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Anessa: memorising books and struggling with spelling

The Backstory

In the first few years of school Anessa found reading ‘easy’ but as we learned she has a fabulous memory and could memorise poems and short stories. In her third and fourth years of school we found her struggling to keep up with other children. Teachers couldn’t explain to us why she was so far behind when clearly she is a clever child.

When we watched the video about Easyread it made sense that she was memorising words, and by age 7-9 there are just too many words (and with more complex word structures) to remember. She had by this stage not learned the digraph sounds and what they represent so she had missed the building blocks to the written language. Her spelling was not following any traditional rules and certainly did not look like what she was wanting to express on her page. We had read to her a lot as a small child (similar to our older child who took to reading like a duck to water), but she just did not seem to ‘get it’ and we were concerned that she was not making progress that she ought to.

What is the cost to a child who cannot read or spell properly as an adult? This was something we discussed as a family and decided the investment into Easyread would be worth doing for our daughter so she can get through her primary and secondary schooling with confidence and open a world of reading and knowledge to her so she has options for her future career.

Past interventions

What other types of reading and spelling support had been tried with her before Easyread?

Anessa’s school had parent helpers who came to read with her at school regularly in the mornings. She was not considered low enough to have reading recovery assistance, but I knew without intervention she would get further behind.

We have read to Anessa since she was a baby, sadly she did not take the same level of interest our older child had, and as a 7-9 year old we found that she was already frustrated with reading and reluctant because she was not getting pleasure from reading for herself.

I trained as a primary teacher and I had tried to assess words she knew and she was improving but not as fast as one would expect, and as she did not take too much interest in learning digraph sounds (clearly they did not make sense to her) I did not push too hard, there just had to be an easier way to help our daughter. I believe learning has to be fun for a child to want to continue the activity, (this has been proven with Easyread).

The Easyread Experience

I watched the video on a Facebook advertisement advertising Easyread and I decided that the free lessons may be worth having a look at and if we liked what we saw this could be a programme to help Anessa.

Straight away she was hooked… The images i.e. Lion with a Tie on or Ant in Pink Pants just seemed to resonate with her, she made pictures in her head (she is quite an arty child and sees things very visually) so perhaps this made some links inside her to help understand the structure of the written language using images.

The games were great fun and reinforced her learning and we worked together to help develop her confidence reading and playing the games.

We have found the eye tracking activities very helpful for her playing music as well, this is an unexpected bonus, she is able to track and follow notes on a page just as she can now follow words in a book. The activities and games are highly interactive and motivational for Anessa, she especially enjoyed naming characters to be family members who need rescuing.

Reading after Easyread

This experience has opened a whole new world for Anessa. She has been doing Easyread for two years (approximately) and now at almost 10 years old she has become an independent reader who enjoys reading to others, she takes out little chapter books from her school library and is not afraid to have a go.

She is happy to sit and listen to a story as well as read the occasional page or two in a chapter book i.e. we read David Walliams’ The Demon Dentist together and that was a great thrill because she was confident in her reading and the story made sense to her.

Her spelling is improving and I am able to read what she is writing much easier, and any words that need correcting we work at together using the sounds we learned through Easyread.

We truly feel that Easyread has opened doors for Anessa, she is a happy confident reader who is keeping up in class more. She is happy to be read to, and happy to read to us. Thank you so much for what you have done by creating this programme. The results will be life changing for our daughter.