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1. What was reading like for Cameron before Easyread? Main concerns/reading age level/frustrations etc?

Cameron is a happy, outgoing, passionate child who showed no signs of interest in listening to books, reading books, trying to figure out sounds, or caring too much about letters or words as a preschooler. We didn’t think too much of it, and his being our first child we probably were ignorant of the signs or lack of signs for reading readiness, concerned more with raising him and his newborn young brother who is 2 years younger than him. We enrolled him in a local preschool class three days per week where he was exposed to letters, the alphabet song, and other literacy-oriented, age appropriate exercise. However, he never really was too keen on library visits, reading, being read to, trying to figure out words, or pointing out any words he recognized. He went to Kindergarten, having just turned five, and did not know how to read a scratch! It wasn’t that we as his parents immediately assumed that “it was the responsibility of his teachers” to teach him to read; it was more that we believed he was still young and he’d catch on with his peers during his curricular work in the proper school environment. Homework, although it was supposed to be ten minutes or less, was a nightly, hour-long effort to get him to understand and finish the simple sheets – writing was horrendous, capitalization was all over the place, letters were reversed and not in line. We chalked it up to his youth and figured he’d “grow out of it” and come along. Boy, were we ever surprised to find that, although he was progressing, he wasn’t progressing nearly as quickly as his peers. We weren’t aware of any issues until his first conference with his teacher in the fall of first grade, after he had turned six. This was when this teacher woke us up from our first-kid ignorance and started us thinking that there may be a problem with Cameron in relation to his reading abilities. Still loving to be hands-on, singing, remembering everything, building with Tinkertoys and Lego, – yet he wasn’t interested and couldn’t read at all. At all. Although he had been placed in an extra-help, thrice weekly reading class outside of his normal classroom, we still weren’t seeing him really make any strides in any way towards reading, writing, interest in schoolwork, or especially spelling. He was reading less than five words a minute during drills to measure his progress – a preK level. He is a very intelligent kid, though – always comprehending what he’s told or what he’s read and asking tons of very detailed questions on subject matter – and we were lost. Was it just because he was an active boy, not a girl, and couldn’t sit still or listen? We’d heard all the things about gender differences in the classroom. Was it something else? Mom never had any issues in school and Dad didn’t really either.

After the conference, Mom immediately thought of dyslexia and how Cameron’s aunt (Dad’s sister) had struggled with dyslexia which was only identified, regrettably, at age 14. Much damage had already occurred in her scholastic progress and self-image by that point and we were concerned that if we didn’t get Cameron the resources he apparently needed, he’d be behind before he had a chance to start. We spent considerable money and Mom spent many hours researching different ideas, resources, curriculum, and we found Easyread, right as we were beginning the process of having Cameron fully tested by an Psychoeducational Diagnostician – a battery of tests which included Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, and many scholastic and visual tests to determine any issues. Cameron had no physical issues, but was given a diagnosis of classic dyslexia, with a high IQ.

It felt good to have a diagnosis so we knew from where we should proceed. We found Easyread through Amazon and homeschooling blog reviews, and started in on the program at the end of October – almost immediately after the fateful school conference. We also immediately asked for accommodations from his private school, and requested meetings with his teacher and principal. Unfortunately, those meetings didn’t progress well through the late fall and into winter. The teacher did not communicate weekly nor daily, we were still in the dark as to his progress or whether he was lost in the classroom, and we weren’t having our concerns resolved nor timely addressed. The administration and teacher wouldn’t attend to our concerns fully, they said, until they were given the final report from the Diagnostician – which didn’t come until January! Unfortunately, although Mom had spent countless hours of research, reading, and even prepared point lists for both the teacher and the principal regarding the signs of dyslexia as well as methods of teaching children with dyslexia – both the teacher and the reading resource room teacher admitted they had NEVER had specialized training to teach dyslexic children (what a PITY!!) – we ended up removing Cameron from the school at the end of January, having seen no true progress nor true concern, and homeschooled him through the end of his first grade year. This is where we find ourselves now! All the while, we have worked diligently, nightly, through vacations and holidays, on Easyread.

2. How was Easyread a good fit? What were the highs and lows of the Easyread experience for you?

If I could sum up the experience of Easyread for our household, it was like a miracle. Nothing short of a miracle. An expensive miracle, both in dollars and in time investment for our busy little home (Cameron has two younger brothers and both of us work outside the home as well as Mom preparing the homeschool curriculum and working on it with Cameron daily on top of his Easyread lesson), but a miracle, nonetheless. We are a Christ centered home; a home which seeks to glorify God in all we do – and boy, did we pray throughout this entire endeavor – the diagnosis, the concerns, the conferences at which we were not given good attention. We stumbled upon someone’s glowing review of Easyread through an Amazon review of a dyslexia resource, and we continued reading about Easyread on numerous homeschooling blogs as a great program.

Easyread is amazing in its simplicity: Don’t use it more than fifteen minutes per day. Learn these characters and what they represent – and for a highly visual child like Cameron, it was perfect – and then, once you know the characters, you know the code – and you can DEcode. The building blocks are all there, and the games and overall flow of the program have been highly refined, developed smartly, and with much scientific backing to “prove” the system is effective. I’m just dismayed that (patriotically!) the U.S. didn’t think of this first! However, I am saddened that the word “dyslexia” is of such negative connotation overall in the educational system on this side of the pond!

The little presents and notes in the mail along the way make for such a wonderful experience. The games are engaging, interesting, stimulating, and not at all boring. Sometimes we wish that the experience were longer each day – although Cameron still doesn’t really like to do “the reading part.”

3. What was the direct result of going through the process for Cameron, in terms of reading and spelling improvement, confidence gains, etc.? What has that meant for you?

Cameron went from a preK reading level – according to the Dibels charts, he was in the teens-20th percentile or lower for his age and grade level at the time we removed him from his school in January, 2015 – and now he is reading grade-level appropriate books and stories, on his own. He is also trying to “teach” his younger brother, John, how to not only read but also how to do Easyread. (John’s not into it, yet.) Cameron went from physically freezing up and having anxiety attacks – yes, at age five and six – clenching his jaw and physically reacting to homework time or reading time (when he was asked to read anything), to now enjoying and grabbing his own books and looking through them, not in the least bit “freaking out” anymore when it’s reading time. Sure, he’s still six, and he has moods or gets tired now and then – but in terms of his overall confidence and progress, he has gone from freezing up at the sight of a word, unable to decode nor make sense of it, to verbally sounding out or internally sounding out the words he doesn’t know – calmly at that! – and reading so many more on his own, peacefully – and with understanding!

What has this meant for us? This has been nine months of extreme trial in our home. At the beginning, back in October I prayed fervently that Cameron would not only learn HOW to read, but that he would have tools to use, and that he would ENJOY reading. My prayers have been answered, in no short order due to the fantastic Easyread program as well as his daily reading, the Easyread characters, and sight word time. We are so excited to have found this program – it has been a life changer. I do believe the science that shows a child’s brain is so malleable at age six that it can physically and neurologically “re-map” itself with appropriate, targeted assistance such that the child would no longer have to have severe negative consequences of dyslexia. I have seen that happen in the time Cameron has been using Easyread – going from complete anxiety to near-complete patience with himself and proper decoding procedure! It has been fantastic. It has meant that we can be confident as a family that Cameron will have tools for success in life, not only in the physical process of reading and comprehending the world around him, but also in the confidence that comes from that understanding – that reading isn’t a stumbling block to his progress in life but something he can overcome and even enjoy. This is such a blessing to us as we seek to raise him well, into a man who can change the world.