How decodable books help to transfer phonics to long-term memory

We used to say “practice makes perfect”, but when it comes to memory “practice makes permanent”. We know that to get good at anything, we need to perfect and improve our skills, and this is done through repetition and rehearsal at each stage of learning. In order to learn we need to store the learning effectively and permanently.

“And here’s how you should think about memory: it’s the residue of thought, meaning that the more you think about something, the more likely it is that you’ll remember it later.” – Daniel T Willingham, professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Virginia.

What is the theorical framework that underpins the need for practice, rehearsal, and retrieval?

The image below shows the stages of learning:

  1. We experience our environment.
  2. We take in information through our senses – this is called ‘sensory memory’.
  3. We need to attend to this information to transfer it to ‘working memory’.
  4. Working memory is where thinking happens. It is the conscious processing of information. It is very limited and fleeting.  
  5. Long-term memory is where information is stored permanently. It is infinite but to transfer information from working memory to long term memory we need to rehearse and retrieve this information repeatedly until it is secure. We can also use methods such as creating knowledge schemas and building information on what is already stored in long-term memory to expand our long-term memory. At every stage learning (memory) can be lost, whether at the sensory stage, working-memory stage, or long-term memory stage.


How can decodable books help transfer phonics knowledge from working memory to long-term memory?

  1. Decodable books revisit previous learning at every stage. This provides the practice and rehearsal at each level of learning. Phonic Books books have a cumulative scope and sequence which means that previous learning is revisited alongside new learning.
  2. Phonic Books decodable books provide an engaging place for young beginner readers to attend. The story and fun illustrations hold their attention, and this is necessary for applying their phonics knowledge.  
  3. Our decodable books offer a rehearsal of letter/sound knowledge within real words and real stories. This repeated revision helps the brain process and consolidate the letter/sound correspondences until they become automatic. As children reread words, they too become part of their automatic word recognition. This is essential for readers to become fluent.
  4. Phonic Books titles offer decoding practice at text level. This means adding meaning to the text which is what reading is about. Children need to practice making meaning of words and text.
  5. Our series introduce high-frequency words incrementally. Teachers can use this opportunity to teach these useful words that children will encounter again and again in their reading.

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