my-account telephone email email
Shopping cart is empty.
cart
Shopping cart is empty.

Neuroscience research for achieving literacy success

side image text

side image text

To achieve good literacy skills researchers have proven the importance of establishing strong neural pathways or links, that create a triangle between three special areas of the brain

These areas are the area for touch and movement, for vision, and for hearing speech and language. It is essential that these three areas work together simultaneously to make sure every child reaches his full literacy potential. As found in the 2010 Indiana University study using MRI brain imaging, in order for the links between these brain areas to grow strongly so that good working memory is established, a child must not, for example, just see the letter he is learning, but at the same time writing it to establish its shape in his mind. Simultaneously he must learn both the name of the letter and the sound that it makes. With movement, sight and sound working together, each one enhances the other to give the best possible outcome, especially important because a child's development is not always even.

According to Sherrill (1986) up until the age of eight years, touch and movement have dominance over the other systems, after which time there is a change of dominance to auditory and visual learning. Because of this research, it is very important that the motor movement involved in writing is not neglected as a learning and memory tool for young children. According to Levine (2002) motor actions reinforce learning – a child learns best by doing. Dr. Karin Harman James (2012) found that handwriting is a crucial component in setting up the brain for reading acquisition.

What happens when skills become automatic

When motor, visual and auditory skills are automatic with the foundational building blocks of literacy, a ‘ripple effect’ occurs. This allows the child’s energy and working memory to widen, focusing on the more complex skills of vocabulary and comprehension resulting in fluency in writing, spelling, and reading. As stated by Jewell (1999) the complete knowledge of letters is the single best predictor of reading success.

The reason literacy acquisition is complex is because each of the three brain areas has sub skills that must be competent and automatic. In the motor area of the brain, there are many motor sub skills that must be automatic to achieve competency in handwriting. Some of these are touch, motor planning, sequencing, gross motor skills, fine motor skills, perception and memory. Very important in this list for achieving literacy is motor planning, the brain’s plan of movement. When learning handwriting, students must feel the shape of the letter with their hand in order for the brain to establish a movement plan that can be recalled each time the letter is written. Through repetition and practice, the writing of the letter becomes automatic to a point where no conscious thought is required. Similarly, knowledge of the letter combinations that spell sounds need to be practiced through writing so that automatic motor plans are established. This is the same as for a concert pianist or elite sportsman who learns patterns of correct hand movements through repetition, until these patterns are automatic. Literacy success is not achieved if teachers overlook letter reversals or incorrect spelling as these will be established as incorrect motor plans in the brain. Write2Spell2Read makes use of this knowledge and the fact that developmentally we acquire our gross motor or big body movements before our fine motor or small controlled movements. Consequently, Write2Spell2Read uses large letter tracking and writing before smaller writing on age-appropriate lines.

Visual Sub Skills are necessary for complete success

Similarly in the visual area of the brain, there are many visual sub skills that must be automatic to achieve competency in visual recognition of letters, numbers, letter combinations that spell sounds, and words. Visual sub skills include seeing, scanning, visual processing, spatial skills and visual memory. To aid visual memory, Write2Spell2Read’s success by design is its simplicity of organization. It includes organization by colour coding, clear and simple graphics on a blue backgrounds (Solan, 1994; Croyle, 2000), letter/picture graphics similar in shape and sound, one picture for all letter combinations in sound families, and "traffic light" dots to guide writing direction. Write2Spell2Read's consistency of design through the whole school assists the student to store and remember this information in visual memory for future use.

Auditory sub skills are critical for literacy success

Finally, in the auditory part of the brain there are many auditory sub skills that must be automatic to allow us to hear, use and understand sounds, words and sentences. Auditory sub skills include hearing, speech and language, phonemic awareness, phonics, auditory processing, and auditory memory. Write2Spell2Read's success by design is its phonics approach, recognizing that children must be explicitly taught to write, spell, read and understand words using their individual sounds rather than by visual word recognition alone. Hempenstal's 2005 study found that effective reading instruction includes teaching children to break apart and manipulate the sounds in words as well as teaching them that these sounds are represented by letters of the alphabet which can then be blended together to form words. Professor Ken Rowe (2004) also supports this evidence, stating that the most effective way to teach literacy is with explicit phonics instruction linking the letters in our alphabet to the sounds they make. Write2Spell2Read's design assists the student to do this and to store and remember this information in auditory memory for future use. Every element of this neuroscience research was used in the design of the Write2Spell2Read program to ensure accelerated literacy learning and for each student to have the best possible outcome.

Shop For Resources

Shop For Resources

Shop For Resources

Shop For Resources

Shop For Resources

Shop For Resources