Questions on smoothly blending sounds together when reading and why the ability to blend is an important reading skill
Q: My daughter knows her sounds by themselves but when she goes to read the words she can’t seem to put them together into the word. How can I get her to quit separating the sounds and learn to put them together to read the word smoothly? What do you do with students who do not get a "click" on blending? We are getting reports from the field that the kids that get blending are doing great but there are some kids who do not get it. These kids can look at cat, say /k/ . . . /a/ . . . /t/ . . . but they can't take the last (crucial) step of blending the sounds together to make the consolidated word. They know the letter-sound correspondences but are not getting the blending. How can you help students learn to smoothly blend sounds together?
A: Blending, or the ability to combine individual sounds into one fluid word is a critical skill. To read proficiently, the student needs to learn to blend individual sounds smoothly together into words without choppy pauses between the sounds. For example, smooth blending is sounding out the word ‘mast’ as /mmaasst/ instead of a choppy or segmented /m/…./a/.…./s/…../t/.
This essential blending skill does not come easily and automatically for some students. Difficulties blending are usually evident as ‘choppy sounding out’. Some student’s inability to blend smoothly creates a hurdle that blocks reading development. If the student is chopping sounds apart they are not able to put all the sounds together and ‘smoothly’ say the word, and build fluency. They might know the sounds in isolation but are unable to ‘hook’ the sounds together. Students who struggle with blending may initially get by with short words but quickly run into trouble with longer words that contain four or more sounds. If a student has difficulty blending, you need to directly work to develop smooth blending skills.
For additional information on blending and suggestions on how to help students develop the ability to smoothly blend sounds together see the article Blending Explained: Why Smooth Blending is Important to Reading Development and How to Help Children Develop the Ability to Smoothly Blend Sounds Together When Reading
Right Track Reading programs directly teach smooth blending.