I am passionate about reading, and my dream is for every child to be able to read effectively. This passion comes from my own inability to read as a child, and having to watch my son struggle with reading, unable to help him because I didn’t know how.
I also know first-hand, how it feels to go through school labeled, criticised and misunderstood. I hated school as a child, and was frightened of my teachers.
As a parent, I have had to listen to several teachers tell me how much more I might have done for my child. And so I have also experienced first hand, the criticism unjustly levelled at parents, and the guilt they feel, when their child falls behind with reading. Somehow it is always our fault.
Reading Changed my Life!
Once I started reading, I started studying and eventually completed a BA Hons. and PGCE, as a mature student at Kingston Uni.
My teaching career began with fifteen year’s teaching History and English in a highly sought after comprehensive school. I loved classroom teaching, but I couldn’t believe the number of children who still struggled with serious reading problems. Nothing had changed, it seemed, since I was a child.
Fortunately, I had the opportunity to retire from classroom teaching, and continued studying with the OU and Surrey Uni for five years. Since then, for the last seventeen years I have been specialising in the emotional and academic issues associated with reading problems.
Teaching Reading! Changing Lives!
In that time, I have taught hundreds of children to read: children diagnosed with dyslexia, ADHD, Autism etc. and those who just don’t get reading. This has been an extremely rewarding experience.
It has also enabled me to develop my own teaching method: Write2read, and to write ‘Please Help Me! I Really Can’t Read!’ Initially, I wrote the ‘Adventures in Bessiebuss’ series, because I was unable to find appropriate structured reading books, to use with my students.
And now, ‘Please Help Me! I Really Can’t Read!’ and the ‘Adventures in Bessiebuss’ series provide a valuable resource for parents, whose children just don’t get reading. Combined with my Task Sheets and reading games, these books enable me, to work with parents indirectly, to overcome their children’s struggle with reading.
What Catherine has written about me:
From the first session with Maggie I felt reassured that I was in the hands of an expert. Maggie assessed A… and picked up immediately that there was an incompleteness in the sounds that A… was making in her speech, a major reason why she was struggling with both reading and writing. A.. had attended speech therapy and had been signed off, so I hadn’t realised how much this still affects her. Maggie’s knowledge of speech, as well as reading has really impressed me.
Maggie has a wealth of professional understanding about how children learn to read, and is passionate about helping children. Her unique system of teaching makes the process seem so simple to a child. In fact, watching the lessons has been an education to me. I’ve understood much more why learning to read English can be so difficult for a literal thinker. Maggie has equipped me as a parent with many methods for assisting A… Since seeing Maggie, A…’s speech has become far clearer, she has moved up several reading levels, and her writing has improved too.
Maggie interacts with authority and respect in her sessions. I particularly love the way that she has acknowledged A…’s intelligence and built up her confidence. Since attending sessions with Maggie A…’s personal confidence has been much greater. Her school-teachers noticed how much more engaged she has been, and she is much more willing to speak up and contribute in class.
I would recommend any parent concerned about their child’s progress with reading to contact Maggie. She really is an expert in helping children that struggle with reading.” (Catherine 2016)
I call my reading system Write2Read, because that is how it works. It is an easy and creative way for children to practise writing sounds and words, to enable them to read them.
Why has Write2Read proved so effective?
Educational Psychologists and Professionals in the field identify certain factors, evident in the test results of children who struggle to learn to read. These children:
- Find it very difficult to hear individual sounds when they are squashed together in words:
They cannot Segment or sound out words.
- Find it very difficult to ‘get’ to the word, even when they do manage to sound out even simple words:
They cannot Blend sounds together.
- Find it difficult to move sounds in and out of words:
They cannot do Auditory Processing, or play with sounds.
A reading system that will resolve these difficulties, MUST address them directly. The most effective system would build practice into everything parents do with their struggling children, to address these three factors. This is the very essence of a child’s struggle with reading. It is not enough to teach ‘letter sounds’, or put a child in front of a ‘random’ reading book.
The sophisticated nature of the Write2Read Task Sheets, and the methodology that goes with them, are specifically designed to work together to overcome these problems. In addition, the structured approach of this system, addressing one vowel sound at a time, and building on earlier practice, suits children with logical minds.
I have found struggling readers are also literal in their thinking. This is why I encourage parents to use simple and non-contradictory language. Vague concepts are avoided eg ‘silent’ or ‘magic’ letters, ‘letters sound’ etc. They may work for most children, but they confuse intelligent and literal readers.
Finally, I have tried to remove the tasks that struggling readers dislike and which cause conflict in practice sessions: e.g. I avoid rote learning which is inefficient anyway, and English language spelling rules, which only get broken!
All this theory is explained in a lot more detail, and with easy to follow illustrations, in my book ‘Please Help Me! I Really Can’t Read!’