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How Children Learn


how children learn

Brevity, simplicity and varied practice for beginners and catch-up pupils, including those with SEN or dyslexia. The Cognitive Science of ‘How Children Learn’ informs and enriches BRI decodable stories – see the downloadable poster designed by the brilliant Oliver Caviglione olicav.com.


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The cognitive science behind how children learn



1 - THE POWER OF STORIES


BRI instruction takes place within 88 decodable animal tales. Each Alphabetic Code correspondence is introduced carefully, with extensive practice.


"The human brain seems to be set up specially for the retention of stories. They sink in and they stay in the mind more easily than anything else… Things that create an emotional reaction will be better remembered."

DANIEL WILLINGHAM WHY DON’T STUDENTS LIKE SCHOOL?




2 - COGNITIVE LOAD THEORY


Early BRI books are created from just three words and five sounds and gradually build up to avoid memory overload.


"With too great a cognitive load children lose track of what they’re doing, make mistakes, they get lost, give up. Even if they hang on long enough to solve the problem, they don’t have enough mental capacity left over to reflect on what they’ve done."

ANNIE PAUL MURPHY

MINDSHIFT




3 - OVERLEARNING: PRACTISING BEYOND THE POINT OF CONFIDENCE

BRI stories offer extensive practice in foundational skills. Each new correspondence is introduced five times initially, and repeated frequently in different contexts.

"Research shows that we routinely overestimate how much we will remember and underestimate how much we will forget. To encourage automaticity — effortless recall or performance — students should overlearn by practising beyond the point of confidence."


4 - INTERLEAVING

BRI’s mixing of related but distinct characteristics (e.g. see, me, sees) alerts children to the complexity of the Alphabetic Code.


"The mixing of items, skills, or concepts during practice, over the longer term, seems to help us to not only see the distinctions between them but also to achieve a clearer grasp of each one individually."

BENEDICT CAREY HOW WE LEARN



5 - FLEXIBLE KNOWLEDGE

BRI scrupulously introduces a tiny selection of Advanced Alphabetic Code correspondences, encouraging both flexibility and early knowledge of the deeper structure of the Code.


"[Flexible knowledge] is of course a desirable goal, but it is not an easily achieved one. When encountering new material, the human mind appears to be biased towards learning the surface features of problems, not toward grasping the deep structure that is necessary to achieve flexible knowledge."

DANIEL WILLINGHAM

https://www.aft.org/periodical/american-educator/


6 - MEMORY OVERLOAD

Brevity, simplicity, and consistency are the cornerstones of BRI instruction for both teachers and pupils


"Find the core of your message: keep it simple."

7 - RETRIEVAL: TESTING FROM MEMORY


BRI’s Spelling Books — introduced after the storybooks — underpin retrieval practice.

"Nothing cements long-term learning as powerfully as retrieval practice."


"Retrieving a specific memory given partial cues or hints improves future retrieval."



Piper Books reading programmes


BRI (plus its successor programme ARI: Advanced Reading Instruction) is fully compatible with Systematic Synthetic Phonics (SSP) and Science of Reading (SOR).



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