Meet Vivienne, an 11-year-old American girl adopted from China at age 5. Her parents have tried many avenues to help her catch up on her developmental delays. While she made progress in certain areas, her academics continued to lag. They thus embarked on the Edublox program on November 3, 2020. Read the story below, as told by her mom Susan, and visit this page frequently for progress updates:
Vivienne’s story before Edublox:
Vivienne was adopted from China at age 5½ in March 2015. She was born with Tetralogy of Fallot, a rare heart condition caused by four heart defects that result in oxygen-poor blood flowing out of the heart and into the rest of the body. She was diagnosed at age 3 when her lips were turning blue and had open heart surgery in China. She knew no English prior to her adoption, and even her Chinese was simple and not well-pronounced. Sometimes our guides struggled to understand her.
While Vivienne transitioned well into our family, it was a gradual process for her to understand and be able to communicate. She had developmental delays, which are common for orphans and older child adoption, like struggling with motor skills or coordination, and functioning at a younger level than actual age. Yet, we also began to notice unexpected struggles, like when Vivienne became easily confused or disoriented when visiting a family member. We stayed with my sister’s family for almost a week in her large home, and Vivienne continued to get confused with which door to open to find our guest room.
I homeschool my children, so during Vivienne’s first years home, ages 6-7, I could work with her as she was adjusting and learning more English. She completed some speech therapy, as she was often confusing her pronouns (he or she), and she had trouble distinguishing her prepositions like inside/outside or up/down. I worked with her on reading prep and used an excellent phonics-based reading and spelling program, based on the Orton-Gillingham method, that I had used for many years successfully with her older brother.
Over the next several years, as I continued to work with Vivienne, her struggles became more apparent. I had expected that with time things would just ‘click’ and she would begin to read. Vivienne was able to learn the phonograms and sound them out correctly, yet blending them smoothly into words was slow and difficult. Especially, she confused her b’s and d’s all the time, and she would often read words backwards, like was for saw or on for no. She was way behind her age level, but I was still happy that she was at least making some progress forward, however slow. She still got confused easily, and I would sometimes need to find different ways to instruct her until she could understand. Vivienne greatly struggled to express herself verbally. She would often use simple language to try to get ideas across, or she would ask her sister to tell a story for her, so that she did not have to tell it herself. It was hard to watch her struggle when she could not find the word she was trying to say. She would get frustrated or growl and get upset. Sometimes she would say, “Never mind. Just forget it,” and we would have to encourage her to try again while we sought clues to figure out what she was trying to say.
Through the years, I tried so many things. I switched to another phonics-based reading program that uses a more multi-sensory approach. I sat with her one on one and guided her through the lessons and flashcards. I also enrolled her in online reading programs in an attempt to find something she could do independently for a short time during school while I helped her sister with other subjects. We tried several good programs, some specifically for dyslexia. And she would begin a program well, but as it progressed and became more difficult, I would often have to sit with her for the entirety to encourage or guide her, or it would end in tears. One program was helpful until the spelling portion became stressful and overwhelming for Vivienne. The program would instruct her to spell a word, which she would spell incorrectly. It would encourage her and guide her to the correct spelling. But then, before she could progress, it would retest her on the same word, usually just minutes later. Unfortunately, Vivienne would forget how to spell the word and this process would repeat again and again.
In Math, her struggles were even more severe. We spent months, working almost daily, to teach her to count and write numbers from 1-50. At the end of 2nd grade, she was given a national test, but as she was still learning English as a second language, I gave her a 1st grade test. She scored in the 18th percentile for Math and 39th percentile for Reading.
As she got older, we seemed to hit a brick wall with Math. We reached a point of no forward progress. Vivienne was unable to do even basic addition without blocks. She could only do simple addition with blocks or counting on her fingers. We worked and worked for many months on simple addition, using blocks, flash cards, line graphs, or other manipulatives, and she finally learned her +0’s (as in 3+0) and her +1’s (5+1). But no matter what we did, we could not get her to learn her +2’s… only 2+1, 2, or 3. If I said, “What if you had 3 pieces of candy and I gave you 2 more, how many would you have?” Then, she would answer 5, though she may use fingers depending on how large the number I gave her in the example. But if I showed her the numerals 3+2, she did not have any idea.
Vivienne had trouble with math language terms such as greater/less than, before/after, and she could not answer what number comes “before” or “after” another number unless she had a number line and me giving her direction. She was unable to express the time on digital clock, for instance if it was 10:27, she would say 10,2,7. I had recently heard of dyscalculia, though I had never seen it before. I did not know what to do or how to help her. I used to tutor Math in college, I help Vivienne’s sister when she needs it, and I taught my son math until he went off to college. So I called our public school board and asked them if I could have Vivienne tested. Unfortunately, they do not diagnose learning disabilities, but they said they could meet with her. At this point, Vivienne had only been home from China for 4 years learning the English language, and the school Special Needs Specialist told me it takes 3-5 years to learn Social Language and 5-7 years to learn Academic Language. Despite this, they tested her at grade level and she scored Very Deficient on every level.
To help Vivienne with math, she began a brilliant online picture math program that helps kids “see” math without all of the words, ST Math. Vivienne progressed through the first level of this program, and she continued to the second level which became more challenging. This did help her some. Recently, however, the program has become too difficult for her, even with me sitting beside her and helping to guide her, so we have had to go back to review the earlier lessons, with me always praying something will ‘click’ this time.
Sometimes, while trying to read or even just looking at a page with printed words, Vivienne would get headaches and tell me everything was blurry. She would rub her eyes and sometimes her neck. To seek some help, I took her for therapy with a certified Ron Davis Dyslexia Correction Facilitator. The therapist told me that she believes Vivienne has dyslexia and such severe dyscalculia that she would call it acalculic.
I am so proud of Vivienne. She works so hard, but it can be so exhausting and discouraging for her sometimes. She still gets confused with time, confuses the days of the week or months of the year, and she works diligently to learn something just to sometimes forget it later. So I continue to try to seek things to help her.
Vivienne is now in the 5th grade, age 11, and I have concentrated my efforts on trying to get her to read fluently and just develop the weak areas of her body and mind. We learned about a therapy that focuses on engaging the brain and body working together, making connections in the brain that were not developed previously, Brain Balance. Vivienne does exercises at home and she attends a center an hour away from our house for therapy three times per week. Since beginning the therapy, my husband and I see progress in Vivienne. She is stronger physically and mentally, able to control her body more and able to express herself and communicate better. But, we realize, she still needs intense intervention with academics. She still confuses her b’s and d’s, though not as much, and still reads backwards sometimes. She loves for me to read to her, but when she picks up a book that interests her and tries to read it herself, she simply skips around to the words that she recognizes, guessing, and getting many wrong. And just the other day I watched Vivienne as she tried to buy a toy with her own savings. She had a $10 bill and a $5 bill. The clerk told her the toy cost $9. Vivienne looked down in confusion, looked back up, and then handed the lady both bills, having no idea that she only needed to give the $10.
I am desperately seeking help for my precious girl. Right now the world is so hard for her. I want her to read, not just small words slowly and painstakingly, but advanced words so that she can communicate effectively, express herself fully, understand the world around her, learn about things that interest her, and live independently, fully capable of doing all that God has planned for her and being who He has designed her to be. I want her to see numerals and understand that they represent numbers of things, so that she can not only count and add and subtract, but so she can handle her own finances and live in this world with numbers all around her with confidence and security.
When I found the first articles on Edublox online, I was instantly intrigued. When I read about Maddie, the girl around Vivienne’s age, who had similar struggles as my girl, who is now reading thanks to Edublox, I began to cry. I have prayed so hard and for so long asking the Lord for a solution. I have asked Him repeatedly to help me help Vivienne. I shared that story and many more with my husband and family. And now we begin this journey with such hope and expectation, having faith that Edublox is going to open up a world for our daughter that we have only imagined for her. We are ready!
With great expectations,
Nov 13, 2020:
Vivienne began her Edublox program a little over a week ago. It took a few days to adjust to a new routine, but now I think we’ve got it down. I completely replaced her typical homeschool program with Edublox. It was a relief to her to stop some of the online programs that had become so frustrating to her recently. So now, for the most part, we have a new schedule. She does the cognitive Development Tutor first thing, then meets with Desrei, her patient and encouraging Live Tutor, for reading and spelling. Afterwards, we do the assigned homework and exercises, some math counting exercises, and she finishes with more cognitive Development Tutor.
I was thinking this morning before we began school that I am happy with her progress. She is learning new words and vocabulary daily, and the amount of review that she is doing is making a difference. I love the amount of review. It makes sense to me. And I see that reading the words are becoming more automatic for her because of the review. She is beginning to read the familiar words faster as they become ingrained in her.
But while I was already pleased this morning, a couple of things happened during school today that just excited me. After reviewing her assigned words again, I tested her spelling for the words. And she did something I have never seen her do before! When I asked her to spell the words today, for most of them, she spelled them using their letter ‘names,’ not ‘sounds.’ She wrote them down more quickly saying the letters: c-u-p or t-a-p as she wrote. I was so surprised. Vivienne has always managed a good understanding of the phonemes, or individual sounds that make up a word. I could ask her how to spell a short word like these and she could slowly sound them out and manage the spelling. But today, she was fast and just said the letter names and wrote them down and moved on. I kept thinking, that is how I would spell a word for you if you asked me. I would just quickly tell you the letters you need to spell the word. I would not need to sound them out to spell them. This realization just thrills me.
Another unexpected thing happened in the same review. When I placed two words before Vivienne it just so happened that the words ‘at’ and ‘cat’ were placed beside each other. She looked at them and suddenly became so excited. She told me, “Look! They are the same words, except this one has a ‘c.’ If you add the ‘c’ to this one, they are the same.” I said, “Yes, they have the same endings, so what kind of words are they?” She said, “Rhyming words.” I know this doesn’t seem profound, but the fact is that I have worked with Vivienne countless times on rhyming words. We have used the white board with magnetic letters, keeping the same ending of a word while changing the beginning to show all the possible rhyming words. We have used flip words made of paper, taking a common ending and stapling different beginning letters on top to ‘flip’ and read all the possible rhyming words. I thought she pretty much ‘got it’ back then. But I never saw her have that ‘aha’ moment, that lightbulb moment, like she had today. I was so surprised. It is like something simply connected that had not connected before.
I am thanking God at the close of this school day. I am excited and hopeful about where all of this is going to go for my girl.
Nov 20, 2020:
I am so excited about the continuous progress that Vivienne is making! I have never seen her progress so far and so fast. Desrei, her Live Tutor, works with her every day, and then I work with Vivienne doing review, exercises, and math counting. All of the review is making reading the words more automatic for Vivienne. I cannot believe she is reading so many words fast and automatic. She sees them and knows them right away. She will still slowly sound out the unfamiliar words, but as she becomes increasingly familiar with them, she reads them with more speed and confidence.
Today, when I reviewed Vivienne’s words with her, she was able to read all 90 words that I gave her. Then, I tested her spelling of the words, and I was amazed. She only misspelled 4 words… so she got 86 spelling words correct! She even spelled words like “which” and “then” correctly. It honestly blew me away!
She enjoys doing the exercises assigned to her. It is definitely helping her with direction and identifying her b’s and d’s without switching them around. What I also see is that as she follows the symbols or letters during the exercises, she is beginning to track them better and keep her eye in the correct place on the page. I used to have to show her with my finger where she was supposed to be, but now I can stand back and let her do it herself. I am thrilled. It is such a blessing just to see her make steps towards independence. She is happy with her progress, too!
Nov 27, 2020:
This week we celebrate our American holiday, Thanksgiving, and it has given me time to reflect on those things for which I am most thankful. I am thankful that I found Edublox after so much searching for the key to Vivienne’s learning. I feel like I have found the answer. I know we have a very long way to go, but as she continues to learn to read words and spell them correctly, I know we are on the right path.
I am thankful for the Live tutoring that she is receiving. I love how Desrei is the one who introduces the new words to Vivienne and they work through them together. That point is the most challenging for Vivienne, because the words are unfamiliar. Then, according to Vivienne’s Edublox plan, I later begin to work with Vivienne on reviewing those same words, but now they are review words and familiar. She is not seeing them for the first time. And I am so grateful for that. It makes my job easier. I get to be on the end of her greatest success, when she begins to quickly read through the words and is so proud of herself. That is not just a relief; it is a gift!
I am thankful that she is starting to notice written words around her in the world, and she is trying to read them for herself. She used to say, “I can’t read,” and would not even try. This week she tried to read the words printed on the t-shirt I was wearing. Words that she had never shown an interest in before. It is exciting. And I am thankful that she is just beginning the Math tutoring through Edublox. Math has seemed insurmountable for Vivienne at times, but I am hopeful that this will help. Thank you, Edublox!
Dec 4, 2020:
Vivienne continues to read new words. She is reading words like thrash and shrill! And spelling correctly words like blush and fresh! It simply amazes me.
Repetition is so important with the words, and I realized, it is also important with the exercises as well. With the Thanksgiving holiday, she had several day off of the exercises, and when we started them back this week she actually made a few mistakes with her b’s and d’s again and got off track on the page. It revealed to me how critical that repetition is to getting things ingrained in her permanently. Now that we are back on track, her accuracy has improved.
As far as Math, here is a copy and paste from a text I sent a friend of mine the beginning of this week. Since then, Vivienne has continued to add even higher numbers than these:
I have to share what I call a miracle: Today Vivienne told me: 4+4=8; 4+3=7; 4+2=6; and 3+3=6!! And she counted backwards from 30 to 1 using her fingers. We had gotten up to 20 and back… but now they had us work on 30 and back… and she did it! I actually had tears streaming down! I keep thanking God! Most people cannot imagine crying because your child can count backwards from 30 or add 3 + 3!! But it really feels like a miracle after all of these years!
What more can I say?
Dec 11, 2020:
I am so happy with Vivienne’s continuous progress. She reads more words now than we ever covered in all our years of effort. She is also remembering how to spell the words. I am thankful that her Live Tutor practices reading and spelling with her daily. I have heard it said with dyslexia sometimes, you just settle with your child learning to read and forget about the spelling, as it is just too difficult. I am so grateful we do not have to settle.
Another area that I realize is so important this week, beyond repetition, is developing Vivienne’s working memory. Math has always been the greatest struggle for Vivienne, as she could simply not remember the math facts. No matter how often we repeated them, she would not hold the information for long. Now, I am praying that the online Development Tutor, or as we call them the Edublox games, will continue to help develop Vivienne’s working memory. As she is able to remember and hold the information easier, the math facts will begin to stick more. Vivienne now does Development Tutor two times each day putting color blocks in a certain order, and she is indeed slowly getting better at remembering what she has seen or heard. That gives me great hope.
Dec 18, 2020:
“Hey Mama, I know what 7+7 is … 14!” I have heard that several times over the last few days! And just a minute ago, after Vivienne repeated that to me I asked her, “Do you know 6+6? 5+5? 4+4? 3+3? 2+2? 1+1?” And she got each answer correct. I can’t believe it! It is exciting to both of us. She is getting it. It can still be challenging for her to remember the facts, but she is remembering more than she ever has before. I am so grateful to her Edublox tutor, for now she has also given me some long-term memory exercises to do with Vivienne to further help her.
At the same time, the list of words she is reading keeps growing longer and longer. I think she is reviewing around 300 words now. She is doing so well that I sometimes almost forget where she was just weeks ago. When her daddy happened to walk in the kitchen while she was reviewing words today, just flying through some of them, he just stopped and watched and said, “That is amazing!” That made me consider again just how far she has come.
Jan 8, 2021:.
Is it really just week 7 that we completed? I am blown away. It seems we have been doing Edublox much longer, and Vivienne has made so much progress. We just had almost two weeks off of school for the Christmas holidays, and to help her stay on track, we did review her words and addition cards briefly most days during the break. Grandma got to see her read through all of her cards, and she couldn’t believe it. She saw Vivienne unable to read much smaller and easier words just two months ago.
Returning to our normal routine this week was a challenge for Vivienne. She especially struggled with counting numbers backwards as we had not practiced that at all over the break. I feel for Vivienne. She has always had to work so hard that school over the years has often come with frustration and tears. Today reviewing words she misread a few of them and began to get upset. I reminded her that she is now reading over 300 words! The stack that was correct was huge. She said, “Over 300 words?!” When she realized that and saw the few cards she had missed, she calmed down completely.
Something amazing happened today. At least it was amazing for both Vivienne and me. She has a new list of words to read. She has only had them for a few days. We are reviewing them in order now and have not yet shuffled them. As I went through the word cards with Vivienne, she began to tell me what word was coming next! I gave her the word “shake,” and she said the next word “chase” before I could even show her the card. And she knew what was coming next and after that. I was shocked! So was she! For a child who has struggled with memory for so long, it was mind blowing. She said to me, “I can’t believe I was guessing it!” I said, “No, you were remembering!” Then she said, “I can’t believe I was remembering it!” And she asked me if I was going to call daddy at work to tell him about it! And I did! He was as thrilled as we were!
Jan 15, 2021:
Vivienne is just moving right along with reading and spelling. She began a new level of words and quickly reads them correctly. I am so happy with her progress. I hear her in tutoring, and I believe there is also improvement when she sees words for the first time.
Vivienne’s tutor has explained to me that as she is learning, connections are being made in her brain, and I understand that my goal in working with her and reviewing is to help these connections get stronger and stronger. It will take time, but we are prepared for that. I realize that during her two-week break over the holidays, we reviewed her math addition cards, but we did not practice counting backwards. Upon our return, she was okay with the cards, but counting backwards was a big struggle and resulted in some meltdowns. It took several days, but now she is beginning to count backwards again with more ease. I am grateful to Vivienne’s tutor for not only teaching her, but teaching me!
Jan 22, 2021:
Vivienne has so far learned to read CVC words; the diagraphs sh, ch, th and wh; floss rule words; 29 beginning blends (e.g. bl- and thr-); 15 end blends (e.g. -st and -ct); silent e (eg. man vs. mane); rabbit rule words; a number of non-phonetic words; and is busy learning to read CVVC words. These words are introduced and get reviewed by her tutor, and for homework we continue to review and review and review. It takes time, but the results are worth it. Today as we reviewed all Vivienne’s words, I realized that she just flies through the small easy words now. And still we review to cement those words in her brain and make them automatic to her reading. She is doing so well! Her new words are more difficult and sometimes she gets words like ‘were’ and ‘where’ mixed up, but she continues to progress and master more and more words. I love it! And she tells me her favorite time is spelling review!.
In Math, we worked on grouping, flash cards and counting backwards from 70. It is more challenging for her than our reading review, yet, she keeps learning and remembering more and more. Her tutor said she will begin subtraction soon. Subtraction! I would never have imagined two months ago that she would be starting subtraction soon. When I told her Dad, his reply was, “Wow!”
Jan 29, 2021:
Something happened this week that just shocked Vivienne and blessed us both! I was giving her a spelling test and asked her to spell ‘strict.’ She very quickly spelled it correctly on her white board. Her sister, Liana, just happened to be walking by at that moment. Liana is the same age as Vivienne; they are only 3 weeks apart. Liana was adopted from China at age two, while Vivienne was adopted at age 5 ½. They are great friends and play together so well, but, Liana does not have the learning struggles of her sister. She often excels in her schoolwork. So, when Liana walked by and heard Vivienne’s spelling word, she was surprised. She said, “Wow, I am not sure if I can spell ‘strict.’ Let me try.” And she took a paper and pencil and wrote ‘strickt’ and compared it to Vivienne’s, which was spelled correctly. When Liana saw Vivienne’s correct spelling she said, “Wow, Vivienne! You spelled it right. I had no idea how to spell it!” It was beautiful! Vivienne was just glowing! She was so pleased with herself! And she even took her white board again and demonstrated for Liana saying, “Watch, Liana. This is how you spell ‘strict’…s-t-r-i-c-t … there is no ‘k.’
It was an important event! A confidence-boosting event! And I thank God for how all of this is truly life-changing for Vivienne! She is not just learning to read and spell and do math, she is becoming more confident! In fact, her Edublox Math tutor had her begin ‘column’ math, for instance, creating a grid and adding 54+13 or 44+21. And Vivienne is finding the correct answer. She works it out and very proudly tells me, “The answer is 67”… or “65!” And she is smiling when she says it! The girl who has hated numbers is giving answers in double digits. She is learning that she CAN do it! That is life-changing!
Feb 5, 2021:
We took Vivienne and her sister snow skiing for the first time this week. They loved it! And while we were eating our lunch at the lodge, Vivienne started reading some of the words on the signs around us! What a blessing to see her reading the words out there in the world around her! She missed a few days of school for our trip, and when we returned home and got back to school, she counted backwards with no mistakes, unlike over Christmas break. She said excitedly, “Mama, I took a break and still remember!”
Remarkably, Vivienne asked to do math first today. Not to get it over with, but because she was excited about doing it! The reason… she began ‘subtraction’ yesterday! Unbelievable! I have tried many creative methods in the past to help Vivienne understand math concepts, but none of my efforts were met with success. Now, with Edublox, I believe she is finally beginning to make connections and build a foundation that did not exist before. Now, she is able to make more sense of math. So her math teacher taught her about the Math Monster named ‘Minus.’ She told Vivienne to pretend she leaves sweets beside her bed at night, and as she sleeps… the Math Monster comes and eats the sweets. So if she left 2 sweets and the Math Monster only ate 1 sweet, how many sweets are there in the morning? And it was the first day ever that my sweet girl was able to do subtraction! .
Feb 12, 2021:
“Mama, I love math!” …Are you kidding me?!? I cannot believe I heard that from my sweet Vivi! After all of these years! It is amazing! She is doing her addition and subtraction flash cards, counting up to 90 and backwards again, and putting numbers in a sequence, but what thrills her the most is column math! She is so excited to see those big double digit numbers that she is now able to add. And even more crazy to me is that her math tutor introduced carrying the 10 over in double digit addition. …And she not only gets it, but she loves it! The other day she did not want to stop doing examples of column math carrying the ten! Remarkable! She proudly keeps asking me, “Am I doing good in school?!” And I tell her, “You are doing amazing!!” In fact, her sister happened to walk in the room and saw Vivienne doing her math and exclaimed, “Vivi, you can carry?!?” She was so surprised, and she clapped her hands for her sister!
I am so thankful. Truly grateful. I thank Vivienne’s reading tutor for working with her every day and helping her make such beautiful progress in reading. I thank her math tutor for having the insight to know just how to reach Vivienne and unlock her brain’s potential to finally learn numbers. And I am humbled that God has heard and answered my prayers to help me help Vivienne.
Feb 19, 2021:
Today I was just talking to my husband about the health of a family member, and I mentioned they might be having issues with their kidneys. Vivienne surprised me when she said, “I know that word. That is one of my new words. Kidney. I think you spell it ‘k-i-d-e-y.” “Wow,” I told her, “That is close, but it is k-i-d-n-e-y.” She replied, “Oh yeah, I forgot the ‘n.’” And it hit me … she could engage in the conversation, now familiar with what a ‘kidney’ is, as the word meaning is taught along with the words in Edublox, and even be able to come so close to spelling it just by saying the letter names out loud. She could visualize it in her mind. That is such a long way from where we started a few months ago where the word ‘cup’ had to be sounded out slowly letter by letter on paper. I feel like there are so many things happening with her, like layer upon layer going deeper. She is not just learning to sound out a word, but she is learning to read it automatically, recall how to spell it, remember the meaning, and can then interact in a conversation with the word. Her world is getting bigger all the time!
I wrote that update yesterday, expecting to submit it as is … but then something happened that I just have to add: This morning both of my girls were snuggled beside me, and we were just talking. Then, out of the blue, Vivienne said, “Ask me to spell something.” I said, “Okay, spell ‘kidney.’” And she replied, “K-i-d-n-e-y.” I said, “Way to go, you got the ‘n’ this time!” And she shocked me when she answered, “Yeah, I was spelling it in my head last night when I was in bed.”… She was spelling in her head. I am speechless!
Feb 26, 2021:
There are so many changes happening with Vivienne, that sometimes I don’t even realize it until something just hits me. Like the other morning I asked both my girls, “What time is it?” And Vivienne replied, “It’s 11:41.” I wasn’t even surprised at first, until her sister said, “Vivienne, you have gotten really good at telling time!” And it hit me… a few months ago she couldn’t have done that. In fact, here is what I wrote about Vivienne before we began Edublox: “She was unable to express the time on a digital clock, for instance if it was 10:27, she would say 10,2,7.” Wow! So much growth in such a short time. I am grateful beyond words. And her tutor said she will begin reading Edublox stories soon, taking all of the words she has learned that have been put together in story form. I can’t wait!
And this week her favorite school activity was doing column math adding numbers to the 100’s with carrying, like 365+165. She loves it, and she is so happy to show off what she can finally do! I love it!
Mar 5, 2021:
I am astounded! Absolutely astounded! I have been clapping and cheering and celebrating all morning. I have thanked God over and over, and I keep saying “Thank you Edublox! Thank you!” I honestly do not understand how it all works just how this program has been designed to do what it is doing, but it is brilliant! It is opening up my daughter’s mind, making connections that were not previously made before, and it is changing her life in beautiful ways! I am overwhelmed with gratitude this morning!
Just 14 weeks ago, my sweet Vivienne could not add 5+7 and today she added 1,237+6,467 and quickly came to the correct answer without any help from me! It is miraculous! And I was sick this week and unable to spend the time I usually spend with her on school. In fact, I was at the doctor’s office during her math tutoring when her Edublox teacher was introducing her to place value to the 1000s and what those values mean in money. I arrived home to learn what she was now doing!
That brings me to this morning… this morning she wrote the number 3,725 as I called it out to her. She told me the place value of each number… the 7 was in the 100’s place. Then she told me the value in money of each number… the 3 meant $3,000. And then she used play money to count out the correct amount in bills and read the final total to me. I was cheering! And she was just glowing from all of the praise.
And when we reviewed her subtraction facts, she could simply look at a flashcard with 6-4 on it, and she told me the correct answer was 2. This is my girl who had ‘never’ been able to subtract until 4 weeks ago. And when we began subtraction she would have to use candy or pennies or fingers to come to the correct answer. But, today she looked at 6-4 on the card, closed her eyes for a second, then opened them and told me 2. I told her ‘great job,’ but then I asked her how she came to that answer? I was expecting to see her use fingers to help. She tapped her head with her finger and told me, “I see bubbles in my mind, and they pop.” And then she went on to clearly explain to me how she will see a row of bubbles and how some of them pop to leave the remaining bubbles, the answer! I was amazed. She is doing mental math, subtracting in her head… and even more… she can clearly explain to me what she is doing. She is communicating more clearly and directly. Wow! This is what I wrote about Vivienne a few months ago: “She would often use simple language to try to get ideas across… It was hard to watch her struggle when she could not find the word she was trying to say.” My beautiful girl is like an intricate flower blossoming before my very eyes! I am astounded!
Mar 12, 2021:
This week Vivienne was able to read to me the story from Edublox, using all of her reading words. It was a story involving her as the main character along with her pets and their adventures. It was such a joy to just sit beside her and listen to her reading to me! She has come such a long way… and I know it is just the beginning of great things.
She is also making progress with her memory exercises. She recites or writes a list of animals that she chooses, and the list grows longer and longer. She was excited when she remembered how to spell “cheetah.” And one day after school she asked me to give her a number along with a 10… so she could add a variety of numbers +10. So I gave her 10+9, 10+10, 10+2, and on and on, and she quickly gave me the correct answers! It was like a game. And it still amazes me that she wanted to solve math facts “for fun!”
Mar 19, 2021:
I love seeing all the little ways that life is changing for Vivienne. She and her sister both have fitness watches and the other day I heard this exchange when they were getting ready for bed: Vivienne said, “I know my steps for today… 7,645.” Liana said, “You know that? How do you know that?” And Vivienne replied, “Because I can read it now. It says 7,645. The 7 is in the 1000’s place.” And Liana exclaimed with surprise, “Wow! That’s great Vivienne!”
Vivienne’s sister, our family, teachers at church, and friends are occasionally expressing their surprise at some of the changes they also notice in Vivienne. When they do, it is a reminder to me once again of how far she has already come. In fact, this week she wrote and read numbers in the 10,000s, she was able to do addition and subtraction flash cards all mixed up together, answering them correctly and keeping the math symbols straight in her mind, and she read pages of sentences out loud to me! What wonderful changes!
Mar 26, 2021:
Sometimes I think people might think I’m crazy. When I share with them how great the changes are that are happening in Vivienne’s life and the growth that she is experiencing, I sometimes think maybe it almost sounds unbelievable to them… maybe too good to be true. But it is true. She is reading more words and understanding more math now after these weeks of Edublox than in all of the years before!
It makes me want to share what is happening with anyone else that I know or meet who is seeking to help their own struggling child. I want others to experience what we are experiencing. In fact, I remember one day when Vivienne was confusing some of her words and having a particularly difficult time mixing up some of her letters, typical with dyslexia. She grew frustrated and upset and said, “Why do I have to have stupid dyslexia?” And I encouraged her to consider how far she had come and how much progress she had made. I told her she is learning and growing, and perhaps God planned to use her to help others one day… maybe her story would be an encouragement to other parents and kids who are struggling, and it would lead them to getting help as well. Oh, I hope others will be encouraged and find help and hope. I am so grateful for the Edublox online development tutor, the math and reading tutoring, and the guidance I receive that has brought us to this point.
Apr 2, 2021:
After tutoring today Vivienne came to me so excited because she had done really well spelling the new list words. Her tutor is so encouraging and patient with her. I hear her telling Vivienne, “great job!” and gently correcting her when Vivienne makes a mistake. And her math tutor acts so impressed when Vivienne has success and tells her, “You are brilliant! Way to go!” What encouraging and life-giving words for a young girl who used to feel like she was dumb.
And lately there has been so much to celebrate in math. Vivienne is proud of her success in adding to the 10,000s (with carrying) and subtracting in the 10,000s. And yesterday, out of the blue, Vivienne told me that she was adding 9+8=17 in her head while in bed the night before. I just marvel at the very idea of her doing that!
Apr 9, 2021:
Vivienne has learned so many words now that we must spread out all of the review words over several days. I have come to realize that she often breezes through the newer, and yet more difficult words, with no problem, as she is reading and spelling those words daily and has recently worked on them with her tutor. If she is going to miss a word, it is usually one of the older words that are a bit less fresh on her mind. I wish she didn’t get so upset with herself when she makes a mistake. I try to help her put it in perspective by reminding her that on Monday, although she was upset for misspelling 7 words… she spelled the other 113 words correctly, and she read all 120 words correctly! Today she was upset with herself for struggling to spell 5 words… but that was out of 85 words. The other 80 words she spelled perfect! Good job Vivi! You’re doing amazing… even on those days when you don’t realize it.
Apr 16, 2021:
When we began the Edublox journey and Vivienne completed the online Development Tutor Assessment, the assessment revealed that she was reading more than 5 years below her age level. Well, I gave her an updated assessment, and guess what? Now she is reading more than 3 years below her age level. She has moved up 2 years in her reading ability in 5 months! Two whole years!!
This was evident this week when my mom, Vivienne’s Grandma, came for a visit. She remembers Vivi struggling to read simple 3 letter words not that long ago. She sat at the table with us and watched as Vivienne speedily read through 100s of words and then spelled them. And then what amazed her even was more was when Vivienne added and subtracted numbers to the 10,000s, correctly naming their place value and value in amount. Grandma was blown away!
Apr 23, 2021:
Vivienne continues to learn and read new words. When she sees those familiar words out in the world and knows them, it is a good experience for her and for me. And what I really love is when she sees a similar word to one she has learned, yet it is different, and she is still able to read it. In fact, during her spelling this week I enjoyed testing her a bit on this. She had a list of words to spell that included ‘drink’ and ‘pink’ and ‘sink.’ And so for fun I added a few words that she had not learned, like ‘shrink’ and ‘stink.’ She spelled them correctly with no problem, and then I told her with a grin, “You know, those words were not on your list.” She exclaimed, “Mom, you tricked me!” … But she was so pleased and surprised that she had been able to accurately spell them. I pray she continues to transfer what she is learning and apply it to new things.
Apr 30, 2021:
Multiplication!!! Seriously… multiplication! Vivienne began to multiply this week. Months ago, I honestly never knew if she would ever know how to do multiplication. I was only hoping she might come to understand the concept one day and then perhaps learn how to use a calculator as needed. But, she just started multiplying. I am so proud of her!
May 7, 2021:
How far has Vivienne come? I have been thinking about this question lately. Just 6 months ago, my sweet girl could only read easy 3 letter words – slowly and painstakingly. And she could only do basic counting for math. Seeing numerical equations like 2+3 simply made no sense, no matter how many times I tried to show her. I was desperate and praying, asking God to help me help her.
And today, I am thanking Him for answering that prayer. I am grateful to Edublox for helping me help her. Vivienne is reading sentences, knows hundreds of words, and is spelling most of them correctly. She is adding and subtracting to the 10,000’s. She can carry when adding to find the answer, and then she can tell me the place value and amount of each number. Numbers make sense! She gets it! She is working on memory and sequencing, making improvements with her visual and auditory processing, and the online Development Tutor – or brain games as we call them – is helping with all of that.
We will soon slow down for a summer break of sorts. I will still write updates every 3 weeks or so, as I will continue to review with Vivienne, but we will not work to progress as much to allow for a break. I am relieved. Last summer I spent so much time researching programs to find something to help her. How nice it will be this summer to have some time off that is not filled with research. The search for us is over!
I have a summer update. I didn’t mean to go this long before writing, but it has been such a busy summer, yet still enjoyable. We have gone to Florida on vacation, the girls spent over a week at Grandma’s, we’ve had out-of-town visitors, and we just finished a week of Vacation Bible School at our church. During this time, we have taken a semi-break.
For math, I only review with Vivienne what she has already learned, but we are not adding anything new or trying to progress. And I have been so pleased! We have not been able to review every day with such a busy schedule, but when we have reviewed, she is right on track and retaining what she has learned! She even begins to get some math facts more automatically as we review!
With reading, I am not reviewing reading words or spelling with her over the summer, but she continues to meet with her reading tutor daily, and she reads some stories to me that Edublox gave us. The break, for me, has been so needed, but despite that, I am thrilled with what I have seen. Vivienne continues to progress and grow in her reading with her tutor! In fact, Vivienne transitioned to a new reading tutor due to schedules, and Kate has been just marvelous! And when Vivienne reads her stories for me, even for the first time, I am so happy with how she is able to read the story and even work out the less familiar words on her own. It was so wonderful today when she read her story to me, she read “their dinner” smoothly and accurately… and I had no idea she even knew the word “their” yet! What a pleasant surprise! I am so grateful that rather than regress over the summer, which happens with so many kids, my girl continues to grow and make progress, even as I enjoy a much needed break!
Back-to-school update, Oct 1, 2021:
We have transitioned back-to-school, and I am so pleased that Vivienne retained so much over the summer. I did some light review with her, but mostly I was able to get a break. Homeschool moms will agree with me that we often need the break more than our kids, and I was blessed that Vivienne could continue to meet with her reading tutor online daily even while I was relieved.
I remember last Christmas when we took a two-week break, it was a challenge for Vivienne to count backwards when we returned. But after this summer, she did it with no problem on the day we returned to school! Those connections are stronger now, and she is not forgetting them. Then, we did addition with carrying to the 10,000’s and place value, which she had not seen in a few months… and while she was a little rusty at first, after a few attempts she had it! Within a day or two, she was nailing it each time! And the other day, when I gave her a spelling test for the first time since summer break, I tested her on some previous words from earlier levels that she had not seen in a while… and she still did great.
I also saw changes in Vivienne when we returned to school and began our Scripture memory work. These are the Bible verses that Vivienne and her sister learn for their children’s program at church. In the past, memorizing a Bible verse was extremely difficult for Vivienne. I would read the verse to her and have her repeat it after me, but I was often only able to read a few words at a time or she would get confused and be unable to repeat it. For instance, with the children in my Sunday School class I could break up the verse like this: “For God so loved the world… that He gave His only Son… that whoever believes in Him… shall not perish, but have eternal life.” But with Vivienne, I would have to break it up like this: “For God… so loved… the world… that He gave… His only son…” She would get the words all jumbled up if I gave her to many to repeat at a time. But just a few weeks ago, when we started working on our verses again, I realized… Vivienne could now repeat more than 2 or 3 words after me at a time! She could repeat a larger section or chunk with little problem! She was able to learn the verse a bit faster than in the past as well! I am thrilled. My girl can retain and remember things better than before… all of this is making a difference!
Oct 15, 2021:
Today Vivienne said to me a few times as we were doing school, and she was reading and spelling her words, “I just nailed it.” It made me smile to see her building that confidence. And the amazing thing is that she is beginning to learn math multiplication facts. She is really doing well adding (with carrying) and subtracting (with borrowing), and now her tutor has her doing multiplication using her fingers and legs. It is brilliant. And she gets it. And she can apply the techniques she is learning and find the answers when she is shown a multiplication flash card.
What I also notice is that when I read aloud during school from some text to Vivienne and her sister, Liana, such as Bible or Science or History, I can ask Vivienne questions about what I read, and she is getting better at answering and remembering some of the details from the story. And when I ask her to recite her memory animals, she can go through the list quickly, putting them in the correct order. And today, she even asked if she could add another animal to the list.
Nov 13, 2021:
Yesterday Vivienne read some pages out of a book to me! It was a Cat in the Hat book, and it was just fun to sit there and listen and let her do the reading. She has come a long way since we started this journey! Dyslexia is crazy. While her eyesight and vision are fine, sometimes when she looks at printed letters her brain can process them all out of order. She has seen the word “charm,” but reads it as “march;” “its” becomes “sit;” “valley” becomes “yellow;” and “left” becomes “felt.” But while this may still happen some, now Vivienne is often catching herself. She is getting better and better. She is more consciously reading from left to right and able to read things more swiftly and accurately.
In fact, when Vivienne and Liana do history together during homeschool, we have a timeline book and they add history cards to their appropriate place in history. Usually Liana reads the history card out loud before they tape it into their books, but this week, Vivienne read the card out loud to us. While I helped her with the name “Julius Caesar,” she did great reading the rest of the card, and it was so nice to have her more involved.
Math right now is nothing short of a miracle! My girl who had no number sense a year ago and could not add 2 + 2 can not only add to the 10,000’s and carry, but she can subtract and borrow. And now she is doing multiplication! Amazing! Her tutor came up with a simple, yet brilliant, way to help her learn her multiplication facts…and Vivienne is currently learning up to her x4 facts. She actually asks to do Math first each day! And I have just started assigning her a homework sheet that her tutor gave us to allow her to practice subtracting with borrowing. She actually gets excited to do her “homework” alone, and then we correct any errors together. I am so proud of her!
Dec 10, 2021:
Yay! Vivienne got 100% correct on her Math worksheet this week! This is a first, and she was so excited. We continue to review skip counting, multiplication up to x4, addition with carrying, subtraction with borrowing, and place value up to the 10,000’s. I am so proud of her for all her hard work and so grateful for the growth I see in her.
And since my last update, her Edublox tutor gave me a strategy to help Vivienne with the dyslexic challenge of seeing words and letters jumbled or out of order. Like when she saw the word “charm” and said “march.” She actually told me, “I see M-R-A-CH.” And I asked, “When you look at that word, that is what you see?” And she said, “Yes… the ‘M’ is first. So for days now we have been taking the list of words that seem to get the most flipped around and reviewing them using the strategy her tutor taught us. Again, the idea was rather simple, yet brilliant! I am always so humbled and appreciative that Vivienne and I have had the blessing to learn from her tutor. Thank you!
Feb 4, 2022:
Vivienne read an entire book to me today! It was a Dr. Seuss book, but it was so fun! And she read to me the entire thing in one sitting. Last time, she could only read half of the book and then she was simply worn out… we had to split it up into two days. But today, I saw a difference. She read more fluently, to the rhythm of the rhyme, and with more mastery of the words. We laughed at some of the silliness in the book together. It was a gift!
And yesterday she read to me a different Dr. Seuss book… the entire book. And she also read a little Bible story book to me about Noah’s ark. We have an entire bookshelf of children’s books in her room. Many are books that my mom read to my sister and me when we were little girls, that have been handed down to me, and I have read to my children. My kids always had me read the books to them over and over, and then as they became readers, they would read the books themselves over and over. For so many years these books sat in Vivienne’s room. She would open them and look at the pictures many times. But now she is reaching the ability to open them and read the words and unlock their mysteries. I am feeling truly blessed!
April 4, 2022:
When Vivienne was younger, it took me over 6 months to teach her to count to 50. I had never heard of dyscalculia back then and had no understanding of what it means when a person lacks “number sense.” Numbers truly made no sense to her. So, when Edublox helped her count forwards and backwards, skip count, and even begin to add, I was amazed! Now, I have an update that truly feels like a miracle for my girl!
Vivienne can do 5 digit addition with carrying; she can do subtraction with borrowing; and she has learned to do multiplication! She can multiply up to x5, and even says that she enjoys Math now. Her Math tutor has helped her learn a system of multiplying using skip counting with fingers, and she is confident that she can do Math now! I am just happy for this necessary life skill to be getting built into her life.
May 20, 2022:
We just completed Standardized Testing this week, and I have been celebrating Vivienne’s progress in my heart! The last time we did this nationalized testing several years ago, my girl could not read independently at all. It was a horrible experience for both of us! This time was so different. I was so happy with her improvement! Her dyslexia is profound, so she is not on grade level, of course, yet she continues to progress and move in the right direction. I spoke with the testing company about her current level, and they gave me the appropriate level at which to test her. And I am so proud of her! She read and read. She read so many questions that contained words she knew as well as words she has never seen before, but either way, she could work through it and sound much of it out. Then she answered questions about her reading, and her comprehension was so good. Even with paragraphs that contained words she did not know, she was still able to find the correct answer to the questions just from the context. It was amazing!
She did testing over several mornings, and her stamina and her perseverance were remarkedly improved from our last time. This time, she felt encouraged by her performance, rather than defeated. It was a joy to see. I am just grateful and thrilled with her growth.
December 20, 2022:
I am excited to share the progress that Vivienne has been making. The girls have a Bible study notebook they complete as part of their involvement with our church youth ministry, and I help Vivienne with hers. But recently, I asked her to read the Scripture for that day, and it was not easy. The reading was from was 1 John … and she did amazing! I had to help her some, but I was shocked how many words she knew and how she worked out some she didn’t know. I had her read to her Daddy when he got home as well. He was thrilled! She began receiving vision therapy after an assessment revealed that her eyes were not working properly together. This therapy has helped prevent the letters from flipping or moving on the page, allowing her to actually see the letters in the words in the proper order and read them more accurately, as she continues to progress with her tutor. It has been a real blessing to see her reading the Bible all by herself.
As for Math, sometimes I almost forget that she used to struggle to count. Now counting backwards and forwards is just a quick review before she does 3-digit by 3-digit multiplication problems. We also review skip counting, addition with carrying, and subtraction with borrowing. We will soon begin to work on division! She has come so far, and I am so indebted to her Edublox tutor for knowing just how to reach her and help her grow.