The Reading Challenge: a dyslexic homeschooled fifth-grader is reading at the third-grade level.
Anna’s Story: In fifth grade, the shift from a self-contained, multi-subject classroom to a middle-school model of six different periods, subjects and teachers proved too great a challenge for Anna, who was already doing her best to cope with dyslexia. Says Anna’s mother, Lisa, “Shortly after the year started, Anna’s self-confidence took a nose dive.”
Exacerbating the complications of the middle-school model were rigid school policies, such as a “no late homework” rule, which translated into ongoing failing grades for students like Anna, who needed more time to complete assignments than other students.
Deciding that the public and private school options in their small Massachusetts town could not meet Anna’s needs, Lisa took on the challenge of homeschooling.
Although she tested above average in math and was a creative problem-solver, as many dyslexic individuals are, Anna struggled greatly with reading comprehension, and faced many additional issues, such as tracking and even reading lines backwards. In fact, she was reading at the third-grade level. Lisa and her husband tried many different software solutions to address Anna’s learning difficulties, but none of them worked. Many of the programs addressed only isolated aspects of dyslexia, such as fluency or spelling, but not the full range of challenges.
Anna was becoming increasingly frustrated and aggravated, says Lisa, even while being schooled at home with an understanding mother and supportive homeschooling cooperative that provided fun field trips and collaborative learning projects for the students. Lisa had to make reading books a school assignment for Anna, but it was painful for her and something she shied away from on her own.
“I wanted her to be an independent learner,” says Lisa. “And it was breaking my heart that she was not making progress.”
Lisa discovered MindPlay through the global Homeschool Buyers Co-op. The fantastic testimonials were really what convinced her to try MindPlay, she says. She went ahead and put Anna on the program for an hour each school day and finally found a solution that was both engaging and effective. “MindPlay really personalizes the learning process by meeting Anna where she is every step of the way and reinforcing concepts she needs more practice with.”
Impact: Within the first school year of using MindPlay, Anna’s reading level leapt from third to fifth grade, and along with that leap came a great leap in self-confidence. She has much more of a willingness to try now, says Lisa, including reading aloud with her class at church. Her increased fluency has encouraged her to participate and interact more with her peers.
Anna is now picking up books on her own. For instance, she came to her mother with the Newbery-winning teen survivalist novel, Hatchet, and told her excitedly about the whole plot of the story.
Anna has expressed her desire to attend the local high school once she enters ninth grade, says Lisa. “But I want to make sure she is prepared and does not start off behind the other students.” To ensure this, Lisa has Anna continuing to use MindPlay. Lisa’s son, who is not dyslexic but is spelling-challenged, is also using MindPlay and making good progress, she says.
“MindPlay is the best investment we’ve made in our childrens’ education so far,” says Lisa. “We have seen a great return on our investment because we can literally see the results. There were no gains with the other programs we tried. My husband and I will continue to invest in it for both of our children.”