THRASS is an acronym for Teaching Handwriting Reading & Spelling Skills. It is a teaching method aimed at building a solid foundational understanding of literacy. THRASS works on the idea that to gain a working knowledge of how language behaves we must understand the process behind word building.
Literacy teaching methods have changed over the years and various models have been used to various effect. Teaching phonics has long been central to literacy but teaching methods have recently been revisited. Educators have come to understand that, when children learn to recite various language components off flash cards or by the recognition of sight words, they are not always gaining a full understanding of how language works. This creates gaps in their learning and makes it difficult for them to apply the rules of language across a range of learning situations.
Comprehensive literacy means understanding how language fits together and how we build words through letters and sounds.
The literature explaining the THRASS pedagogy likens literacy to mathematics, a place where certain rules apply. Once we understand these rules, we can follow them an infinite amount of times and apply them across a range of applications with success.
How THRASS Works
THRASS works by teaching the 26 letters and 44 sounds or phonemes in the English language. Once children understand the orography (spelling system) of the English language, they have the tools to create and utilise language. Literacy skills form the heart of foundational learning, empowering children with these skills and allowing for all other learning to occur.
Why It Is Important?
An alarming number of children miss early literacy skills and this influences their future learning in every way. Reading instructions, articulating answers and comprehending language processes are all part of curriculum requirements across the learning spectrum.
Avoiding the Wrong Kind of Learning
When children learn from flashcards without understanding how language works, they are not only missing an anchored understanding of language, they are creating active blocks that replace comprehensive learning with rote recall skills. Basically, they are creating shortcuts that result in more problems than they’re worth, which will require difficult unlearning and relearning.
The holistic nature of the THRASS approach has been proven to support the learning needs of all students, including those with dyslexia and specific learning disabilities.
Teachers and parents have access to THRASS training courses as well as a comprehensive suite of resources for teaching literacy. The pedagogy is such that it requires the teacher to be active, committed and in possession of a sound knowledge base. This allows them to best make use of the resources available.
When to Start
Denyse Ritchie (THRASS Co-Founder and Director) was interviewed for Education Today and believes that “The earlier that we can start playing with sounds – listening to the sounds that we can hear in ‘cat’; what sound does the cow make it makes ‘moo’; what sound does the horse make, it makes ‘neigh’ and so forth and the earlier we can start to hear these individual sounds, the easier the children can get into reading and writing.
Another example Denyse used is, “if the chef is working on preparing mushrooms with the children, they will know that there is a chef on the chart and what a chef does and there is an ‘sh’ sound at the beginning of chef and the same ‘sh’ sound at the start of champignons.”
“We can then take them from the sound process to the words. ‘Today we are going to do the word ‘my’ and we can hear two sounds ‘m’ and ‘i’, then we can start to build in how we represent that word in written English.”
“We tend to teach children that the letter ‘y’ is a sound as in yacht and yellow and yoyo. And of course, that is one of the big problems that cause children to have literacy difficulties when they are taught that each letter in English has only one sound.”
“We know from NAPLAN that comprehension is an area where we are failing. And why are we failing it? …because many children do not know the meaning of words.”
THRASS has been an ‘eye-opener’ for ToBeMe Early Learning’s Educational Leader – Emma Parle, in charge of The Investigators’ (Preparatory room). Educated in the UK, she says: “There was nothing like it when I was growing up. The charts help children from families that do not speak English at home to get used to our sounds and words quickly.”
Regular THRASS learning programs are undertaken at ToBeMe every day. If you would like to learn more about THRASS and how you can get involved, or to speak with us about enrolling your child at ToBeMe, contact us today.
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