COMMON NAME: Aardvark
SCIENTIFIC NAME: Orycteropus afer
AVERAGE LIFESPAN IN CAPTIVITY: 23 years
SIZE: Head and body, 43 to 53 in; tail, 21 to 26 in
WEIGHT: 110 to 180 lbs
No, this isn’t the start of a science unit studying the habits and life cycle of the strange, insect-eating mammal called an Aardvark. It’s actually the introduction to a blog post all about the Aardvark Language Program. This program was created by Canadians Janet and Sara Dorken, founders of Aarken Tutoring, now known as Aardvark Spelling and Reading.
But why are we posting this here on the Access Learning Blog?
Well, as educators we are always looking to build our resource library and increase our knowledge so we can be more effective teachers and student advocates. Many of the students we work with at Access Learning seek out tutoring because they are looking for support with reading, writing, and language comprehension. After discovering the Aardvark program, we knew that it was a tool we could use to radically improve the language learning our tutoring students were doing.
Aardvark has proven to be a fantastic resource and it gets its basis from the Orton-Gillingham Approach to teaching language.
What the heck does that mean?
The Orton-GIllingham approach was developed by two remarkable people named Samuel Torrey Orton and Anna Gillingham. Dr. Orton, a neuroscientist and pathologist who lived from 1879-1948, was a pioneer in the study of language processing difficulties. By 1925 he had identified the syndrome of dyslexia and encouraged his collegue and accomplished educator and psychologist, Anna Gillingham (1878-1963), to study and publish instructional materials based on this learning in the 1930s. These early publications became the foundation for the Orton-Gillingham Approach to teaching language.
Although designed to help people diagnosed with dyslexia, the Orton-GIllingham Approach is an effective language learning tool for anyone! It is most effectively used one-on-one and in small-group settings. The OG Approach helps students sort, recognize, and organize the raw materials of language. This means that language gets broken down into its simplest parts (letter sounds, syllable types, etc.).
Drawing on the language development guidelines of the OG Approach, the Aardvark Language Program adds hands-on, interactive activities to help students build their skills and comprehension. The idea of this is that if we move our bodies with intention while learning new things, we retain that information better. Plus, when kids are having fun, they tend to be more engaged and more motivated to learn.
When teaching with the Aardvark method, our tutors take on the roles of leader, demonstrator, and co-participant. We coach our students on proper form and technique for the physical exercises. We also coach them with their language development, increasing the complexity and difficulty in small increments over time and celebrating each small success our students experience as they learn. And Aardvark offers a parent’s program too, so you can bring the Aardvark Language Program home, either as a compliment to your child’s tutoring or to work on teaching them yourself!
Access Learning students have so much fun participating in the Aardvark activities and we love being able to bring multi-sensory, hands-on learning experiences to our students. We know that this phenomenal language program will continue to inspire success in our students. You can support us and our students, and the Aardvark program by clicking on our affiliate link. For more information on the Orton-Gillingham approach, you can check out the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators.