Eyewords founder, Jennifer Orr, is a kindergarten teacher and early literacy specialist with 18 years of experience in primary education. In her classroom, she observed that many of her students could isolate beginning, middle and ending sounds in a word, but were not yet able to blend these sounds to decode the word. Jennifer realized that while these students had knowledge of letter/sound relationships, they had not yet reached the developmental milestone necessary to effectively blend phonetic sounds to decode a word. To bridge this gap, she worked with the natural inclination of children towards visual learning and focused on the memorization of key sight words with the use of embedded pictures.
“At home, I used pictures to make learning to read more interesting and enjoyable for my own children. I found that embedding pictures into new words held their attention longer and made reading sessions more fun. My children loved using crayons to create their own pictures and associate their own visual meanings to new words. I did not anticipate how this approach would accelerate their learning of both phonetic and non-phonetic sight words. I started using this technique in my classroom and was astonished by the results. Children with learning challenges were able to learn these words despite not being able to use phonics. Eyewords even benefited children who were strong phonetic decoders.”
Jennifer formed the Eyewords team and began developing products that could be used with existing literacy programs to accelerate the rate at which children acquire literacy skills.
Eyewords tools help teachers differentiate their instruction to maximize learning. Because of the strong link between play and learning, Eyewords teaching tools use a play-based approach to create an atmosphere of fun and an enthusiasm for reading among young children. Because students meet success through our activities, their confidence improves and they are motivated to want to learn more.
“I decided that it was time to take this idea and make it mainstream practice so that all children, whether they are struggling to learn to read or not, can benefit from the effectiveness of this multi-sensory approach.”