Learners Age 6+ || Good Match
Great! You are in the right place. So let’s get to the heart of things and then set you up for the free trial.
First, it would be good to explain a bit more about why your child has been frustrated with reading.
Have you seen endless guessing?
Have you seen endless guessing of short, easy and familiar words? It sometimes feels like your child isn’t trying, doesn’t it? Well done if you haven’t got frustrated, because it is hard!
I used to get mad with my two boys, but the funny thing is that I had exactly the same problems as a child. While all my brothers and sisters learned to read fine, it was really tough for me. It seemed like I was not trying, but actually I was working pretty hard. The way my brain works makes some things seem unusually easy, but it made reading difficult. I failed my English exam at 16, although things have got a bit better since then!
Anyhow, we would expect you to be seeing mistakes with short, easy words.
Is that the case?
If it is, that is good news because we are on very familiar ground. If it isn’t, then get in touch to describe what you have been seeing.
Why all the guessing?
I originally trained as an engineer. So we base everything we do here on understanding the problem. Because if we don’t understand the problem, we are just blundering about in the dark! That is not wise, or fair on the child.
It would be nice if the problems were simple, but we now track 8 different causes of reading difficulty and dyslexia. So it can be complex. Let me quickly explain the cause of the guessing in most children.
When you read you have a choice: You can either “decode” the words (work out the sounds in the words and blend them) or you can try to recognise the whole word by sight. If your child is doing the latter, you will find that two types of word are very hard:
- Unfamiliar words or names of things and places
- Short, visually interchangeable words
It often seems natural that unfamiliar words are hard, but it is those short words like ‘then’, ‘there’, ‘this’, ‘that’, ‘when’, ‘where’, ‘was’ and ‘what’ which cause most of the guessing and seem most baffling.
The reason is that they tend to look very similar and so a “whole-word-sight-reader” often gets tripped up, reading out another word with the same first letter. They will use the context to make a guess.
You may also see a lot of flipping of letters and words. If you imagine a picture of a cow, it is still a cow if you flip the picture over. Whole-word-sight-readers see the word ‘cow’ like a picture too. Some children can even flip a word upside down. Reversible word pairs like ‘on’ and ‘no’ or ‘was’ and ‘saw’ are tricky, because they flip into each other.
You may feel you too are reading words by sight, because your decoding is now so fast it feels instantaneous. But in the next sentence I will mix up the letters so that they would be impossible to recognise as whole words. It’s srupirsnig, ins’t it, how esaily you can raed thees wrods, eevn thgouh they are efefcitvley angraams of the rael wrods?
If you were just recognising words, that last sentence would be very hard to read. But your brilliant decoding system can untangle the words to make sense of them.
Why conventional phonics fails very bright children
The explanation above may seem a bit frustrating if your child has done lots of phonics at school. But I can explain why it hasn’t worked.
First, many of the children we work with are very bright and the “rules” of English phonics are inconsistent. That is annoying for a bright child and so they often apply their own solution, which is memorising every word. It seems easier, quicker and more consistent in the early days. You tend to see the problems once the books get more complex and the number of words used becomes far greater.
We see this so often that we have given the “super-bright-whole-word-sight-reader” pattern a name: Optilexia.
There is another possible explanation to the guessing pattern. Some children find all auditory processing hard. If you have seen any delays in your child’s speech, that is probably caused by some difficulty in their auditory processing development. Just a bit of glue ear when a child is very small can trigger this. So they resort to sight-memory of whole words instead, because the decoding process is too hard.
In both cases we can work through the issue to a good outcome.
One of the most common issues is skipping words and whole lines of text. This is usually caused by some eye tracking difficulty. If you ask your child to follow your finger as you move it around, you may even be able to see some flickering of the eyes as they try to do that.
Anyhow, we have developed very consistent solutions to this issue as well. So we can explain those to you if that is what you have seen.
As I have mentioned, the patterns above are not the whole story. You can check the nine causes of reading difficulty and dyslexia that we track.
Free 10-lesson trial
If some of what I have described is familiar, I really hope you will give the system we use a go on our free trial. I think you will be amazed by the response from your child.
My team here has refined a visual approach to phonics, which makes it much, much easier to build reading confidence. There are no “phonic rules” to learn. All you have to do is start decoding the words with the help of the visual images we use above each word, that show how they are pronounced.
We call it Trainertext. Here is an example:
The pronunciation of the letter ‘a’ in ‘was’ is quite different to the sound of the same letter in ‘gas’. But now, rather than getting stuck, your child can check above the letter to see what the sound is and keep decoding. Instead of the Ant in Pink Pants, you see the Octopus Who Knocked a Puss.
This simple device will make reading practice so much easier for your child. Now the stress can drop away and reading sessions become fun, because we use lots of different games to entertain while we teach.
It may seem too simple to make such a difference, but you will be amazed. So we always recommend our 10 lesson free trial to see for yourself.
I am sure you have some doubts and questions, but I suggest you do the free trial to see how it all works. That is why we make it free, even though it is pretty expensive for us. Most parents do continue after the 10 lessons.
But you may want to see some evidence first, that we know what we are talking about. If that is the case, I recommend visiting our evidence page for more information about the scientific research behind our approach.
You will know that solutions to reading difficulty can be very, very expensive. They sometimes run into tens of thousands of dollars or pounds. We list most of the main alternatives to our approach here on the site (see below).
Even so, if you think about it, that is a fraction of the lifetime cost to your child of not reading, just in reduced salary. But those expensive systems usually don’t come with a guarantee of success. So they are a big gamble.
You will be glad to hear we are not anywhere near that sort of price! We do everything we can to achieve our mission (of helping every child to read and spell with confidence) and so our pricing reflects the costs involved in running and developing the system.
Alternative solutions for you to review
As you know, there are lots of lots of people addressing this issue. Some, like the Orton-Gillingham method, have been around for nearly 100 years. In fact, phonics was first developed by John Hart in 1570.
So feel free to try other stuff. We have listed your options below.
What we deliver here is not the cheapest thing you’ll ever purchase, we know. But keep us and our guarantee in mind, if you go another route and the alternative approaches fail to deliver the right progress.