What are some ways to encourage my son to sound out the letters in a word he doesn’t know?

To encourage your son to sound out words he doesn’t know, help him build confidence blending and segmenting words. For example, you might start by having him listen to you stretch out the two-sound word “me” (e.g., m-ē). After you stretch the word, ask him to repeat the word back to you at normal speed (e.g., me). As your son becomes more confident blending words, try longer three- or four-sound words. You might also say the words at normal speed and ask him to take a turn stretching the words into individual sounds. Try incorporating silly words to keep the atmosphere light and pressure-free and the focus on having fun.

Jennie Ito, Ph.D.

Child Development Expert

Jennie Ito is a mother of two and a child development consultant who specializes in children’s play and toys. Before becoming a consultant for LeapFrog, she was an intern at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, and later worked as a content expert for the Association of Children’s Museum’s “Playing for Keeps” Play Initiative. Jennie earned her doctorate degree in developmental psychology at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.