My child is gifted, but she still can’t read. Here’s how I found help with Nessy Reading and Spelling.
(Nessy Reading and Spelling sponsored this post. All opinions are my own.)
The only constant in motherhood is change.
Change to your body, change to your schedule, change to your expectations.
It also means adjusting to change with each new personality God gives you. I have three, and while you can definitely tell they are siblings, my two daughters and my son are distinct individuals with their own talents, strengths, and areas for growth. The key as their mother (and home educator) is finding what works for each child.
My bookends have been fairly easy.
My middle? Not so much.
My Gifted Child Can’t Read
You know that quote from Midsummer Night’s Dream: “Though she be but little, she is fierce?” That would be my B: thoughtful, perceptive, and a highly energetic extrovert. B has an excellent memory for experiences, emotions, and attitudes, and she understands complex social issues with a wisdom beyond her years. Her vocabulary has been precocious since she could utter her first word, and as my father would have said, B can talk a blue streak.
But at six and a half, B struggles with reading. This makes homeschooling – and, honestly, life in general – really hard.
All three of my children are gifted, but each one struggles with a twice exceptionality. B has a slower processing speed and high anxiety, two traits that make reading struggles difficult to overcome. B is also fiercely independent and prideful. She is the kind of child who wants to do everything right the first time, without any help from me.
The process has been frustrating for both of us. I feel like I’m failing her; she feels like she’s failing me. We’ve tried all sort of approaches and techniques, from varying curricula and read-clouds to electronic options, both online and hand held.
Nothing has really reached her in a way she could remember.
Nothing, that is, until Nessy.
Finding Help with Nessy Reading and Spelling
Nessy is a multi sensory online experience that teaches reading, spelling, and writing skills through evidence-based programming. Nessy’s curriculum designers relied on the Orton-Gillingham method, a philosophy encouraging use of the senses to teach letters and sounds. Once those skills have been mastered, teachers trained in the Orton-Gillignham method scaffold learners upward toward more advanced skills, revisiting concepts as needed.
Creating this sort of learning experience online is a tall order.
Nessy absolutely delivers.
Using games, videos, mnemonic devices, and hands-on worksheets, Nessy Reading and Spelling teaches the five core components of reading and writing:
- Phonological awareness
- Phonics and word recognition
The Orton-Gillignham scaffolding method is easily recognizable in the program’s structure. The program’s user interface consists of 10 individuals islands, each functioning as the equivalent of half a grade level. If you want to see the structure of the program before you begin, the User Guide provides a clear break down of each island’s lessons:
When you first encounter Island 1, you’ll discover a host of sleeping animals arrayed around the island. Why? Well, the Island’s volcano erupted, throwing the resident animals into a deep sleep. It’s your child’s job to wake each animal through the completion of games and activities.
Getting Started with Nessy
When your child first logs in to Nessy, she’ll be prompted to create her monkey. B named hers Seesha and gave her long, pink hair, a batman-type mask, and a golden crown.
When your child has created her monkey, she’ll be offered two choices
- Nessy Reading and Spelling
- Monkey Town
Nessy Reading and Spelling is the learning portal. Each lesson played in the portal earns nuggets kids can spend at Monkey Town, the in-game arcade. Your first monkey mission takes you on a tour of the program, then leads you into the Nessy Challenge: a skill evaluation to set your child’s placement.
Remember how I mentioned B is a perfectionist?
The Nessy Challenge was probably the hardest part of the program for her. She really disliked getting some of the answers wrong, even though I explained the rationale behind it. While there were more than a few tears, I’m proud to say my girl persisted, and the Nessy Challenge set specific targets and objectives. I was able to view these targets and objectives easily through the parent portal, which looks like this:
Playing Games with Nessy Reading and Spelling
Once we had our targets set, Nessy started us off with a few games like Hands off My Bananas, Banana Wheels, and Monkey Sounds. The User Guide gives a great explanation of which games teach which skills, so I referred to this often as we moved through the program. While B was the only active user in the game, all three of my kids enjoyed interacting with the individual challenges. B even got a few rounds of applause each time the game presented her with a certificate of completion.
Our first round of games took us through 15 challenges, after which we were rewarded with a wide awake bunny!
Navigating the Game Portals in Nessy Reading and Spelling
The game moves you fairly seamlessly from level to level. If you take a close look at the screen shot above, you’ll see the current lesson tab in the bottom left corner. In the bottom right corner is the tab that tells you what’s up next. In this case, our next target was b/d discrimination: the bane of B’s reading experience.
B has a really hard time telling the difference between b and d. I was pretty nervous when I saw this up as our next challenge, so I clicked on the bottom left tab to see the menu of related games.
Through the course of lesson three on b/d discrimination, we had access to one strategy video, three games, and several physical worksheets for hands-on practice.
We started with the strategy video, and this is what sold me on Nessy.
Nessy’s video lessons present strategies and mnemonic devices designed to help children conquer some of the more difficult concepts in reading. Its strategy for b/d was brilliant, equating the letters themselves to objects which not only started with the sound, but also resembled the shape of the letter.
I have tried for months to help B understand the difference between b and d. Nessy taught her the difference in three minutes.
In the image above, you can see the dog inside the letter d. The dog’s body is the open part of the letter; his tail is the line. Suddenly, the letters b and d weren’t just markings on a page: they were physical constructs that took the shape of the item they stood for.
B finally understood how the two letters were different.
I finally breathed a sigh of relief.
It’s true the only constant in motherhood is change. It’s a concept that took me a great deal of time to come to terms with, especially when it comes to homeschooling my children. But the beauty of homeschooling is its flexibility, and the options available at our fingertips to help our children succeed. Nessy Reading and Spelling has been a huge help in teaching my gifted child to read, and I’m glad we can all breathe a little easier.