What is Phonemic Awareness?

Parents often ask me what they should be working on with their child to help them have success in reading.  Without a doubt, I suggest Phonemic Awareness.

Phonemic awareness is the ability to hear and identify sounds in words.  It can also include the ability to manipulate sounds in words.  For example, being able to find a word that rhymes with cat, you would have to change the beginning sound from /k/ to /h/.  That produces a rhyming word, hat!

Different levels of phonemic awareness is appropriate for different ages.  For preschool aged students ages three to four, reading nursery rhymes is excellent! I recommend this book for nursery rhymes. The pictures are cute and there are many included here.  My kids loved this book and so did everyone I bought it for as a gift!  

Children about 4-5 can start to rhyme two syllable words together.  For example, you might ask, “What rhymes with cable?”  Possible answers include, fable, table, stable.  It is great if your child or student makes up words too!  They may offer, shable, mable, playable!  This play on words shows creativity and risk-taking! Encourage this and have fun with it!  It’s okay to get silly and laugh at all the different combinations you can make!

Another activity my kids enjoy at ages 4-5 is sound blending.  Separate the sounds in a word, saying each slowly and clearly on at a time, /c/-/l/-/a/-/p/, then ask your child to blend the sounds together to make a word they know!!! This can be fun and start easy, with two-three sounds or even short names of friends or family members!  Some examples might be, /j/-/oe/=Joe or /a/-/n/=Ann.

These types of games are fun, easy and are great to do in the car.  Remember phonemic awareness are early literacy skills that need no pencil or paper! They can always be done in the complete dark!  You just need your listening ear and it’s a great way to get kids to slow down, listen carefully and think their way through the sounds!  Don’t forget, have fun!