By: Kate Cawthorn
Phonological awareness is a term that refers to the ability to identify and manipulate the sounds that make up words in spoken language. It is a crucial skill for literacy development in children, and can support their reading, writing, and language skills. In this blog post, we will explore how phonological awareness can support literacy development in children.
One of the key ways that phonological awareness supports literacy development is by helping children to recognize the sounds associated with different letters. When children have a strong understanding of the sounds that make up words, they are better able to understand the connections between letters and sounds in written language. This knowledge can be applied to decoding words and recognizing spelling patterns, which are both important skills for reading.
Phonological awareness skills also support reading fluency in children. When children have a strong understanding of the sounds that make up words, they can recognize and decode words more quickly and accurately. Phonological awareness is the foundational skill that allows orthographic mapping – the long term storage of written words. It is this mapping that leads to automaticity and fluency. In turn, fluency leads to improved reading comprehension and a greater enjoyment of the text.
Spelling and writing
Phonological awareness can also support literacy development by helping children to understand spelling patterns in written language. For example, knowing that the letters “c” and “k” make the same sound, or that “ph” makes the “f” sound, helps children to spell words correctly. By developing phonological awareness skills, children can better understand how sounds are represented in written language and how to spell words based on their sounds. The orthographic mapping previously mentioned is not only for reading, but also for retrieving the correct spelling patterns from our memory. This can lead to more accurate and effective writing, as well as improved communication skills.
Another way that phonological awareness can support literacy development is by helping children to understand and remember new vocabulary words. By breaking down words into their individual sounds, children can better understand the meaning and pronunciation of new words. This can also help them to make connections between different words and to build a larger vocabulary. Our vocabulary tasks include phonological awareness activities to help teach the sound properties of new words, and our phonological awareness chapters include the new vocabulary – it’s a win win!
It is also important to note the difference between phonological and phonemic awareness. ‘Phonological’ is the umbrella term for all word and sound-based tasks, therefore including sentence segmentation, syllable detection, and rhyme awareness. ‘Phonemic’ refers to the smallest unit of sound in our linguistic system, and so is a sub-section of phonological awareness. Although the foundational abilities of syllable and rhyme awareness are extremely important to the ongoing development of these skills, it is phonemic awareness that has the real impact on literacy. Our activities cover a wide span of tasks, and we hope that this enables children to reach a point where they can blend, segment, delete, and manipulate the individual sounds within words. This is where the magic happens!