Trivium Pursuit

Message From Don Potter of Phonics-First

Dear Friends of Phonics-First,

I have just published a newly formatted (easier-to-read, faster-download) edition of Raymond Laurita’s insightful and invaluable essay, “Understanding the Significance of the Individual Letters of the Alphabet in the Development of Full Literacy.” It took me many years to fully realize the negative impact of teaching sight-words as wholes in kindergarten and first grade before the young students had mastered the letters of the alphabet. This essay was one of the major influences in my growing understanding of the artificially induced nature of much of what we call dyslexia today. This enlightening essay should be read by every kindergarten and first-grade teacher in America (and the English speaking world).

Permit me to lift two brief passages out of this essay which get to the heart of the matter:

The absolute need to develop clear and consistent facility with the individual components of the alphabet before children are exposed to more complex sequences of these letters during initial instruction in reading and writing, has been inadequately dealt with; even trivialized, by those responsible for the instruction of immature infants.

and

Those who develop the ability, from the outset of exposure to printed language, to perceive the structural principles governing the increasingly sophisticated combinations possible of construction from these individual letter components, are those who learn to decode and encode with joy and facility. Those whose development is disrupted during this crucial period of perceptual growth, for any of a myriad of underlying causations, are those who may display the effects of such interruption for a lifetime.

Don Potter

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