Our son Ben turned 7 in November 2011. We had been concerned about his lack of progress in reading for some time. After several requests, over a six month period, we managed to arrange a meeting with the school. With no hesitation they agreed that Ben was experiencing difficulties in his reading. However, the child they described was not the one we knew.
They said he had little imagination and was unable to express himself verbally.
At home he is known for his long, detailed stories and impressive vocabulary. They said his difficulties would affect all areas of his school work and seemed to be looking only at damage limitation. As far as they were concerned, this was a problem which was not going to go away. It was one we would need to help him to live with. We felt they were writing him off too soon. The one thing we all agreed on was that Ben did not realise he had a problem and his confidence was still high. The school’s plan for the future was to leave things for 3 months, focus more on his reading and writing, and to further assess Ben during that time.
We were not happy with this approach and worried that we were losing time. We felt that at this age and stage every minute counts. We were particularly concerned that his confidence would be affected. We started the Easyread program mid-November 2011
How did we pick Easyread?
We had a very strong feeling that Ben needed a different approach. We did not think that just doing more of what he was learning at school would help him. After all, he is a bright boy and it had not worked for him so far. He is only 7 years old and was going to bed at 7pm so I did not think what we did should take up too much of his free time.
So I started looking at the different approaches advertised on the internet. There were a huge number of very different systems. I tried the trial lesson on the Easyread website and liked so many things about it.
- The characters were fun.
- The lessons were time-limited to a maximum of 15 minutes.
- Most of the work was presented in the form of games.
- He would not feel that he was doing extra school work.
- The approach was also different from that at school.
I spoke to an Easyread representative on the phone and discussed Ben in detail. We talked about him as an individual and it seemed that Easyread might be suitable for him. When I told them part of his story, they were able to understand and often knew what I was going to say next, which gave me the confidence that this was worth a try.
Ben started straight away and did not see it as work.
It was games and funny characters, and there were prizes to be gained. He was still unaware that he had a problem so we just said it would help him catch up with his older siblings (who both love reading). He worked through the lessons every day and they took very little time. He became familiar with the characters and we all played games to help him remember them. He felt that he was good at what he was doing and proud of the achievements he made. The prizes were a great incentive.
We were happy with the program but knew it would take a while before we saw the results. However, the day the three kids returned to school after the Christmas holidays, Ben wrote his first story at school. The teacher said she previously had to push him to get one sentence on the page, but he had written a whole page. The spelling was horrible but the story was long, convoluted and written down on paper! What an achievement!
They had had their first glimpse of his real ability, 18 months after he had started school. The teacher also commented that he was more confident in all areas of his work. We had thought his confidence had not yet been affected, but it obviously had. The result was that the expectations of Ben rose and his problems were taken more seriously. The brighter he was considered to be by the school, the greater his difficulties appeared to be. At his review, this was recognised and the school decided they needed a further 3 months to do more in-depth testing.
Ben’s reading went from strength to strength. By Easter he was at that very annoying stage when they read everything in sight: every road sign, every sauce bottle, etc. His next review fell at Easter when the school opted out saying that what we were doing was so effective they did not want to jeopardise it by doing anything else. Although there have been times when I have had to resort to bribery (Lego and family trips) to get Ben to do his lessons he has always enjoyed the lesson when he got down to it and the lessons have remained short.
At the end of the summer term, 7 months after we started Easyread, I got a phone call from the school saying that they saw no need for further reviews for Ben as he was now reading at his reading age. He thinks he is a great reader and reads by choice. He has moved up a class with no support and is managing well. He is full of confidence.
Pauline S. is an Easyread parent from the UK. She has had two children go through the course now since 2011.