Impressed With His Progress

Philip was placed in Cape Recife, a school for children with special needs education, when he had to repeat grade 1. Reading and writing have always been a challenge, and because it was so difficult, schoolwork was always a struggle together with his ADHD and Asperger’s diagnosis. This year he is a grade 4 learner and had to write his first exams in June 2019. This was (again) a huge eye-opener for me as to how much his inability to read competently and with understanding impacted his ability to study on his own. I very quickly realized that the only way we would get through is if I studied with him by reading the subject matter out loud. He could not study one page by himself. By the time he got to the end of the sentence he has forgotten what he had read. His spelling has also been a big challenge. We barely made it through that first exam session with our sanity intact. Because of his reading problem he would only read half the question, and answer what he thought the question asked of him during tests or exams. I knew I had to find something else, something other than the years of speech therapy, occupational therapy and remedial to help Philip reach his potential, as he is a very intelligent young man. I was a mommy at breaking point. But then, thankfully, I found Edublox during a tearful Google search.

The first thing I started to notice was his drawings that he came home with, previously just a picture drawn in one colour with hardly any or no attempt to even colour it in. Then one day he came home with a huge smile on his face and could not wait to show me his picture. He had drawn a mountain with a sunset and a river – and there was not a spot of white paper left on the page. Everything was coloured in. He proudly said his teacher at school asked if he had started art classes. Secondly, he started reading names of shops or signboards as we drove past. He would previously not even attempt it; he would just ask “Mommy what does it say?” He then started reading signs and names on TV too. I was so excited! We did not share the fact that he had started at Edublox with his teacher; we wanted to see if she would notice anything without us informing her. So lo and behold, the remarks on his report after the 3rd term stated: “improvement in spelling, reading and confidence when doing his orals.” At the parent-teacher meeting the teacher said he hardly ever comes to ask her for assistance with spelling anymore, and she can see a drastic improvement in his general self-confidence when taking part in class discussions.

We have finished the mid-term tests and orals last week. All the marks he came home with were 21/25 or 12/15 and 16/20 etc. He also told me he got 80% for his Afrikaans oral. So, the next week when it came to the English oral I decided to give him a serious challenge. I used big words he has never used on his own before; I included one of our Minister’s name and surname etc. By the time he went to school on the morning of the oral, not only could he pronounce the words, he looked at his cards once only — he had basically memorized them. I cried happy tears. While studying for the tests, instead of me reading all the subject matter, we could take turns reading paragraphs from the textbook. I could see how proud he was. And he read it well and could understand and remember what he had read.

We are currently preparing for the exams and I cannot tell you how impressed I am with his progress. Story sums in maths has always been a huge challenge. In last term’s test he did not get 1 out of the 10 in the question paper right. Although only two story sums were asked in the mid-term test, he got both right. Again, I cannot wait to see what the outcome will be on his report at the end of this term.

Although we have seen huge amounts of improvement, we still have a way to go before Philip’s reading and writing will be at the level where he can study independently – this is ultimately the skills I want him to get from Edublox. He has been attending classes for Afrikaans, and some assistance on the maths side. I think maths can still improve and we will have to tackle English soon to get it up to the level of his Afrikaans. He still gets anxious quickly, but I hope that with time it will keep improving as he proves to himself that he can do this!

Annelien Baretti

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Annelien Baretti Philip's mother

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