Fonetti – reading aloud without fear
by Cat Roberts Young on April 17, 2020
How dyslexia can affect confidence
Cast your mind back to your school days. To your English class. Silent desks with bowed heads all reading the same text as one of your classmates reads a page aloud. You sit with sweaty palms, crossing your fingers, legs and eyes that you won’t be chosen to read. Not today, please not today. But then the talking stops and your name is called. You’re up next. It’s ok, you think. You’ve got this, you’re amongst friends. You clear your throat and begin to speak, then it starts. The words start dancing on the page before your eyes and you can’t keep up. The order is wrong. You’re talking but the sentences make no sense and you can’t disguise the trembling in your voice. Just as your classmates can’t hide their laughter. Dyslexia 1, confidence -10. Street-cred shattered. Love of reading non-existent.
Sound familiar? If so, it’s not an experience you want your own children to share is it? Of course, it’s not just dyslexia that sponsored this situation. Shyness, anxiety and lots of other reasons all caused similar scenarios at the expense of learning and a lost love of literature.
We’re a family at Fonetti and it’s no secret that our brand was born because of a personal experience with dyslexia and a need to support a new generation struggling with the same battle. One that faced the same traditional learning tools so out of date with modern life. That’s why we want to share Vicki’s story. As a beacon of hope and to bring peace of mind to other parents who read it.
From Wuthering Heights to heightened anxiety
“I was diagnosed with Dyslexia when I was 7. I was one of the cool kids at school and hid my dyslexia well. But one of my biggest fears was reading aloud in front of my classmates. I felt embarrassed that I couldn’t control my reading, knowing I’d stumble and make mistakes. I was anxious and felt physically sick. My heart would pound and I’d begin to shake at just the thought of being chosen to read. I always hoped that I’d be given a short paragraph, so not prolong the agony.
Outside of the classroom I wasn’t safe. Reading was still a huge hurdle for me – one I could conquer at my own pace but not under pressure.”
Shamed by a 6-year-old
“I remember vividly being 16 and babysitting for a 6-year-old friend of the family. She asked me to read her a bedtime story from one of her books. To be honest I didn’t think anything of it as she was only 6! However, I didn’t even get two pages into the story before she took the book off me and said ” I can read better than you, I’ll read it to you, instead shall I?”. I felt heartbroken that I even struggled to read to a young child. I remember feeling petrified thinking ‘what will happen when I have children of my own, how will I manage to help them with their reading?’
Fast-forward 30 years
I have a 10-year-old son who also suffers with Dyslexia as well as ADHD. Of course, my reading has improved immensely, but the memories are still as raw as they were years ago. I do still struggle reading aloud but as an adult you know how to overcome it. I read everything clearly and correctly in my head but the pressure of reading aloud still means my speech is often lost in translation. I worry for my son. I don’t want my experience to be his. Neither do I want him to miss out on reading for pleasure like I did. That’s why I introduced him to Fonetti.
Like many schools, his uses iPads to enhance learning. So, he knows his way around technology with ease. He knows his phonics as well as his alphabet and is confident talking to me about words and vocabulary. But ask him to read aloud and I recognise that our bodies speak the same language. Fear.
Freedom to read with Fonetti
Fonetti provides a forcefield to fear. It’s a safe place to practice reading aloud with confidence. Without judgement or criticism. And he absolutely loves it. It gives him independence – he can read with or without me. In fact, he prefers the latter. There have been so many times where I’ve tried to help him read a story with Fonetti and he’s said “Mum, Fonetti can help me, you just go and do your work.”
With Fonetti there’s no distractions – just a focus on finishing. He loves the fact that every word he reads turns green when he’s read it correctly and that he can double tap a word for it to be read to him if he needs help. Some books are a much lower level than what he is actually capable of reading but he loves reading them too as it builds his confidence up when he gets them 100% correct without any help…it also builds up his rewards which he thrives on. I only wish Fonetti was around 30 years ago, because I have no doubt that my confidence would have grown in abundance. So would my relationship with books. Rather than feeling fear or frustration I’d feel free to experience the joy of reading at my own pace, without pressure.”
Reading should be fun. Whether your children are reading to themselves or reading aloud, fear should never be a factor. Every child should be able to get lost in a world of words, taken on endless adventures and enjoy the escapism and excitement reading brings. Fonetti guarantees that. It’s why we created our app and the reason we’re here to help every child ignite a love of reading.
A note from Kim, our CEO & C0-Founder
For those of you that do not already know, Victoria & Ollie are my daughter and grandson and watching how they have coped with dyslexia over the two generations together with my understanding around how their challenges have made them feel at times was a big part of the motivation behind the creation of Fonetti in the first place.
It is incredibly rewarding for me to actually see children that would struggle reading in conventional way enjoying reading with Fonetti and without a doubt it was an extremely touching moment for me the first time that a child said that Fonetti made them feel Brave!