Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Phonological Awareness: What is it and why is it so important?

If you have a child in preschool to second grade, you may have heard teachers mentioning the words "phonological awareness". While you may be unaware of what phonological awareness is, it is good to have a basic understanding. Phonological awareness is actually a crucial set of skills that are typically mastered as a child progresses through preschool to second grade. A crucial part of phonological awareness is phonemic awareness.
  • Definition: Ability to attend to and manipulate unites of sound in speech (syllables, onsets and rimes, and phonemes) independent of meaning.
 A crucial part of phonological awareness is phonemic awareness.
  • Definition: Ability to attend to and manipulate phonemes, the smallest sounds of speech. 
But what does it really mean? How does it look? Lets see some examples!
  • Abi has a set of pictures in front of her. She matches each picture with another picture that rhymes. 
  • Mr. Mustafa is leading his class in a syllable activity. As he says each word, they clap the syllables. 
  • Natalie is sitting with her teacher during group time. Her teacher says the word "cat" and asks her what sound is in the middle. She replies, "/a/". 
Phonological awareness is very important to master. The English language is made up of sounds, and our writing system is based on these sounds. Without mastery of these skills, reading will be difficult.

There are several ways to incorporate phonological awareness activities, at school and at home.
  • Books: Find books that play with sounds. There are many children's books that focus on alliteration, rhyming and sound substitution. 
  • Poetry: Many poems rhyme. Children can add to the rhyming after the poem has finished to create their own rhymes. 
  • Songs: Songs can be great to play around with sounds. Some good examples are: Willoughby Wallaby Woo, Down by the Bay, Apples and Bananas and The Bee and the Pup.
  • Games: Many games can be adapted to work with sounds in words. For example, I Spy may be used to find words that begin or end with a certain sound. 


  1. You should truly be a professional blogger. Your blogs just keep getting better and better! Providing multiple definitions and examples is especially useful for those readers not as familiar with the material. It is important that families and other educators know exactly what their children are up to in the classroom. You even included multiple links! --Great job!
    My only advice to you is that some of your readers may have very busy schedules and want to read the blog but may be short on time. Making your blog "skimmable" an often be a useful approach.

  2. I really like the way that your blog is set up! It is very neat and organized! :) It is really important that children have phonemic awareness. This is the key to them being able to read later on in schooling years. It is great that you are so passionate about this. I think that you will be able to come up with great ways to teach this in the classroom!

  3. Phonemic awareness is one of the basic building blocks of reading. Having phonemic awareness is key to being able to read. I really enjoyed your examples that demonstrated what phonemic awareness looks like.

  4. The post is very informative. People reading this post will be able to understand phonological awareness using three different perspectives. First they get the formal definition which breaks the ice for anyone who is not familiar with this term. Next you give examples which provides a mental picture of what phonological awareness does. Lastly by giving resources people can not only understand it better but also get ideas of how to use this with their child.

  5. A clear cut approach to explaining issues like this is one of the most beneficial ways to get through to parents. Parents often need to understand the background of a concept so that they feel like the activities that they are doing with their children have a purpose.