Updated: Dec 3, 2020
Teacher asks: I recently started working with a 7-year-old boy. He will be starting the 2nd grade but is a very beginning reader, and his attention span is fairly limited. I've found that games are a really good way to hold his focus.
My question is, why is it important for them to understand the consonant pairs and at what point do you introduce them if the child is still struggling with all their letter names?
My sister says, "You don't need to know why!" But, unfortunately, my brain likes to know the whys. Sasha replies:
As to your 7 year old, who has a limited attention span. Using games to reinforce concepts and facts about reading and spelling are really helpful, especially if you use the questioning that you have been learning to directly teach the consonants and vowels. I also find that these students need an explicit plan of what they are going to do during the lesson, how long each activity will take, even timing each activity, and giving him some say in the order in which you are doing the activities during the lesson, i.e, do you want to do ..... or ..... first? I also have tried to have as much directed movement in the lesson as possible, have the lesson plan posted on a sheet of paper across the room and he has to go across the room to check off finished activities, as you finish them. I also have specific movement breaks incorporated in my lessons, every 10 to 15 minutes. I believe that I shared some cards at the beginning of our training with great ideas for movement breaks. Now to really answer your question. Yes you want to teach him how he uses his mouth to articulate each of the consonants and vowels, and the ideas are important to teaching spelling/reading patterns later in his lessons. You can be the one to hold the ideas instead of him by giving him limited choices, is p the partner of g or b? is the single vowel /e/ more open or closed than /a/? You will have to repeat the idea behind partners every lesson. He does not have to memorize the pairs, just answer your questions. Introduce the letter names, mouth articulation, sounds and partner simultaneously and just know that it takes longer for some students to learn these and remember them. Breathe alot! Maybe we should put your questions out to the group and see if they can brainstorm games and activities for you. Let me know if this helps Sasha Teacher replies: Yes, thank you! I appreciate the answer & the feedback & the tips. Really helpful. I need to go back and look at the movement ideas! Toward the end of our lesson this week, he says, I think I’m about done. (He says reading too much “stresses him out.”) I said, Why don’t we work for 5 more minutes. And he says, I could do about 3