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Monster Mapping® 

Flipping Phonics! Speech Sound Monster Mapping®

Speech Sound Monsters - Phonics is VISUAL - Speech Sound Monster Mapping
Speech Sound Monster s- Phonics Flipped
Speech Sound Monster Phonics Tech and Tools

Emma Hartnell-Baker introduced the Speech Sound Monsters, phonics made easier, around 2015. They offer children a visual representation of a concept that is not natural to most. Phonemic awareness is only needed to learn to read and spell. Some children develop phonemic awareness easily when asked to 'duck hand' words, for example, but at least 1 in 4 do not find this easy. Phonemic awareness on school entry is the best predictor of reading success and the leading cause of reading difficulties. Why? Because if children can't isolate, segment, and blend sounds, then doing that with letters (graphemes) is incredibly hard. It is why so many resort to teaching children whole words to memorise 'by sight'. But that is short-sighted. The brain can't learn to read in that way.

Emma Hartnell-Baker is a leading authority in teaching toddlers to read (actually read—not memorise flashcards or read decodable readers) because she makes phonics both highly visual and linguistic, going speech to print in the early stages.

You’ve seen some amazing progress with Avery recently. Miss Emma does seem to ruffle a few feathers just by showing that phonics and ‘sight words’ can be taught differently, but this response is fairly typical when neurodivergent educators challenge existing methods.

At first, she was ridiculed and opposed, and yet much of what she introduced within the Speech Sound Pics (SSP) Approach is now commonplace in Aussie schools. It is not synthetic phonics, however.

Emma Hartnell-Baker's recent 'speech to print' technology is going to challenge existing theories around how to teach phonics. Monster Mapping flips phonics. The methods that have been used to teach children to read for the past few decades have failed at least 1 in 4. Speech Sound Monsters (Phonemies) change that. Many children have learned with 'print to speech' phonics in spite of these methods, but they aren’t intuitive or neuro-inclusive. If children are first shown letters and asked 'what sound does this letter make?' this goes against their schema (what they know) and makes learning to read with an opaque orthography increasingly difficult. It is why children may pass the UK Phonics screener but still can't read by the time they leave primary school.

The ‘reading wars’ have really curbed innovation. So focused on proving one approach over another, we’ve lost sight of scientific exploration. Emma Hartnell-Baker has it front and centre in her sights.

The way children are taught to read is problematic as it doesn’t start from a child’s schema or existing knowledge. It’s so restrictive. We have an opaque orthography, making it no wonder that so many children never learn to read effectively.

Miss Emma withdrew from sharing her work to a great extent even while in Australia full-time, supporting school-aged children and their teachers. Many weren’t ready for the ‘how’, and the system doesn’t like change. Consequently, a lot of her SSP work has been appropriated—some are implementing it well, while others make her wince.

But this new work is mind-blowing. Brains are more plastic under three. The idea of waiting until they’re older is based on instructional convenience, not the brain’s capacity to learn. Children can be fluent in multiple languages when exposed early. The written form is just another language, but it can’t be unlocked using traditional methods.

Emma Hartnell-Baker knows how to prevent children from struggling to learn to read in school. She screens children at three, before they learn phonics. Most children would benefit significantly from these early learning strategies. Speech Sound Monster Mapping is a breakthrough in cracking the reading code. Read Australia!

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