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With the passing of time, hypothetical theories of learning are verified with pre and post testing. A philosophy develops when theories result in positive outcomes. Since 1978 Knight Education, Inc. has trained many teachers who have taught many students the Starting Over multisensory reading program. The test results have led to the development of our philosophy.

Theories of Learning

Children and adults can improve their reading, spelling, and writing if they begin with a diagnosis and continue with appropriate teaching.

When people struggle with reading and writing, they worry about the cause of their problem and wonder what they can do about it. A diagnosis will specify their strengths and weaknesses, and make clear whether the area of instruction they need is related to the language arts: decoding, spelling, comprehension, vocabulary, writing, or something else.


Dyslexic children and adults can improve their reading, spelling, and writing if they are diagnosed and taught using a multisensory, structured language approach.

Individuals who do not have dyslexia learn sounds automatically with little teacher instruction. Individuals with dyslexia do not recognize and differentiate sounds easily. In a multisensory structured language (MSL) approach, the sensory channels (VAKT) – visual (seeing), auditory (hearing), kinesthetic (moving muscles), and tactile (fingertip writing) - are stimulated simultaneously.  Weaker pathways are united with stronger ones.  Combining all of them at once to say or spell a word increases memory because more of the brain receives, stores and remembers the information.

3 Teachers can be taught to do both the diagnosis and the remediation.
  The benefits of diagnosis to both the student and the professional who will give the tests are enormous. Trust in the interviewer’s competence is developed when the teacher explains what the student’s answers might indicate. Students learn that decoding ability is not a function of intelligence, but of phonological processing. Their guilt over the mistaken belief that they caused the reading problem by having been bad, stupid, lazy, or retarded is alleviated. The student’s history and test results provide evidence of the real cause of the problem. The professional who will benefit from the strong bond that has developed should be the one who will teach the student, and that is the teacher.
4 Parents can be taught how to help their children seven days a week when they and their children receive multisensory instruction together.
  Many parents frantically search for an answer to why their children are failing to master reading and the related language arts. They would like to help, but don’t know how. In fact, they cannot be of help if they don’t understand how multisensory structured language education is delivered to the student. Learning in the same classroom with their children transforms them into sympathetic, knowledgeable, teaching assistants.
5 Dyslexic students can be taught to surmount their primary problem: awareness of differences among individual sounds.

The diagnosis will reveal whether poor phonological processing (dyslexia) is the basis of the reading difficulty. If it is, the reading approach that will help is a multisensory, structured one. Problems in other language areas will require specific remediation that may not need to include decoding instruction.

6 Teachers can be taught not to give answers, but to ask questions that will lead students not only to answers, but also to the development of critical thinking.
  Teachers are the main source of the information that will be delivered to the student. That information is best delivered not by telling answers, but by giving clues that are planted in the student’s mind and called upon later with pertinent questions. The benefit is that the student becomes a more active learner.
7 Memorization can be enhanced with daily review of previously introduced material.
  Memorization is enhanced not only with multisensory techniques, but also with frequent repetition that acts to embed information deeper into memory channels. Researchers such as Ebbinghaus (1890) and Spitzer (1939) found that with immediate, overnight, and daily repetition, approximately 85% of information was retained.
8 Sequenced steps for decoding and spelling can serve to focus attention, activate the learner, slow down impulsive behavior, and foster independence.
  The key concept here is ‘organization.’ If a word is to be spelled and decoded correctly there must be a reliable and consistent strategy composed of a small number of steps that the student can use for the vast majority of words (90%) that are regular.
9 Reading comprehension and fluency can be improved and made enjoyable with explicit comprehension instruction.

Poor comprehension has various causes. Inadequate vocabulary and decoding skill forces students to resort to guessing in an effort to maintain fluency. Reading ‘salutary’ as ‘solitary’ distorts the meaning of the sentence and perhaps the entire passage. Even when vocabulary and decoding have improved, it is still necessary to teach direct comprehension and fluency strategies such as: finding main ideas, discerning character and conflict, recognizing plot structure, and rereading with attention to phrasing. These must be taught at the start of remediation alongside decoding and vocabulary.

10 Writing can be mastered when taught alongside decoding and comprehension.
  Writing instruction, at the level of the sentence, begins at the first session and continues on to the introductory paragraph and the whole composition.