Developing Phonological Awareness

Developing Phonological Awareness

5 September 2022

The term phonological awareness is a general term, and means awareness of the sound structure of words. Children with phonological awareness are aware of the sounds in speech. They have the ability to hear and discriminate the sounds around them. They can hear rhythm, rhyme and alliteration and understand that spoken words have parts. It has been shown repeatedly that children who have good phonological awareness at school entry have better reading outcomes than children who do not.

Phonological awareness begins very early, from birth upwards. Babies who are sung, read and talked to will more easily develop the skills of phonological awareness. From a very young age, babies can show their awareness to sound, for example a young child rocking to the rhythm of a familiar song.

Here are some fun ways for children to start listening to, and becoming aware of, sounds:

Talk about the sounds around, eg “I can hear a noisy plane”, or “Listen to the dog barking”.

Sing a nursery rhyme where children can discriminate between different voices when singing the rhyme, eg, whispering, shouting, squeaking, saying it in a silly voice.

Listen to sounds with eyes closed – identify all sounds you can hear, eg someone mowing the lawn, a car horn, someone talking, etc.

A rich learning environment will offer children the opportunities to engage in phonological experiences in a variety of ways. However, it is vital not to forget the crucial importance of reading aloud to children. The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children. This is especially so during the pre-school years.

Talk, read and sing with children several times over the day. Have fun!

Information from the resource “Developing Phonological Awareness” written by Yolanda Soryl