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Phonological Awareness – Preparing for literacy success

July 8, 2016


Phonological Awareness is the ability to consciously ‘tune into’ and manipulate sounds within spoken language. Good phonological Awareness skills will set children up for a greater chance of literacy success.


Phonological Awareness skills include being able to ‘tune into’ and identify:

  • The beats (syllables) in words e.g. he-li-cop-ter

  • Rhyme

  • Single sounds e.g.:                                                        - Start sounds (cat starts with /ccc/)                        - Middle sounds (hot, log, flop all have the same middle sound)                                                                              - End sounds (man ends with /nnn/)


Once children have these skills they can then use sounds to:

  • Blend single sounds together to make a word e.g. h-o-t makes hot

  • Segment words into single sounds e.g. man is m-a-n

  • ‘Play with’ or manipulate sounds to make new words e.g. frog without the /r/ is fog.


How important is Phonological Awareness?

At Leap Therapy Group we are passionate about ensuring our late preschool and school aged children have well developed phonological awareness skills. Research shows that difficulty with these skills is a predictor of poor reading and spelling development.


Children with good phonological awareness skills are more readily able to develop an understanding of the alphabetic nature of English. This means understanding that the sounds in spoken language have written letters to represent them.


Is there other necessary skills for literacy success?

Phonological Awareness is a vital component for reading and spelling success but it also needs to be teamed with four other identified vital components. The 5 key components are: phonological Awareness, phonics, comprehension, vocabulary and fluency.


For some children with the right exposure and experience to language and the sounds within spoken language the above components develop ‘naturally’. For other children they need to be taught these skills explicitly through intense teaching.


What are the implications of Phonological Awareness difficulties?

Children must understand that words are made up of sounds that can be sequenced, segmented, blended and manipulated when learning to read and spell. If they do not understand or are unable to do these activities they will find it extremely difficult when they are presented with new, unfamiliar words. Additionally they will not develop automaticity or ‘fluency’ as they will not be repeatedly matching correct sounds and letter patterns.


Developing Phonological Awareness skills in your children

Home and early education settings are a wonderful place to involve children in Phonological Awareness activities in a fun and engaging way. Activities you can do with your children include:

  • Reading and talking about the words in stories

  • Introducing them to rhymes, poems and songs

  • Playing sound games such as 'Eye Spy'

  • Clapping out the beats in words, talking about what was the first beat/ last beat etc.

For those children who are having difficulty with their phonological awareness skills, literacy development or who have a history of speech and language difficulties, seeing a Speech Pathologist can help. The Speech Pathologists at Leap Therapy Group provide specific, intensive, fun and engaging activities to develop children’s phonological awareness and literacy skills.


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