Building Phonological Awareness

What is phonological awareness? Phonological awareness is not just phonics, but includes the ability to hear sounds and isolate them from one another (sound discrimination), to segment, blend, and rhyme sounds.  Building phonological awareness is an important step in preparing children to read. A curriculum is not required. You can help build phonological awareness with the following activities:

  • Sound discrimination involves being able to identify if sounds are different or the same. Simple activities, such as giving a child 2 sounds to compare will help build sound discrimination. For example, “Are these sounds the same or different? /k/ /d/” Then build up to 3 sounds. Throw some sounds in there that are the same. You can then move to words, “Which words are the same? sun, fun, sun”
  • Segmenting sounds involves identifying the initial, middle, and final sound in a word. “What is the first sound in ‘cat’? What is the last sound? What is the middle sound?”. Segmenting also involves dividing words into syllables. Have your child clap syllables. “How many claps (syllables) are in bath? How many in bathtub?” As they say the word have them clap the syllables.
  • Blending sounds involves the child hearing individual sounds and blending them into a word. “What word is this? /m/, /o/, /p/ (mop)” They can also practice blending syllables, “What word is this? tur-key” or onset rimes “What word is this? m-ilk”.
  • Rhyming is also a very important part of building phonological awareness. Have a contest to see who can make the most rhyming words. “How many words can you make that rhyme with ‘cat’?

Building phonological awareness does not require curriculum. Most of these activities can be made into games that you can play with your child. Make it fun! Make up songs, read nursery rhymes, and play games to build these skills. Read aloud to your child to build good vocabulary. Phonological awareness is a very important foundation that is crucial for reading.

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