Reasons for Including Phonemic Awareness in Early Childhood Classroom  

In order to learn reading and writing, children need to develop many different skills. Before they are able to start reading and writing, it is important for them to understand how sounds work and how they are related to different words.  

Reading different types of books allows kids to develop vocabulary, supports comprehension, creates an interest in writing, and helps with their literary skills. If a child wants to learn these skills, phonemic awareness is extremely important.  

The English language comprises of an estimated one million words, which makes it impossible to read and spell all these words by sight. This is why it is essential to decode and encode them. This involves linking the grapheme or written letter to their phoneme or sound and understanding how words are made by combining them. Without the ability to decode words, children are likely to struggle to read fluently and understand the word sounds they want to write.  

What is Phonemic Awareness?  

In simple words, phonemic awareness may be referred to as the ability to recognise and manipulate the letter sounds or phonemes. A subset of phonological awareness, it involves identifying and working with the individual sounds in words. Development of phonemic awareness starts during a child’s preschool years, and determines his or her spelling and reading abilities in the future. This process of understanding the sounds that makes up the spoken language includes spotting the rhyming words, distinguishing alliteration, and counting the word’s syllables.  

Why is it Important?  

While learning to read and spell successfully, it really helps to understand that words are combinations of discrete sounds that can be changed. Similarly, for understanding print, it is essential to understand that words are made up of phonemes, which are represented by graphemes. It is a fundamental skill for them to be able to take words apart and adapt them into a new word.  

Phonemic Awareness Teaching Strategies 

Some children tend to develop phonemic awareness on their own through different types of listening games and activities. However, most of them need phonemic awareness to be taught explicitly.  

  • Before asking children to do it themselves, make sure that they hear plenty of modelling of these skills. 
  • Before they can orally segment the words, most children can blend them orally. Please remember that they may not hear and say a word’s all phonemes while learning to segment. 
  • Before learning grapheme-phoneme correspondences, they should have some understanding of the concept of phonemic awareness. 
  • Alongside teaching phonics, it is important to continue working on phonemic awareness as well as other phonological activities. 
  • To start with, stick to the cvc (consonant vowel consonant) words. However, instead of focusing just on words like van or hat, it is useful to include words such as chick (ch-i-ck) and sheep (sh-ee-p).  
  • Unless the activities are engaging and enjoyable, kids may not want to repeat them. In order to build on these skills, it is essential to create a positive attitude towards reading and writing.  
  • Some games and activities can also play a critical role in supporting phonemic awareness. You can start with blending the phonemes, and gradually move towards segmenting the words.      

To discuss more about your child’s early childhood educational needs, please contact us at Valley Heights Preschool Long Day Care Centre.