Cognitive Enhancements Solutions - Learning Programs for Children

Activating cognition, language and literacy with COGENT modules

COGENT consists of five distinct modules, each designed to activate different aspects of cognition, language and literacy.

The procedures adopted in COGENT are based on broader developmental trajectories for important cognitive functions in early childhood related to language development all the while using basic cognitive processes such as successive, simultaneous processing and attention and planning. The learning procedure reflects the recommendation that the best conditions for learning are realized when the focus is on cognition and the motivational involvement of the child is guaranteed by structuring the task appropriately.

Module Overview

Module 1: Squeeze and Say

Students attend to instructions from an outside agent, (i.e., a teacher or facilitator) and then internalize those instructions. The student's task is to follow an increasingly complex set of rules given by the facilitator.

  • Improves Attention
  • Perceptual Discrimination
  • Metalinguistic Skills

Module 2: Clap and Listen

Aspects of phonological awareness and working memory are the focus of this module. The student's task is to discriminate and respond to smaller units of speech (i.e., words - syllables) presented in progressively longer and faster sequences.

  • Improves Sound Discrimination

Module 3: Funny Relatives

The student's task is to understand syntagmatic then paradigmatic relationships described by the facilitator. Students demonstrate both the action and the spatial relationships expressed in each sentence and respond to questions asked by the facilitator.

  • Facilitates Comprehension
  • Actions expressed in sentences and stories

Module 4: Name Game

Again, phonological awareness and working memory are the focus of this module. The student's task is to discriminate onsets and rimes.

  • Improves Phonological awareness and working memory
  • Prepares for spelling

Module 5: Shapes, Colours and Letters

In this module the focus is on the rapid naming of shapes, colours, objects and letters. The student's task is to identify, and name series of shapes, colours, objects, and letters.

  • Rapid naming of shapes, colors, objects, letters and words

Module Details

Module 1: Squeeze and Say

In the first task, the objective is to make the child attend first to instructions from an outside agent, such as a teacher or a facilitator and then internalize those instructions. The child's learning is acquired through two output modes. One is expressed in movements such as squeeze or clap when the relevant stimulus is presented. The second mode is achieved through an internal cognitive activity basic to all learning, which is the orienting response or attention.

It is assumed that attention is a problem with many preschool children. The development of speech mainly goes through two stages, first attending to the energy value of the speech and secondly to the meaning of the speech. It is the latter that is used in self-regulating the child's behavior. The task also allows the child to develop internal speech. It is obvious from the above discussion that a simple drill in phonemes or blending will not work unless these very basic developmental aspects of literacy are in place.

Module 2: Clap and Listen

Instilling in the child the necessary cognitive structures of internalizing speech and orienting towards the child's inner speech, leads to regulation of the child's own behavior. We therefore designed the next task to do what many early literacy training programs do, that is discrimination of phonemes, detecting rhymes and analysis of sounds in general. These comprise the phonological coding processes that are necessary for reading acquisition. But there is a difference in the way we approach this.

For example, the first few steps in this second task require auditory discrimination and attention and orienting to phonemes. The phonemes are not presented for oral repetition, for example. Instead, the child is told to listen to a word that does not sound the same in a series of words, all of which involve a discrimination between two phonemes contained in the two words, gate and kate. The sounds 'ga' and 'ka', are very similar both for hearing and for speaking as are sounds that are used in subsequent tasks, jar and char, dip and tip, tin and din, fat and pat and finally four and pour. The design of embedding the odd sound like kate in a series of 'gate' is taken from the basic design in orienting response. We are not forcing the child through a drill. When orientation and discrimination to the relevant phoneme in the sound gate, kate, jar, char and so on has been established, gradually the word is truncated and only the beginning sounds 'ga' and 'ka' are presented for discrimination. We also wish to develop working memory in this task by giving children first two words to remember, then three words. These words are divided into phonemically similar words, such as gate and kate or bet and vet, and phonemically dissimilar words such as sun and book. Have we then abandoned the phonological focus of this task? No, following the development of working memory with words that rhyme or do not rhyme, the next task presents sounds without words, the sounds being similar. For example, the child is asked to say ja cha ja or ta tha ta, and so on. The procedure obviously promotes phonological awareness at the level of words,syllables and phonemes ,a core component of reading.

Module 3: Funny Relatives

In this task the training moves away from phonological aspects to focus on understanding sentences in the context of action. The essential nature of these actions is serial, bringing in both the importance of syntax and meaning together. Two major forms of the relationship of words in a sentence are included in this task, the syntagmatic relationship which is a function or action, and the paradigmatic relationship which is based on similarities in meaning. Thus, we see that as early literacy researchers recommend to teach comprehension, we are doing the same but in a very different way, different from simply drilling. The tasks are also highly interesting and are designed to arouse a great deal of interest in the children.

Module 4: Name Game

In the next task, words are analyzed into onsets and rimes and the task emphasizes the way in which a word may be broken apart. Here we include the same aspects as early literacy learning, such as phonological awareness and analogies, but also globalization and short-term memory.

Module 5: Shapes, Colours and Letters

Finally, in task five, we return to the broader issue of ecological validity of words relating to shapes, objects, colors, and the recognition of letters. The purpose is to transform a deliberate and slow recognition of shapes, objects, colors and letters into an automatic one. The process of automatization ends when the recognition becomes a habit, thus releasing the cognitive resources of the child to understand the relationship between these symbols and to manipulate them for expression in speech and in writing. Automatization of letter reading occurs at the end of these training tasks, following the same procedure that was used for automatization of shapes, colors, and object naming. Rapid Automatic Naming is now routinely measured by popular tests (e.g.Torgesen,Wagner,CTOPP).