We bring innovative teaching strategies that widen thinking skills to better grasp complex information.

The curriculum at schools now calls for teachers to prepare students in content-rich and knowledge-intensive information and thinking skills that is essential for greater complexity. This means that there is now a higher level of expectation for problem solving versus the memorization of facts. National educational bodies and governments are calling for more rigor, relevance and results in education, suggesting that critical thinking, problem solving, collaboration and communication are a fundamental part of a student’s learning process.

The higher expectation and new requirement of children means that new approaches to teaching are required. The older traditional method of teaching i mplies that more children will struggle to keep up with the complexity of the content being offered at school.

ATO brings innovative teaching techniques and learning strategies to the child, developing cognitive strategy skills and working habits that can then be applied to problem solving situations. The level of complexity and abstraction increases as the child develops thus widening their horizons and their thinking skills to numerous situations, contexts and problems.

Below is a summary of just a few of the techniques and exercises we use with children in building these core skills crucial for the new expectations in schools and life.



    Our most fundamental cognitive exercise, from NILD, that develops several aspects of a child. It is a multimodal task that integrates motor and cognitive functions effectively. Systematic work on this task will result in significant changes to a child. In addition to motor coordination, working memory, directionality, sequencing skills and mental calculations are all developed. The child also learns to deeply focus when doing this task, working the different lobes of the brain prior to beginning work on other tasks.

    Key areas: Attention, motor-coordination, working memory



    It has been well documented by Orton-Gillingham that children demonstrate progressive stages of reading. Children at stage one begin to use their knowledge of consonants and vowels to make simple one-syllable word s. Subsequent stages build on this first stage. Very often, we have noticed that children struggle at this first stage, hence preventing them from developing through subsequent stages. Consequently, this inhibits reading. Our approach to reading is broken down to even smaller units (i.e. from words to syllables to sounds) focusing on phoneme awareness and phonological awareness. Children are taught to understand the different individual sounds (phonemes) and how these could be manipulated by blending, segmenting, adding, deleting and changing sounds to a word that then make a new word. Moveable alphabets is one fun task to get children excited about sounds as well as visual sequencing.

    Key areas: Phoneme understanding, syllabication, spelling generalizations, reading



    This is is a task that children just love. It is aimed to improve auditory sequential skills, short-term working memory and improve vocabulary skills . Using a set of Morse codes and listening to the sound created by the teacher, the student will be asked to identify each letter “buzzed” and working towards spelling the entire word, defining the word, giving its part(s) of speech and then using that word in a sentence. This task could be made more complex as a child masters different groupings of words.

    Key areas: Working memory, sequential skills, vocabulary, word usage and understanding



    This instrument provides the identification of required geometric shapes from a model by selecting and linking respective dots. The dots seem disconnected and unstructured. However, using an example, the student draws lines to connect dots that create a specific shape from initially perceived disconnected and seemingly unstructured information. The child repeatedly practices these and aims for successful completion of progressively more difficult exercises.

    Key areas: Task-intrinsic motivation; planning; hypothetical thinking; use of logical evidence



    This develops a student’s ability to use concepts of time to describe and order their experiences. It is essential for students to have an awareness of the continuity of time and its ordered succession and rhythm of events. The task cards allow students to have to work out how and when different events occurred within a story.

    Key areas: hypothetical thinking; understanding of order; use of relevant cues; use of logical evidence



    This strategy is designed to help children to quickly identify and successfully analyse unknown words in their reading materials. This is especially important for children with learning challenges who struggle on the adequate comprehension of passages due to the large number of content-specific and difficult words in a passage. This strategy is clear, functional and efficient to help children successfully identify many new words.

    Broadening of vocabulary base; analytical reasoning



    This strategy equips students with the basic tools needed to organise and write paragraphs so as to be able to fulfil the more complex writing demands at higher grade levels at school. Students are guided through a set of steps to gain the skills and confidence required for effective paragraph construction.

    Key areas: Paragraph construction; sequencing; writing strategy