After my last post about beginning to research reading systems, my friend Jane recommended Funnix as a free alternative for teaching Charlotte to read. Since I prefer free resources to those that cost money, I downloaded and installed it to see if it would work for Charlotte. She can already recognize all of the letters (90% of the time) and knows at least one phonetic sound for each letter so I think she is ready. We did play the Alphabet Game (also free from Funnix) before we started though to make sure she was ready.
Initially, I had some trouble installing the Funnix software. I kept getting an error message regarding which drive I was trying to install the software on. Finally, after re-downloading it, I was able to install it. I will warn you though, it took me over an hour to download each segment of the reading learning system, and that was on a FIOS connection. Don't try to do this right before you want to start the lessons; plan ahead on this one. So far, this is my only complaint about the reading system.
The PDF workbooks are also included so you are getting almost the complete Funnix system, which normally costs $249 plus shipping. As far as I can tell the Mastery Tests Assessment Packet is the only thing not included. The testing packet is normally $20 plus shipping (at this link). There are no special codes required and it appears they are offering the Funnix system for free during the entire month of January. Also, the software won't expire, so once you have it, you have it forever.
Back to the workbooks... there is a teacher's manual and a student manual. I didn't feel the need to print the teacher's book, but the student manual must be printed. It is 123 pages so you will be making an investment of paper and ink. I'd recommend printing the pages out as you use them. There is only one worksheet per lesson and Teacher Susie (the voice in the video) guides them through how to do it.
Funnix is not a program that you can just sit your child in front of and walk away. It is meant for the parent or teacher to work through with them to ensure they are actually answering Teacher Susie correctly. The lessons are highly interactive through both verbal and physical responses, which works well for my active 3 year old.
You can learn about the types of reading prompts they use and the research behind their choices on the Prompts That Work page. And the Research tab goes into even more detail. As a former Language Arts teacher I should probably be more interested in this part than I actually am, but I'm just going to follow Jane's example and try to throw stuff at Charlotte and see what sticks. Starting with the free stuff of course!
After playing the Alphabet Game assessment, we completed Lesson 1 this morning. Charlotte finished the lesson in about 15 minutes or so. I did repeat a couple of exercises because we got distracted by a crying Mary, but it only helped reinforce the exercise. Nothing in the lesson bored her. I'd prefer to share more of our experience with later lessons before I post the review, but since the Funnix system is only free for a couple more weeks, I don't want any one to miss out on downloading it and trying it.
So far, Funnix looks promising. I'll try to post more thoughts as we get further into the lessons and I see how Charlotte is responding.
If you know of any other free reading instruction resources, please link them up in the comments.
Disclaimer: This is not a sponsored review. The Funnix software if free to everyone until January 31 (per the Funnix site). I am sharing this as a helpful resource to others who want to teach their child to read.