Phonemic Awareness is an oral language skill. It is the awareness that phonemes exist as abstractable and manipulative components of spoken language. It is not phonics, and it is more than auditory discrimination. Let’s see what phonemic awareness programs are all about.
Phonemic Awareness Tasks
In short, children need to learn to communicate effectively.
Talking to and with children develops their receptive and expressive skills using this language. As they refine and extend their language skills, children learn new words, new meanings for familiar words, and new ways of saying things.
They develop an awareness of the sounds that make up spoken words and the ability to manipulate those sounds known as phonemic awareness. Let’s take a look at the most common examples of phonemic awareness:
To get a basic idea, see also this post about what early childhood teachers must know, how they are educated, and how they will apply their knowledge in our educational system. But now, let’s take a closer look at what phonemic awareness is all about in class:
The child can hear a rhyme.
Does cat rhyme with hat?
Yes, cat rhymes with hat.
Does home rhyme with roam?
Yes, home rhymes with roam.
The child can give a rhyming word.
Can you give tell me a word that rhymes with fun?
Sun rhymes with fun.
The child can determine rhymes. (see also this post about Reading Wonders)
Which of these words rhyme? /cat/ /dog/ /mat/
Cat and mat rhyme.
Start in larger units: words in a sentence, syllables, onsets, and rimes.
Clap the words in this sentence:
The cat sat on the mat.
Clap the syllables in your name:
Divide this word into onset and rime:
The child can:
Give initial, final, and medial sounds in a word:
One usually hears the strongest sounds first.
What sound do you hear first in this word?
The child can:
Substitute one sound for another in a word:
Say Tommy and change ‘t’ to ‘m’ to say mommy.
Say hot and change ‘t’ to ‘p’ to say hop (check out also our article about how “Whooo’s Reading” works)
Hear the teacher say words in segments (onset/rime):
And can blend those segments into words:
Child’s name T – im
Say a word slowly and hear phonemes:
(Used in early writing)
Why Phonemic Awareness Is Important
Research clearly shows that a child’s level of phonemic awareness at the beginning of first grade is an excellent predictor of that child’s success as a reader or what to do if s/he is a poor comprehender.
Phonemic awareness does not appear when young children learn to talk; the ability is not necessary for speaking and understanding spoken language. To learn more, check out this article about Michael Heggerty, a real pioneer in the field of phonemic awareness.
Phonemic awareness is important for learning to read. Children use the awareness of sounds in words to help them figure out how to write a word and to decode a word using sounds or letter clusters.
How to teach Phonemic Awareness
Look for experiences that:
- Help develop positive feelings toward learning. There should be a sense of playfulness and fun.
- Encourage interaction among children in a group setting.
- Encourage children’s curiosity about language and their experimentation with it on a daily basis to enhance their reading comprehension.
- Allow for individual differences in children’s learning.
Phonemic awareness is an oral task. Children learn about sounds by:
- Learning nursery rhymes and rhyming games
- Singing songs
Helping Children Learn the Alphabet
Step 1: Singing the alphabet song with your child an initial step, but singing this song is more of a memorizing activity than a reading activity.
Step 2: Using an alphabet chart, track the alphabet with your finger, pointing to each letter as you say it. Your child should point and say the letter. If your child can’t point, provide assistance:
Easiest: Take the child’s hand in yours.
Less support: You point above the letter. Your child points below.
Independent: Child does all the pointing with you stepping in where needed.
Step 3: Use alphabet books or pictures with letters for the following activity. Point to each letter and say the name of the picture.