Situation: A first grader can read CVC words in lists and on flash cards. When another consonant is added to create a blend CCVC word (cot to clot, or ran to bran) she stops, sounding out the first consonant and skipping the second consonant. She asks what the four-letter words mean.
When she sees paragraphs, she cringes and says, “That’s too hard.” Throughout a half-hour lesson she asks every five minutes or so if the lesson is over yet. The mother is concerned that this child is behind her classmates in reading.
- This little girl is already intimidated by the reading process. Her repeatedly asking if the lesson is about to end shows her discomfort with reading. This child needs much encouragement.
- Repeating successful work might be a good way to begin a lesson in order to give the girl confidence.
- She could benefit from frequent but short lessons (ten or fifteen minutes), perhaps with a timer.
- How two consonants work together to form blended sounds is a new concept for her. Working on one blend each lesson (“bl,” for example) might be a good place to begin. She could be shown pictures of “bl” words (blue, black, blaze, bleed, blocks, blossom, blueberry, blush, blow, and blouse).
- After sounding out the words and recognizing the “bl” sound, she could be shown the “bl” letter blend. Letter tiles moved slowly together to form BLVC words could reinforce the blended sound of those letters.
- She also needs work on vocabulary, so as often as possible seeing a picture of the new word, or acting out the new word, might help her remember its meaning.
As for the mother’s concern that the child has fallen behind classmates, that might be true. However, the girl is not far behind and can easily catch up with frequent, short, unpressured lessons. Her mother might read to her strictly for pleasure, perhaps pointing out a CVC word here and there that the child probably knows. The mother could keep a list of words that the child can read on the refrigerator, asking the child to add a word or two each day a day so the child and the mother can see progress.
I think it is a good idea to always begin a lesson with something the child already knows. Start with success, pointing out how much the child has learned already, then move on to new challenges. Every now and then circle back to something that is easy for the child, then again the new concept.