One of the most exciting times in our children’s lives is when they are beginning to read. We know that there is a wealth of knowledge that awaits them as they begin to understand the written word, and eventually transition from “learning to read” to “reading to learn”.
One of the first steps in the reading process is to develop the fundamental literacy skills known collectively as phonological awareness.
What is phonological awareness? Phonological awareness is the ability to focus on and understand the sound structure of language. What does that mean? Knowing that the word ‘cookie’ has two syllables, OR understanding that blending ‘can’ and ‘dy’ produces ‘candy,’ OR identifying that ‘can’ rhymes with ‘ran’ –these are just a few examples of what it means to have phonological awareness.
Why is phonological awareness important? The research evidence is in! Phonological awareness is an early literacy skill that is vitally important to reading readiness. It provides children with the necessary foundation upon which to learn and develop fluent reading skills. The written word is made up of individual sounds, or phonemes. Having the ability to identify, understand and manipulate the phonemes in our language is integral to success with reading and spelling.
How can we encourage and support phonological awareness? There are many fun and exciting activities that you can do at home to support your child’s development of phonological awareness. Here are a few of our favourites:
- Recite nursery rhymes and sing songs with your child. Examples include: Old Mother Hubbard, Humpty Dumpty, Old Macdonald Had a Farm, Ring-A-Round-A-Rosie. Crank up the fun factor by adding actions, clapping, and movements!
- Read books aloud with your child. Select books that use sounds in words in a fun and playful way. A few examples are listed below. Point out pictures and repeat names of animals, characters or places. Repeat funny names several times and clap together while saying them aloud. Pick a beginning sound of a word and S T R E T C H it out (or, make it LOUD!) in order to emphasize the sound. Then, when you read the book another time, do the same with the final sound of a word.
Whatever you choose to do, have fun!
Brown M. W. (1975). Good Night Moon Harper Collins Publishers
Martin Jr., B. and Carle, E. (1991). Polar Bear, Polar Bear, What Do You Hear? Henry Holt and Company
Martin Jr., B. and Archambault, J.(2011). Chicka Chicka Boom Boom Beach Lane Books
Seuss, Dr. (1991). Dr. Seuss’s ABC (2nd ed.). New York: Random House.