This is the fourth of a four post series about “The Big Four” of preschool literacy instruction. These four components to a complete literacy curriculum in preschool are print awareness, oral language development, the alphabetic principle. and phonological awareness. Each post in the series will explain what each component is, why it is important to preschool literacy, and what teaching strategies can help develop these skills, as well as a list of books and games that help develop each pre-reading skill. This series is appropriate for all teachers, parents, and caregivers.
If you have missed a post, you can find it here:
What is phonological awareness?
Phonological awareness refers to the ability to recognize the variety of sound units that make up words. It encompasses a wide variety of sound related skills that are necessary for reading. For example, it is the ability to recognize individual words, complete sentences, syllables, and rhymes, to name a few. It is different from phonemic awareness in that phonemic awareness deals only with specific and individual sounds within a word, not the entire word or group of words, or chunks within the word.
Why is phonological awareness important to early literacy?
Phonological awareness is important to early literacy development in that is prepares children for other components of reading, such as acquiring skills in alphabetic knowledge. It also helps children understand relationships between spoken words and written text. Phonological awareness is a precursor to preparing children for decoding. Children who have a strong background in phonological awareness (and phonemic awareness) tend to experience greater ease in learning how to read. Since phonological awareness deals with manipulating sounds and the structure of words, children who are practiced in these skills experience greater achievement in reading throughout elementary school.
How can this preschool literacy skill be developed?
These literacy skills can be developed through both explicit and non-explicit instruction. However, many children require practice in phonological awareness skills, even if taught through a whole language approach. By being exposed to a language rich environment, via printed language and oral language, children can develop adequate skills to aid them in learning how to read.
The following are example activities that parents, caregivers and teacher to do with their children or students to help develop these skills.
- model the use of complete sentences, and encourage your child or students to do the same
- point out individual words while reading to your child or students
- reading books with rhyming text
- clap out sounds within your child’s or students’ names
- identify syllables within a word
- play listening games
- sing songs and recite chants and rhymes
- name environmental sounds, such as a horn honking, a bird, or rain falling
- encourage manipulation of the initial sound in words, for example, little, jittle, bittle, etc.
- count words or word parts with your child or students
- read stories with a rhythmic cadence
What are some books that can help develop phonological awareness skills?
For your convince, I have included some of our favorite books and products related to building phonemic awareness skills. Any purchase of these books goes directly to maintaining this blog. I recommend these books because they have a lyrical, rhythmic text that is of high interest to young children.
For similar articles by Stay At Home Educator:
For further reading:
Phonemic Awareness vs. Phonological Awareness by K12 Reader
Phonological Awareness: Instruction and Assessment Guidelines by David J. Chard and Shirley V. Dickson
Comprehensive Literacy Resources for Kindergarten Teachers, Chapter 2: Phonological Awareness by Adams et. al
I’m Sarah, an educator turned stay-at-home-mama of five! I’m the owner and creator of Stay At Home Educator, a website about intentional teaching and purposeful learning in the early childhood years. I’ve taught a range of levels, from preschool to college and a little bit of everything in between. Right now my focus is teaching my children and running a preschool from my home. Credentials include: Bachelors in Art, Masters in Curriculum and Instruction.