"This is a true story with a happy ending. First of all, I will tell you about my son Scott. He was born in January 1984 and his difficulties began with very late speech development. After intensive speech therapy, he started infant school with an almost normal level of speech. It soon became obvious to me that learning was not going to be easy.
"Since Scott turned five years of age, I went regularly to school because Scott's literacy skills were making no progress. I tried everything I knew to try to help him: phonic blends, flash cards, reading to him and with him, paired reading and much more. He made virtually no progress. By the time Scott reached his ninth birthday, I was beside myself with worry and frustration. I could see my son falling further and further behind and it was beginning to affect his whole life. He became hostile, developed school phobia and sickness in the mornings. Life was becoming a nightmare.
"In desperation, in November 1993, I wrote to everyone who I thought could help my son. My husband is unemployed, so private tuition was out of the question. By this time, Scott was more than 2 and a half years behind with his reading and three years behind with his spelling. I am an ordinary Mum with no teaching qualifications. I was at my wit's end!
"In March of 1994, my prayers were answered. I discovered Toe By Toe. At this point, I was prepared to try anything. Scott's low self-esteem was so bad that, to be honest, when I looked through the book my initial reaction was that he would never be able to cope with it. However, we had nothing to lose. So we started Toe By Toe on April 1st.
"Gradually, both Scott and myself gained confidence because the progress he made was remarkable. On my part, as a complete novice, the simple and short 'coaching boxes' for each page were invaluable as they guided me every 'toe' of the way. Sometimes reluctantly, Scott did the daily 20 minutes needed. I am sure that – although he made excellent progress from the beginning – he always feared that he would reach a point where he would FAIL. He had known nothing else. However, as he progressed, he began to realise that he COULD master the words.
"The nonsense words and syllable divisions are very important parts of Toe By Toe. In my opinion, they greatly helped Scott with word attack skills. We finished Toe By Toe on the 25th August. My son has moved from reading words of one syllable to words such as philanthropist, as well as virtually any word combinations. Toe By Toe is intended basically to teach reading, but Scott's spelling has improved alongside his reading.
"His self confidence has improved and he now has a different attitude to life. I cannot fault Toe By Toe. My son is reading Charles Dickens' David Copperfield. I shall never be able to thank Keda Cowling enough for creating this scheme. In fact, my only criticism of Toe By Toe is that it was not available four years ago when my son began to fail. If it had been available, my son would not have had to suffer the effects of ignorance, denial of developing literacy and sheer neglect of his obvious dyslexic symptoms.
"Toe By Toe should be promoted so that every parent and teacher knows of its existence. No child should have to suffer as my son did.”
Mrs B. F. - Proud Parent, Barnsley, South Yorkshire, U.K.