Phonological Awareness is the understanding that spoken language is made up of smaller sounds. It is an umbrella term that includes several sound and language skills like:
- production of whole sentences and words
- onsets (the initial consonant sound or cluster in a word)
- rimes (the vowel and following consonants following the onset)
- phonemes (individual letter sounds)
While phonological awareness is not the only set of skills required for reading, many research studies have shown it to be one of the greatest predictors of success in reading. Additionally, young children progress through an implicit understanding of phonological awareness to an explicit understanding. What this means is that it is important for adults and early educators to explicitly talk about different phonological awareness skills (ie: what makes a rhyme, why certain words are alliterative, etc.).
So, what does that mean for you? Here are some early experiences children have with phonological awareness:
- sound play: making up words for objects, inventing nonsense words
- enjoying hearing rhyming songs or nursery rhymes
- inventing nonsense rhyming words
- reading books with sound play and onomatopoeic language such as “plop,” “pluck,” “splash” in One Duck Stuck.
As you might guess, picture books can provide a perfect jumping off point for exploring sound and eventually explicitly talking about phonological awareness. Not sure where to start? Dr. Seuss is the perfect place to start.