From sand­pit boy to read­ing whizz

Auckland City Harbour News - - Focus On Education -

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 or freep­hone 0508 367 369.

Happy fam­ily: Ti­mothy Pen­ney and his mum Leanne.

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