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Child can hear sounds in words, but can't blend to read-help?!

(30 Posts)
Shinyandnew1 Thu 03-Dec-15 19:25:13

My DS is in Y1 and is new to the school. He has been put on the SEN register at his school as he is working way below the expected level for maths and literacy. I'm trying to help him at home, but would really appreciate some ideas for fun activities!

If I say a word to him-eg cat, he can tell me the sounds he can hear, but he can't put this into practice and blend the word when he sees it written down. He knows all his single letter sounds and some digraphs (school follows Jolly Phonics), but doesn't seem able to apply what he knows.

What can I try next? His teacher isn't being great at the moment as she's off ill and there are lots of supplies. It's not her fault, but I can anyone give me any tips? I'll put this on the SEN board as well-I didn't know where was best to ask it?

lljkk Thu 03-Dec-15 19:34:49

DS was very slow at blending sounds, I think he had barely got the idea (sometimes) at this point in yr1.

Why is your son on SEN register? Not just because he doesn't blend sounds?

Elisheva Thu 03-Dec-15 20:04:32

Go back a step. Can he rhyme - can he tell you if two words rhyme, and can he then think of another rhyme? Can he clap or tap the syllables in a word?

mrz Thu 03-Dec-15 20:17:38

can he hear the word if you say the sounds?

Shinyandnew1 Thu 03-Dec-15 20:49:13

Thank you for the replies. He's on the SEN register because he's so far behind the others. I made a typo with my chubby fingers in my message-he is in Year 2, not year one.

He can hear rhyme, yes, though gets quite muddled. He'll say cat and pat rhyme, but also sometimes say eg that 'shimmy and shake' rhyme (crap example, but I hope you get what I mean!) when they don't rhyme, they just go together.

He can hear the words if you say the sounds now, yes. If I say c....a....t he would say it was cat, but if he were to look at the word cat, he would say teh sounds c....a....t, but just can't seem to blend them together to say the word. It sounds silly, because they are virtually the same skill, but he is missing a step!? He says the sounds well (with no -uh at the end).

Wolfiefan Thu 03-Dec-15 20:51:07

My DS took ages to blend sounds.DD was taught to robot talk the sounds. You say c-a-t like a robot (yes she did robot moves too) and it worked.

Elisheva Thu 03-Dec-15 20:52:08

You need to make sure his phonological awareness is secure - different from phonics.
If he is mixing up rhyme and alliteration might be that he is missing out a few of the earlier steps.

maizieD Thu 03-Dec-15 23:11:23

Ability to identify rhyme and alliteration is not a necessity for reading. Phonemic awareness can be perfectly well acquired without it.

If he can say the correct sounds for 'c' 'a' & 't' but is not able to blend them after saying them individually you could try 'progressive' blending. This consists of blending the first two sounds and getting that absolutely 'secure', then adding on the next sound to the chunk already blended. Just do this all the way through the word. If need be I would start with two sound words, (preferably starting with a vowel; so: at, as , an , am, it, if, in, on etc) and move on to three sounds once he has mastered blending two.

Also, make sure he is saying the 'pure' sounds and not adding an /uh/ sound to them as this completely distorts the word! You can't blend /cuh/ /a/ /tuh/ to produce 'cat'! You especially have to watch for this with /b/, /p/, & /d/; they're very difficult to say without an /uh/. Just have to cut them as short as possible and say them very quietly.

cestlavielife Thu 03-Dec-15 23:18:41

Can he recognize whole words ? Can he pick out his name ? Maybe phonics and blending is not for him . My ds has significant lds and learned to read age foyr or five recognising whole words . He knew individual letters . Some kids with sen learn differently.

catkind Thu 03-Dec-15 23:21:00

It sounds like he's really close to getting it. How about if you get him to say the sounds, get him to say them faster, then you echo back what he said so he can hear the blend? Or if you get him to segment a word into sounds and write them down, then ask him to read back what he's written?

cestlavielife Thu 03-Dec-15 23:27:22

My ds doest talk either bhe hss no verbal speech but types on ipad special app to communicate. He struggles with spelling new complex words but makes a good shot. If someone had focused on c a t and phonics he would never have moved on. We read lots of books and he watched lots of a b c videos.....Some kids with sen espec visual learners learn reading quicker with whole word approach. Try some whole words .

AnonyMusty Thu 03-Dec-15 23:52:37

Have you had his eyes tested? Sounds silly but if he can blend when hearing the surfs but not when reading / seeing them, he may have convergence issues making him focus especially hard on seeing each letter, in turn affecting his working memory (ability to hold onto one piece of information when tackling the next). Worth checking. A good optician will be able to pick up and refer you onto an opthamologist & orthoptist, if necessary.

Whether or not this is turns out to be an issue, I'd recommend using wooden, magnetic or plastic letters on a plain back group to touch, move and 'make' the sounds blend together, speeding up the separate sounds as he moves (your hand gently guiding his) each letter more closely towards the next. Progressive blending, as previously suggested, would be a good method to use.

mrz Fri 04-Dec-15 06:45:20

As maiseD says rhyme and ill iteration aren't prerequisites to learning to read and teaching him to blend through words sound by sound will help. If he can hear the words when you say the sounds and identify the sounds when he sees their spellings he is almost there.
I keep hearing whole word methods recommended for children with SEN but most children can be do learn with phonics and in the long term this is the most effective strategy as new vocabulary is encountered.

Elisheva Fri 04-Dec-15 06:52:07

Ability to rhyme and other phonological awareness skills are essential for fluent reading, and frequently overlooked in schools who tend to drill phonics over and over without making sure that pre reading skills are in place. I don't know how to insert a link but -

mrz Fri 04-Dec-15 07:19:22

But they aren't prerequisites to learning to read and can easily be taught learnt developed alongside or after children can read words and text.
Inability to hear rhyme and illiterationshould never be a reason to postpone phonics instruction.
It's very different in the US where children are taught rimes and blends where these skills will be more useful.

Elisheva Fri 04-Dec-15 09:26:38

Mrz I normally agree with much of what you say but on this point I completely disagree. Inability to hear rhyme and alliteration, or to be able to identify the syllables in a word and to separate onset and rime are prerequisites to fluent reading, and when we assess kids who are failing to progress we almost always find that they lack phon awareness. It would not be possible to stop phonics teaching until they have acquired it but I wish it was! I'm not familiar with the U.S. method but it sounds more sensible, plus of course the kids are a year or so older.

RafaIsTheKingOfClay Fri 04-Dec-15 10:11:33

You've confused correlation with causation, I think. Children that have poor phonics skills might also have poor phonological/phonemic awareness skills but that doesn't mean that one causes the other.

It is possible to stop phonics teaching in the UK. Just take a look at the number of schools using the letters and sounds phases to differentiate their teaching. There are many schools that still have 'phase 1 children' in reception that aren't being given phase 2 activities. The fact that L&S itself says phase 1 isn't a pre-requisite for moving onto phase seems to be ignored.

Having spent some time teaching in the US I wouldn't be too envious of their system for teaching reading. It's widely regarded to be a failure.

Elisheva Fri 04-Dec-15 12:03:16

The National Reading panel and other research has established a link between phonological awareness and learning to read. Almost all poor readers have poor phonological skills. If you have a struggling reader the first thing to check should be their phon. awareness.

maizieD Fri 04-Dec-15 12:44:56

The point that mrz and I are trying to make is that it is phonemic awareness that is the key skill for reading; i.e the awareness of the smallest discernible 'sounds' which make up the spoken word. Phonological awareness is just an awareness of sounds in general and if a child has learned to talk they are phonologically aware, even though they may not be consciously so. I don't know if you've ever read anything by Prof. Diane McGuiness but she is a cognitive scientist who has very thoroughly examined and analysed many years of reading research and her finding is that training in rhyme & alliteration recognition has no significant effect on learning to read; it is phonemic awareness that is key. And, that phonemic awareness is best developed in the context of teaching children to read with a programme which develops children's awareness of the smallest 'sounds' (phonemes) in words and how they are represented by letters of the alphabet.

I know that poor readers very often do not do well on phoneme awareness tests but if they have never been taught to discriminate phonemes that is perfectly understandable. It is not a 'skill' which is needed for anything apart from learning to translate the written word into the spoken word. A lot of perfectly literate adults would probably fail them, too, because they have more than likely intuited the letter/sound corrrespondences (given that Look & Say methods of teaching reading have held sway for several decades now) and are not conscious that they have done it.

The ability to segment words into their discrete phonemes and longer words into syllables develops with explicit teaching of letter/sound correspondence and how to use them to decode the written word for reading and breakdown the spoken word for spelling. In other words, Phonics.

I do think, having read a very large amount of reading research, that researchers frequently fail to distinguish (or understand the difference) between phonological and phonemic awareness. This does lead to confusion.

Elisheva Fri 04-Dec-15 13:18:09

Sorry, I was using phonological awareness to mean more that just awareness of sounds. But the point I was trying to make, possibly not very well, is that the skill of identifying phonemes, segmenting and blending should be understood before written language is introduced. And that if a child is struggling with reading then going back a step and focusing on the listening aspect for a bit might help.

mrz Fri 04-Dec-15 16:56:43

The National Reading Panel is a US organisation basing their advice on teaching in the US.
If schools are teaching rimes suddenly the ability to identify rhymes becomes important in the UK we don't teach that way so it isn't a prerequisite to learning to read.

mrz Fri 04-Dec-15 17:05:21

We've already established that the child can aurally blend and segment words.

Elisheva Sat 05-Dec-15 09:42:22

We haven't established that he can aurally blend and segment words. OP says that he can tell her the sounds in /cat/ which is a very simple cvc word.
Sorry OP, we've hijacked your thread. I would play lots of listening games with him. Can he hear the sounds in more tricky words like beach, frog, stop? If you say the sounds in a word slowly can he tell you what you're saying? e.g. s-t-o-p Can he tell you the beginning, middle and end sounds of a word? e.g. What sound can you hear in the middle of cloud? And can he 'play' with the sounds in words? e.g. Say boy but instead of /b/ say /t/ (toy).
I think some practice with listening to and manipulating the sounds within words will help him.

catkind Sat 05-Dec-15 12:49:32

Being confused about what rhyme means does not mean a child has bad phonological awareness. About half the year 1 class I volunteer with either didn't know what rhyme was or confused it with alliteration. They can all sound out words.

mrz Sat 05-Dec-15 13:23:13

Elisheva I asked the OP at the beginning of the thread if he can hear the word if she says the sounds and she confirmed he can do this ... He can aurally blend and segment.

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