Posted on 13 January 2015

Every carpet serves a purpose. Some are installed merely to cover an otherwise bare floor. Others are required for traction or even healthcare purposes. There is always a reason for choosing a carpet - and it's important to understand that. Understanding the most prevalent reasons in the market will provide you with some insight as to why certain carpets are manufactured. Innovation, after all, tends to emerge as a result of demand or need.

And, that's exactly how Birch Carpets developed their teaching carpet. This particular manufacture is a broadloom carpeting with a bright pattern of colours, letters, numbers and basic shapes. And, it comes with a 10-year warranty, so that should say something about its inherent strength and resilience.

But, Birch's Floors that Teach carpets are typically not selected because of their strength; that's just a bonus. Instead, schools, day-cares and similar organisations opt for this floor because it assists them with the teaching process. There's a science behind it all - and it has a lot more to with childhood development than it does carpet manufacturing. (But, who says the two can't be combined?)

Letter Awareness Comes before Word Recognition

Interestingly, many people read by assessing the shape of a word. In other words (pun intended), we don't actually read letters unless we have to because we are unfamiliar with a particular word. You don't need to sound out most words in your head, trying to link them with a time, place or context when you would have previously been exposed to that word. You just sort of know it. But, that's a process that you've perfected over many years of reading.

Unsurprisingly, letter awareness must come before word recognition. This is also a process, but one that happens relatively quickly - and early in a child's education. Given a proper environment, children begin their letter recognition journey around three years of age. It continues until roughly seven years when it's (usually) rather cemented in the memory centres of the brain.

Understanding the Role of Visual Discrimination

It's difficult (if not completely impossible) to remember the trouble you had learning to recognise letters as a child. That's because you know them all now - and even if you are working with dyslexia or a learning disability - you can still identify a letter when put to the test.

But, it's not easy to get to that point. Remember that letters are simply funny lines and shapes which don't mean anything to small children.

And, many letters can be easily confused until they're mastered. Sure, L and O look nothing alike, but the m and the n certainly do. R and K are troubling when written in the upper case form. So are E and F - which serve very different roles with the alphabet. Learning to tell visually similar letters apart is called visual discrimination - and it can take some time. Most kids need a lot of exposure to make it stick.

Getting to Phonological Awareness

It's all well and good to say that you read according to the shape of the word and sight recognition, but that's not where you begin. Once you recognise a letter - and can discern it from all the other letters, numbers and shapes, you're hardly finished. After that, you need to worry about the sound of each letter (and you also need to know the letter's name - though there is some debate about which label should come first).

Once again, this is a process. It requires linking a symbol to a sound, and it requires a combination of visual references (written letters) and verbal communication. Depending on the language, letters make different sounds - and, very confusingly in the case of English - different positions within a word can change the phonics of a letter. So, it's easy to understand why the foundation must be strong before getting to the reading stages.

Continued Exposure Is Key to Reading Development

We'll get on to the benefits of reading in just a moment which will explain why all of this is necessary, but first it is important to understand exposure to letters - and even numbers. The process of learning to read is tricky, as you can see. It involves the use working memory to correlate new information with existing and understood patterns. Unfortunately, working memory relies heavily on the development of the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, and that takes a couple of decades to develop fully.

In order to force working memory to develop the ability to read, repeated (if not almost constant) exposure to letters is required. It's why classrooms for young children always seem to have letter charts and related teaching tools scattered throughout the room. It's also why Birch Carpets developed a floor pattern that reinforces this learning. Anything that strengthens the pre-reading process makes it easier for children to grasp words and reading, and that's important.

Reading Is Directly Linked to Intelligence

Yes, yes, there are very clever people who don't seem to read much at all, we know that. According to a recent article published in The Guardian, Dan Hurley states, "reading and intelligence have a relationship so close as to be symbiotic." And this is the result of several years of research involving neuroscientists and psychologists.

What it means is that you will make yourself more intelligent by reading more. That provides you with better reasoning powers, leading to increased work efficacy and a greater chance of financial success in life. And that's a goal that every parent and school has for their children, right?

So, it might just look like a brightly coloured, patterned carpet to you. But, for the folks in the schools - and over at Birch Carpets - it's a great deal more. It's a chance at success that starts before you even understand the sound that the letter S makes. And, as you can see, that warranty is really just a bonus.

For more information please visit the Birch Carpets website -

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