Aside from normal maturation, a child’s processing speed for a specific task increases when he/she practices a skill to the point where learning takes place. So, processing speed increases with general development and, processing speed in a particular area can increase with practice.
George Canine takes full advantage of this practice element. The app pushes practice to the point of ‘drill and fill’. Through abundant practice, it fills children’s minds with the knowledge that they need to learn how to read. Learners practice the new information through a variety of active methods that involve questions and answers, and, importantly, games. In this way, while learners are enjoying themselves, the information shifts from short-term memory to long-term memory so that it can be easily retrieved.
Long-term memory requires the creation of new nerve networks in the brain known as neural networks. This is the goal of all teaching – to create and consolidate new information the brain.
George Canine’s focus on the learners’ active practice opportunities enables young children to become independent readers. Each time a child practices a component of the George Canine app, he/she creates and consolidates neural networks that lead to fluent reading.
George combines repetition with fun because that’s exactly how motivation’s done.
Learning to read requires the assimilation of basic skills (like phonics) to the point where the knowledge is learned by rote. While research shows inarguably that this is a best practice method, the learning can be slow, effortful, repetitive and therefore a challenge to engagement and motivation. It’s no surprise that we humans are not intrinsically driven to this type of learning.
So, how does George Canine ensure that children remain focused and motivated? Hands on and minds on? He provides games for learners to play, using the learning material.
In the first lesson, for example, children practice their phonics skills by finding George’s stored letter bone holes. Once these first five letter – sound correspondences have been learned and practised, the students are asked to dig up his bones by spelling the bone names. Next, they’re asked to read the names of his tennis balls that he catches each time one is correctly read. Hence, in the first lesson alone there are three main games that act as a vehicle for immediate learning.
So, from his first utterance in the first lesson, George Canine teaches challenging but basic knowledge through games. Each one of his games embodies well-known, evidence-based principles for learning to read in a way that is sound, motivating and engaging.