#1 take the child’s lead!
#2 make it fun!
Knowing your ABCs, being able to identify uppercase and lowercase letters and the sounds they make are important early literacy skills. However, one of the best predictors of whether a young child is going to be a successful reader is his/her phonemic awareness skill level. Phonemic awareness is part of phonological awareness. This post explains what phonological awareness is and focuses on fun ways to help your preschooler or kindergartener develop phonological awareness. A future blog will focus on phonemic awareness, a higher-level skill.
Phonological awareness follows a developmental progression. It refers to skills such as the ability to identify final sound chunks as you would to rhyme, recognize distinct words in a spoken sentence, hear syllables in words and eventually identify distinct sounds in words.
Here are some enjoyable ways to help your child develop phonological awareness:
? Guess the Rhyme
When reading or singing, stop before you get to the second word of a rhyming pair to see if your child can guess it. At first, you can say most of the rhyming word. As your child is ready, simply say the first sound. Eventually your child will probably be able to figure out the word without any clues. You can make it “silly” and accept nonsense words that rhyme.
? How Many Words?
Count the words in spoken sentences. You say a sentence; the child builds a design with manipulatives (e.g., blocks, colored macaroni…) representing each word in the sentence. For example, if you have the sentence, “The girl went to bed.” The child would get to take 5 blocks or pieces of pasta to make a design. As your child gets more advanced at this task, you can have him/her take a different color for each sentence so he/she can build more elaborate structures or pictures. My daughter also likes to make trail mix with different ingredients and necklaces with different colored beads using the “How Many Words Game”. Click Here to Download possible sentences.
? Syllable Counting
- Syllables can be heard as a beat. You can march, jump, clap, drum….to the syllables.
- Counting syllables in names is fun.
- After your child is able to hear the different syllables, you can move on to more difficult games such as using compound words (e.g., sunshine) and asking the child to say, “Sunshine then say it again without the sun or without the shine.” It is more difficult to delete the final syllable. Click Here to Download possible words.
Phonemic awareness is the most demanding phonological awareness skill, which develops later. It has been most directly linked to subsequent reading ability and can be taught. Phonemic awareness focuses on the sounds a child hears without identifying the corresponding letter. Phonemic awareness is the ability to identify and manipulate individual sounds (phonemes). Phonemic awareness and phonological awareness are often used interchangeably, but it is helpful to know the precise meaning of each.