Breakthrough Readers of March

Following an incredible month of breakthroughs for our secret agents in February, we had EVEN MORE reading breakthroughs around lesson 90 for our star readers of March.

Without further ado, here are the names of our Breakthrough Readers of March, and the story of their journey from reading struggles, to reading success.

Erin

9 year-old Erin has had to overcome a lot of eye-tracking difficulties to get her to the point of a breakthrough, but continued exercises to help the eyes team together really are worth it when you start to see changes in reading, both inside and outside the programme.

“Just wanted to share that we have noticed a big improvement in the last week in Erin’s reading. So encouraging for us both.

This program is remarkable. I have been bragging about it to many people since starting. Whilst I knew it was working it is comforting when you see these leaps.” – Erin’s mum at lesson 90

Way to go, Erin!

Hugo

When 7 year-old Hugo joined the programme, his reading appeared to be progressing and on target for his age, but his mum had noticed that he largely relied on sigh vocabulary rather than decoding skills. This meant that he struggled with multi-syllabic words, and his spelling was affected as a result.

At an incredible lesson 60, Hugo’s decoding skills are already transferring to his reading outside the programme, and he’s even reading some of his own books now. Amazing!

Owen

11 year-old Owen had received an official dyslexia diagnosis before joining the programme. He had trouble decoding; guessed many words; experienced difficulties with knowing what sounds the letter make alone and together; he sometimes skipped complete words. As a result of weak decoding skills, his fluency was affected and he therefore had trouble with comprehension because all his energy was going into reading each word.

At lesson 90, Owen’s mum said his fluency is improving, and we can’t wait to see what effect this has on his comprehension. Congratulations Owen!

Isaac

Before beginning Easyread, 10 year-old Isaac was known to guess some easy words. He regularly mirrored similarly formed letters, like “b/d” and “m/w”.

Now, Isaac is reading so well, and showed us just how amazingly he could read some of the more difficult books in the programme during a Skype lesson. A huge well done, Isaac!

Darragh

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6 year-old Darragh’s reading was progressing before Easyread, but it seems it was not at the same pace as his peers. This was beginning to play on Darragh’s mind, and the idea of reading had become a negative activity in Darragh’s mind. With a history of reading difficulties in the family, Darragh’s mum had decided to do something to change things for him, whilst he was still young.

Now at lesson 90, they are seeing improvements with Darragh’s reading outside the programme, and Darragh is even reading some of our more difficult books in the library. The guessing is becoming rare, but as there is still some guessing going on, they continue to work on our eye-tracking exercises whilst keeping the text size comfortable.

Lydia

8 year-old Lydia joined the programme as a very proficient reader, who had been tested as reading at a level of someone 2 years above her age. Her reading comprehension was also good. However, her mum noticed that she was still substituting words when reading out loud.

Spelling was a different story for Lydia. She had trouble spelling small words, and vowel graphemes were particularly challenging.

Lydia has now completed our reading assessor at a very early lesson 70, which is incredible! Now that the reading is feeling much easier, we can’t wait to hear about the spelling transformation.

Tristan

10 year-old Tristan had received an official dyslexia diagnosis prior to beginning the programme. His reading age had been assessed as being several years below the expected level.

At lesson 90, Tristan’s dad says “Tristan is decoding with speed and we’re seeing an improvement in his reading.”

Amazing the difference 3 months of the programme can make. A big well done to you, Tristan!

Ian

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7 year-old Ian was not getting along well with the reading strategies used in schools, as they encouraged the sight memorisation technique of words rather than decoding. Ian would get frustrated trying to pick the words from his brain, and he would always start yawning and saying he was tired when it came to reading practise – an stress reaction we see time and time again. Ian is also a bit of a hyperactive child, with a relatively short attention span.

During a Skype lesson with Ian at around lesson 70, I was so impressed with his new decoding skills, and he was super great at the games.

And just today, Ian’s mum sent us this message:

“Yesterday, when I picked up Ian from school, his teacher came to the car to tell me that Ian had read G, H and I level books for her that day. He will be working on the I level again today and may move to J. J level is where the school wants grade one students at the end of year. Ian told me he was so proud of himself and I told him he should be!

This is quite the accomplishment since he was on D level when we began Easyread lessons in mid-January.
Thank you (and Easyread!) so much.”

Just amazing news! Keep up all the great work, Ian!

If you feel like your child has reached the point of reading take-off and we haven’t included them this month, then do let us know, so we can send their badge out to them for this month. And of course, we want to wish all our secret agents who completed the course and received their hard-earned helicopter a very well done.

Whenever a child enrols on the Easyread programme, we are always very moved by the stories of school and homework struggles, bedtime reading meltdowns and despair. We want things to turn around for your child as quickly as possible, as we know it’s often been many years of heartache and trials that have brought you to our programme.

This month, we’ve chosen 11 year-old Annabell as our Breakthrough of the Month.

Annabell

When 11 year-old Annabell began Easyread, her reading seemed to be OK, although it had been quite a battle to get her to the level she was at, at that stage. Her mum knew that she has so much more potential than she was graded on as Annabell is a very intelligent girl.

She would get 10 out of 10 on a spelling test, yet all would be forgotten again very quickly.

Her mum believed the Easyread programme would be the perfect solution for her daughter, as her story was so similar to 10 year-old Ann’s.

And she was right.

At lesson 70, we received the following message from Annabell’s dad:

“Just to let you know, today was parent teacher day at Annabell’s school. In November (her last one) we were despairing, it was so bad. Not with her attitude or work ethic, but how far she was falling behind the other students. Her confidence was very low.

Today, we are quite tipsy from celebrating. She has jumped up two years in spelling and reading since November. Also all other subjects show a vast improvement. I think this is due to better comprehension and confidence.

Many thanks to the team.”

What an inspiring story to end the week on. Our biggest congratulations, Annabell!

I already can’t wait to share the successes of our star readers of April.

Wishing you and your secret agents a lovely weekend.

Maddie

 

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A word atlas of the brain

“Scientists have created an “atlas of the brain” that reveals how the meanings of words are arranged across different regions of the organ”, The Guardian reports.

Brain Atlas

Capture of one word network taken from Gallant Lab

The colourful atlas shows how words and the concepts they create can be grouped together in clumps of white matter.

The “atlas” shows how words like “top”, for example, means that one part of the brain will reliably respond to other words related to clothing.

However, the word “top” also activates many other regions.

“One of them responds to numbers and measurements, another to buildings and places.” (The Guardian).

The Guardian goes on to report that “the group has begun work on new atlases that show how the brain holds information on other aspects of language, from phonemes to syntax.”

This is very exciting for us, as scientists will begin to learn more about what happens to the brain as we decode words. We wonder if they’ll find anyone associating the sound “æ” with the Ant in Pink Pants?

You can explore the “brain atlas” in full with the scientists’ interactive brain here.

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He has never done that before

“I can see Timmy has made progress already.

Just the other day he picked up a library book and started to sound out words on his own.

He has never done that before.

He does not guess the words when reading now and he has an easier time going from letter to letter. Before he might have started with the last sound or some other letter.

Thank you.”

9 year-old Timmy’s mum at lesson 44.

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New Dyslexia-Friendly Extension for Google Chrome

A dyslexic programmer at Google, Charles Douglas-Osborn, has created a dyslexia-friendly extension for Google Chrome that will help facilitate internet usage for those struggling with reading.

Dyslexia Extension

The extension currently allows users to:

  • Read text out by underlining each word (when selected)
  • Change white backgrounds to pastel colours
  • A range of dyslexia-friendly font replacements on websites
  • An empathy section which uses a new font (DyslexiaView) to make capital letters harder to read and a way to jumble letters on the page, to help convey to friends and family how difficult reading content can be for those with reading difficulties

Charles would love any feedback and suggestions you have. You can download the extension here http://www.dyslexiaextension.com/ to try for yourself, or to use with your struggling reader.

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Easyread took away the stress from learning to read for 6 year-old Sapphi

“Thank you so much for all your help in teaching Sapphi to read, it has made such a huge difference to her confidence and has made the whole process fun.

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Sapphi ready to fly her well-earned helicopter

She was struggling at school because she just didn’t get on with the traditional method of teaching phonics at all.

Now she is above where she needs to be in her class and at home she is reading a range of books from Roald Dahl (her favourite) to Enid Blyton and Harry Potter.

I would thoroughly recommend Easyread to anyone who has a child struggling to learn with phonics.

She loved all the prizes and has really enjoyed playing the games, especially Letter Quest (which initially she was reluctant to do!) and Gloop.

Her favourite book has been the World’s Weirdest Animals – although the vocabulary in it is really tricky, I am flabbergasted at how well she is decoding the words – just goes to show she can do anything when she is motivated enough!

I could easily have stopped the programme months ago as she was already reading well by then, but I let her continue as she has enjoyed it so much and I think the helicopter is a good goal to aim for.

Thank you again, above all Easyread took away the stress from learning to read!” – Sapphi’s mum

From a struggling 5 year-old who took great pains to sound out every word on a page, only to forget the word on the next page, to reading (and enjoying!) books aimed at a reader way above her age, we think this is the absolute best result for Sapphi.

A massive well done to Sapphi from all of the Easyread team!

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Homeschooling is on the rise in the UK

The number of parents deciding to take their children out of mainstream schools and homeschool them is on the rise in the UK, according to the Guardian this week.

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Marta Drew homeschooling her family. Photo taken from the Guardian website.

The article features one homeschool mum, Martha Drew, and her two teenage children, who she decided to teach at home after her son (aged 7 at the time) increasingly complained that “learning is boring”.

Eleanor Reardon, who has set up a legal advocacy service for home educators, speculates that there could be several reasons for the rise in homeschooling numbers.

The one that interests us the most is the statement that, “There has also been a huge rise in special educational needs cases which are not being catered for.”

As we see more and more UK parents using the Easyread System as part of their homeschooling curriculum, we want to know if un-addressed reading and spelling difficulties in school were the driving force to independently teach your child at home?

- Maddie

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She has been reading everything she can get her hands on

“I am writing to let you know there has been a significant break-through in Kate’s reading. At lesson 89 when the story section changed to paragraph reading, Kate surprised herself by reading the whole page uninterrupted!

From this point she has been literally reading everything, from the back of tissue boxes to ingredient lists on food products – everything she can get her hands on. She has started on her first ever chapter book and is engrossed in the story, loving retelling me the progress after every few pages.

It is a marvellous and wonderful thing to see. I am so very grateful for your system. Kate’s confidence is improving daily.

Thank you again from the bottom of my heart!”

The breakthrough moment we’ve all been hoping for for 10 year-old Kate, and right on time at lesson 89.

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It’s going well but Jayne reverts back to sight-reading in the reading zone

“We are finding the lessons great, and Jayne is still enjoying them. Being short fun lessons, possibly helps with her being so keen, as she can’t do long bursts then get bored with it.

I do find, that now she is familiar with the program she tries to hurry the reading along to do games. This leads to trying to sight read when the pictures and letters are shown rather than using the pictures to decode first, which often leads to mistakes.

We are enjoying the program and the support. It is great.”

A message from Jayne’s mum at lesson 45.

Our advice: It is natural that the gaming element would feel more fun than the reading part of the lessons, but it is important to highlight to your secret agent that they need to put their decoding skills into practise by reading passages and phrases, as this is the only way to improve reading fluency. And unfortunately, this isn’t something the games will be able to accomplish.

If there is any rushing and guessing in the reading, and a lesser enthusiasm for this part of the lesson than the games, then this would indicate some remaining eye-tracking difficulties. So we’d recommend another week of our eye-tracking exercises, trying to complete a couple right before the reading activity.

- Maddie

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