Independent Learning And The Struggling Reader

I feel like a baby, all the time. I want to be able to do school like everyone else,” my son said a few months ago.

Hesitantly, I asked him what he meant.

Everyone gets to do their school on their own and I have to always be with you so you can read to me.”

He’s not wrong.

He sees his big brother, taking the to-do list and working through his school independently, with very little help from me.

He sees his friend, finishing up homework – his mom nowhere to be found.

My son completes school with me, in a way that accommodates his learning differences. I read almost everything to him – history, science, the math problem directions, even writing – the only exceptions are the audio book he listens to every day and his actual reading lessons.

This has worked well for him. My standing in as his reader, allows him to progress to the level of his ability in a subject, without dyslexia getting in the way. For example, my son is three years ahead in science and history, even though he is three years behind in reading.

But independent learning has been almost impossible.

Please know, although I have been compensated for this review, the opinions expressed are 100% my own. Nessy Learning has helped my son so much with reading. I am sharing this in the hopes it will help your family as well.

Because he expressed interest in learning on his own, I have been searching for ways to accomplish this, without adding to his level of frustration. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I might find a way for him to practice his reading lessons independently. (Most of my days are spent trying to find ways to make flashcards and fluency practice less redundant and more hands-on. Reading is by far the most difficult subject for him to learn and for me to teach!)

Then I learned about Nessy Reading and Spelling.


Independent Learning For The Struggling Reader

Nessy Reading and Spelling has been developed by a team of specialist teachers and psychologists to specifically help children with dyslexia and reading disabilities. It is an online program that includes learning up through the fifth grade.

I held my breath a bit the first time I introduced this program to my son.

I wanted him to have a resource that he could use independently. What he got was much, much more.

My son has completed several lessons and levels to date and actually looks forward to it as part of his school day. His positive reaction to a reading program has been a wonderful and unexpected benefit, and quite frankly, a little surprising. Reading is something that he has struggled with for so long, I assumed it would always be a subject that he would avoid, given a choice. This has by far, been the best part of using Nessy Reading and Spelling.

Before I share why I am impressed with this program, I want to share his valuable perspective, as the learner.

Nessy Reading and Spelling – A Dyslexic Child’s Point of View

“It’s not for babies.”

Because the program is designed for learners all the way up to age 12, it is not like the typical online learning my son is accustomed to. He sees it as a program for “older kids” and feels no stigma around the activities being for children much younger than he is (something that is, unfortunately, common when you are three years behind in reading).

“It has funny pictures and games.”

Sometimes, the humor doesn’t translate in these types of programs. But Nessy Reading and Spelling makes him giggle every time he uses it. For example, he created his monkey avatar to include a giant afro. Silly, but age appropriately funny.

“It works the way my brain works.”

I love that he said this. Because the program is Orton-Gillingham based and clearly designed to help learners who struggle with reading, it “feels” different to my son – like the program is working with his brain’s design instead of against it. What a gift.

Nessy Reading and Spelling – A Homeschooling Mom’s Point of View

I am not sure I could possibly add anything as valuable as my son’s experience, but I will share a few benefits from my perspective as well.

Specifically Designed For The Struggling Reader

Nessy Learning has been designed with the struggling reader in mind. It is not a reading program that requires accommodations for my son’s learning differences. It is perfect for him – just as it is.  This means I don’t have to do anything to change up the learning and make it work for my son’s learning needs.

Additional Resources

Nessy Learning provides a wealth of additional resources related dyslexic learners.

One is Dyslexia Explained, a free ebook that explains the types of dyslexia, their strengths, weaknesses and effective strategies that help those with it. This book is designed to be read with your child to help them understand their dyslexia and feel reassured that they’re not alone.

There are also over 1,000 worksheets with hands-on, dyslexic friendly activities to support the online learning. Word Bingo and The Fishing Game (the cut-out fish have words on them and he uses a “pole” to pick them up and read) have been our favorites so far.

Game Based Learning

The site is set up like one of my son’s online games. He feels comfortable navigating it and he intuitively understands what the rewards are and how to achieve them.  Plus, he is engaged in and excited about the learning because it feels more like a fun activity than dreary reading practice.

Effective For Older Struggling Readers

I cannot stress the importance of this enough. Designed for kids ages 5-12, this is the first program I have seen that is actually age appropriate for older readers. It is my son’s number one complaint – feeling like he is practicing reading with “baby stuff.” Nessy Reading and Spelling is designed with the older learner in mind as well.


We are truly enjoying this program. Nessy Learning has changed the tone of our reading lessons and has provided levity and fun, in a subject that has always been a struggle.

I want to encourage you to take a look.

Download the free book, check out all the free resources for homeschoolers, sign-up for a free trial, and when you are ready, Nessy Reading and Spelling is offering 15% off to Not The Former Things readers (code BLOG17) for your first month.

You can also investigate this option via social media. Nessy Learning has resources everywhere online.

Nessy Learning on Facebook
YouTube for Nessy Learning
Nessy Learning on Twitter
Nessy Learning on Pinterest


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  1. Thank you for posting this! I have recently been considering Nessy for my almost 11 year old. He’s also very particular about babyish things. I really like the sounds of how you described it. I believe we will give it a try!

    1. Oh my goodness, Melissa. It is so worth a try. I’m glad you found this helpful!

      1. So, I wanted to update you with what has happened. I mentioned this to my son and got a LOT of resistance about it. His main reaction was, “We’ve tried other things like this in the past and they haven’t worked out.” So many things that we have tried, he’s hated or just found impossible. I’m sad to say that he has not been confident to even try to spell ANYTHING. He’s just now gotten to the point that he is reading pretty good… so we have been very gentle in our approach. Whenever I have tried to force things in the past, we got nowhere.
        Well, he finally tried Nessy for the first time yesterday, and he loved it!! I sat with him for a while and then let him go on his own. Last night at bedtime we were talking, and I brought up Nessy. He starts telling me how he learned “-ight” words and then starts spelling them to me!! And then he spelled lots of other things too and got them all right!! So he went from spelling nothing…. to the light bulb turning on after the first lessons!!! I’ve been waiting for years for this to happen, so I was one ecstatic mama! Just thought you’d like to hear our happy news. ?

        1. Oh my goodness – it sounds just like our experience! I am so, so glad it is working out as well for you guys. This is awesome news. Thank you for letting me know.

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