The proposed project will expand professional services to an under-resourced community, taking forward what has been learned from a 12-year Service Learning Programme (SLP). The SLP, a collaboration between the Cotton Tree Foundation and US-based psychologists (Boston Children's Hospital) with expertise in child development, has a proven track record of professional service delivery and community engagement. We are seeking funding to allow us to sustain and extend current literacy teaching.
In Trinidad and Tobago early reading skills are primarily phonics-based (Jolly Phonics, LiPS, etc.). These address the basic decoding skills that are the foundation for progress in literacy. There is, however, a significant subset of school-age children - both regular education and special education students - and of non-literate adults who are unlikely to be able to master basic decoding skills because of neuropsychological limitations secondary to developmental or acquired disorders.
The Edmark Reading Program was designed for these students who have not mastered reading by alternative methods. It uses a carefully sequenced, whole-word approach, with short instructional steps, consistent repetition, and positive reinforcement combined with errorless learning to ensure that students experience immediate success, thus helping them view themselves as readers. Multiple learning modalities and a variety of lesson formats keep students motivated and involved.
To implement Edmark instruction to approx. 48 identified students, across 6 educational settings: 1 government primary, 4 special needs schools and an afterschool/homework. The Program motivates students by organising learning into steps that ensure even the poorest readers achieve over 90 percent correct answers. This approach eliminates incorrect responses and leads students to see themselves as "readers" rather than "nonreaders."