From sandpit boy to reading whizz
Watch 10 year old Timothy Penney play with a soccer ball and it’s clear he’s pretty darn good.
“There’s a name for kids like Timothy”, says his dad Ricky. “Teachers call them ‘sandpit boys’. They play outside all day and don’t show much interest in what’s going on inside the classroom.”
It wasn’t till Timothy started school that his mum, Leanne, sensed something was wrong. “He just wasn’t progressing in the way I thought he should. He struggled with reading, writing and spelling and was getting left behind.”
His parents and teachers were concerned and Timothy’s confidence was low. There were tears in the morning and he didn’t want to go to school. “He wouldn’t read aloud in front of his classmates for fear of embarrassment.” says Leanne.
At the age of seven, the Penney’s sought the help of an educational psychologist who diagnosed Timothy’s problem to be dyslexia.
Timothy began receiving specialist tuition but his progress was still slow. “He would come home from school and say, ‘I wish I could read like my friends,’ it was heartbreaking,” recalls Leanne.
It was only when Timothy’s SPELD teacher referred Leanne to an article on the Dore programme that she decided to find out more about the individually tailored, exercise-based treatment for learning, attention and behavioural difficulties.
“I was very dubious to begin with. I thought ‘how could physical exercise help with learning difficulties like dyslexia?’ But after understanding the theory and listening to the positive experiences of other parents and children, we decided to go ahead”, says Leanne.
The Auckland family admits the commitment needed to complete the programme was tough at times but Timothy persisted. “We saw it working and that kept us going, especially towards the end. We don’t miss the exercises - they’re a lot harder than they look,” Leanne says.
The biggest breakthrough for Timothy has been his reading level, which has leapt up three years in just over a year, from the bottom reading group to the second top.
Timothy’s appetite for reading has been unleashed. “He’ll just pick up a newspaper or a magazine and start reading it,” says Leanne. “He’s also more inquisitive and asks more questions. He’s even taken on the role of school librarian which is something the old Timothy would not have done.”
Since completing the Dore programme, Timothy’s concentration and comprehension have continued to strengthen. “He writes stories easily and his spelling has improved. He can retain words and remember them. In the past he would learn a new word and half an hour later it was gone,” says Leanne. “Timothy’s confidence has soared and he can now say ‘I can read’, he’s more willing to have a go at things,” adds Ricky.
The family is excited about the possibilities for Timothy’s future. “He’s been given every opportunity to achieve and do what he wants to do. Before Dore he was struggling at the bottom of the class and we’ve given him that chance to succeed.
“Now it’s all up to him.”
For information visit www.dore.co.nz or freephone 0508 367 369.
Happy family: Timothy Penney and his mum Leanne.