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Help with teaching DS to Blend words

(19 Posts)
swissmum99 Tue 02-Apr-13 20:01:51

Hi everone,
I need some help and advice on teaching DS to read...We live in Switzerland and here they dont start formal education (reading/Writing) until they are 6/7. They have Kindergarten from 4-6 and it is based around play the most they get officially taught is to write their name. I dont have a problem with this as he has to learn a total new language (German) but I worry that we may have to move back to the UK in 2 years and he will behind.
So I am trying to teach him myself. I have DD who is 7 and has gone through the Swiss system and I have taught her to read/write without too much problems. This worked wonderfully for DD who could read/write in English before she had to learn in German.

My DS is another story ;-) He knows the names and sounds of all the letters, easily but he cannot blend them. We have been trying to blend for months and he is just not getting it, he is trying so hard but he says he cant 'hear himself'

eg, he will say m o p, m o p, m o p over and over quicker then slowly and seems to chant the letters but he just cannot say mop!
I am beyond frustrated and I try to not get angry but I am not a teacher (for a good reason) Cat is a word we have just mastered, first I got him to say 'at' then put a 'kuh' in front and eventually it stuck and I thought I had cracked it but I haven't and he still cant blend.
Has anyone got any tips for me? I'm pulling my hair out and I'm worried ill put him off...
I have thought about leaving it for a while, BUT in a year his school will teach him in German and Id like to master English first as its his mother tongue.

mrz Tue 02-Apr-13 20:08:56

he will say m o p, m o p, m o p over and over quicker then slowly and seems to chant the letters but he just cannot say mop!
can he hear it if you say m-o-p?

Periwinkle007 Tue 02-Apr-13 20:13:14

wish I could help but just to reassure you he isn't alone, my eldest daughter was similar. Not sure how she eventually mastered it (she is 5.5 in reception) and I know she had problems reading the letters in the right order (we just discovered she has some sort of visual processing problem) but she learned to read in her own way by just learning the words and we have just done an ENORMOUS amount of repetition with her.

my second daughter is nearly 4 and she seems to 'get' phonics and sounding out and blending so easily.

swissmum99 Tue 02-Apr-13 20:14:38

Sometimes if I go 'mmmmmmooooooooooooop' but I have to repeat the word a lot. This evening we were trying to read the word 'tap' so we went through the normal t a p, t a p, t a p. Then he managed to blend 'ap' but he could not put the 't' sound in front. We were even tapping our fingers on the page saying 't a p' and I said what are we doing now and he came up with pointing, and patting but not tapping!

mrz Tue 02-Apr-13 20:20:14

Try blending through the word

"mmmmm" (holding onto the sound not repeating it over and over) then add the "o" say "mo" finally add the p say "mop"

mrz Tue 02-Apr-13 20:21:06

with tap blend ta then add the p

Jezabelle Tue 02-Apr-13 20:24:47

How old is your son? Does he say his letter sounds "correctly"? Rather than 'c' being pronounced 'cu' it should just be 'c' if that makes sense?!

He does have a whole year. Personally I would give it a break for a few months. I know you are concerned that he should learn in English first, but a year is a long time developmentally. He may just take to it a lot more easily in a few months. Also, if you are anxious, this could pass onto him.

If you would like to continue, I would go down the game route. Jump up and down and chant c-a-t, cat! Also, you can ask him, can you h-o-p, s-i-t, j-u-m-p etc. See if he can blend together in his head and carry out the action. This should help to keep it fun whilst he practices hearing the sounds and blending.

learnandsay Tue 02-Apr-13 20:27:50

I used some rude, and some made up words like poo and wee, and moo, doo, boo, fee, bee, lee

then (when she recognised those all perfectly) feed, meed, weed, leed and so on. Then I went on to real words, and then onto books.

unlucky83 Tue 02-Apr-13 20:33:39

Have you tried just explaining it to him - letters make sounds and you put them together to make words? (And sometimes they don't always follow the rules but on the whole they do...)
(years ago I worked with a dyslexic boy (7 yo -but had taken a while for diagnosis) - we spent weeks doing all kinds of games etc - one day I just told him ... light bulbs flashed as he got it -came in the next day saying I can spell 'dragon' smile)
If that doesn't work write them down and try changing the middle vowel of three letter words (so cat, cot, cut (and do cet -and cit - there not real words are they?) What sound does that make (eg o) so that's a 'c' a 'o' and 't' ...

swissmum99 Tue 02-Apr-13 21:48:49

Thank you for all the advice, he can do the names and he sounds of letters and he is 5.5, maybe I should try explaining it to him!
And I should take it slower, it's not unknown that boys tend to get things slower than girls and if my DD had taken this long too I wouldn't think it unusual!
I just worry that we may have to go back in the uk sooner rather than later and I'd hate him to have to start a new school and be a couple of years behind.

mrz Tue 02-Apr-13 21:51:39

I would forget about the letter names until he is secure with sounds and blending/segmenting

Periwinkle007 Tue 02-Apr-13 21:54:03

I think he will be ok but I can understand your concerns with being abroad. Honestly they are all very different and from what people say often boys do find it takes a bit longer to click. But then one day it suddenly does and they are away.

do you have any phonics based books? something like the Julia Donaldson Oxford Reading Tree Songbirds Phonics? It is a whole book then based on certain phonic sounds so there is one called Top Cat (a favourite of my 2)
I am top cat.
am I top cat?
I am, I am.
I am top cat.
and so on
the words in them are all decodable and therefore you can read it as
I a m am t o p top c a t cat
it would be reinforcing what you are trying to teach him and my 2 like/d the books.

swissmum99 Tue 02-Apr-13 22:13:38

Yes we have those Julia Donaldson books, those books were a massive running point for DD!
We have done 'I am top cat' but I'm sure he guesses that, as DD used to practice reading to him! We are currently trying 'Sams pot' or something like that book 2, even though we can go through the first page - pot,got with the same repetitive p o t ect eventually I tell him the word, then when we turn the page he has forgotten it instantly. God the poor boy he so desperately wants to do it, just to get me off his back I'm sure!!

Bessiebuss Tue 02-Apr-13 22:15:43

I have been teaching children to read for 14 years and have learned over this time, that children struggle to blend sounds, because they do not realise that they have to listen for the word. If they say the sounds as short sounds, and then listen, they will get to hear the word. You might begin by saying the sounds for him - he will probably listen to you more easily than he will listen to himself.
Before I begin blending practise, I ask the little ones if they have their 'listening ears' on. I also praise them when they listen to me and remind them that they must listen to themselves.
You might practise blending sounds with him, without looking at the letters. I make this into a game and ask them if they can hear a variety of words when I say the sounds. Doing this regularly, you can watch the improvement.

swissmum99 Tue 02-Apr-13 22:33:03

Thanks Bessiebuss

You might practise blending sounds with him, without looking at the letters. I make this into a game and ask them if they can hear a variety of words when I say the sounds

how do you mean blend sounds without looking at them, what type of games?

mrz Wed 03-Apr-13 08:13:03

Try doing it the other way say the word and ask him what sounds he can hear.

Bessiebuss Wed 03-Apr-13 13:48:14

Blending is a skill like hitting a ball and it improves with practise. A child can learn to blend sounds, without looking at the letters. My son and I couldn't read when we were young and we are worried about his daughter. We have played my game 'listening fingers' with her since she was just three.

We began with identifying the first sounds in words: d dog (not d for dog), c cat etc. when she could do that, we began to spell out words on our fingers. We lifted our thumb and said eg sound c, then our index finger and said sound a and then our middle finger and said sound t. Then we said the word.

Within a few months she walked round the house saying: c a t cat,
d o g dog, l o s t lost etc. She had no idea what she was doing, but thoroughly enjoyed doing it. Now, a year on, I am teaching her to hear the sounds c a t and put the letters to the sounds. She loves it - she thinks it is a game and insists we do reading every time she visits.

Every child I have ever taught has struggled to hear sounds in words and it is relatively easy to overcome this problem, simply by playing with sounds.

Hope this works

unlucky83 Thu 04-Apr-13 17:56:26

Oh just remembered something else - whisper if you are saying the sounds together - makes them a bit more indistinct /blended ...
BTW my 'there' typo is really annoying me as in 'they're not real words'

maizieD Thu 04-Apr-13 21:56:20

I would second mrz's 'progressive blending'. I find it very often works when nothing else does. Also whispering the consonant sounds.

I have occasionally worked with children (KS3) who just cannot get a word into 'sight memory' however often they decode and blend it. However, this ultimately doesn't matter too much as long as they are able to decode and blend efficiently. They will still be able to read what the words 'say' and make meaning from the text. If this persists for a number of years it could indicate a processing difficulty of some kind, but in the OP's case it is far too early to worry about it yet.

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