The alphabet is a set of letters (or symbols) which represent the sounds contained within the speech of a particular language. The English alphabet system is made up of 26 upper-case and 26 lower case symbols. (A – Z). Each alphabet symbol has an associated letter name and common ‘sound’. For children soon to acquire early reading skills, the lower-case symbols and alphabet sounds are the most important elements to master. Once reading, the recall and formation of the alphabet symbols will need to be developed in order for children to develop spelling and writing skills.
Researchers consistently report that synthetic phonics instruction is an important element of teaching reading and spelling. Through (synthetic) phonics instruction students learn to ‘sound-out’ words, rather than recognising whole words. Disciplined coverage of the phonic principles helps explain how many words are formed on the basis of the sounds contained within speech. The blending and segmentation of the sounds within words helps embed the phonic concepts (e.g. sh, ou or au) being instructed and leads to superior reading of regular and irregular words.
Phonological Awareness is the ability to think about the sounds within words (as opposed to focusing upon the meaning of words). Research explains that phonological awareness is strong predictor of early literacy acquisition. Phonological awareness is reported to unlock the mystery of word recognition and spelling. Once children understand that words are comprised of sounds, the mapping of the alphabet and phonics occurs with greater ease. Syllabification, rhyme, initial sounds, onset and time blending and segmenting are all phonological awareness tasks.
Reading & Spelling:
Explained simply, reading is being able to recognise (or ‘sound-out’) written words. Spelling however is the reverse. Spelling involves forming and ordering letters in order to represent the written form of words. Typically, students read more words accurately than they are able to spell. In schools it is common to find students whose reading performance is age appropriate but whose spelling performance is below average. Finding students with the opposite pattern is much rarer. For most, spelling is more challenging than reading.
Handwriting is the formation of letters, words or symbols on a surface with a writing implement. At school children gain self-esteem through handwriting competency because they express their knowledge. In addition handwriting assists literacy acquisition. Research suggests that learning to form letters helps embed the alphabet and phonic concepts and assists early reading acquisition. A commitment to handwriting needs to be remembered in today’s technological society, as children are receiving reduced practice within the home and classroom.
Pre-Writing patterns are basic movements that when combined form the basis of all alphabet letters and numbers. Children rehearse the patterns by engaging in ‘big body’ movements, art and craft activities and worksheets while verbalising the verbal cues (such as “Sideways, sideways, left to right!”) Pre-Writing patterns present a simple and systematic approach for teaching a foundation skill for handwriting.
Fine & Gross Motor:
Fine motor involves small movements (for example with wrists, hands and fingers) whereas gross motor involves larger actions and the coordination of arms and legs or the entire body. Many activities in school require the integration of fine and gross motor skills. Children require a wide variety of motor skills so that they gain increasing control over their bodies and so that they learn to skillfully use tools and equipment required for their literacy and learning. Research suggests that in today’s technological society it is important to value the contribution of motor skill development.
Comprehension reflects the ability to understand the language that has been read or spoken. Understanding language is critical for success in all curriculum areas and the ability to answer questions of increasing difficulty develops over the years. Parents and teachers commonly misunderstand the difference between social communication and the language required for literacy and learning. When answering comprehension questions, children must focus on the requirements of the instruction or question, rather than what they would like to talk about.
Speaking & Listening:
Speaking is the ability to communicate information (ideally in a well organised and detailed manner). The quality of the sentences and vocabulary a student speaks is typically reflected in the quality of their written work.
In contrast, listening refers to giving thoughtful attention to what is being communicated. Listening ability will impact attention, the ability to complete tasks within specified time frames, the ability to work independently, and the understanding of concepts covered within a classroom. Clearly, both skills are central to academic success.
A narrative (or story) is a spoken or written account of events. Research has repeated shown a link between narrative ability and overall academic ability. A narrator’s language must be concise, detailed and clear for listeners (or readers) to follow. In addition, rather than a conversation, a narrative is an extended monologue;, in which students need to organise and elaborate upon their ideas independently. Narratives can be organised according to a specific structure, containing an introduction, a problem, and insights into characters, events and a conclusion.
Semantics refers to the meaning of words and how words relate to each other. Another way to think of semantics is like a network or web. Each word has others linked to it; some closely and some distantly. Each word belongs to several groups, some big and some small and each word has a definition that sets it apart from other words. For example: apples, pears and oranges are all types of fruit, but they all have specific features which also sets them apart from each other. This knowledge of what words mean helps children acquire an extensive vocabulary. Research consistently reports that students with strong semantic knowledge are more likely to be successful literacy and academic learners.
Seminars: PLD offers a range of full day seminars in central locations across many of the capital cities in Australia. The seminars focus on literacy and learning, explicit instruction and assessment within the Early Years, the Foundation school year, Years 1 and 2, and Years 3 to 6. They are designed for educators, support and admin staff, parents, childcare workers and anyone working with children within these age ranges
Online Courses: PLD's online courses provide a cost effective and accessible way to undertake PLD training programs. They are ideal for teachers within remote/rural areas or at schools with limited training budgets as they allow users to undertake the training (including videos and slides) at their convenience and at a pace that suits them. Online courses are priced for individual users or for small or larger groups when schools seek to utilise the videos for in-house training days or require access for multiple users.
eBooks: PLD have created a range of eBooks from some of our best-selling resources, making them available for display on your electronic whiteboard, computer or iPad. Having these resources available in eBook format is perfect for demonstrations on an iPad or tablet with students sitting on a mat, or displayed nice and large on an electronic whiteboard or projector screen for an interactive big-screen experience. Initially available via iTunes, we plan on making them available on additional platforms in the near future.
Specials: PLD offers a range of ‘bundles’ at discounted prices. The bundles include starter packs, multiple copy bundles (containing PLD’s best-selling items), full range bundles and bundles that target specific areas of development. These bundles provide an easy way to purchase a set of resources to meet your needs, while also being great value
Apple & Android Apps: PLD’s Apps are designed to captivate children's attention whilst they engage in quality learning. The apps facilitate enjoyment but more importantly learning in entirely new ways. They can be used in conjunction with specific PLD programs or as stand-alone programs. Our suite of apps are available on the Apple App Store (included in the VPP) and include a selection of app bundles, as well as being available on the Google Play Store and Chrome Web Store.
Milestone and Information Sheets: PLD offers an extensive range of downloadable milestone and information sheets. The sheets provide information on children’s development and can be disseminated to parents and the wider community within newsletters, websites etc.
The blue sheets have been written by speech pathologists, the red sheets by occupational therapists and the green sheets by educators. Most children require home and school work together to help children maximise their potential.