Stanilas Dehaene, a leading neuroscientist, has researched how the brain learns. He has summarised his findings with the ‘Four pillars of learning’. The first pillar is attention. Without attention we can’t learn. We need to focus on what is being learned in order to absorb it.
BUT – before attention – comes motivation. We need to be motivated to attend. If we are not motivated our attention will be distracted to other things or we may resist learning.
Many older, struggling readers have low motivation to learn to read. This is because they have experienced many negative emotions linked to their struggle with reading: shame, low self-esteem, helplessness, marginalisation, and other feelings that are associated with failure.
When we teach these students, it is imperative that they succeed. They will need evidence that proves that learning to read is rewarding and worth their effort. One way to show this is by using decodable books that are pitched at their level so they can experience success. These decodable books must be age appropriate, so even if the text is at a beginner level, the story and illustrations are not demeaning and look ‘babyish’.
The Founders of Phonic Books worked for many years in a Dyslexia Centre and knew just how important engagement of reluctant readers was to teaching reading. For this reason, they published numerous series that are age-appropriate and engaging. Some series open with an adventure or quest in Book 1 that concludes only in Book 10. Readers must progress through the series to find out how the plot ends. A great way to engage older, struggling learners.
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