The Nessy Approach to Learning
The Nessy purpose is to help children who learn differently.
Nessy has been making fun, educational software for children since 1999 and has developed a reputation for exceptional quality. Nessy offers the complete dyslexia aware solution with a suite of multisensory products aimed at making learning to read, write and spell fun.
Nessy is used globally by hundreds of thousands of teachers and students and is a 3 time winner at the prestigious Educational Resources Awards.
The Nessy Philosophy
Nessy believes that if children have fun then learning becomes more memorable. Where children play games the increased level of engagement leads to dramatic improvements.
Combine this philosophy with a highly structured, incremental system based on well established Orton-Gillingham principles of learning and you can see the reason why academic results show such dramatic gains.
The Bristol Dyslexia Centre
The Bristol Dyslexia Centre was founded by Mike’s mother Mrs Pat Jones after she homeschooled him from age 8. She developed a phonics-based learning program utilising the Orton-Gillingham method and taking inspiration from the highly-respected Hickey and Hornsby (Alpha to Omega) programs.
The Centre was established in 1989 using the program foundations Pat developed during her homeschooling years to create a series of unique learning strategies. After undertaking research in the form of standardised reading and spelling assessments, findings showed that reading strategies that incorporated the above techniques were incredibly effective.
This led to the inspiration and creation of Nessy.
Principles of Best Practice
- Nessy Reading & Spelling adheres to the Orton-Gillingham approach, meaning that each child receives instruction tailored to his or her specific needs.
- Flexible enough to be adapted to how the individual learns. Nessy can be used to supplement an existing program or as a complete system of instruction.
- Every resource is graded so the student is not expected to know anything that has not yet been taught.
- Multisensory activities are used to teach reading and spelling at the same time.
- A highly structured, sequential, cumulative and systematic phonics based learning program.
8 Essential Components of Nessy Reading & Spelling
- Phoneme-Grapheme Correspondences
- Six syllable types
- Rhyming skills
- Phoneme identity, blending and segmentation
- Phonological awareness
- Phonics and word recognition
- Vocabulary, fluency and comprehension
You can read more about the efficacy of Nessy Reading & Spelling here.
The Nessy Story as told by Mike Jones, Nessy Founder & CEO
As a child
“When I was 9 years old I couldn’t spell my own name. I was bottom of the class and it felt terrible. I was disruptive so they sent me home. I was so unhappy but I was also angry because I knew I wasn’t stupid. My mum was a maths teacher and she home schooled me. She realised that to make things stick the teacher has to be inventive. You have to develop strategies. So that’s exactly what she did, she created a bunch of strategies to help me learn.”
“Two years later I went back into mainstream education but instead of being bottom of the class I was at the top and guess what? Using my mums strategies I stayed at the top. When it was time for me to leave school the head teacher happened to ask me what I was planning to do and I said I was considering law. He said I wasn’t clever enough. Four years later I had a law degree.”
“Let me tell you about my first day studying law. We were all taken to a library full of big intimidating books, crammed with small print. The tutor told everyone go to the third aisle, second shelf, criminal law section and find an example of one case that set a legal precedent. Everyone else shot off but I was left standing there thinking “what did he say after third aisle?”
“You see there is no cure for dyslexia. There is no magic pill that will make your brain work differently. Dyslexia is not a medical condition with symptoms that can be ‘cured’. There is no fault in the child. Parents are not to blame. The defect is an educational one and by following a structured, Orton-Gillingham based system of learning dyslexics can learn to read and write. You have to adapt or you will be forever stuck at the bottom of the class. I still can’t remember a sequence of spoken instructions but now I can use a strategy that will help me to remember.”
The Bristol Dyslexia Centre
So while I was studying law my mum founded a dyslexia centre in Bristol. After college I helped out at the Bristol Dyslexia Centre answering the phone. Parents were calling up in tears because they were so worried about their children. I really connected to that and I realised what I really wanted to do was help them. Initially with legal advice but that wasn’t enough. So I re-trained as a teacher so I could help other dyslexics to succeed . The system of teaching that was being used at her Centre, the games, the strategies, were so effective it was incredible.”
“I knew it was helping but I also knew that there were a lot more children out there who would also benefit from this help. That’s what I realised I had to do, that my purpose was to help as many children with dyslexia as possible. And with technology you can reach everyone. Not a program from a theory, but a program that was created in the classroom. A program that uses games to motivate and strategies to develop understanding.”
The First Nessy Strategy
The first strategy Nessy made explained syllables.
Silly Bull explains syllables
You can’t picture in your head what a syllable looks like. This makes it very hard for someone with dyslexia to remember. We made a character called Silly Bull. Silly bull beats the ground to sound out the syllables. You can make this funny and kids can act it out.
It becomes effective because they can imagine a Silly Bull. It creates a mental ‘hook’ that they can hang that memory on.