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Early Literacy Foundations (ELF) Australian Version

Years in development and successful trialing, and the result of a unique and innovative collaboration between clinical speech pathologists and occupational therapists in consultation with teachers …now you can deliver ‘prevention intervention’ in developing young clients’ literacy skills.

About the Set
The development of literacy skills (including writing, reading and spelling) is seen as paramount in the early years of schooling. This is a challenging time for some students when many skills are being mastered simultaneously.

Researchers at Australia’s University of Queensland Schools of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences found that many students who experience difficulties in the area of listening, reading or spelling also tend to struggle with motor, sensory and perceptual skills. This led to the development of a holistic intervention approach in which they recognized the equal contribution of both language and sensory motor development to the acquisition of literacy and aimed to detect struggling students at a very early stage in order to provision specific assistance through a team approach of learning support teacher, speech pathologist and occupational therapist.

The outcome: a comprehensive and proven program that focuses on normalising sensory-motor function to allow acquisition of phonological awareness and directly apply it to reading and spelling.

Evidence-Based, and Proven in Practice
The initial ELF program was devised in 1999 in collaboration between Speech Pathology and Occupational Therapy in the School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Queensland, Australia. This program focused on phonological awareness and its application in reading and spelling, as well as the motor and sensory skills necessary to plan and execute precision tasks such as handwriting and cutting.

Between 1999 and 2002, seven trials of the program were conducted in a range of schools across Brisbane, including schools with differing socio-economic status and needs. The authors also trialed a number of different implementation models, including withdrawing students in small groups, or very large groups (depending on school needs). Based on the results of these trials, and with a large body of supporting research findings, the ELF Support Program was devised as a self-contained package which could be implemented by specialist teachers to groups of students.

Background to the ELF Support Program:
“The ELF Support Program is based on prevention intervention and has been designed so that all activities have multiple goals – both metalinguistic and sensory motor. This represents a major point of innovation within the field of early literacy intervention….The aim is to screen students in the midst of their learning and identify those slow to master skills and who may be ‘at risk’ for future literacy difficulty. They are then exposed to a specific program to boost their skills and learning. If intervention is provided while the skill is still being learned, early learning is as accurate as possible. If students are able to learn appropriate support strategies at the same time as they are learning the material in the classroom setting, many will go on to learn with their peers, preventing or reducing the risk of delayed mastery and subsequent labeling”.

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