When a child begins to learn to write they are simultaneously employing multiple processes and body parts: visual (eye/hand coordination), tactile (hands), and fine motor skills (hands). Through brain mapping, researchers have found that the act of writing in cursive stimulates both the left and the right hemispheres of the brain, in ways that print and typing do not. This synchronicity between the two hemispheres increases brain development in the areas of language, thinking, and working memory. The more the neurons were activated and connections made, the greater the learning and retention of new information, benefiting the student further down the road.
In the 1930’s, Dr. Samuel Orton and Anna Gillingham developed a language based approach to reading instruction, now commonly known as the Orton Gillingham Approach. It was originally designed to help struggling readers by explicitly teaching them the connections between sounds and letters. Nowadays, Orton Gillingham is a highly structured, multisensory approach, widely used with beginning and struggling readers.
Controlled readers or decodable books are books that contain only the phonetic sounds and skills your child has mastered. And, yes, they are important! Give a student a book they can fully decode and they can not only practice their learned decoding skills, but also increase their confidence and reading fluency.