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The trauma of trying to 'blend' words with my 5yo d/s

(62 Posts)
laudymissclaudy Tue 13-Nov-12 22:14:18

My son started school in September (also turned 5!) and he is beginning to learn to read. He can recognise letters and knows the sounds however when I comes to blending 'd-o-g' 'dog' the nightmare begins. He really struggles and starts to get upset and throws tantrums as soon as I mention practicing some of the words the school sent home! I spoke to his teach who agreed he would not blend (rather than can't?) and said the teaching assistant will be doing some extra work with the children who are struggling! Has anyone else had an issue with this part of reading? His school uses the read write inc programme. It's getting to a point I dread getting it out as the huff that follows doesn't seem worth it!

Haberdashery Tue 13-Nov-12 22:53:50

It's not a bloody problem, learnandsay, it's completely NORMAL for a child early on in Reception to not yet have grasped blending.

I would also say take it easy, just make it as fun as you can (the robot speak game can be a lot of fun) and be patient. It really is a developmental thing and pushing it may just lead to you and him getting upset. He will get there in the end and if he can spot the sounds in the words at all he is doing just fine at this stage. The best thing is just to make sounds explicit in words as a conversational thing. If he can spot the starting sound of words, try to get him spotting the end sound or the middle one or whatever. Maybe get him to spot an object in the room that ends with T or something? Choose a sound where there are lots of choices for him to get it right easily so he will feel encouraged. And don't stress about it. Really, this is completely normal for a child at this stage of their school career.

numbum Tue 13-Nov-12 22:59:00

I'm not starting an argument. Your comment indicates that anyone who's child doesn't take to reading easily is lashing out. Like I said, both of my children took to reading easily, but I wouldn't assume anyone who's child hasn't taken to reading so easily has a child who is lashing out but just has a child who's taking a while longer to 'get' it

learnandsay Tue 13-Nov-12 23:00:58

No I'm not. I was talking about PPPop's post where she said her child lashes out and made blending a game.

lljkk Tue 13-Nov-12 23:01:59

Folk getting into a barny over how to blend (only on MN).

Purpleprickles Tue 13-Nov-12 23:04:18

I'm teaching Reception this year having taught nursery for the last three. I firmly believe that children access letters and sounds, blending, reading when they are developmentally ready. Not all children learn at the same rate and why should they? It sounds as if the school are pushing blending possibly too hard. He will get there. In my class I have some children about to start reading scheme books and some still going over the first set of letters to consolidate their learning. I don't see anything wrong with this. I have a group of boys totally disinterested but over time they will get there.
I think the suggestion of robot voice for sound talk is good- by making a game of sounding out words it will help your ds hear how letters blend together. We played a game today with an object hidden in a bag and I sounded out what it was, e.g c-u-p and they had to guess.
Please don't feel that at this point in Reception your ds must be blending. He just isn't ready. Our school has 4 reception classes and there are children in each who aren't ready so he is perfectly normal and will start blending when he is ready.

simpson Tue 13-Nov-12 23:06:11

I think the whole point everyone is trying to make is to make it fun and not formal so the child does not realise they are learning iyswim...

DS (now yr3 really struggled with blending - he got his first reading book in feb when he was in reception and it did not click until Easter time and once he clicked....he was off!!)

Purpleprickles Tue 13-Nov-12 23:08:19

And sorry to clarify, by saying he isn't developmentally ready doesn't mean I think he is developmentally behind. I also have children in my class who don't 'get' blending yet but can hold a full on in depth conversation about how something works and already work out subtractions mentally but just aren't ready for blending.

Tgger Tue 13-Nov-12 23:12:26

And some of those kids will be the ones already zooming round on bikes and swimming well. Not to say you some aren't doing both but child development goes in spurts at all things. It's interesting they don't send the kids struggling with pushing the pedals round home with a bike and pedals to push grin.

learnandsay Tue 13-Nov-12 23:16:11

Right, but for the ones who can't swim we can supply a brochure of our new heated swimming pool which all school families can access for a modest fee.

Purpleprickles Tue 13-Nov-12 23:16:14

Tgger smile I like your thinking <ponders sending bikes home over reading scheme books on Friday> grin

Tgger Tue 13-Nov-12 23:17:53

And make sure you send a good patronising note home about what to do with them grin.

Ilelo Tue 13-Nov-12 23:34:51

My DD did a year long reading programme before starting school in September and it was about 9 months into it that she "got" blending though she knew a lot of letter sounds by then.

One of the games we played was making up words with flashcards. E.g. with the word mat, the m and the t will be at 2 ends of the table and the a in the middle. I'd get her to say the sounds for each letter slowly at first, then I'd start bringing the m and the t closer to the a in the centre and the closer they got, the faster she had to say the sounds. Sometimes she said the right word; other times, she'd say a word that did not even sound alike.

We also had picture & word cards, where we would look at the picture and sound out the letters that make the word. We did word search with these too like find the word mat, then I would sound it out or get her to say the sounds she heard in the word.

There are lots of ideas/aids on youtube.

As frustruated as I felt we kept at learning the sounds and working on blending them at least about three times a week. I don't know exactly how she figured it out but it just seemed to click one day and she's never looked back.

I'm sure if you persevere and make it as interesting as possible and with the right support from school too he'll soon be up to speed.

kilmuir Tue 13-Nov-12 23:37:59

pocket phonics is a good app

Malaleuca Wed 14-Nov-12 04:56:13

Sing the sounds, works a treat.

midseasonsale Wed 14-Nov-12 06:01:08

we taught ours wee, poo, fart, bum, pants etc .. and then started to make up silly sentences using the words.

PastSellByDate Wed 14-Nov-12 06:06:56

Hi Laudymissclaudy:

I thought I'd just say that both my DDs (DD1 now Y5/ DD2 now Y3) took a while to be able to sound out words and certainly neither was making a lot of progress before Christmas in Class R.

DD1 in particular was very slow to 'get it' but also turned 5 shortly after starting school.

We found alphablocks incredibly helpful - the cartoon format and cheerful tunes which are very catchy really helped introduce these concepts for DD2 (not out in time for DD1). BBC Alphablocks here:

Now the other thing to remember is that elsewhere in the world children do not start primary school until the year they are turning 6 and are not expected to properly commence learning to read (to blend sounds) until the year they are turning 7.

I know it can be really hard to not be concerned or aware that other children seem to be picking it up no problem - but you really do need to treat this like any other milestone your child has had to date. Your DS will get there in his own good time. Right now he needs your support and it's essential you are positive about the pleasure and importance of reading, not necessarily that he gets on with it right now. It's very important that you are outwardly relaxed about his reading and show confidence that he'll get there in the end.

We found with DD1 (phonetics system just introduced and not as well taught as with DD2 a few years later with a different teacher) that slow and steady got us there. Be prepared for a frustrated child and a child who is fully aware they are in 'bottom group' or 'not doing very well'. Just keep reassuring him that you know he'll get there in the end. It's a marathon - not a 100m dash.

We also found advice and resources on Oxford Owl very helpful for DD2 (sadly not discovered or possibly out there for DD1). Link here:


RiversideMum Wed 14-Nov-12 06:48:54

I agree with Purpleprickles. I teach reception and I find that blending for reading takes some time for some children to aquire, but that what tends to happen is that one day they "get it".

In my class at the moment, less than a third are blending confidently enough to have a reading book. I'd expect most of the class to be reading by the end of the Spring term. Those that know few letter/sound correspondences by Christmas, or who are not reading by Easter, I'd say will need "extra support". So, not knowing your child or the cohort, it surprises me that the teacher is using a word like "struggling" and saying that he "won't" rather than "can't" blend only 10 weeks into the term.

Learning to read is not a race (despite what you may pick up from MN) and there is no evidence that children who read fluently in reception are necessarily going to be high achievers through life. Let's face it, most countries in the world don't bother teaching reading at this age anyway.

I think it's really important when teaching reading to go at the child's pace otherwise he or she will decide reading is too hard before they even get started. Your DS seems to be illustrating this point. Reading is such a wonderful gift that we don't want any child to be thinking they can't do it. TBH, I'd focus at home on what your child CAN do rather than what he can't do. So if he knows letter/sound correspondences, and you want to do work at home then concentrate on those. Even better, bake some cakes or go on a lovely walk.

PPPop Wed 14-Nov-12 07:05:26

Your post was a little patronising, learnandsay. Maybe have another read of it and see how it could come across? <pats learnandsay on the head>

SilveryMoon Wed 14-Nov-12 07:11:29

Marking my place.
Ds1 just started year 1 and turned 5 in August.
I was told at parents evening that he's below average in everything.
Just leaving for work but back later to read and rant about the down sides of pushing phonics. Imo.

RaisinBoys Wed 14-Nov-12 16:21:51

Remember it well. Aug born DS. Around this time in Recep he just didn't get it. I didn't push it, just carried on sharing books (and slipping in a little bit of phonics). A few weeks later, he just got it. He was ready.

Not looked back. Now Y5 - prolific reader.

Hang in there and do not stress too much. Just give it a bit more time. If still worried talk to teacher.

SoundsWrite Wed 14-Nov-12 17:07:53

I would follow maizieD's advice. You'll also find it easier to practise blending activities if you use three-sound words (CVC) that begin with a continuant, a sound you can hang on to. For example, you can hang on to /f/, /l/, /m/, /n/, /r/, /s/ /w/ and /v/, relatively easily. This enables the child to hear the word and to blend the sounds in the word. So, if you write the word 'mat' on a whiteboard or piece of paper, go 'mmmmmmmaaaaaaat', tracking your finger under each sound as you stretch it out. Your child should be able to hear the word 'mat'. After your son has read the word, ask him to write it, saying each sound separately now as he does and then reading the word back sound by sound, followed by the whole word. If he needs help forming the letters, help him by providing a model. Use a light coloured pen or marker and let him go over what you've done with a darker colour. Add dots to show where to start and arrows to shoe orientation if necessary.

MilkRunningOutAgain Wed 14-Nov-12 18:22:07

My dd couldn't blend at all in reception. I did lots of games and tried to make it fun but it meant nothing to her. One day in the summer holidays between yr r and yr 1 she got it and went back to school at the start of yr 1 able to read cvc words and starting to have a go at harder ones.

For her, it was just a case of waiting until it clicked. She's in yr 2 now and a good reader who loves stories.

SilveryMoon Wed 14-Nov-12 19:31:13

My ds1 is 5 (august) and is now in year 1.
We've just had his parents evening where the teacher told me that ds1 is below average in everything.
She wants to work on his reading first.
I thought ds1 was doing quite well. I knew he wasn't going to be top of the class but thought he was doing well. He reads ok, does a lot of sounding out and gets some words wrong, but makes a good effort. he writes independently, and his spelling is getting there.
I think his school are expecting a little too much, from what I can gather from parents from other schools.
His teacher sent home some flash cards, we, me, she, be and said she will add 1 or 2 more as he gets these right consistently and this is the extent of the strategy to bring him up to where he should be.
So, looks like it['s down to me then.
He really enjoys the starfall website where he can start to bbuild cvc words by adding the first letter. There are lots of games etc on there, also cbeebies alphablocks (like others have said).
We also watch phonics songs etc on youtube, loads of nice bits on there.
We play matching games with flashcards and I pretend to get words wrong so he can help me.
I've also started on working on his audio skills by sounding out words that he has to tell me, like, b-igh-k, c-a-sh etc etc.
A rhyming game where I point to a part of my body and say a rhyming word and thenn he says the body part, like, I point to my nose and say 'rose', he says 'nose' and once he gets the hang of it we'll switch the order and I'll say body part and he can say a rhyming word.
I'm also thinking of knocking off phonics with reading at home.
I'm going to do a mix of phonics and full language reading by modelling reading. So he brings a book home from school, it's the same book for a week, so days 1 and 2, he can read as he pleases (sounding out all words), nights 3 and 4 I'm going to model reading and have him repeat after me and then read again on his own and on night 5, see where he is with reading independently.
the reason for this is that he is currently reading a book about rockets. he's sounding out words like can, tup, lid, all words I think he knows and then he looked at the word rocket, said 'rocket' and then said 'oh' and went back to sound it all out (r-o-ck-e-t) and then said 'get' I think he's getting caught up and lost in the phonics so def want to start working without it.
Why is it we teach them that d-o-g says dog but that the just says the?
We've just done the reading modelling and it went really well.

learnandsay Wed 14-Nov-12 19:58:50

moon, that sounds like a confidence issue rather than a lack of technique. The poor boy has probably been made to sound out so much that he does it out of force of habit. Are there any books that he loves so much that he's learned them by heart? Tracing over the words with his finger as he "recites/reads" could be the beginning of a new habit one of reading without sounding out. If he learns both habits he can switch between the two as required.

sittinginthesun Wed 14-Nov-12 20:13:45

What Purple said earlier in the thread. I think it is a development thing, and it clicks, just like walking or crawling. If they're not ready, then reading books for fun is good, but no point stressing.

My eldest is a super bright boy - he's in year 4 now, and is top of top groups for literacy etc. But, back in Reception, he simply could not grasp the idea of blending. He knew his letters and sounds, but couldn't blend at all.

It clicked literally in place one afternoon. He came home, picked up his school reading book, and read it - sounded the words out, and just read them. After a term, he had moved through about six ORT levels.

Just relax, and wait for it to fall into place.

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