For years I have been concerned about the overuse of eye memory (visual memory) as opposed to ear memory (auditory memory). This does not mean that I don’t believe that visual memory is important, it is, BUT the fact of the matter is that visual memory begins to collapse if it is overloaded. Normally, this happens at about Grade Four.
Just this week, I taught a group of children who totally relied on visual memory and it no longer supported their learning. How do I know this? If you ask a child to decode (sound out) a word that they have never seen, they have no idea of what to do, they have no strategies.
This overuse of visual memory is often seen in children who have memorised high frequency words and then think that reading is about knowing words. Reading is a lot more complex than this. Reading is about the integration of order of sentences (grammar), the meaning of the sentences (semantics) and the sounds of the words (phonics). All of these elements help the child to work out words in reading.
BUT, back to phonics. It is really important that children have a solid foundation in phonological awareness before beginning phonics. Phonological awareness should continue to be taught alongside phonics forever!!!! No, this is not totally true; I am unashamedly, addicted to phonological awareness because I have seen such marked improvement in reading results due to daily Phonological Awareness practice. It takes 5 minutes a day and the results are astounding.
Once I complete the 5 minutes of phonological awareness I begin rehearsing previously taught sounds. I use flashcards that the children automatically recall as I flash them. New letter combinations are placed on a chart where words are included with pictures to support the children until they know the letters and sounds automatically. Card games are used frequently throughout the day.
The reason that Phonics is so important is that once the first level of sounds is known automatically, I notice that children begin to read easily. Of course there are other elements that are important BUT Phonics has to hold a priority place.
Once the sounds are known, the child can begin to sound words that are unknown. Now, here is where I can emphasize the importance of phonological awareness. If a child can blend a word without the letters, he will be more skilled at blending letter sounds in words.
Next session I will provide a video to show how you can implement this strategy with your child.
Go to http://www.letterboxlearntoread.com and buy the most suitable card pack for your child.
Go to www.letterboxlearntoread.com to download FREE high frequency word cards
Ann Foster is a teacher with a unique talent to provide back to basics step by step programs/products and tutoring for students in Australia and overseas. Her programs and products help children, teachers and parents to achieve extraordinary results quickly. She has a track record of bringing into action programs that are easy to follow and that achieve results.
Ann has been working online teaching students and adults successfully for the last four years and has taken children from average results to well above. Her programs are tried and proven and bring clarity out of chaos. Letter Box staff solve problems and puts wings onto dreams.