phonemic awareness skills

Phonemic Awareness Skills

Phonemic awareness is a building block for literacy. Phonemic awareness, or a child’s ability to manipulate sounds to change word meaning, make new words, or even segment and then blend sounds together to make words, are all important skills when children are learning to read. Parents can practice the skills below with their children, adding onto previous knowledge while increasing complexity. As with any skills, it is important that children have a strong phonemic awareness foundation to aid in reading and ultimately writing, too!

Building Phonemic Awareness Skills By Age:

Age Skills Acquired During Year
3 years ·         Begin to familiarize children with nursery rhymes·         Stress alliteration (e.g., “big boat” or “many mumbling mice”)

·         Identify words that rhyme (e.g., snake/cake)

4 years ·         Child can begin to segment sentences into words·         Children start to break down multisyllabic words (e.g., “El-i-an-a”)

·         Children generate rhyming words

5 years ·         Notes words that do not rhyme within a given group·         Blends sounds together
6 years ·         Blends sounds together to create words (e.g., /p/ /a/ /t/, pat)·         Segments sounds to identify parts of words

·         Enjoys creating multiple rhymes

7 years ·         Begins to spell phonetically·         Counts sounds in words
8 years ·         Moves sounds to create new words (e.g., “tar” turns to “art”)


The above ages highlight typical skill mastery. As with most skills, there are varying ranges of development. Parents should incorporate phonemic awareness activities into usual book reading, and have fun talking about sounds and words!

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Reference: Goldsworthy (2003); Justice (2006); Naremore, Densmore, & Harman (2001).


What is Phonemic Awareness | Pediatric Therapy TV

In today’s Webisode, a pediatric speech therapist explains to our views what phonemic awareness is.

Watch our previous Webisode, when Elizabeth Galin, our academic specialist, explains how phonemic awareness is important as your child is getting ready to read

Today you will learn:

  • What are daily uses of phonemic awareness
  • How phonemic awareness develops as your child becomes older

Teaching Your Child How to Spell

The ability to spell is a critical component for children to have in order to be successful in school and beyond.  The following ideas willgirl spelling help you teach your emergent reader to be a great speller:

Make Connections:

Spelling is best-learned in context. Several contexts can be provided for effective spelling instruction, such as word groupings and subject context.

First, spelling can be taught using the word grouping, also known as the word study method. This method teaches kids to make discoveries that involve patterns in words. For example, when studying words that begin with a hard ‘c’ or hard ‘k’ sound, children will discover that words that begin with a hard ‘c’ sound are usually followed by ‘a’, ‘u’ or ‘o’ (cat, cut, cot) and letters that start with a hard ‘k’ sound are often followed by ‘e’ or ‘I’ (key, kit). Children are then able to use the generalizations that they discover to spell more effectively.

Subject context can also help with teaching spelling. Is your child interested in trains? Gather a list of spelling words from a lesson on trains that will delight your child. Does your child have a favorite story? Focus on spelling words that are drawn from the story. When children are familiar with the words and have seen them in action in a favorite story or subject, they will be able to absorb the correct spelling more effectively.

Focus on All Sounds:

The ability to break down letters into their smallest sound or phoneme is also critical for spelling success. As you read with your child, be sure to teach all sounds the letters make including short and long vowel sounds, all consonant sounds, blends (bl, cl, tr, gr…), digraphs (th, ch…) and diphthongs (ow, ay…).  When children know these sounds, they will be able to break down words in order to spell.

Get Creative with Words During Play Time:

Aside from direct spelling instruction, the best way to help your child to become a strong speller is to encourage creativity and play with words during their free time. Have your child write a letter to Santa or to a far away relative during the holiday season. Create plays or short stories together and ‘publish’ them by adding a colorful cover. Use finger paints or iPad apps, such as “Elmo ABC’s” to encourage tracing, which is a fun way to reinforce letter sequence.

In general, spelling is best taught through a context of reading strategies and through experiences. The more integrated the spelling lesson is, the better. Have fun spelling, reading and playing with your child this holiday season!


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