Preventing Academic Failure™

A Multisensory Curriculum for Reading, Spelling and Handwriting

Getting a Handle on the English Language

The structure of the English language can elude many struggling readers.

Words are made up of strings of sounds. Developing awareness of the sounds is an involved process, necessary for both reading (decoding) and writing (encoding). It involves analyzing a logical and largely hidden structure of language.

Decoding and encoding are typically left brain hemisphere activities. However, some readers unknowingly use their right hemisphere, which is reserved typically for understanding concepts and the big picture of what they read. In order to make sense of language, some readers will need a method that specifically and directly teaches them the principles of the alphabet and language structure in a systematic way. Engaging the multiple senses can do this. This allows them to achieve reading levels on par with their intellectual potential.

The Preventing Academic Failure™ (PAF) program explicitly teaches the structure of English for reading and writing.

The PAF program is sequential, building one language skill upon the next, practicing and reinforcing the skills until they are automatic.

Each lesson is multisensory, engaging the visual, auditory and kinesthetic senses simultaneously. Students learn to say the sound and write the letter in the air as they see it on a card. Also, they learn to write the letter as they hear its sound. The use of one sense triggers the correct response of the others.

Students learn the sound patterns of language and are able to help themselves read and spell words they may have never seen. With this word-analysis approach, students learn to read accurately and fluently. This boosts their self-esteem and mastery of reading, so they know "I can do it!"

With the appropriate reading instruction, difficulties can be improved or eliminated completely.

PAF is an adaptation of Orton Gillingham techniques, based on the philosophy and methodology developed by Dr. Samuel Orton, Anna Gillingham and Bessie Stillman, first published in 1940 for dyslexic students.

Source: Preventing Academic Failure (1998), Phyllis Bertin & Eileen Perlman, Monroe Associates: White Plains, NY.