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Supporting Your Child's Reading at Home
Recommendation 3: Blending Letters, Recognizing and Reading words

Help your child blend letters to read words and recognize common word parts and words, and encourage them to write words.

Blending Words

blending words

Blending is the ability to put sounds together to read a word. To read a word, children must know the sounds the letters represent in the word and be able to blend those sounds to come up with the correct word. For example, after children know the letter sounds /f/ for f, /ă/ for a, and /n/ for n, they learn to blend those sounds together to read the whole word. When they see the word fan, they are able to say,"/f/, /ă/, /n/, fan." We call this, blending words.

The Family Resource includes three activities, organized from easier to more difficult: Levels 1, 2, and 3. The Family Resource also includes recommended books that you can read with your child. These books are made up of simple words that your child can practice blending with your help. Maybe take turns reading a page to each other!


Word Families

word families

A word family is a group of words that share the same letter pattern. Look at the first list in the table below. Notice how each word has the same letter pattern, at at the end of it? Understanding word families can help children read and spell many words. By learning just one letter pattern, like at, your child can learn many words at the same time!

Look at the an word family. Notice how each word has the same letter pattern,an, at the end of it? Look at the ig word family the table below. Notice how each word has the same letter pattern, ig, at the end of it?


–at –an –ig
cat can pig
sat ran wig
bat man dig
rat fan big
mat pan rig


Decodable Words

decodable words

Once children know letter sounds, such as the letter s says /s/, and how to blend, they can read many words! Blending is the ability to put sounds together to read a word. For example, when children see the word sun, they are able to say, "/s/, /u/, /n/, sun."

There are many ways to support your child in reading words. For example, provide opportunities for your child to practice reading words in a list or on flashcards. It is also important for children to practice reading words in sentences and stories.


High-Frequency Words

high-frequency words

High-frequency word are words that appear frequently in books. Examples of high-frequency words are the, was, very, up. It is important that children learn to read high-frequency words automatically. When a child doesn't hesitate in reading a word and pronounces it correctly, then he or she knows the word automatically. To become good readers, children must be able to read high-frequency words automatically.

There are many activities that families can do to help their children read high-frequency words automatically. For example, use the provided high-frequency word cards as flash cards and time your child as he or she reads a stack of them. You can place words that were challenging for your child in a separate pile so you know which words need more practice. The goal is to read more words correctly in less time each time you engage in the activity. Practice is the key. The more your child reads and writes high-frequency words, the better he or she will get at reading them automatically.


Challenging and Important Words

challenging and important words

Sometimes children want to read books that have words that are challenging to read but that are important for understanding what they read. For example, many children love to learn about dinosaurs but would have a hard time reading about dinosaurs because the words are too challenging. Tyrannosaurus rex would be considered challenging to read but are important words in a book about dinosaurs. These words may be challenging because the child either has not learned the sound-spelling pattern contained in the word or the word contains irregular sound-spelling patterns as in the words pigeon or villain.

Just because a book contains challenging words, it doesn't mean that you can't read it with your child. Before reading a book with your child, skim it to see if there are any challenging and important words. Select three such words that appear most frequently in the book. Introduce the words to your child before you read the book. Point to each word in the book and tell your child how to pronounce it and what it means. Ask your child to point to the word and say it.