Phoneme Blending: Everything You Need to Know

This is the ability to sieve out the minute sounds, i.e., phonemes in a word, and merging them to create a word. For instance, a child, who has mastered phoneme blending skills, will be able to turn the sounds /h/, /a/, /t/ into the word ‘hat.’ Phoneme blending skill plays a crucial role in developing reading skills. If a kid can blend sounds, they can eventually see the letters in a word, recognize the sounds those letters make and blend those sounds to say the word.

Teachers can use various useful techniques to teach students phoneme blending. If a student is struggling with phoneme blending, the first thing a teacher should focus on is their phonological awareness. Manipulatives and visuals can greatly help students who’re learning to blend. For example, teachers can use elkonin boxes. The child touches each box as they say a sound in a word and then blends those sounds together. Another effective method is to leave less ‘space’ between sounds. For instance, rather than making the sounds in ‘shop’ choppy, such as /s/, /h/, /o/, /p/, teachers can make it sound more like “sssshhhhoooopppp.” The teacher can also start by saying the kid’s name in slow motion, stretching out each sound as they say it. Then the teacher should repeat the child’s name in the same way, so the child clearly hears each sound. When the kid guesses their name, the teacher can try the same technique with different words, stretching out each sound as they say it.

Teachers should also keep some important things in mind when teaching phoneme blending to students. Children will find more success if teachers start with continuous sounds. Common continuous sounds to begin with include s, m, a, n. While there’re more, these sounds tend to be the first ones children learn. As children find success with these sounds, teachers can add one or more sounds to them and continue teaching. Additionally, teachers need to be sure that students are connecting each sound together when they’re blending the sounds in a word. Sometimes, children elongate the first sound, take a slight pause, and then start the second sound. Therefore, teachers need to listen carefully to ensure that children are connecting all the sounds together throughout a word.

At first, a child may find it difficult to learn phoneme blending because they are developing new neurological pathways. However, patience and persistence will eventually help them master the skill.

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