The Importance of Phonics in Decoding
Knowing the Secrets empowers kids to decode approximately 95% of the most commonly memorized sight words by applying what they know about letter behavior to predict their most likely sounds.
This study, however, may seem of little value to those teaching without the Secrets in early grade classrooms, where overreliance on sight words is far too frequent, due to early learners’ gross lack of skills in comparison to the required text level assessments. To compensate, beginning readers must memorize hundreds of sight words before the end of second grade, often forcing teachers to prioritize teaching the “reading” over teaching the reader.
Beginning grade learners own so little of the alphabetic code that it’s virtually impossible for them to make sense of the many different sounds that letters make when they come together in words. To compensate, teachers will often rely on the rote memorization of sight words to help students “read.”
Rote memorization is not only developmentally inappropriate for early grade learners, but requires a vast amount of instructional time, energy and resources (assistant and volunteer time, activities, material, etc.) It is also far from ideal from a brain based learning perspective.
The Brain On Sight Words
“Quite apart from anything the teacher does… the student, being human, is a pattern finder, and a pattern maker…” — Dr. David Bronson
The brain is often referred to as the ultimate pattern-making machine, seeking and storing memories based on patterns, or repeated relationships between ideas. Simply put, patterning is the brain’s way of doing things… and Secret Stories® takes full advantage of this.
Secret Stories® feeds the brain’s natural inclination to seek patterns when learning to read by aligning patterns of letter behavior to patterns of kid behavior. Developmentally, it is much easier for very young learners to pattern-out (i.e. make sense of) “behaviors” than abstract phonics patterns. Knowing the “secrets” about letters’ behavior allows beginning and struggling readers to easily predict their most and next most likely sounds in unknown words, just as they would the behavior of their friends and classmates.
Secret Stories® “feeds” the brain’s hunger for patterns when learning to read.