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Are consonant blends difficult?


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Just thinking out loud.... please feel free to tell me to chill out. 

 

 

My K'ers took a few months to finally get the concept of blending letters, but they get it now. I have recently noticed they have trouble w/4+ letters, particularly consonant blends, such as:

scat

cats

needs

 

a 4-letter word with "ee" they can do fine, as they've learned "ee" as one sound. So I guess it's mainly a word with 4 sounds.

 

Is this common? Should we just stick to 3-letter words for a few more months?

I'm also using Barton Reading w/them. We're only on level 1, lesson 2/3: CCV and VCC. Those are tough.

 

I'd appreciate any thoughts.

 

I also should add that the oldest 4 kids all learned to read very quickly by the end of age 5 if not before. Maybe I am expecting too much too soon from these two little ones who are 5.5 and 6.5. They were internationally adopted so I always suspect their background. But maybe they are just "normal" and I need to adjust to what "normal" is.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I'm hoping it's normal because my 6 yr old was flying through CVC words but has now slowed waaaaay down with CCVC. I was starting to get worried (I've had such a hard time getting her older sister reading) but this is younger DD's first struggle.

 

Ironically, older DD did not struggle with CCVC or CVCC (go figure!)

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OK, thank you for the reassurance.

 

One reason I was doubting that it was normal is that we're using a public school reading program for K called Read Well, and where we are in the program the words are getting really hard (and we're way behind for the year). Words such as hasn't, isn't, wasn't, sweet. It seems crazy to me that this is K-level.

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Yes, and they are especially hard for someone with an underlying speech problem or ESL.

 

I would go with either Webster syllables for a bit:

 

http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/208407-k-websters-speller-to-teach-reading-weekly-schedule/?hl=%2Bspeller+%2Bweekly+%2Bschedule

 

Or, school phonics, you can work on long vowels with single consonants, it starts with long vowels first. You should be able to get by with just the workbooks:

 

http://www.didax.com/shop/searchresults.cfm/Keyword/School%20phonics.cfm

 

I would also make sure you are teaching any sight words phonetically, here is how and why to teach all but 5 of the 220 Dolch sight words phonetically:

 

http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Reading/sightwords.html

 

Also, ts and ds are not actually blends, the sounds combine and they are co articulated. Someone with an underlying speech problem or ESL may need to learn and hear and know the difference, you can watch through my phonics lessons to find out about this like this and consonant pairs that are important to ESL students or students with speech difficulties, they also may have trouble understanding yoo vs oo in words like blue, rue, true, few. My spelling rules list out which consonants will be before the yoo sound and which before the oo sound, the bottom of page 7:

 

http://www.thephonicspage.org/On%20Reading/Resources/spelling%20rules1.pdf

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Elizabeth, thank you for reminding me about your materials. They are so neat.

 

Does anyone know where I might find a list of reading milestones, or what is typical for each grade?

 

I'm wondering if it's too early to do Barton even.

 

Re: blends for ESL, my girls' first language was Swahili, which has very few consonant blends. They don't have any problem pronouncing those long words with no blends (we listen to audio Swahili lessons very casually, but they don't remember any from their early years). Maybe they're still hard wired for that language.

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I know consonant blends are taught in many phonics programs as separate things - which means that they must cause problems for some children. For my own children though I have never had issues - when they learnt to blend cvc we just moved straight into blends and if they were slow to blend then I would read all the letters for them slightly faster than they were doing and this caused them automatically to blend correctly. "b-l-a-ck" just automatically became black.

 

Again though, blending is an auditory skill - let your child hear you blending - not just cvc words, but any and every word (even phonics you have not yet taught) and if they are capable of blending then they will do it - there should not be a huge jump from cvc to ccvc words - a bit of a one perhaps, but not a huge one.

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If you are using Barton (Barton Reading and Spelling?), have you noticed that Barton strongly encourages NO outside reading, especially out loud, until at least past level 3, preferably Level 4?  This is so there is no confusion and no bad habits of guessing occur.  Once I stopped the kids from doing any outside reading for the first 3 levels things really smoothed out, we progressed much faster, etc.  DD started reading on her own during mid-level 3 for silent pleasure reading but NO out loud reading until we were done with Level 3 except for the scripted passages from Barton.

 

The current public school programs are pushing reading early and early even when many children are not developmentally ready.  Don't go by a public school schedule.  Work with the pace that is best for your own children.  PS has to do a sort of one size fits all pace and it is NOT the optimal way to teach. 

 

And yes, blending is challenging.  My DS10 still struggles with certain blends.  Don't worry.  This takes time with a lot of kids.   :grouphug:

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OneStep, I had not noticed this. (Yes, it's Barton Reading that I'm using.) That is good to know and it makes sense.

 

One thing that is confusing to me about Barton is how to use it as the sole reading curriculum, and not just an intervention/supplement for a student who goes to school and is tutored w/Barton.

 

For ex., it says to do 2 1-hr sessions per week. My K'ers can handle a max of 15 min. of Barton, and if I made them do it 4x/week, they would rebel. So we do 2x/week, and do ReadWell (what I was using before I started Barton just a couple weeks ago) 2x/week.

 

Maybe we could do Barton 4x/week but <10 min sessions. Or maybe 2x/week and play Barton games 2x/week. Any ideas?

The more I think about it, plus in light of everyone's input about blends, I think I've been expecting too much from my little people and trying to "remediate" weaknesses that will go away w/maturity.

 

Or maybe not, and then I'll freak out again.....

 

 

 

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OneStep, I had not noticed this. (Yes, it's Barton Reading that I'm using.) That is good to know and it makes sense.

 

One thing that is confusing to me about Barton is how to use it as the sole reading curriculum, and not just an intervention/supplement for a student who goes to school and is tutored w/Barton.

 

For ex., it says to do 2 1-hr sessions per week. My K'ers can handle a max of 15 min. of Barton, and if I made them do it 4x/week, they would rebel. So we do 2x/week, and do ReadWell (what I was using before I started Barton just a couple weeks ago) 2x/week.

 

Maybe we could do Barton 4x/week but <10 min sessions. Or maybe 2x/week and play Barton games 2x/week. Any ideas?

 

The more I think about it, plus in light of everyone's input about blends, I think I've been expecting too much from my little people and trying to "remediate" weaknesses that will go away w/maturity.

 

Or maybe not, and then I'll freak out again.....

I use Barton every morning, first thing, while they are still fresh, and only for about 20-30 minutes.  We are in higher levels now, but I know which sections are more difficult for which child so I plan which sections we will tackle for the day based on that knowledge.  I pace it so when we hit a part of the lesson that I know a particular child will have difficulty with we really focus on that one area for the day, then review it again the next day, then move on with the lesson.  

 

For example, my DS grasps rules very, very quickly but he struggles with hearing the blended sounds and does poorly with sight words without a LOT of review.  When we get to those two sections in the lesson, I have them paced out for the week so those two sections have kind of their own day, with plenty of built in review (I also print out the extra practice pages off the website to have ready just in case and for doing additional review later on when needed).  

 

DD doesn't struggle with blended sounds or sight words but learning the actual rule that she is going to need to apply through the rest of the lesson is really hard for her.  She also has difficulty learning through auditory instruction.   I know at the beginning of each lesson I have to go really slowly and budget extra time.  Does that make sense?  It may not since you haven't gotten to the higher levels yet.  Sorry.  Not certain I am explaining very well.  Anyway, the other thing I do is if I see they are wearing out or too distracted, I also find a good stopping point and we just wait until the next day to tackle the rest.  

 

One other thing is I have found that there were times I needed to repeat a lesson.  It has really helped when I have done that.  DS10 and DD13 just finished Level 3 and I realized that DS10, even though he passed the test at the end of Level 3, still had some blend confusion.  We are targeting certain areas of Level 3 again while I address that.  DD13 is now in Level 4 (a REALLY challenging level) and made it through lesson 5, but I ended up having to go back and repeat all 5 of the first lessons at this level and 2 lessons from Level 3 to really solidify what was happening.  Doing those lessons again helped tremendously.  We should be moving on to Lesson 6 this next week.  I am doing additional review this week using the Spelling Success card games designed for Barton, plus the Extra Practice pages and spelling tests available on the Barton Tutor section of Susan Barton's website.  It really helps.

 

The recommendation for 2 one hour sessions a week is really more for professional tutors that may not have access to a child for more than that.  A parent can do the lessons as often as they want and do it for as long or as short as their child and they can handle.  I realized early on that 1 full hour was way too long.  They weren't retaining anything.  And only doing it twice a week wasn't very helpful either.  Once I shortened it and started doing it every day, things smoothed out considerably.  We sometimes do it on weekends, too.  The kids are used to it now and because they know the sessions will be short, they don't gripe at all.  We also do Barton during the summer so they don't lose any information (but we usually take 3 weeks off at the beginning of the summer and 3 weeks off at the end, before starting up again full-time in the fall).  I did get a couple of the leveled Barton readers so they had some extra reading practice.

 

 I know it seems slow, though, to use Barton as the only reading curriculum.  It IS slow, but incredibly effective for many children.  Are your children dyslexic?  Mine are.  That is why we are HAVING to go slow.  Fast, especially fast through other programs, wasn't getting either one of them reading effectively or efficiently and created a ton of frustration and reading avoidance.  Now that we are systematic and I go at their pace with Barton, reading and spelling have improved tremendously.

 

Sorry I was so long-winded.  I hope this helps some.  Best wishes....  :)

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