Phonemic Awareness: A Foundation For Reading - Red Apple ReadingRed Apple Reading is committed to children’s literacy! Here we will explore the importance of phonemic awareness as a foundation for reading. You probably already understand the concept even if you don’t immediately recognize the name. Now for the definition:

Phonemic awareness is the ability to understand how the spoken word is made up of individual units of sound, and how manipulating these sound units changes the meaning of words.

Why is Phonemic Awareness Important?

Why does a frequent portion of my kindergarten child’s homework involve me asking what sound he hears at the beginning of the word pat, cat, and bat? Does it really matter if he knows that the sound in the middle of the word, pot is short O? Yes it does! According to the International Literacy Association, “Research has shown that a child’s awareness of the sounds of spoken words is a strong predictor of his or her later success in learning to read.” Because phonemic awareness plays such an important foundational role in your kiddo’s ability to read, it’s important to help your little one develop this skill.

How Can I Help Improve My Child’s Phonemic Awareness?

Segmenting, blending, rhyming and identifying sounds are just a few ways you can help your child improve her phonemic awareness.

  • Segmenting – Breaking words down into their individual sounds. For example, you can ask your child to break the word dog into its individual sounds – /d/ /o/ /g/.
  • Blending – This is pretty much the opposite of segmenting. Try asking your kiddo to blend the sounds, /c/ /a/ /t/ together. Cat, of course, is the word she should make.
  • Rhyming – Reading books with lots of rhyming words is a great way to build phonemic awareness in kids. You could also ask your child if two words rhyme. They can give a thumbs up if they do rhyme and thumbs down if they don’t!
  • Identifying Sounds – Ask your kid what sound he hears at the beginning of the word pot, or what’s the last sound he hears in the word pig. You can do this with all kinds of different words.

Mastering phonemic awareness is foundational to becoming a strong reader. Want more ideas on increasing your little one’s phonemic awareness? Check out these excellent resources!

  • Kids Activities Blog: Have some phonemic awareness fun with these great activities using alphabet sound tubs!
  • Imagination Soup: Discover 5 ways to play with sounds in words using picture cards.
  • Fun-A-Day: This series of posts on teaching kids about rhyming is a valuable resource for teaching phonemic awareness
  • Red Apple Reading: This informative YouTube video gives a brief explanation of phonemic awareness, and how you can help your kid improve his.