Sir Richard Branson is one of the most high-profile struggling readers of our time. When Margaret Rooke set about gathering celebrities to feature in her new book, Creative Successful Dyslexic, it was only natural that the entrepreneur be featured to champion the skill sets of these often highly visual learners.
In an honest interview with the author, Branson opens up about his experiences at school, saying that he was generally labelled “a hopeless case.” He goes on to recount many instances where he was “sitting at the back of the class and not knowing what was going on.”
Reading difficulties not only affect literacy-based subjects, but your maths and sciences too. They all require you to be able to read the questions in the first place in order to answer them, as the business tycoon was soon to discover: “I once had an IQ test where I sat looking at the paper and getting nowhere.” Eventually, at the age of 15, Richard Branson decided that school was no longer the place where he was going to excel, and decided to leave. He then began his famous journey from boy journalist, to record seller, to the esteemed billionaire owner of the Virgin Group.
Richard Branson’s tale of success is an inspiring one for school strugglers and aspiring businessman alike. And yet, it is unlikely to be the case for all highly visual learners who struggle with the task of learning to read at school. For some, their love of visual subjects like the arts and sciences will shine through their reading difficulties and they will, indeed, succeed brilliantly. For others, the story is different. Young adults often struggle to find good employment when faced with problems such as filling out job applications.
Here at Easyread, we make it our mission to help children learn to read, and we will not rest until there is an easy path for every child and adult to learn to read and spell. We work on identifying the cause or causes of a child’s reading difficulties, out of a possible 8, and use our guided phonetic reading programme to work alongside their highly visual strengths, whilst tackling any learning weaknesses.
In his interview with Margaret Rooke, Sir Richard Branson says that when he was young, his “memory wasn’t good and [he's] had to force it to get better.” We have found that a poor working memory is something that is quite often seen in a child who is struggling to read. Decoding a word like “exceptional” and blending the sounds back together is naturally a much more difficult task with a limited short-term memory capacity. The system of phonetic characters in our Trainertext has been designed to be easily remembered by readers struggling with short-term memory issues. Their memory is then freed up for the blending of the different sounds.
If you think the causes of your child’s reading struggles may be down to a smaller working memory and the use of sight reading techniques, as we suspect was the case with Richard, then you may take comfort in the fact that there is a system out there that is tailored to making the most of your child’s learning strengths, and able to pinpoint any weaknesses.