top of page
toddler_unlocking.JPG

The objectives of SAI for toddlers - the Toddler Project - are straightforward: to conduct initial screenings of children at age 3 for phoneme (speech sound) articulation and phonemic awareness, implement the intervention program, and subsequently reassess at age 4. The collected data will be rigorously analysed with the intention of improving the program and publishing the findings. We will conduct an initial pilot phase to screen and intervene, allowing us to refine the program before scaling up. We will then collect data annually and report our findings, with the goal of publishing the results.
In addition to developing the Phoneme Articulation and Awareness (PAM) program for nationwide nursery implementation, we will create a comprehensive kit that parents can purchase to use at home from birth. Furthermore, we will establish a robust assessor training program, enabling teachers to set up their own SAI Space, implementing the program in nurseries and Parent and Baby Groups.

Phonemies - Speech Sound Mapping

SAI Toddlers - The Toddler Project: Including Screen and Intervene with the Phonemic Awareness Mastery (PAM) Program
Advancing Early Phonemic Awareness and Articulation


The Toddler Project is an extension of the Innovate UK-funded initiative in which we developed a 'one-screen' AAC device for non-speaking autistic children. This device allows children to communicate even before they can read and spell by typing in 'Phonemies,' with the written word appearing and being voiced.

The I Can Speak Without You ICSWY project exceeded all expectations, with toddlers testing the technology showing remarkable improvements in phoneme articulation (speech) and phonemic awareness (understanding the foundations of reading and spelling). Many began to mimic reading and independently use supplementary resources, including 'mapped' books. Why? They LOVED the 'Phonemies' - the Speech Sound characters.

Please see the Ortho-Graphix I Can Speak Without You (ICSWY) Project page for more information.

More children than ever before are starting school without phonemic awareness (at least 1 in 4, according to the DfE) and with poor oral language skills (nearly 1 in 3, according to Speech and Language UK). Although this is widely understood, few have been able to figure out how to address the issue on a nationwide scale. 

"Having spent the past decade predominantly supporting primary school and SEN teachers, it will be awesome to get back to the early years! I managed two 'outstanding' nurseries for 8 years and was subsequently appointed as an OFSTED Inspector. As a 'doer,' I found the role challenging because I couldn't support their journey towards becoming exceptional spaces for everyone using them. 
My dream is to return to the early years and support parents, carers, and early years educators through the Toddler Project—screening 3-year-olds for learning differences and providing them with the specialist support they need and deserve (and they don't need to look at a single grapheme or use a phonics program)"
Emma Hartnell-Baker aka The Neurodivergent 'Reading Whisperer (the Duck Hands Lady)

Most I support do become avid readers early, but that's not the purpose of this work. They can start school with great phonemic awareness and oral language skills and know no letter names or 'letter sounds.' I ask parents to please not chase 'reading'—chase finding your child's learning code! However if they are interested in mapping those Phonemies with the written code we can use the Innovate UK-funded tech and show books with mapped words (the whole Village with Three Corners Series of 150 books are Monster Mapped!!) as seen above. Amari is able to see the connections, and understand them when ready - but the Speech Sound Monster part of the connection is understood, and builds on his schema.  

As pattern seekers—especially if neurodivergent like myself—it makes no sense NOT to show babies and toddlers mapped words, but we use the words that matter to them and that they are interested in, and can only do this as the Phonemies build on existing schemas. You won't see traditional 'phonics' stuff—no GPC teaching sequence or 'decodable readers' as we make ALL text decodable to the toddlers, and their learning starts with what they already know. Letters are not something they are able to understand without considerable foundational work. We understand that this is so different, that adults will need to see it to understand it - we will be live streaming this work with bubs in the Learning Differences Centre—which is why we need funding to get it off the ground asap!). Most expect phonemic awareness with young children to involve letters. We have figured out how to change that - and it's a world first. It's an exciting break-through!

The ONLY reason we can do this early 'Code Mapping' work is because of the speech sound monsters—Phonemies - because the children understand the concept, and actually want to play with them. They do not realise they are being screener for phoneme articulation and phonemic awareness, they think they are just learning 'the monster moves'! And this is at the heart of our inclusive and play-based approach to learning to speak, read and spell, and become curious,  engaged learners who read for pleasure. 

This 'learning to speak and read' journey could be far easier for children and require far less effort on the part of adults than most currently realise. When we know more, we can do more. I look forward to sharing my passion and expertise with as many parents and early years teachers as possible. I will be setting up the first pilot in a room in a nursery where I can screen and support as many children as possible every day! Eventually we will set up a Learning Differences Centre, to scale up and more effectively training and support specialist 'PAM' teachers, accredited to 'Screen and Intervene' in early years settings. The plan will be to have SAI Spaces across the country, and to raise awareness of the benefits of early identification of learning differences and subsequent - tailor made - intervention. This is also exciting for children who exhibit great phonemic awareness, as they can be given an 'acceleration' program!
 

The Differernt Framework from The Reading Hut
The Different Reading Framework
bottom of page