What is Phonological Awareness?

It’s an awareness that words:

  • contain beats or syllables (su- per- mar-ket)
  • can rhyme (cat, hat, bat)
  • can start with similar sounds (messy Matilda)
  • are made by blending separate sounds together (f-i-sh makes fish)
  • can be segmented into separate sounds (b-oa-t)
  • can be manipulated by removing, adding or reordering sounds within the word to make a different word (slip without the s says lip)

There is much research to show that Phonological Awareness is the most important predictor of reading success (although it isn’t the only component)


How can we develop Phonological Awareness?

  • Encourage active listening – Play listening games
  • Develop oral awareness – Encourage your child to explore the way their mouth and tongue move as they say sounds. My lips come together – my tongue goes up
  • Develop their ability awareness of syllables in words
    • Syllables are the beats in words. For example elephant has three beats el – e – phant.  A great way to explore syllables at home is to start with people’s names and count the beats.  After you have covered people’s names move on to other words.  You can pick anything!
  • Play with Rhyme
    • Sing songs and read nursery rhymes – Emphasise the rhythm and the rhyming words in favourites such as Incy Wincy Spider, Little Jack Horner and One Two Buckle my Shoe. Read rhyming books.  Dr Suess is a great place to start, but there are so many more out there.
    • Making Rhymes: Play with rhyme, Make up silly rhymes.
      Meg has a peg … (leg) Hamish sat in a dish with a … (fish)
  • Identify initial sounds. Talk about ‘sounds’ and ‘letters’ and how they relate to each other. Sound and letters are different. We can hear sounds and we make sounds in our mouth. We can see and write letters on the page
    • First Sound Game: Pick a sound and make up a silly sentence with the same sound (g., Miss Matilda. Miss Matilda’s marbles….
    • The First Sound Shop: Set up a shop that sells only things that start with a particular sound (e.g., The b shop sells bananas, berries, bars and boots)
    • I Spy: Instead of talking about letters do sounds. Identify an object in the room and say, ‘I spy with my little eye something beginning with the ‘k’sound (not kay)’: