An important aspect in a child’s language development is the development of his/her phonological awareness. This is especially critical when the child is ready to embark on his/her reading journey. Research has shown that children with weak phonological awareness also have weak reading skills. In Blossom, children start to develop their phonological awareness from Playgroup all the way to Kindergarten 2 through the Letterland Program. Reading skills are introduced to the Nursery 2 children in the second half of the year through a variety of Letterland concepts.
Blending and segmenting are two very important concepts that help children develop their reading skills. In a pilot study conducted by Mary Oudeans, she mentions that, “Research indicates that integration of letter sounds with phonological blending and segmenting is critical for acquisition of beginning word reading skills”. Evidence further supports that phonemic segmentation (e.g. CAT= C-A-T) and blending (e.g. C-A-T=CAT) are the most crucial skills which can be taught to young children to help improve their literacy levels (Qi and O’Connor, 2000. p. 226).
In Letterland, blending and segmenting are taught through a number of strategies. Here are some strategies from the Letterland Guide that you may want to try at home with your child.
1) The Rollercoaster Trick
This blending strategy helps children move on from just saying individual sounds to running sounds together to read words. The children can use this blending trick any time they are having trouble reading a phonically regular word. They might like to use one arm (from shoulder to hand) as the rollercoaster, using the other hand to ‘ride’ the rollercoaster as they blend the sounds.
2) The Slow-Speak Trick
This second strategy helps children to break up spoken words into their individual phonemes, in order to aid spelling. Children are taught to stretch out any word by saying it so slowly that they can hear each sound, (e.g hhhhh……aaaaa…….ttttt).
3) Live Reading
In Live Reading, children model the blending process by arranging themselves to make a word (e.g. din) using the Picture Code Cards. They say the sounds of the individual letters as the teacher points to them, before blending the sounds together to read the word (e.g. ‘d….i….n’).
Letterland’s multi-sensory approach to letter and sound recognition enables children to model the letters and role-play the way they behave in words. Not only can they sing about the letters and their shapes, but they can also listen, look, draw and write about them!