnix this month as a "stimulus package" for reading success in homes and schools everywhere. Your kindness is well-received here. Thank you! And, here's a birdie to whisper in the ear of parents and educators reading this: Quick. Head over to Funnix.com to download your copy if you have any children who need some early reading help. Funnix might be just what works for them. Nina and Luke have different interests and styles, but both like it. We can see it working with many youngsters.
Back to enjoying our Sabbath here now, where lessons are not work with Funnix.