Something very different for me – a book originally intended for parents of young children, trainee teachers and nursery staff. During her long career, Beryl Collinge used this system to teach a range of pupils from a 34 year old man to groups of over 30 children as young as three, many of whom had English as a second language.
In producing this book, she drew on her experiences as a teacher and the techniques she developed. Her premise is that if you can teach a child (or adult) to draw a cat and a house then you can show them how to write. Mrs Collinge is currently in contact with the Prison Service about using her book to help prisoners who have poor or no reading skills.
The book is in black and white and there are no fancy coloured pictures, but I liked the author’s straightforward, fuss free approach and the fact that she caters for left handed as well as right handed learners. Her motto is “make it fun, build confidence, give praise”. A simple message, but one which has stood the test of time.
The book and its methods are probably more traditional (the focus is on Mum rather than Dad), than we are used to and it won’t suit everyone – we all have different learning (and teaching) styles – but it meets the aim of providing a calm, structured and consistent basis for learning, whether as a supplement for existing knowledge or teaching or as something to build on. Its strength lies in its use as a tool to aid those who have been failed by/ have failed with other methods.
Verdict: On a personal level, when I was in my 30s and learning Farsi (Persian), my teacher used a very similar method, also involving cats, so on that basis I recommend it for those learning a new alphabet as well as adult learners trying to get to grips with reading and writing for the first time.