As soon as your kids know enough letters and sounds to make a few words, it’s time to get them blending! Let’s say they know the letters t, o, and p (the first three letters introduced in the Kinders Can! READ and WRITE! program). Put the letters together to make as many regular consonant-vowel-consonant words as possible — top, pot, pop, tot. Then show your kids how to use the letter sounds they have learned to sound out the words at hand. In other words, teach them how to blend these letter sounds together to make real words!
Your goal when teaching your kids to blend sounds together should be to help them “hear” the word as they make the letter sounds. I like making the first sound on its own, emphasizing and dragging out the middle sound/vowel, and quickly (and a bit more quietly) adding on the ending sound so that it attaches itself to the middle sound. Then I hook the beginning sound onto the rest.
When first teaching kids to blend, I typically ask them to use this blending technique three times in a row before actually blending the word together. This not only helps them hear the word, but map this crucial information in their brains as well.
To be clear, when sounding out the word “top”, we would go, /t/,/oooo/p/ … /t/, /oooo/p/ … /t/, /oooo/p/ … /top/. Then I would ask them to use the word in a sentence, making sure they understood the word they said aloud.
Keep in mind that there are other blending techniques that work as well. The key is to find one you are comfortable with, make sure it is effective (i.e. makes the word easy to hear), and work work work to get your kids using it on their own.
If you are teaching a letter of the week, make sure you order your letters in such a way that you are able to introduce the vowels early on and make a significant number of new words each week. If you are following the Kinders Can! READ and WRITE! program, this is already done for you.
Regardless of the letter order you decide to use, make sure you teach your kids to blend letter sounds together as soon as enough letters are introduced to do so, preferably by the third week of letter instruction.
This will get your kids on the road to reading, and will help them understand the real purpose of learning letters and sounds.
So don’t forget — if your kids know a few letter sounds, it’s time to get them using them to read and write real words!
All the best and much success,