Children are not discovering an essential skill for learning.
In response to the piece, on Dyslexia Wars in the Guardian on 19.6.2020, there is still no appreciation that not all children learn in the same way. Bright, creative, imaginative children with poor literacy or Dyslexia typically have good mental images for pictures. However, they have not discovered an essential skill of how to use their mental images for word recognition and spelling; we mustn’t leave this to chance.
There is a straightforward way to identify Dyslexia and its FREE. Has a child learned to visualise words? 100% of those I have met diagnosed with Dyslexia or with poor literacy are not reliably visualising words. The answer is simple and would reduce inequality: it only takes minutes to teach the skill, and after practice, they can catch up with their peers.
It isn’t the child, the teachers’ or the parents’ fault. It is the National Curriculum and the Early Years Framework that has no mention of visual learning and how to teach it well. Each child’s literacy problems may appear different until you notice that none are visualising words. Also, other associated learning differences have a component of uncontrolled visual learning, especially ADHD, Dyscalculia and Autism.
Most schools would say they are committed to multisensory teaching and learning, but teachers are trained to teach and not how a child learns. Neuroscience shows how the brain’s Word Form Area retains word images. Focusing on the most commonly used words, will, of course, help, but only 1 is a noun (mum) that triggers word recognition.
When children are continually told they can’t do something is it any wonder that their stress levels rocket and they think “I am stupid”, or worse. One of the common symptoms of letters moving on the page can be simply controlled by reducing stress
The deep autographic depth of the English language plus the need to cope with homophones and silent letters necessitates both word recognition and phonics. Following these parallel strands in nursery and primary years, would reduce the cost of special support by several million and alleviate the stress on parents and students, who can’t do phonics. Even Maggie Snowling, revered Professor of Psychology at Oxford University, said in a recent interview how her dyslexic son had asked her to stop sounding out words, so he could read the letters.
Not every child learns the same way; it is time we taught to their visual strengths.
Here is the link to the extensive Guardian article. https://www.theguardian.com/news/2020/sep/17/battle-over-dyslexia-warwickshire-staffordshire
You can read more about using visualisation techniques to enable learning and more case studies in the book The Elephants in The Classroom – uncovering every student’s natural power of mental imagery to enhance learning. Available here , and also from Amazon USA, Amazon UK.
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