Make no mistake:
Poor Visual Attention Span (VAS) alone, can result in ‘initial reading failure’.
High VAS can result in initial success but lead to the onset of reading problems around grade 4 / 5.
Phonics does not require a high VAS.
A high VAS combined with good phonic knowledge is the most powerful combination.
We are not born with a ‘reading mechanism’ as such. Thanks to brain plasticity, we can develop one. Learning phonics supports this transformation. To learn more we highly recommend the book.
“Reading in the Brain”
by Stanislas Dehaene
3 International Inquiries say so. Phonics First is recommended by the US, UK & Australian Enquiries.
The tragedy of Whole Language pushed into infant grades (with zero base or post testing) has resulted in a widespread semi-literate population across the western world.
This video explains WHY. Long term criticism of how extremely developmentally inappropriate this initiative was/is - falls on deaf ears.
The recent Common Core Standard (CCSS) for infant grades is a joke - and it’s NOT funny.
Early reading failure is not just about academic matters, it results in a lowering of confidence and self esteem. It can result in the onset of other problems such as work-avoidance, disruptive or aggressive behaviour, clowning around, withdrawal etc.
Worse still it can lead to high levels of anxiety and stress. It is well documented that this impairs learning and over time can diminish a student’s ability to utilise executive processing.
It is no mystery that boys fail in greater numbers in infant grades. Their capacity to accurately process the words in front of them is around a year delayed compared to their female classmates (in general).
Add to this the unstructured, open ended, whole language approach, which doesn’t suit young boys and you have a group of students who are doubly disadvantaged from the outset.
A Phonics First approach eliminates these innate discrepancies. It does not require high visual processing AND it is structured, sequential and predictable, just the way most young boys like it to be.
This is a sad & disturbing story. How does a child who has done well in infant school cope with a fairly sudden realisation that they are now struggling to keep up - and losing ground?
A young man working at the checkout said to me, “I used to be a good student but when I was in grade four I just lost it all.”
There is a large cohort of students who fail to make any significant gains beyond grade five. Even maths suffers from their inability to ‘read’ the problems with sufficient accuracy to identify which mathematical process to use. Our secondary schools house many such students. They are the ‘context dependent whole word guessers.’ They are in the grip of a preventable circumstance.