Make no mistake:
‘Context dependent whole word guessing’ is developmentally inappropriate for infant grades.

A predictable well organised classroom literacy programme allows for some personal space; peace of mind & above all else, work satisfaction.

Teaching is not a job for the faint-hearted. It’s a huge responsibility, particularly for early grade teachers.

Multi-sensory programmes are know to be the best option for the large majority of infants and yields the most solid foundation for reading and spelling.

Stacks Image 1254

Issues central to VAS Theory for teachers

Early Reading Failure

We can’t emphasise enough how important it is to test VAS when early reading failure occurs. Low VAS plus a Whole Language approach guarantees Reading Failure. It could be this simple. Don’t assume the child has a learning difficulty. Switch to a Phonics approach, Phonics does not require a high VAS.
See the video “Sam’s Story” in Consequences, to understand why Sam succeeded regardless of his low VAS.

Failure onset in grade 4/5

This is a story of
arrested development, it has been dubbed as the “4th Year Slump”. It is the result of failure to teach Phonics in early grades or “Balanced Literacy”. Given a choice between “guessing” and “decoding”, a high VAS student will choose “guessing” - it’s fast, “decoding” is initially slow. See the video “Eve’s Story” in Consequences to understand the inherent dangers and the complex remediation difficulties.

What Reading Wars?

This assumes that there is a difference of opinion between two different ideologies on how reading should be taught.
Wrong assumption. Phonics isn’t, and never has been, an ‘ideology’. Phonics is simply a bag of practical tools to make learning to read manageable for infants. See the short video on “Cognitive Load” in Consequences to understand why we can’t expect infants to use grown-up context cuing strategies.

VAS Matters

VAS matters.
VAS, when coupled with Whole Language teaching in infant grades, can be the sole cause of an “apparent” learning problem. VAS is tied to visual working memory. Each & every person on the planet has a VAS level. It’s developmental and varies greatly between individuals - and it can impact on learning. Boys in general are one year behind girls in VAS development. If the failing student is taught by a systematic phonics approach the problem will disappear. VAS may be a compounding factor for any student experiencing a Specific Learning Deficit.

Meaning Matters

That meaning matters is a given. However, beware of the teaching focus. * "Read to the end of the sentence and see if that helps you identify the word." X This strategy by Whole Language advocates is a) cognitively too advanced for early learners b) meaning should NEVER be used for word identification in any case. Meaning is used for meaning of course but also for predicting what is unfolding (increasing fluency) and building vocabulary. Blending & chunking and increasingly, morphology are appropriate skills for assisting accurate word identification, hence ever more reliable meaning & increased vocabulary.

Stacks Image 1368

The teaching of reading & writing is undoubtedly the most important teaching task there is. All learning beyond infant grades is dependent upon it.

It is imperative that teachers have programmes that are structured, sequential, provide practice and consolidation and above all else, yield results.

Classroom LITERACY PROGRAMMES : Four examples

We have chosen 3 programmes that work effectively in the classroom, each with the attributes set out on the previous slide. They differ only in the manner of delivery.

Teachers need to feel comfortable in their own skin.

One fully informed teacher can make all the difference.
  • Stacks Image 1459
  • Stacks Image 1462
  • Stacks Image 1465

Jolly Phonics

Stacks Image 28378

This new app is available from the Apple App Store
or from Google Play (Android version)

A commercial programme developed by UK primary/elementary teachers Sue Lloyd and Sara Wernham, and published by Chris Jolly of Jolly Learning Pty. Ltd.
Stacks Image 28367

Click on the catalogue to see how comprehensive this programme is, while it may seem expensive, it is very good value indeed.

Stacks Image 28390
Stacks Image 28392


Stacks Image 1273
  • Stacks Image 1233
  • Stacks Image 1236
  • Stacks Image 1239
  • Stacks Image 1245
  • Stacks Image 1256
  • Stacks Image 1261
  • Stacks Image 1268

You can download this app from this webpage:

Take a look at their newest resources while you are there.

Part of a Sounds-Write Conference held in Melbourne 2014. Please note: This video was taken live and the sound quality is poor. The message, however, is too vital to be left unsaid.
Ear-phones are recommended for increasing the sound output.

We must respect the cognitive load we place on the early learner at the point of learning

Stacks Image 1512

Sing, Spell, Read, Write

Christine Calabrese went seeking a better way to teach and now shares what she found on YouTube.
Stacks Image 1566

Author : Sue Dickson

Join Christine's Channel for more fabulous videos
showcasing Sing Spell Read Write

Get Reading Right

Stacks Image 1054

Synthetic Phonics Lesson Plans and Activities
The Synthetic Phonics Toolkit, by teachers for teachers, gives you every Synthetic Phonics lesson plan you need to make learning to read lots of fun and full of success with dozens of multi-sensory games and activities.

Stacks Image 1609

Free Teacher's Webinars
In this series of free webinars our team of literacy consultants take you through synthetic phonics; how to get going, best practice and what really works in your classroom - teacher to teacher.


To reinstate systematic phonics into all infant classrooms throughout the English speaking world. That is, give the greatest number of children to best start in reading, making them fully independent readers and writers.


Teaching Methods

Studies / Enquiries


About Us

Management / Admini: Mark

Research / Assessment: Byron

Teaching / Resources: Jean

Other: Byron