Wills had been running away from reading his whole life. Nowadays, thanks to Easyread, he’s the leader of the pack!
When it came to reading, Wills had always managed to ‘get by’ rather than really enjoying it. As far as phonics was concerned – he just never got it. From age 6 he would only read when he absolutely had to. As soon as a reading or writing activity was proposed Wills could instantly become anxious and surly, and would begin guessing regularly.
All in all, reading and writing were a drag.
Despite this, his reading age was about the same as his natural age and so the school were not concerned. What Mum Jacky found odd however was the fact that in every other area of his learning Wills was way ahead of the curve, positively excelling in all non-language related subjects. Why should reading be any different?
Then from Year 3 of primary school Jacky noticed that Wills’ spelling had begun to fall badly behind. Given that there was a history of dyslexia in the family, she wondered if this was what they were dealing with here. However his teachers felt this was not the case. They said she was best not to worry too much about the accuracy of Wills’ writing, lest it “stunt his imagination”. Ultimately he would catch-up. Jacky was far from keen to have her son tested and “labelled” as dyslexic, having seen first-hand the negative repercussions this could have on a person’s confidence. So she accepted this hopeful view, and let things carry on as they were.
In no time at all, the Year 6 SATs had come round and boy were they tough. From then on, anything and everything that related to reading and writing began to spiral out of control. Every literacy assignment or piece of reading homework ended with tears of frustrated anger and Wills’ confidence plummeted with every defeat.
Reading and writing were no longer just a drag; literacy was standing in the way of everything.
Jacky’s first thought was to recruit a tutor, and as such they found an absolutely lovely lady to conduct a weekly session with Wills. Every week he complained bitterly, avoiding the task at hand desperately. One particularly bad week he actually ran away in an attempt to avoid the problem; but of course it didn’t go away.
In spite of many trials and tribulations, Wills did manage to scrape a level 4 in his year 6 Literacy SATs. However upon being retested at secondary school, it was revealed that whilst his reading age was age appropriate, his spelling was 5 years behind. This was despite being an A student in all other subjects. Finally Wills and Jacky acknowledged that he had significant problems with spelling. What’s more, by this point Wills was refusing to read in front of anyone.
Aware now that the problem wasn’t going to get better by itself, Jacky did some hunting around online and accidentally stumbled across Easyread.
For the first time, she could see that her son’s literacy problems weren’t unique and that in fact the the solution was obvious; in order to spell, Wills needed to relearn how to read phonetically!
What’s more, rather than finishing the trial lesson a crying mess (which was the norm) Wills was sat tall in his computer chair with a beaming smile on his face. Jacky signed up in a New York minute!
Jacky and Wills instantly liked the fun format, regular prizes and the fact the sessions were short – 10 minute lessons 5 times a week was totally manageable. Wills knew that despite their hectic schedule, he would be guaranteed Jacky’s undivided attention for the Easyread slots, and so they both started looking forward to this time. To be facing the problem together really spurred him on.
A few weeks into the course, Wills suddenly revealed that words moved on the page every time he read, and that he was always the slowest in his class at reading. How could Jacky have never known this! She spoke with the support team, who provided helpful practical suggestions such as investing in some coloured overlays and improving his eye-tracking ability with a few simple physical exercises, all of which made a noticeable difference.
Sure enough, day by day Wills’ reading sped up. By lesson 100 his confidence was soaring and by lesson 180 his spelling had improved too. After a year on the program he was moved into the A stream at school.
Wills and Jacky stayed with the program for 15 months in total. The Easyread staff kept in touch the whole way through and their wealth of experience with children like Wills was hugely reassuring for Jacky.
It had never occurred to them that in order to improve Wills’ spelling they needed to change the way he was reading. But by the end of the course Jacky was left in no doubt that this was the process her son had undergone, and which had saved him.
For the first time in his life, Wills reads for pleasure. His confidence has dramatically improved too, and his teachers have noticed a step-change in the range of vocabulary he uses in his written work. Now he has the expertise and self-assurance to spell complex words; nothing can hold him back!
For Jacky and 13 year old Will, the journey has been a long one. So was it really all worth it? Well, this April saw Wills’ being presented with the “Star in English Award” in his class. For Jacky, there is no question.
Laura O’Sullivan enjoys coaching students and parents like Wills and Jacky in her role as a System Coach for Easyread, an online course for children who need support for spelling and/or reading problems due to highly visual learning styles, dyslexia, auditory processing disorders and more. www.morganlearning.com