What will I see as a parent?

Stage one - grudging compliance

In the first couple of sessions with the toolbox your child may well be unenthusiastic and may tap their way through the passages without seeming to engage with them. They will probably not want to read them to you.

That is perfectly OK and quite common at the start. Struggling readers are usually sceptical about any reading experience and it takes time to win their trust. All you need to do is get them to the computer once a day, make sure they do one exercise and show them that you do not care how they do it.

This is really, very important. You MUST NOT try to make them use the tool in a specific way or make them put any effort in. You must NOT create any anxiety around the tool’s use. Make sure they choose a title, any title then walk away into a different room. Leave them alone to complete the exercise in any way they want. You can see later that the exercise has been completed because the passage will be marked with a tag in the list when they finish it. When they call you back in to say it has been completed you can check that the tag is there.

Very soon the child will learn that there is no anxiety associated with the experience.

You can ask the child if they are ready to read to you but do not pass comment if they decline. This stage is all about getting the child to feel relaxed about doing the exercises.

Stage two - growing engagement

After 1-5 days you should be able to detect, from body language and tone of voice, a change in attitude towards doing exercises. It is unlikely they will be leaping to the computer without being asked (though this does happen) but you should experience only normal child-like reluctance without any anxiety or edge of anger or the suggestion that it is pointless.

If you want, on the third or fourth session you can stay in the room with the child but stay absolutely silent and simply observe. You should see the child engaging with the program rather than just dismissively tapping through it as fast as they can.

After the message has got through that there is nothing to fear they will start to get interested in the topics they are reading about. They will choose to read about football because they are interested in football. When they know there is no stress they will read the passage because they are interested in what it has to say.

Reading aloud

At some point your child should decide they are comfortable with the idea of reading aloud to you the passage they have just read silently. They may, in fact, be happy to do this from the start. The idea is that they have got help with all the words they don’t know so they won’t be scared of running into any bear traps. This confidence will let them read unhindered by fear.

When your child is reading aloud to you it is CRITICAL that you do NOT point out any mistakes that they make. If they get stuck just tell them to skip that word. However their performance goes, give them heaps of praise, if nothing else praise their bravery for attempting it.

At this stage you may well find that the student decides to do more than one passage at a time.

You may well find that after a while your child is more willing to do Toolbox exercises than the reading they are set from school. You can refer to my article on the ‘Silent Sentence Method' to make sure the experience of reading aloud is as good for your child as it can be. The Toolbox guarantees that reading is stress free and enjoyable.

Stage three - improved reports from school

The last stage is when the improvement in confidence translates into improvements in performance. When this happens the teachers will notice your child’s reading has improved and your child may well be happier about going to school in general.

How long this takes depends on many factors. It could be months, weeks or even days.

To avoid slipping back you should keep using the Toolbox even after improvements are seen. Normally the student is happy to carry on using the Toolbox so this is not a problem.